Daily Postings
literature : interview

Lewis Freedman

by Judah Rubin

"We experience the content of ourself emerging by making shapes around it."

Lewis Freedman is the author of Residual Synonyms for the Names of God (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016) and a writer whose investigation of what might be called biblio-cognitive aporetic states is perched somewhere on the ledge of Mallarméan-cum-Jabesian trickster engagements with the very fundament of language. Freedman's works—which include a DIY program for the autopoesis of solitaire, Solitude: The Complete Games (with Kevin Ryberg, Troll Thread, 2013); a notebook on notebooking, Hold the Blue Orb, Baby (Well Greased Press, 2013); and a record of loss in language, Pretend to Think—all bend the ear of thought, constantly seeking that place just beyond the act of naming. I spent an afternoon with Lewis discussing divination, food science, taxidermy, rabbinic literature, and the act of discussion itself on the banks of Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin.

Judah Rubin Last night I was reading your Residual Synonyms for the Name of God, where you write: "Great wealth passively corrects its crime by making pubic hair iridescently visible through cloth as a metaphor for the negation of the said." Can you maybe speak to that? What is the divine character of iridescently visible pubic hair?

Lewis Freedman Let me not pretend to know precisely what I've made, but just jump off from it instead…

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literature : first proof

Mooning

by Kenward Elmslie

I felt something bosomy pressing against me. I opened my eyes, and craned around. It was Mummers. His lips were moving rapidly. He squatted down beside me. I took the wads of cotton out of my ears.

"…to share whatever it is you're experiencing… not a stickler for everyday reality so-called… ha!… see by your eyes you're onto something… layers… not forcing… trust… mutual trust… wouldn't force anything… privacy… particulars… not forcing you."

I said no.

A diatribe followed, difficult for me to make much sense of—an attack on everyday reality, "Satanic" trick, any logical system that can be laid out can be controlled by viewer, dangerous, imposed on other viewers who become feeder stations to original viewer, vision widened with auxiliary antennae—distance between center and perimeter so immense, visions become garbled—weird statistics become law—misplaced zeros—cow is elected President of Meat Board (regulation to implement democratic process)—enforced Daily Poet Celebrations (regulation to implement anarchy necessary to weeding out of outworn regulations)—newsflash: Venice has sunk—all cities try to figure out how to sink (regulation to—to—layers—fragments—)

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literature : review

Sit, Scroll, and Fume

by Sarah Jean Grimm

Tommy Pico's IRL searches the catacombs of history and hashtags of today to create what can't be salvaged.

Tommy Pico's debut book, IRL (Birds LLC, 2016), is an origin story rooted in epic tradition and a long-form poem that unfurls as a hyperconfessional scroll. Confronting legacies of colonial trauma, it inscribes an identity in "a post-apocalyptic America / that started 1492." Pico's speaker, Teebs, is an alter à la Sasha Fierce, navigating his experience as a queer Kumeyaay Indian alienated from his ancestral language, religion, and history. The personal is always political, but rarely is it treated with such deft humor. Sharp, successive pratfalls land us firmly in tragicomic moments, so that even as Teebs mourns a cultural inheritance marred by loss, there is play—or rather play is employed to access that mourning. Despite its precision and proliferation of wit, it would be a mistake to frame IRL as light.

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past events : from the editor
art : review

Eddie Peake's Head

by David Everitt Howe

Inaugurating Deitch’s return to SoHo, Head proved to be little more than sexual provocation.

It would be disingenuous of me not to admit that I was initially attracted to Eddie Peake's work because I was attracted to men, and men—naked, muscled, and sometimes aroused—feature prominently in everything Peake does, whether it's painting, performance, or the landing image on his homepage (which currently is a close-up of his big old boner bathed in red light). The fact that he's straight has irked many, some of whom have confronted him and other artists, namely Jordan Wolfson, for exploiting the complexities of lived, queer experience, reducing it to an easy stereotype for personal artistic gain, as if trying to hedge against their own heteronormativity by window dressing it with something "alternative" and "sexy." Moreover, these artists also turn themselves into sex objects (Peake in his photographs, Wolfson in films like Raspberry Poser), directly soliciting the gay male gaze in a weird twist on old-school, painterly machismo. For a lot of queer people, there's all sorts of wrong happening here.

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music : interview

Helen Money & Jan St. Werner

"Once a sound is released it's out there, and you can't do anything more with it, but I have this weird obsession with continuously shaping it somehow."

I've spent a few months listening to Jan St. Werner's most recent album, Felder, which is a beautiful record and also a concept album. This is very hard to pull off as a composer. He's writing music that is quite heady, but at the same time inviting, even moving—which is even harder to do. 

