Please help The Hoosac Institute grow our vibrant and engaging initiatives! No contribution is too small. The Hoosac Institute is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Thank you for your support!
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The Hoosac Institute is a curated platform for text and image focusing on pieces that don’t fit conventional disciplinary narratives.


Despite language expounding the necessity of experimentation, creativity, and interdisciplinarity, too many institutions keep their textual and image boundaries tightly controlled. We have all written, produced, or created projects that didn’t find a home; projects to which we devoted time, energy and skill. The Hoosac Institute dedicates itself to these very works of people whose titles may not reveal everything about themselves and their productive capacities.


Founded in 1970 in Williamstown, Massachusetts, The Hoosac Institute was  dormant for nearly 50 years. The Institute was revived and restored in 2018 by Jenny Perlin in an effort to open drawers, shine lights, and reshuffle categories. The Hoosac itself is a river that runs through Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York. Its name can be translated from the Algonquian to either “the beyond place” or “the stony place.” Either one suits the founder fine.

— Jenny Perlin
Director, The Hoosac Institute

The Hoosac Institute presents RENEW

An occasional event series. 

Anna Faroqhi & Haim Peretz; 
discoteca flaming star

Live from BERLIN!
Thursday, January 28, 2021
19.00 Berlin time/12pm EST/9am PST

Video + conversations about care, sustenance, collaboration and mutual aid.
Anna Faroqhi and Haim Peretz in conversation with discoteca flaming star (and vice versa).

Anna Faroqhi & Haim Peretz are artists and authors of experimental and documentary films. They have been working together since 2003, both as a team and in individual projects. Faroqhi is also an author of graphic novels. As a team, they create films, design exhibitions,and are interested in participatory forms of creation. Frequent recurring themes are life in big cities, migration, and lifelong learning. Faroqhi and Peretz teach video at the Hochschule für Musik "Hanns Eisler" Berlin.

discoteca flaming star is an interdisciplinary collaborative art group, a group of people who use songs and other forms of oral expression, understanding them as a personal response to historical events and social and political facts. Through conceptual, visual and musical transfers, they create performances, sculptures, drawings, stages and situations whose foremost intentionis to question and challenge the memory of the public, transforming old desires and finding invented pasts, or pasts which never occurred. DFS is the place where the oracle speaks through the non-chosen. DFS is a love letter written in the present continuous, a love letter to thousands of artists.

Past Events

Anna Faroqhi & Haim Peretz; discoteca flaming star
January 28, 2021
link to conversation

SERIES: Escape
Laura Larson, Christine Hume, and others
December 2, 2020
link to performance
link to conversation

SERIES: Escape
Arto Lindsay and Anthony Elms

November 16, 2020
link to video of conversation

SERIES: Escape
Ellie Ga and Lisa Tan

October 28, 2020

SERIES: Escape
Josh T Franco and Adan De La Garza

September 2, 2020

SERIES: Escape
Brian Fuata and Matthew Lyons

August 26, 2020

SERIES: Escape
Claire Barliant and Elizabeth Phelps Meyer

August 14, 2020

Support our programs by clicking on the rock below and check back for updates!

Please help The Hoosac Institute grow our vibrant and engaging initiatives! No contribution is too small. The Hoosac Institute is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Thank you for your support!
Click the rock to donate:

doris duhennois

who remembers the old fountain

Researched, directed and edited by doris duhennois & filmed and assisted by Mara Chavez

This fountain was inaugurated on the 12th of July 1856 in the French colony of Martinique which still legally belongs to France today.

The fountain celebrated the arrival of fresh and clean water to Fort-de-France
a much-needed necessity
a real progress
but who built the fountain is another obscure(d) story in the aftermath of the abolition of slavery.

a story involving forced labour and racial supremacy and punitive laws,
limitation of movement and imposition of heavy taxation.

and those who can’t pay must work
and their work must be used to make
generations after generations after generations of Martiniquais
remember the great progress undertaken
under the rule of white settlers.

but who remembers?

the walls
the stones

bear memory

the overgrown trees
the iguanas
the ghosts

bear memory

and work slowly
unfathomably their way
towards forgetting the name of the man
who thought that place was his.

George Baker

Rabbit Holes (Grammatology)

I enjoy “social media” most when I am writing—not sharing something personal, exactly, but something usually dear to me, even if ultimately “useless.” Not an essay, maybe part of a project, hardly systematic, these “posts” are beholden to no art historical standards of scholarship or research. Most often, I call these short reflections rabbit holes; they give me an outlet for all the interests that arise and then fade away, that spark something that may come to fruition later, as something else, but right now needs to be followed to its limits. Digging down deep. For a text that lives for a few people and for a few moments. It is as close as my writing self gets to my teaching self. Thinking out loud. Always digging.

Gordon Parks, Woman who says she is 104 years old, 1943.

This is a photo I came to through the FSA photography resource that is “Photogrammar,” a Yale website. The archive shows that Parks was in Daytona Beach in the early winter months of 1943, mostly taking photographs, hundreds of photographs, of Bethune Cookman College. He took this photo on a clear day in February. A moment later or just before, he would photograph a 3-year-old boy of piercing but worried gaze, his brow knit at whatever he is facing—not the photographer, he looks beyond, on the same oblique as the old woman—looking at history perhaps, or toward history rather. It was the Second World War, it was and is America and he is just three years old in his tight wool cap and his oversized coat with its military patch, just three years old and African American. His face is a weather vane. Other photographs, on the same porch, always with the wood post for comparison: A young woman resting her face in her hand, looking stage left as everyone did that day; an old man, in two coats and a sweater and a bowler hat, his ears akimbo, reminding me in almost all ways of the forensic look of Richard Avedon’s portrait “William Casby, Born a Slave,” 1963, that Roland Barthes included in his book Camera Lucida (“the essence of slavery is here laid bare: the mask is the meaning, insofar as it is absolutely pure…”). The old woman and the old man would sit together on the porch, another portrait, her always in her shades against the Florida light, a 7-Up sign behind them in the shadows. Her sunglasses seem to reflect Parks himself. It is the photographer’s version of the Arnolfini Wedding Portrait. And while I don’t think the single portrait of the old woman is one of Parks’ well-known photographs—I came across it by accident—it seems to want to be emblematic, like his images of Ella Watson in Washington, D.C., as his FSA work began.

