Daily Postings
art : portfolio

Four Memories

by Jonas Mekas

Disastrous screenings, Nam June Paik's meeting with Bill Clinton, and time spent as a dog.

A Day in My Life as a Dog

I don't know how it really happened, but one day in 1967, I decided to try a dog's life. I mean, to live like a dog among dogs.

I was helped in this idea by the fact that I was staying at the house of Minnie Cushing—actually it was an old mansion, in Massachusetts, and there were many dogs in it, big and small, old and young, and they seemed to be all of a family, a family of dogs.

It was not really my idea. It was an idea of Peter Beard who often gets such crazy ideas. But I liked it.

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literature : review

"To Lie Is to Try": Two Books on Kathy Acker

by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Chris Kraus and Douglas A. Martin conjure the iconoclastic author.

Kathy Acker catapulted to prominence as the enfant terrible of American literature in the 1980s—in New York, she was infamous; in London, she became famous. She aimed to sculpt herself into an icon of literary creation and destruction to be worshiped at the altar of evil sainthood alongside canonized experimentalists like William S. Burroughs and Jean Genet, and for a time she succeeded.

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film : review

Vesuvius in Your Mind: On Joan Jonas's Early Films

by Mónica Savirón

Uncovering the artist's innovations and legacies.

Like a modern character from Crete's ancient Minoan culture, trailblazer artist Joan Jonas weaves symbols and media to transfigure feminist and psychological themes. Her work juxtaposes sculpture, painting, film, video, and performance as forms not to escape, but to scale. Surfaces become screens from where to measure slim chances, and transform poetic structures into cinematic phrasings. This month, Anthology Film Archives and Electronic Arts Intermix present a screening of her 16mm films, including two collaborations with Richard Serra, followed by a selection of her videos. Jonas will attend and introduce both shows.

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literature : interview

Italy, Two Ways: Jessie Chaffee and Minna Zallman Proctor

"There's often a gap between what we're trying to say and what we are able to say. Sometimes I'm successful and sometimes I fail. Sometimes it's painful and sometimes I get into that space where it feels right. That's the high."

We can't always be in Italy, so we love the books that can transport us there. Jessie Chaffee's debut novel, Florence in Ecstasy (Unnamed Press), and Minna Zallman Proctor's collection of essays, Landslide (Catapult), both feature American characters who go to Italy to get away only to find themselves even more tethered to home. Hannah, the protagonist in Florence in Ecstasy, embeds herself in the local community, but has to confront the internal ruthlessness of an eating disorder. With poetic and incisive prose, Chaffee gives us access to an emotional world seldom explored with such grace. In Landslide, we follow Proctor on her trips to Italy and back, as she sifts through her complicated relationship with her mother, who passed away fifteen years after a cancer diagnosis. The essays, though they form a kind of elegy, are warm, humorous, and probing of life's absurdities and joys.

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literature : first proof

Four Poems

by Elena Karina Byrne

What language are you now? Blood-fuck blanco-made
     on the leaves, (brother was blood in the ears) blood
        bitter crop, body-doubt, the poplar rain falling grape-grey

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art : essay

On the Clock with Amanda Ross-Ho

by John Yau

The gallery as studio.

1.
After spending the morning talking with Amanda Ross-Ho, who during the month of August worked in the spacious gallery at Mitchell-Innes & Nash in Chelsea in preparation for her upcoming exhibition, MY PEN IS HUGE, I go home and begin searching the internet for things I might use in this article. I come across an interview with Steel Stillman that appeared in Art in America back in 2010. In it Ross-Ho says: “an exhibition is a time and place where objects and images can perform together like characters in a drama.”

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art : essay

Gender Trouble in Queer Paradise

by Tavia Nyong'o

The perils of queer conformity in Alexandro Segade's sci-fi epic Future St.

Future St. is set in an America in which homosexuality has triumphed over heterosexuality, cloning has replaced sexual reproduction, and California has seceded from the mainland United States to form the gay male state of "Clonifornia." A one-act play performed recently at Bard College in New York and at the new Broad museum in Los Angeles, Future St. bucks the art world trend of embracing performance while dismissing theater. Segade is one performance artist unafraid of the word "rehearsal," and his comfort with theatricality extends a genre some in the art world dismiss too hastily out of an anti-theatrical prejudice.

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dance : review
literature : essay
literature : essay

Our John: Remembering John Ashbery

by Eric Brown

There are some people I never expect to die. John Ashbery's death at ninety comes as a shock. As a poet he was among the greats; he was also a great human being and a generous friend. Painter Trevor Winkfield once referred to him affectionately as our John. He was like a gentle father figure to a multigenerational brood of poets and artists in New York and across the globe, all of whom had a profound affection for him.