Having just completed my new record, Become Zero, it was great to connect with another musician who was not only comfortable discussing the process involved in creating, but  someone just as excited as myself by the visceral aspects of our art—playing, creating, and listening to sound. 

—Alison Chesley, aka Helen Money

Helen Money There are some artists who want an audience to come to them, and others who reach out—and all shades between, I'm sure. As an artist and performer, what is your relationship to the audience?

Jan St. Werner My work is, in a weird way, a combinatorial game or system. It's turning and there are different levels of orbit. Sometimes things really line up, and I feel everything is perfectly aligned and of one thought. But then sometimes it really feels scattered—almost total chaos.

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past events : from the editor
literature : interview

Yoss

by Jacqueline Loss

"Look at me, I have an inner life, I think differently, I am different, and yet, I can also reflect back your own thoughts."

I first met Yoss, a biologist by training, around fifteen years ago through a friend who studied snails. This mutual friend also happened to be a rabid fan of heroic fantasy fiction and predicted, way back then, that Yoss would become something special in the Cuban literary scene and beyond. It wasn't until years later, though, that Yoss—now an acclaimed sci-fi author, among many other things—and I were able to exchange ideas about the differing ways that Cubans remember the Soviet era. More generally, it's indeed his ability to examine the human experience from different vantage points that really entraps readers of his work. Fortunately, Super Extra Grande, the 2010 winner of the prestigious UPC award in Spain, was published by Restless Books this past summer, giving English readers another taste of Yoss's generous fiction.

Jacqueline Loss Could you speak about this current interest in Cuban science fiction?

Yoss Well, Cuba is at a crossroads with regard to its future right now, and sometimes it's only by contemplating the future that can we understand what's happening in the present. Two years ago nobody could have predicted this moment, when Cuba and the US are getting closer and there are so many possibilities. The unimaginable might happen: the first woman president of the United States might be elected, and right after the first African-American was. But it's important to hear what sci-fi authors think, because, in a way, they can be a nation's conscience, even though the work often transcends its own historical moment. They worry about the consequences of decisions being made today.

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literature : first proof

From Vegas Girls

by Heather Skyler

She was still wearing her nightgown but decided it could pass for a simple sundress with its spaghetti straps and cotton material. It hit her just at mid-thigh where there was a centimeter's hem of red lace, the only real clue, she hoped, of the garment's intended use. As she walked down the sidewalk she wished most of all for her sunglasses, because her head was pounding. Her second wish would be for a cold glass of water. It was already hot out there, and sun burned the space between her shoulder blades as she trudged blindly up the walk.

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past events : from the editor
art : portfolio

Motherland

by Cecilia Corrigan

This is the first of a series of videos in my new piece Motherland, a lighthearted psychodrama about mommy issues and Hillary Clinton. Motherland's story begins here, in three videos released in a serialized format by BOMB over the next few weeks, in a shadow narrative of the upcoming election. Then, after the results are in, we will film the epilogue to this tale of one ambitious mom and her Weimar millennials.

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music : portfolio

Field Recording

by Zaïmph

The piece develops as a process of observed phenomena. To start, I make some marks, improvise. Forms exist outside my direction. Black shadows, deep cracks. I document, combine, distort. Composition is created through points, parallels drawn into a relational map. Meditation on a snapshot of the everyday. A motif, a theme emerges. The city as a gateway to the subconscious.

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art : interview

Michele Oka Doner

by Bruce Weber

"Art, for me, comes out of life. It is the peak of life."

Bruce Weber fell for artist Michele Oka Doner before he even knew who she was; a frequent traveler through Miami International Airport, the noted fashion photographer long admired the terrazzo walkway Oka Doner installed in one of the airport’s terminals, A Walk on the Beach (1995-1999), which was inset with cast bronze and mother of pearl. On the occasion of Oka Doner’s expansive survey of works at the Perez Art Museum, How I Caught a Swallow in Mid Air, Oka Doner and Weber chatted on the phone about banyan trees, an artist’s uniform, and their working process.

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literature : review

Speculative Heroism

by David Burr Gerrard

Alexander Weinstein's debut collection, Children of the New World, presents us with a future absurd enough to be our own.

Children of the old world respected distinctions between realist fiction and speculative fiction, earnestness and satire, prophecies of apocalypse and unexaggerated descriptions of the present day. In a year that has seen the rise of Donald Trump, Pokémon GO, and seemingly impossible phenomena like luxury cruise liners touring a rather warm Arctic Circle, it's difficult to see how these old aesthetic boundaries can be maintained.