The old woman would have been, like Casby in Avedon’s portrait, a living connection to the 19th century, to the Civil War; she would have been born under slavery. But she is all lifted up by Parks’ camera, her head tilted upward, the sun no bother. The store and its 7-Up sign cooperate, like the RC Cola sign in the photo of her male companion—Royal Crown, underlining a reading of his beautiful if well-worn bowler hat—and the wooden post makes of her a heroic monument. She is shadow and she is light, framed by her jacket’s dark fur trim and the black of the contact sheet, encircled by a sunhat of one hundred individual halos, casting lines of sunlight on her face, echoing and displacing her wrinkled skin. In her sunglasses again you see Parks, maybe, perhaps. He seems really well-dressed, in his Sunday finest, in a suit jacket at least, the future director of Shaft. You see the world reflected, in the reflection of this photograph of an African American of extraordinary age. And you do the math, seeing that her claim to be 104 in 1943 means she would have been born in 1839, the year of the public announcement of the invention of photography. Like Ella Watson, the woman is Parks’ personification of the genius of photography. She is a photograph—She is photography—like Watson was, photography as Parks imagined it.

Alan Trachtenberg (1932-2020) by Walker Evans, September 15, 1974.

Trachtenberg had a full-blown theory of photography, a response of sorts to Susan Sontag, and he has not been widely enough recognized for this. It involves a theory of photographic relations, a theory of spectatorship, of how a viewer relates to photographic images.

Writing in 1978:
“Photography is a specular activity; its images are speculations in the double sense of visions and propositions, appearances and thoughts. The photograph is an imaged and imagined relation to a real object, and re-places the viewer toward the object now caught up in a net of new relations—the intricate web of imagination. The image imagines its viewer-subject into being, gives him or her a place, a set of borders. The act of the camera is perforce fictive, perforce ideological. The viewer’s work is to grasp the imagined relation to the world as an idea, and to play over it the critical light of his or her own desires, and not to flinch from withdrawing, from denying power to images whose ideas debase and deform. Criticism is the health of photography…From photographers who are also critics (skeptics) in this sense, their own readers and perhaps writers, can spring a truly speculative photography.”

“...stressing the ineluctable flatness of the surface...”
                —Clement Greenberg, “Modernist Painting.”

I go down the rabbit hole of the ineluctable, which means something like the inevitable, which has roots in wrestling, in the Latin “locator” or “luctari,” to wrestle. In-eluctabilis, unable to struggle clear of, to escape or to avoid. The word “lucha” or the figure of the “luchador” remembers the roots more clearly, and so I am thinking of Greenberg and Mexican wrestling, towards a Newer Laocoon, another arena in which to act, all of that. Someone must have written the essay already on Greenberg and luchadores? If you dig for a second, you will find all the essays on Greenberg and Sullivanian Therapy, the pugnacious, polyamorous, and fight-prone “Upper West Side Cult” to which he adhered. Ineluctable. Fate as a headlock.

Adventures in summer reading. Yes, I'm reading Hemingway again, and sit by the pool to finish A Moveable Feast. But I am distracted by the young woman that comes out to sunbathe. No, not that way, she is on her phone of course the whole time, and the entire conversation puts Hemingway to shame. There is talk of her upcoming marine safari to watch the sardine migration off the coast of South Africa, to see the sharks feeding on them; there is talk of her friend on a safari watching the wildebeest migration across the plains; she tells a tale of being hit by a whale fin slapping the ocean water; she asks her friend if she has ever run with the bulls in Pamplona, and says she is going with her military friends, the only woman in the group, to run with them next year.

I finish the Feast, and move on to a novel by Elsa Morante, and the narrator tells a tale of seeing a white “dugong” crawl out of the Mediterranean sea onto his island. I have never heard of dugongs and look them up, losing an hour. But then I remember that I began my day over morning coffee reading of Doggerland, a lost area of Europe hit by a tsunami 8000 years ago, a real “Atlantis.” I ponder the connections, the dugongs and Doggerland, in the style of my friend Joni Spigler (you should know her). I read a specific account of the dugongs, searching for them off the Philippines, and the guide's name in the story searching for the dugong is Dogong. I read:

“Dugongs (Dugong dugon) are distant cousins of elephants—they grow up to three-meters and weigh about 400 kilograms. Also called sea cows, they inhabit shallow waters of the Coral Triangle, wherever seagrass is abundant—hence the bovine reference! They are the fourth member of the order Sirenia, alongside the three manatee species. The Steller’s sea cow was a truly gigantic cousin at 8 meters in length—but the last of them was in 1768. Dugong comes from the Malay word duyung, which means ‘lady of the sea.’”

Who were you? is a rabbit hole I often go down. I spend the day beating the heat with an execrable book, skimming, the book on the Black Dahlia murder and Surrealism. Struck by the wedding photo at the double wedding of Man Ray-Juliet Browner-Max Ernst-Dorothea Tanning hosted by the Arensbergs in Hollywood, taken—the book tells me—by a “protege” of Man Ray named Florence Homolka. I go down the hole, finding the blazing portraits of her taken earlier in the 1930s by Man Ray. Obviously in Paris, not the local LA story I am expecting. And then I quickly realize she was Florence Meyer, before she married the actor Oscar Homolka—Katharine Graham’s older sister, daughter of Agnes Meyer, member of Stieglitz’s circle, friend of Picabia. Her childhood “home” in Westchester was where the massive “lost” Picabia abstractions now at MoMA were found in the 1970s, rolled up in the basement under birdcages and a croquet set. The estate owned now, maybe only for a little while longer, by Donald Trump.

I find a photo of her, appropriately, by Steichen. She wanted to be a dancer. I become intrigued by the many photos I begin to find of her, very young, taken by Brancusi—clearly in his studio. And then later, photos by Homolka, of Brancusi, or of his studio, of his sculptures treated like Man Ray & Co.’s heads in the double wedding portrait. I find notices of an Eastern European auction, held during COVID year 2020, selling off a trove of Brancusi’s love letters to Homolka. They seem to stretch over twenty years. He writes in French, signs his name in code, but always calls her “Darling,” in English. She died suddenly, in 1962, in her home in Bel Air.

Who were you, Florence Meyer Homolka.

Morning rabbit hole. Picabia grew up an only child, as a child, but later he did have a much younger half-sister, who was friends with Duchamp’s sister Suzanne, and shared Duchamp’s other sister’s name: Yvonne. Picabia made a drawing of her when she was about 18 or 19 years old, it was in his “anti-Dada” figurative art show chez Danthon, in 1923, and it was until recently in a private collection in Encino. I don’t know too much about Yvonne yet. She wrote—she made books—she shows up on the Google as a “judge” in a naturist beauty pageant in the 30s in France. I recently added this later book of hers to my library: Histoires de marins et chansons rochelaises. It is filled with stories, songs, and drawings that seem to share a lot of the (Francis) Picabia topoi—dogs, drunken dogs, a monkey, graffiti, kitsch portraits … Who were you Yvonne (Gresse) Picabia?