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literature : essay
literature : essay
literature : essay
literature : essay

Hymns to Possibility: Remembering John Ashbery

by Geoffrey G. O'Brien

So much of Ashbery's poetry, like so much of poetry, turns on adjacency, on what we're willing to let lie next to each other. If I sound like I'm talking about sex, then I am, and it's part of why Ashbery went to France—for its versions of his own country's false promises of liberty, fraternity, and equality—in the wake of Joseph McCarthy's Lavender Scare.

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literature : essay

In the Wild: Remembering John Ashbery

by Charles Bernstein

In 1991, John, David Kermani, and I were waiting to get on a flight to Milan for a poetry festival there. John and David were in a convivial mood and the subject turned to John Shoptaw, who a few years later published a study of Ashbery called On the Outside Looking Out. Shoptaw's book was one of the first studies of Ashbery's work that included references to his being gay, which Shoptaw read in terms of what he calls "homotextuality." Before the early 1990s, Ashbery's homosexuality was not commonly addressed in print. As far as I know, this is how Ashbery wanted it.

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literature : essay

What We'll Have Forever: Remembering John Ashbery

by Andrew Durbin

Now that Ashbery is gone, I don't know how to say goodbye or to accept that there has finally been a last book, or at least a last one published while its author was still alive. I met John several times and he was always very kind to me. Since his passing a few days ago, I've searched those moments for some greater meaning, for a stray detail that I had missed before.

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literature : essay
literature : essay

Home Video: Remembering John Ashbery

by Adam Fitzgerald

In 2006, my friend Travis called me to say he was coming to New York City and wondered whether or not there was a good poetry reading we could both go to. I was freshly dumped out of college and only pretending to be working at a bookstore from which I would soon be fired.

Accidentally—or rather, instinctively—I popped into Google "John Ashbery poetry reading NYC" when I had meant "poetry reading NYC." A Google search can change your life.

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literature : essay

When Most Needed: Remembering John Ashbery

by Anselm Berrigan

Getting the news on Sunday that John was gone felt like having a big unlooked-for hand, like a Philip Guston hand, reach in and swipe something from my imagination. Going to his poems a little later on meant having that something put back, in a slightly different place, or acknowledging what can't actually be taken, despite the shock of initial grief. I think we're not supposed to talk about influence. Or maybe we're not supposed to talk about imitation. Who is we again?

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literature : essay

Blessedly Ordinary Things: Remembering John Ashbery

by Robert Kelly

The Hindus spoke of lila, play, the play of the gods that makes the world. I think of that recalling Ashbery, the ever-playful willingness to be surprised by what he might not even have known he was feeling. Surely he was the least grown-up octogenarian I ever met—there's a kind of sacred immaturity, smile of Apollo, in that delight in the new and in new joinings of blessedly ordinary things.

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literature : essay

The Stories, The Lights: Remembering John Ashbery

by Patricia Spears Jones

As a poet and writer, I appreciate John Ashbery's continuous deep diving into rocks and rills of American language, into American culture, while openly curious about other cultures, languages, ways of being. His inordinate curiosity and acuity was often underplayed in his diction and yet, he was the consummate sophisticate. I particularly enjoy this perfect line from The Vermont Notebook—a collaboration between Ashbery and Joe Brainard in which he writes: "The climate, the cities, the houses, the streets, the stores, the lights, people."

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literature : essay
music : portfolio

Field Recording

by Byron Westbrook

There are two recordings here, made many months apart and then superimposed on one another. For me, each would qualify as play—as both scenarios only involved turning on a recorder in a particular space, without any intention of producing a proper piece. More than anything, each was straight documentation.

In the first—made in upstate New York—I activated a large concrete grain silo with sticks, voice, and whistling. I leaned my microphones into a portal on the edge of this silo and sang into it, singing overtones related to the pitches I heard inside.

The second is a stereo recording made while rehearsing at Phill Niblock's loft. I don't play synthesizers live and was trying out a performance setup that I never ended up using. I sustained separate tones from different speakers, resonating the room. The choice of pitches was arbitrary, probably just reactions to the rattles in Phill's congested space.

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literature : essay

Supportive Acts

by Justin Torres

Rickie Vasquez is wondering if all you ever have to offer him are crumbs.

Rickie Vasquez is waiting to give you some attention. "You should buy yourself something," he suggests. "I mean, think. What do you really need? I mean, you need new makeup. Makeup goes bad, you know, it does. It spoils. You need new CDs because the ones you have suck. And you could definitely use a leather jacket." Rickie Vasquez is ready to fix your life; he's ready to help you spend the money he does not have.

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