The jacket copy of Alexander Weinstein's funny, discomfiting, and excellent debut collection Children of the New World says "speculative fiction," but we could really classify its short stories as "realist fiction" and be just as accurate. Better yet, we could regard both of these labels as the distorting goggles they are, and simply take them off.

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film : interview

Kirsten Johnson

by Alex Zafiris

The cinematographer and director on her memoir, Cameraperson.

Over a twenty-five-year career, Kirsten Johnson has captured difficult, hidden images and brought them into the world. Sensitivity and courage inform her instincts and aesthetic, and her frames are deeply intimate, politically charged, and cinematic. She is best known for her work with Laura Poitras on The Oath (2010), Citizenfour (2014), and Risk (2016); with Michael Moore on Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004); and with Ted Braun on Darfur Now (2007).

Cameraperson presents outtakes from over twenty documentaries—moments that have stayed with Johnson: a Christian family preparing dinner in postwar Bosnia, a boxer's humiliation after losing a match in Brooklyn, men praying at a mosque in Afghanistan, and a newborn struggling for life in a Nigerian hospital. The film confronts the nature of seeing, being present, and dealing with memory and trauma. There's also personal footage of her mother's decline with Alzheimer's, her father, and young twins, drawing together seemingly disparate scenes with profound humanity. Johnson demonstrates that truth and objectivity are constantly shifting. [ Read More ]

art : portfolio

Portfolio

by Penis

We make music from joy and rage.
  We are flamboyantly nice and really angry.

We're bored with fetishized mastery—we believe in virtuosity of the self.
 We publicize our vulnerabilities and try to learn from our mistakes.

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literature : first proof

One Poem

by Ian Dreiblatt

cant will

and to the republic
cartwheel grimace
skitting filmily across
a sea of culpabilities
the boy is witched
language goes out
of his mouth like a
firm red egg

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film : review

Rendezvous in the Alps

by Ratik Asokan

With The Seasons in Quincy, filmmakers Tilda Swinton, Colin MacCabe, and Christopher Roth produce portraits of art critic and novelist John Berger.

Invited to his friend John Berger's house for dinner, Geoff Dyer once found himself seated between very different houseguests. On one side was a local plumber; on the other, Henri Cartier-Bresson. It's an image that neatly captures the two abiding interests of Berger's career. Ever since he began publishing provocative Marxist art criticism in the 1950s, he has written with unparalleled insight about both aesthetics and politics, about the most refined artists and most marginalized communities, about, as he himself put it, "the enduring mystery of great art and the lived experience of the oppressed."

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film : review

Disconnection Notice

by Jon Dieringer

Werner Herzog’s phoned-in tech film, Lo and Behold, is an ad in disguise.

From Walter Rutmann to Hou-Hsao Hsien, there's a rich vein of unlikely sponsored works by esteemed film and video artists. A survey could begin with abstract artists who used commercial patronage as a platform to dodge Nazi censorship, such as Oskar Fischinger, who licensed canonical works of experimental animation like Kreise to ad agencies, and Hans Richter, whose subversive mercantile histories for the Swiss stock exchange represent a leftist chronicle of capital ensconced in heady surrealist montage. In the 1950s, Eyes Without a Face filmmaker Georges Franju twisted a commission from the Army Museum into a grotesque anti-war critique in Hôtel des Invalides, succeeded by Alain Resnais and Oulipo poet Raymond Queneau's blissful and absurd paean to plastics, Le Chant du Styrène. Across the pond, Night of the Living Dead director George A. Romero created a bone chilling PSA about the mortality rate of impoverished African-American youth in Pittsburgh's Hill District, and Dara Birnbaum's iconoclastic "MTV: Artbreak" spot presented a dialectical feminist history of animation in thirty seconds. But Werner Herzog's Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World marks the first time a feature film conceived and developed by a modern advertising agency and its client has landed in theaters, where critics and audiences alike are expected to accord it the dignity of a real movie.

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literature : first proof
literature : first proof

Three Poems

by Francesca Coppola

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

She’s an archaic, the last meaning of a word. He’s a drunk, but of the ultramarine kind. Her body is a library he eats and sleeps in. Books fluttering seagulls in her electric hair. The alphabet hangs a wet towel on the door, while other birds are exchanged in their mouths. “Danish charcoal”... then another doorway, then “A little yellow tree”... then a few inches of carpet touched by human fingers. Sentences remain in the cupboard. Everyone else is asleep in the city, holes cut to the shape of their feet. Behind the glass is the ocean, the tree, a beard, tall African masks. Inside the dark lays furniture like perfect bodies... “Dying is not a tendency or the bottom of a well”... appearing faintly, in a fingerprint, then “Green, incapable clouds”... “We’re barely here,” she says. It was cold and rainy and full of shoes.

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