Rabbit hole du jour. Here is a Man Ray group portrait from around 1930. It often gets wheeled out now to speak to the Surrealist group’s complex position in relation to homosexuality. In her otherwise incredible anthology on women surrealists, Penelope Rosemont points to the photograph as her reason for including the artist Georges Malkine—here in the back, on the left—as one of the queer surrealists, along with René Crevel and Louis Aragon (and Claude Cahun, and Valentine Penrose, and ...). But the photograph proves more complicated than that, more wild, and more in need of history. Robert Desnos is at the center, beautiful Desnos, who eventually died in the concentration camps, of typhoid, just before the camps were liberated (this fact often now gets wheeled out to speak to the Jewish members of the Surrealist circle, but Desnos was not in a concentration camp for being of Jewish descent—more history needed here as well, another rabbit hole to plumb). In the wake of Man Ray's film Starfish, made with Desnos, to one side is the actor from that film, André de la Riviere. To the other side of Desnos is André Lasserre, a Swiss sculptor, animalist and student of Bourdelle, why is he there? I love him for his biography, and his work on a monument to Paul Lafargue, Marx's son-in-law and author of The Right to Laziness. The most underknown of artists from the original Surrealist group is then behind, Georges Malkine, but he is kissing his wife, Yvette Malkine, who wore her hair short and “dressed in masculine guise” in these years. 

And so the group portrait of a kind of collective embrace (the grasping hands, the interlocked arms, the gazes) does open onto a queer history, to be plumbed. Yvette Malkine was born Yvette Ledoux, in 1898 in Canada; her father was Urbain Ledoux, a figure more remembered now than his daughter perhaps, an American diplomat who became a peace activist, an early American convert to the Baháʼí faith, a “champion of the outcasts” who also called himself “Mr. Zero.” As in, when asked who he was as he ran bread lines and other resources for the destitute in New York, the impoverished of The Bowery,

“I am nothing, call me Zero.”

Yvette Ledoux shows up as the character “Angela Martin” in John Glassco's memoirs of Montparnasse. She had been a nurse in Europe during WWI, a dancer in the Ziegfield Follies, a part of an artist colony in Woodstock, NY. In 1920s Paris, she was the lover of the British lesbian sculptor “Gwen” Le Gallienne, notable for her nonconformity “even in Montparnasse.” The anti-Hemingway memoirs of the sexually-fluid fellow-Canadian Glassco remember Yvette and Gwen Le Gallienne and a dinner at “Chez Rosalie,” on the rue Compagne Premiere, which is also where Man Ray had his photography studio. In a blog about the food habits of bohemian Paris, I learn that Glassco memorializes the night at Chez Rosalie, as “run by one of Modigliani’s former models and well-known for the being ‘very good and incredibly cheap.’ Glassco is turned on by the amount of food the two girls eat. ‘They worked their way enthusiastically though the entire menu of the prix fixe and I found their healthy girlish appetites stimulated my own. We finished off with a chocolate mousse served in little earthenware pots covered by a circle of silver paper.’ Glassco follows the girls home to enjoy a night of three-way pleasure. The next morning the two girls start eating as soon as they wake. Buttered tartines, anchovy paste, tea and apricot jam: a feast of French and Anglo delights far more gluttonous than the pared-down breakfast Parisian women supposedly allow themselves today. Glassco leaves the apartment and buys himself a French pastry full of yellow custard. He is definitely with the girls on this occasion.” By 1929, the two women would sail for Tahiti, with Georges Malkine, and Yvette and Malkine fell in love on this voyage.

Unbelievably, the boat they sailed on was named “Antinous.” (The famed young lover of the Emperor Hadrian.)

This is the background I know so far to the group portrait by Man Ray. It is not an image of Malkine the gay surrealist, not exactly, but it is also a portrait of another Malkine the gay surrealist. There must be better ways to frame this, the homophobia of surrealism or the queerness of individual surrealists not the issue—rather the fluidity of these categories themselves. The photograph fixes nothing. And then, and then, I lose track of Yvette Ledoux Malkine. Where did she go after the portrait? What did she do? All I know for sure so far is that by the outbreak of WWII, she would leave Malkine to return to New York, to care for her father. Mr. Zero died in 1941. Yvette did not succeed in her efforts to get Malkine to leave Europe too, to join her in New York. Still alone, she died just at the war’s end, of tuberculosis, in November 1945, in the VA hospital that specialized in treating TB, just north of Beacon, in Castle Point, New York.

I will never visit Dia:Beacon again, without thinking of this photograph by Man Ray, of Yvette mistaken for a man, of the nonconformity of hers and many lives, and her demise so close by where I grew up—and never knew of her.

“The living being had no need of eyes because there was nothing outside of him to be seen; nor of ears because there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he was created thus; his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form which was designed by him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.”   ---Plato, Timaeus

All of the short texts here were written on my iPhone, to be posted on Instagram. They are in no specific order, are no longer chronological, and have been edited slightly and lightly for this context. --GB

Iury Salustiano Trojaborg

A Backyard of Affections


Image projected on bathroom curtain while audience enters:

Natureza em Tibirke, Tibirke, Denmark, 2013. © Iury Salustiano Trojaborg

Once audience is seated:
Iury is dressing herself behind curtains. Audience sees her silhouette only.
One navy blue military jacket, military boots, and a blue and green bathing suit are hanging in the space.

Voice off:
In 2018 I was 38 years old and I had been living in Berlin for over 5 years. At that point of my life, I had been in a depressive state for one year. I decided then it was finally time to create a performance where I would tackle the difficult relationship I had with my father my entire life. The first thing I decided was that the performance should be called Stories of a Feud (it appears projected on shower curtain) which would contain short stories, written in the first person, mainly dealing with my rigid upbringing as the daughter of a Navy commander and helicopter pilot in Sao Pedro D’ Aldeia, a small town located two hours away from the state capital, Rio de Janeiro. I spent ten significant years of my childhood there and my father still owns the house where my brother and I grew up. Once I started writing the Sao Pedro stories though, I remembered other meaningful stories that had taken place in other cities, such as Salvador, capital of state the Bahia, where I spent the first year of my life. Then even  more stories came to the surface such as those taking place in Aracaju, capital of the state of Sergipe where my father served for two years as the highest maritime authority.

Because these were autobiographical stories told from my point of view, I decided that for the performance, they should be accompanied on the stage by photographs and real memorabilia pertaining to my family. Most of these objects, pieces of clothing, photographs, handwritten letters, drawings, cassette tapes, etc., are now with my father in the old family house, so I sent him a message to check the possibility of getting access to this material. Here’s the answer I received from him:

Performer plays WhatsApp audio message sent by Sonilon on October 23rd 2018 04:11am:
Iury, o que eu quero dizer é o seguinte, boa noite, eu tenho muita coisa para fazer, cara, é… a sua prioridade não é a minha prioridade, não que eu não queira te ajudar, agora você me faz uma porção de pergunta, quer uma porção de coisa antiga, eu tenho que revirar muita coisa, eu não sei qual é a sua ideia, eu não entendo perfeitamente essa ideia de performance, são umas coisas que não são do meu mundo, bicho, o meu mundo é diferente, o meu mundo é feijão com arroz e pé no chão e cartesiano, então eu posso lhe ajudar, mas não me cobra prazo porque eu não tenho prazo, eu trabalho muito bicho, eu passo mais da metade do mês dentro de um hotel voando o dia inteiro sem tempo para nada, eu tenho pouco tempo em casa então dentro das minhas possibilidades eu vou te ajudar, vou tentar ver isso aí, mas voce cismou com um negócio, uma loucura (…)

Iury interrupts when the word “loucura” comes up. The word “loucura” is projected on the shower curtain.

(…) I haven’t understood a thing of what it is you want to make, whose story do you want to tell? Why don’t you tell your story instead of mine? Your story is your story, my story is my story; but then you start to mix in my marine corps graduation voyage, my marine corps uniform, plus the photography of your grandmother. Listen, honestly, this is madness (…)

Iury interrupts the message when the word “madness” comes up.  The word “madness” is projected on the shower curtain.

(…) I will help you in my own time, as much as possible; I cannot just stop my life, a life already very complicated, just because of a whim of yours (…)

Iury interrupts again when the word “whim” comes up. The word “whim is projected on the shower curtain.

(…) because of this need of yours; so in time I can help you, maybe not at your speed but rather at my speed, my availability. I understood what it is that you want, so I am going to look for it, copy. I just don’t understand what my marine corps graduation voyage has to do with your life, what my marine corps uniform has to do with your life (…)

Performer interrupts the message when the sentence “I just don’t understand what my marine corps graduation voyage has to do with your life, what my marine corps uniform has to do with your life” comes up. The sentence is projected on the shower curtain. Finally, she plays the message to the end.

(…) this is just madness, what you have in your head; I really cannot understand you and you cannot explain it to me, right? So, within my availability, and at my own speed I am going to check what I can do to help you, ok? A goodnight kiss.

Iury performs the answer sent via WhatsApp on October 23rd 2018 11:24am:
Dad, I can explain to you in details the genesis of the performance I intend to create. When you have some free time, call me and I will be more than happy to share my ideas with you. What I am working on right now is not “madness”, as you defined it. It’s just an attempt to understand myself through my ancestors. Not everything that one doesn’t understand can be named “madness”. Following your logic, I could also call your life and your work “madness”. But I don’t, out of the respect I have for you and also for believing that people are different, there are so many different ways of leading one’s life and how to exist in this world. And I profoundly respect differences. I thank you in advance for your support and I put myself at your disposition for a conversation about my ideas.

Iury dresses military with every story and has a comment on each accessory that they are not the original ones, but replacements.

Story 1: Salvador, Bahia
I was born in July 1979 during the Brazilian military dictatorship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Though my parents were not living in Rio at the time of my birth, but in Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia, a city located 1600 kilometers away from Rio. They were living there at that time because my father joined the Marine corps at a young age, which meant he was often transferred from one city to another, as he moved up through the ranks over the course of his nearly life-long navy career. That also meant that my father would spend a great deal of time joining military expeditions far away from home and his family. Sometimes for several months at a time.

My parents used to tell me this story: Right before my birth, my mother decided to travel to Rio so that I would be born in the same city where both my parents had been born, adding, in this way, the proud citizenship yet another carioca to the family. That’s what Brazilians call people who are born in Rio de Janeiro: carioca, with a sense of central-southern pride. In order to make the story of my birth even more grandiose, they used to tell me that this was my first plane trip, crossing Brazilian skies some 35.000 feet above the ground in my mother’s womb, just to become a carioca. I used to love this story when I was a kid and spread it widely among my friends in school. But many years later, I learned that this was a one-sided version of the story. Another version is that my mother flew to Rio so that she and I would be assisted by my grandmother and my aunts during the first weeks following my birth, rather than my mother being left alone in Salvador, a city she had just moved to where she didn’t know anyone.

This actually happened. My father was traveling when I was born and got to see me only three days after my birth. I had not been made aware of that though.

It took me 38 years to learn that my father was absent when my mother gave birth to me. She only revealed it when I asked her about the real reason for the trip to Rio de Janeiro. Then she showed me this picture of our first encounter:

Performer uses overhead projector to display the following picture of Iury and Sonilon.
This photo tells a story I now have trouble believing: the caring father feeding his baby. What I mostly remember from my early years is his absence.
It is confusing to me why after all these years why I still feel my father’s absence.
And why somewhere deep down I am still looking for his approval.
Until when?
For how long  am I going to allow myself to walk in these shoes of oppression?

Story 2: Sao Pedro d’Aldeia, Rio de Janeiro
In December 1982, my father was part of the first Brazilian expedition in Antartica, where he spent four long months away from home. I now understand what a great professional achievement it might have been for him. Back then though, for my mother, my brother and I, it was not the happiest of times. It did however provide me with one of my earliest memories: I was 3 years old and I might have been acting a bit strange because my mother kept asking: “What’s going on with you?” I couldn’t reply, I didn’t know. I couldn’t understand my own feelings. That much I remember. After much insistence the only reply I could give was: I miss my father. Yes, despite my strict military upbringing, despite all the chores we had to do every Sunday, such as cleaning the garden, brushing his boots, sweeping the front of the house, washing and polishing both cars etc., despite all those things that I hated so much, those things that kept us from spending Sunday at the beach, I still missed him when he was not around. And he was quite often not around, but involved in military exercises and I remember thinking: what threat are they preparing for? It didn’t seem to me that there was any war to prepare for, and the only threat I remember feeling quite vividly was the possibility of losing my father in a helicopter crash. Every now and then there was a helicopter accident in Sao Pedro D’Aldeia, leaving a military widow and fatherless kids. I still remember one of my classmates, Elson. We were in the 4th grade. One day somebody came to pick him up early from school. Not long afterwards, I heard my mother talking to someone and soon the whole town knew: Elson’s father had been killed in a helicopter crash. That left me sleepless for many nights, thinking my father could be the next.

Story 3: Aracaju, Sergipe
It was supposed to be a boat trip. That’s how my father had announced it. My brother and I got very excited. But an alarm bell rang in my head as soon as I saw the boat, which was actually a cargo ship. To my childish eyes, a huge one. I was 11 years old and we were living in Aracaju, located some 300 kilometres away from Salvador. Already at that age, I understood that we wouldn’t be making a Sunday boat trip on a big ship like that. Something smelled off. There was a lot of wind as I watched the coast slowly disappearing. Everybody seemed to be having a good time while all I thought was: When are are we going back? Then something began to appear on the horizon. A black dot that slowly grew larger and larger. My father and the crew started discussing something but I still couldn’t grasp it. Then, right before my eyes, the small black dot became huge: It was an oil platform. I had never seen one before. Then a new announcement was made: the ship is continuing its journey into the open sea, so we have to move onto the platform in order to return to land. Nobody had told me that before. I became very nervous. I couldn’t accept that betrayal. Imagine a crane hoisting a big block of rock from the ground on a construction site. That’s how we were supposed to be transferred from the cargo ship onto the oil platform and then afterwards onto a much smaller ship, that would finally bring us back to land. To safety, as I thought of it. While being hoisted up from the ship by a crane, All I had to hold on to was a thin piece of fishnet placed in front of me. I heard laughter and screams and I did not dare looking down into the ocean. I felt frozen, paralised and betrayed. I was in shock, I would say. To my father though, I  preferred to say nothing in order not to awaken his anger.

Didier Eribon’s Returning to Reims excerpt:
“How the traces of what you were as a child, the manner in which you were socialized, persist even when the conditions in which you live as an adult have changed, even when you have worked so hard to keep that past at distance. And so, when you return to the environment from which you came - which you left behind - you are somehow turning back upon yourself, returning to yourself, rediscovering an early self that has been both preserved and denied. Suddenly, in circumstances like these, there rises to the surface of your consciousness everything from which you imagined you had freed yourself and your personality - specifically the discomfort that results from belonging to two different worlds, worlds so far separated from each other that they seem irreconcilable, and yet which coexist in everything that you are. This is a melancholy related to a ‘split habitus’to invoke Bourdieu’s wonderful, powerful concept. Strangely enough, it is precisely at the moment in which you try to get past this diffuse and hidden kind of malaise, to get over it, or when you try at least to allay it a bit, that it pushes even more strongly to the fore, and that's when the melancholy associated with it redoubles its force. The feelings involved have always been there, a fact that you discover or rediscover at this key moment; they were lurking deep inside, doing their work, working on you. Is it ever possible to overcome this malaise, to assuage this melancholy?”

Eribon, Didier. Returning to Reims. Translated by Michael Lucey. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), p.19

Iury dresses in Voinha’s bathing suit:
Somewhen along the way, I realized how painful and difficult it was to create a performance about the struggles I went through with my father during a depressive crisis. I decided then to turn my attention to my maternal grandmother Voinha, a source of love and inspiration throughout my life. A show initially named Stories of Acceptance (projected) became in the end Feliz Aniversário (Happy Birthday), a celebration of Voinha’s 100th birthday, presented at Hebbel am Ufer Theater in Berlin in November 2020.

In December 2022 I went back to Voinha’s first address in Rio de Janeiro, the same place where we had last met in September 2018. Despite the lack of her bodily presence, I searched for traces of her existence and ways of communicating with her by listening to the environment at my disposition. The recordings of our  ancestral exchange were based on the knowledge of the soil, of the flora, of the wind and of one particular memorabilia: Voinha’s ever-present sewing machine.

Voinha was the first person I met who seemed to exhale a sense of freedom and self-control by not allowing anyone to subjugate her. Already from an early age I longed to be free the way Voinha was. Her mixture of a strong-willed and independent personality with an extremely loving and caring presence was an example for me. Voinha was the first non-binary person I met.

Muito obrigade, Voinha. For showing me a way out.

Iury bathes herself in a bathtub.
Video: Quintal de Voinha, by Hilnando, Iury and Lucas Martins

Needless to say my father never responded to my request, so now I am having to make do with replicas of family tokens.

Five years later, I am still trying to tell these stories in order understand my father and, consequently, myself. Maybe I never will. But I keep on trying.

I am my father, but I am also my grandmother Voinha. I am many others who have crossed my different paths along this long journey of migration.

As the genesis of this performance has now taken more than five years, maybe I will need other five to conclude it. Or even fifty and, who knows, five hundred years and a million other stories.

So, Salvador, Sao Pedro d’Aldeia, Rio de Janeiro, Aracaju, Doha, Salzburg, München, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Copenhagen and now Malmö are not only the cities where I’ve lived, but also where I have gathered experiences. Experiences that keep pushing me forward.

Off I go.

Iury and Thiago perform the song Maranhao together.

The End

My current practice as an artist researcher is a consequence of the different educational paths I followed, paths very much informed by a desire of not belonging to rigid epistemological structures and by an attempt to investigate methodologies that contemplate the performative as an arena to deal with the crossing of specific issues related to gender, sexuality, racialization, class and ableism, present in my body and in its relation to the different societies that I have inhabited throughout the last sixteen years since I left Rio de Janeiro for Doha, Qatar and later moved on to the Northern European cities of Munich, Frankfurt am Main, Copenhagen, Berlin, and Malmö.

I understand the performative as a possibility to generate knowledge through the body and via its interaction with other agents, or as scholar Mark Fleishmann in his article The Difference of Performance as Research states: “…performance constitutes ‘an alterity’ that resists the hegemony of the text in the academy. It is a transgression that seeks to break down the separation of subject and object, of body and mind, and therefore it must be either expunged, silenced or policed by the academy (…) What is required is an honest acceptance that the principle of ‘compossibility’ – fleshes alongside images, sight alongside hearing and touching and feeling and moving – is called for”. By making use of autoethnography as both a dramaturgical methodology and a performative tool, I am searching for ways to dramatize and, in this way, re-tell my own and some of my ancestors’ journeys (currently my maternal grandmother and my father’s). I deposit my belief in the iterative power of performance as means to emancipate and to regenerate those involved in such processes.

Iury Salustiano Trojaborg is an interdisciplinary, queer, non-binary, migrant artist who has worked practically and theoretically in Theatre, Performance, Dance and Opera.

Mathilde Bonnefoy

Basim Magdy

Final Release

She was baptized an ambassador
Back when the embassy was in hell
She knew the colors of the rainbow
Were a reflection of her face
Her tears smelled like the Mediterranean
And her cheeks lived up
To her roommates' expectations

The farm was left to rot
The dry canal revealed an ancient
Bitter iron mine
Raging beneath the convoluted
Layers of its masquerading existentialism
Anger can move mountains, they say
But she just laughed
At the blood taste in her mouth

On my 21st birthday I found myself
Sleeping on a stranger’s couch
In Lewiston, ME

All I remember:
A mountain of tie die shirts
Bright green delusion
And the final release
Of religious guilt
I was excited about something
I was never going to find
And there she was
For a chance
Finally be herself
In the dark wilderness of
Generational pretentiousness

Rachel Churner/
Carolee Schneemann 

T.V., a Happening

I noticed the performance on Carolee Schneemann’s CV with fascination, awe, and a bit of skepticism: “T.V., a Happening commissioned by NBC Television’s Tonight Show” in 1965, so early in her career, was surely a major event. Schneemann kept extensive preparatory notes and drawings and yet I could find no documentation of it in our archives. The 1965 “Tonight Show” mention, with its carefully phrased emphasis on commission rather than production, had fallen off lists in some exhibition catalogues and books, only to be added back on by the artist, time and again. And so, I added it to my very long list of “items to research.” After all, Schneemann’s history of ground-breaking performances is sizeable and her stories about those events legendary. And there is so much to uncover: What happened to the video footage of “Interior Scroll” from 1975? Who photographed the London performance of “Meat Joy?” Who reported the dramatic screening of “Fuses” at Cannes, in which moviegoers shredded their seats in outrage? How to trace the influences and anti-influences, how to parse an artist’s story from the stories of others who were there, and how to determine if one version should take priority? Incompleteness and indeterminacy are concepts that Schneemann was far more comfortable with than I am. Things were reworked, reperformed, rehung, re-edited; dates were changed, then changed again.

When I looked in the archives for information about “T.V., a Happening,” I came up short. But then I found this piece in the Miami Herald. Dick Schaap—the double-letters clearly were important to him—published a piece in January 1966 titled “Carolee and The Happening That Hasn’t Happened As Yet.” In it he describes how a “Tonight Show” representative called Schneemann and asked her to stage a happening on NBC. She made drawings, notes, a draft of the performance: “We set it up like guerrilla warfare, so that Johnny couldn’t really disrupt it.” But after several revisions, the “Tonight Show” cancelled it altogether. The fact that we don’t have a record of the plans for the kinetic theater (Schneemann’s term for her performances) doesn’t negate the event; the discovery of her description of it—to a rather condescending newspaper columnist, no less—gives us an idea of just how significant the opportunity would have been.

Looking through the drawings from 1964 and 1965 that remain with the foundation, I came across one that seemed to serve as a key for Schneemann’s preoccupations in those years and that would, I think, have informed any happening she created for television. It isn’t specific to the commission; I’ve yet to find that material. But it offers a list of actions that become a type of concrete poetry, a way of entering the artist’s working process, with or without Johnny Carson. Actions that, though unrealized, remained formative.

—Rachel Churner, Director of the Carolee Schneemann Foundation

The Miami Herald, January 22, 1966, page 7A.

Detail of page 7A: Dick Schaap, “Carolee And The Happening That Hasn’t As Yet,” Miami Herald, January 22, 1966.

Carolee Schneemann, untitled drawing, 1964. (c) Carolee Schneemann Foundation.

Hong-Kai Wang with Bopha Chhay

Violet quartz, honey, cinnamon & huanglien

*This text is the preface of ‘Frequencies: Violet quartz, honey, cinnamon & huanglien’, issue 2 of ‘Beacon – a pamphlet series in ten issues’ published by Artspeak (Vancouver, 2022). The publication is comprised of five texts respectively authored by Bill Dietz, Darla Migan, Övül Durmuşoğlu, Hu Shu-Wen, and John Pule.

It all began with the heart. I started having heart palpitations in the late summer of 2020. My heart would pound tirelessly. Sometimes I could feel my pulse beating from my temples, down my neck, and to my wrists. And sometimes I would walk down the street and feel my heart racing so fast that the rest of my body could barely keep up. My heart is a sovereign being, the inside-out of an out-of-body experience. I had an appointment where a cardiologist ran a full blood test on me and had me wear a 24-hour electrocardiogram vest. Nothing appeared to be obviously wrong. My gynecologist ensured me that my heart palpitations were a common perimenopausal symptom. I had the option to begin taking hormones or do nothing at all, and to live with the imminence of menopause. The Taoist priest I met with claimed my condition was a manifestation of visitations made by karmic creditors from my past lives. She advised me to chant Buddhist sutras and mantras daily to repent for my karmic debts, particularly the Heart Sutra.1 It was my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor K who I found to offer the most concise diagnosis. That is, my heart palpitations were a symptom of excessive fire in the heart i.e., “heart yang” as opposed to “heart ying,” the result of excessive fluctuant energy. In light of that, the treatment became a matter of how to “compose” this energy— in other words, to consider the various frequencies. To treat a heart that ‘bounces like a drum’, alongside acupuncture treatment, he prescribed the following combination of ingredients:

violet quartz 30g, honey 30g, cinnamon 1.5g, & huanglien (goldthread rhizome) 5g

Vermillion Bird Dan (朱雀丹) is a well-known prescription in TCM derived from the Taoist alchemical medicinal practice (丹醫). It is named after the vermillion bird, one of four divine symbols of the Chinese constellation. Also known as the God of Heart, vermillion bird, according to Wu Xing (五行)2 aka the Taoist five-elemental system, “represents the element fire, the direction south, and the season summer correspondingly.” This prescription Vermillion Bird Dan works to ground the fluctuant energy within one’s body: huanglien clears away “heart fire;” cinnamon warms up “kidney yang;” honey softens the medicine’s sharp taste and effect; violet quartz tranquilizes the nervous system and the mind. Dr. K spoke about the ways that TCM aims to organize one’s frequencies. As such, in my case, it is a matter of how to (re)organize and (re)compose those uncomfortable frequencies that pulsate from the heart and disperses throughout the body. One’s body has its own cosmology, and as the Taiwanese novelist Hu Shu-Wen writes “Every body is a planet with its own tides.”

Taking Dr. K’s alchemical organizing of frequencies as an elemental point of departure, Frequencies: violet quartz, honey, cinnamon & huanglien is a pamphlet comprised of five texts, each of which sets out to interpret frequencies expansively in relation to a perceived ailment, condition or bodily disorder. The prescription, anchored within the Taoist elemental system, aims to adjust at a molecular level the internal workings of the body, seeking to rectify and reclaim an elemental balance within one's body.

Grounded in our inquiry on “frequencies,” each contribution sketches out a cognitive constellation anchored within the body and its politics thereof. It is our hope that this focus would provide a way to open out to a wider social body and ideas of collectivity in different ways, whilst not overlooking ailments (often perceived as negative) and what is felt in the body. Furthermore, we want to think about how complex knowledge systems and practices pass through our individual and collective bodies, and how one participates in different systems of knowledge and care.

This small publication is as much for reading as it is for listening. The contributions offer personal stories and experiences of the way ailments reside in our bodies, something like a poetic repertoire. These contributions speak through the body it inhabits; some borrow the voices of other’s, while all living within a specific order of body politics. How does personal responsibility for one’s own well-being affect and contribute to collective well-being and vice versa? The contributions to this pamphlet reveal how compounding pressures impact our mind, body, spiritually, and the various ways we attempt to ease, live with, and challenge and upturn what ails us.

The Heart Sūtra is a popular sutra in Mahāyāna Buddhism. In Sanskrit, the title Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya translates as "The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom". The Sutra famously states, "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form." “The Heart Sutra,” Wikipedia, accessed December 8, 2021.

2 Wu Xing is usually translated as Five Phases, is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs. “Wuxing (Chinese philosophy)”, Wikipedia, accessed December 8, 2021.

 back to home ︎ 

Hope Ginsburg, Matt Flowers, Joshua Quarles

Swirling Postcard

Swirling Postcard, 2023, Single-channel video with sound, 3 min. 57 sec.

Swirling Postcard delivers a snapshot of the coral nurseries and outplant sites of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, where we filmed our four-channel video installation Swirling (2019) in the summer of 2017, just before hurricanes Irma and Maria made their devastating paths through the Caribbean and Florida. “Postcard” visually updates Swirling’s coral restoration vignettes and offers a brief dispatch on the state of The Nature Conservancy in the Caribbean’s coral restoration initiatives in St. Croix six years hence.

Swirling took its name from the “swirl” of factors impacting the coral restoration story’s outcome, as well as from one of our shooting sites, the Swirling Reef of Death. The staghorn coral nursery “trees” and outplants at the Swirling Reef of Death were demolished by Hurricane Maria. Cane Bay, another of our original shooting sites, fared much better. Matt shot Postcard at Cane Bay, revisiting the same outplant sites and focusing on new staghorn coral colonies and the dome or “table” nursery structures that have replaced the tree design. The lower-maintenance tables are less susceptible to storm surge and breaking loose from the seabed, though they have not yet gone through a major storm. (The damaged table in the video was likely caused by a boat’s anchor, one of many challenges faced by coral reefs.)

Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornus) is a focus of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) restoration efforts for several reasons. It is fast growing—though some might be older, much of the coral in the video is between one and three years old. The species is “weedy,” it comes and goes depending on water temperature, sediment, and fireworm presence. Fish and other wildlife love to make homes and hiding spots of staghorn coral; it is a habitat-builder. Staghorn coral is easy to propagate in water. If you break off a piece on the reef, it continues to grow; this is actually the coral’s natural life cycle, which lends the species to propagation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Staghorn coral is not susceptible to Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), which is devastating coral in Florida and the Caribbean.

TNC has launched several new coral restoration initiatives since we shot Swirling in 2017. In that year, the scientists began work on assisted sexual reproduction, collecting the coral’s eggs and sperm when they spawn once or twice a year. The spawn is brought back to land for fertilization in the lab, settling the gametes onto support substrates. These tiny larvae grow either in the lab or field nurseries from three months to a year, after which they’re outplanted to the reef. Unlike the work with Acroporids like staghorn, which is all cloning, assisted sexual reproduction increases genetic diversity among the corals, which is the only way to prepare them for future threats.

May of 2022 saw the launch of TNC’s Virgin Islands Coral Innovation Hub, a terrestrial lab carrying out underwater coral restoration in almost fifty acres of reef, and impacting three times that area of marine habitat in St. Croix. The lab affords the capacity to grow corals in tanks, specifically those that are difficult to work with underwater, such as boulder and brain corals. These slow-growing species are reef-builders, providing structure, strength, and shoreline protection. Another Coral Innovation Hub initiative is exploring new propagation methods like microfragmentation, in which corals are cut into small pieces to spur additional growth. The divers in Swirling Postcard are gathering fragments for microfragmentation in the lab.

The array of coral restoration actions described here is, without a doubt, cause for hope. However, in the words of TNC’s Lisa K. Terry, it is “just one small piece in a very big puzzle.” Climate change, pollution, coastal development, disease, and overfishing are all coral threats that are not addressed by restoration. If root causes like climate change and disastrous water quality are not tackled, restoration efforts will be in vain.

As with Swirling, “Postcard” flickers between optimistic and tragic. Healthy outplanted coral thrives, providing habitat for technicolor wildlife. The nurseries and outplant sites are portraits of labor between human and more-than-human beings for shared survival. But the scene is set in a reef that is a shadow of what it once was and could be. The repeated bell sounds in Swirling Postcard’s score call us to wake up, sounding a subtle yet persistent alarm.

Hope Ginsburg, Matt Flowers, Joshua Quarles
June 2023

Vast thanks to Lisa K. Terry of The Nature Conservancy in the Caribbean for welcoming the Swirling project over many years and for providing expertise and insight for this update.

Support for Swirling (2019) was provided by the Film/Video Studio Program at the Wexner Center for the Arts and Alumni Residency Project Support from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. The installation was exhibited in Sponge Exchange at the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum (2020) and New Earthworks at the Arizona State University Art Museum (2022).

Alina Stefanescu

Three Poems

Poem to First Love

How could I forget your sonorous touch, Sam?
When you fell upon me near the tree, I had no resistance
built up against love's virulence. In that moment, I was
novel. The first thou laid over my wrist like a stone
carnation, charming, unbearable. To be snapt and
yet sinking. Surely no one had yet been so thou to
you, as none had been thee yet to me. I was 17 and you
were giddying me towards the steamed encounter.
My family hated what loomed between us in dreams,
in dreaming—I was gone to them completely. Gone as
the swound, Sam. Spired in the gallop of your breath's
pacing. I don't think I ever came back; or — when it ended,
I was another person, a different sort of creature, this
raw, anticipative thing wrothed in having been read
though not written. Coleridge, would that we'd never
met! I would not be the lunatic of arcana, the raving
notebook of love's depravity, this Thee to your
Thou, betrothed to poetry.

--after Matthew Yeager

Dear B— would that you hadn't unlatched the symbols

When Thom Gunn admired
the hummingbirds giving blow-jobs,
he did so in a letter to a friend.

Gunn didn't drag their slim beaks
into the room of the poem where beards
and ears judge our exposed orifices.

I am over. Are we closer
now. I am assuming you know
of the pink whale I painted
on the cover of our shared notebook.

It needed marking.
It needed me to leave

the wee words and stroam
the alleys between vacant warehouses,
to heed the birdsong of idling trucks.

I think everything is beaked
if you let me touch it

amply. I wrote three
words on my wrist: alone,

alone, alone. Behind the
assembled dumpsters,
the cold hunch of green mettle

and the hundred-studded dandelions
raising their yellow pricks
to cover the meadow in eyelets.

Of Dignity

My husband is brilliant & statuesque
when he does not speak.

He poses like remorseless lede
on the ripped-up red chaise between towers of books & dead hydrangeas.

Some flowers don't smell when they rot, which reminds me
of Wittgenstein's Eastern Front diary — or the war between dying & writing
& masturbation, the question of suicide —
the way it just sits there.

That tweed hat on the floor
with its jutting lip, the hardness
of an I who'd rather touch you than it — the valor
drafted to fit the worn silence.

Brian L. Frye1

What is Called Legal Scholarship?

Two margarines on the go, it’s a nightmare scenario.2

We learn what it means to do legal scholarship by trying to do legal scholarship. But in order to do legal scholarship, we must learn how to do legal scholarship. So, by trying to do legal scholarship, we recognize that we don’t yet know how to do legal scholarship. What a conundrum!

Fortunately, lawyers do law, and therefore can do legal scholarship, if they learn how. But not all lawyers are capable of learning how to do legal scholarship. Legal scholars are as legal scholars do, and many potential legal scholars are stymied by their disinclination to do legal scholarship. Some lawyers are interested in legal scholarship, but uninterested in doing legal scholarship. Others try to do legal scholarship by doing law, which may itself be valuable, but is not legal scholarship.

And yet, the reason most lawyers don’t do legal scholarship isn’t because they are incapable of doing legal scholarship. Yes, lawyers haven’t turned toward legal scholarship, in order to reflect on the nature of their profession and its social role. But also, legal scholarship has long since turned away from the law. Indeed, legal scholarship has always turned away from the law. Even as lawyers attempt to do legal scholarship, it withdraws from them and the law, frustrating their efforts by eluding their grasp.

Law is the science of predicting how institutions will resolve disputes.3 To be sure, the law asks why institutions resolve disputes in one way, rather than another, and whether the predicted resolution is socially desirable. But legal scholarship isn’t a science. It doesn’t ask what will happen, but what could happen. Or rather, it asks what can be disputed, why disputes are resolved, and who determines social desirability.

In other words, legal scholarship rejects the premises of the law. A legal scholar is a lawyer who is freed from the burden of the law.4 Accordingly, lawyers can learn to do legal scholarship only by unlearning the law. They become lawyers by coming to know the law, and they can only become legal scholars by coming to forget the law. As legal scholarship withdraws from the law, so too must legal scholars withdraw in its wake. And in so doing, they point to what legal scholarship is becoming.

As erstwhile lawyers withdraw toward legal scholarship, they point to another path of the law. As Robert Frost observed in one of his poems:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Surely, Frost’s path was memory, the source of all law, and the path from which our law diverges. The law has existed since time immemorial, but is remade in every argument and decision. The genius of the law is to make everything old, new again. But legal scholarship is recalcitrant. It is a river that flows backward to its source, making everything new, old again. Its genius is to ask us to reconsider ideas we have rejected or ignored, by framing them as obligations. After all, the law only ever exists in our collective imagination. People have always imagined laws that reflect their dream of the past.6 Legal scholars abandon dreams of the past for dreams of the future. And in so doing, they encourage us to dream along with them. The dream of the 1790s is alive in legal scholarship.

In any case, learning how to do legal scholarship is hard. The way back to the past is a difficult path, with many obstacles. If legal scholars wish to make any progress, they must leap over them, lest they be impeded by trivialities. As a great philosopher once observed, “Hic Rhodus, hic salta!”7 A leap in logic should be thrilling, not confounding. Or rather, legal scholarship should always be confounding, in order to prepare its consumers for new ideas. We leap, hoping to inspire others to leap as well.

Of course, many will complain that legal scholarship should abandon these peculiar ambitions and resign itself to describing the law as it is, rather than as it might be. They fear that legal scholarship will lose itself in dreams and absent-mindedly sever its connection to the science of law. Even worse, they fear that legal scholarship may ultimately reject the law, or even disparage the principles that animate the law.

These fears are unfounded. Yes, the purpose of legal scholarship is to reject the law. And yet, it rejects the law only by looking past the law. Legal scholarship is not ideological. But it transcends ideology by addressing only the laws, institutions, social practices, and ideas it imagines, rather than those which actually exist. The law-in-practice is but a pale shadow of the law-in-theory, because legal scholarship abandons the prosaic reality of the law for its glorious potentiality.

This misconception is illustrated by the way that law schools teach law and conceptualize legal scholarship. We teach the law as it is and as it is practiced, as opposed to the law as it might be and might be practiced. Or rather, we teach our students to do law, and then lament their indifference to legal scholarship, even as we ourselves struggle to learn how to do legal scholarship.

Remember, even learning how to do something is no guarantee of success in actually doing it. If we teach our students to put their feet on the ground, then it should be unsurprising that their heads aren’t in the clouds. But they stand in a fog of the law that surrounds and prevents them from seeing the law itself. The essence of legal scholarship is dispersing the fog, in order to perceive the reef on which the enterprise might founder.

Perhaps legal scholars should emulate cabinetmakers, who learn from the past how to create in the future. For centuries, people have studied the craft of cabinetmaking, which comprises the accumulated knowledge of countless cabinetmakers, distilled into physical form. Every cabinet is an expression of the craft it embodies, and speaks for all of the artisans whose voices it distills, albeit some more eloquently than others. Of course, much the same is true of a quilt, which often incorporates not only the social knowledge of a craft, but also physical remnants of a community.

In other words, craft humanizes technology, by transforming it into knowledge of ourselves. So too might legal scholarship humanize the law. Just as craft silently speaks for a multitude of artisans, legal scholarship may silently speak for everyone, for the Law is our first handiwork, which enables all the others.

But we no longer care for craft. Or rather, we admire, but no longer understand it. An artisan abhors the facsimile of handicraft, which purports to speak for history, but sounds only in gibberish. And yet, for those who have forgotten the language of craft, all is nonsense, and the silent voices of its artisans are truly stilled. Likewise with the silent language of the Law, which alone can inspire legal scholarship. In order to learn how to speak, we must learn how to listen.

Aspiring to do legal scholarship, we stand before the Law and petition for admission into the Cathedral, so that we may someday stand above the Law, and judge it as it judges us. Perhaps it is not for us to do legal scholarship, but surely we can aspire. And when we inevitably fail, we do so knowing there was a vision of legal scholarship that existed for us and us alone, even if we never quite saw it clearly, even if we were never sure we wanted to see it.

1. Spears-Gilbert Professor of Law, University of Kentucky College of Law.
2. Graham Fellows, Two Margarines (2008).
3. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., The Path of the Law (1897) (“The prophecies of what the courts will do in fact, and nothing more pretentious, are what I mean by the law.”).
4. Martin Luther, The Life of Martin Luther (ed. Jules Michelet 1846) (“This is the reason that the body must remain upon Earth, to bear the burden of the law, but the soul ascends to the mountain.”).
5. Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken (1913).
6. Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be, The Onion, Nov. 14, 2009,
7. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852).

David C. Porter


November is a collection of pictures I took in early November, 2021, in someone's backyard. Whose isn't important. It had just rained, one of those long-toothed fall days that's like an echo of warmer times, reminding you how much of the year is gone, and how much is behind you. This is the last time any of these leaves would fall; both trees were cut down the next summer. As such, I captured them while I could, in all their sodden beauty. Perhaps I would do it differently today – but I can't. This is all we have. I've set these images against some simple color blocks, because nothing exists in a vacuum.

Ekrem Serdar

San Stefano

Fragments of an abandoned film series regarding the Ottoman Empire, the formation of ethno-states, among other matters, taking as its basis The Destruction of the Russian Monument at San Stefano (1914), often credited as the first Turkish film.

The film depicts the destruction of a church and community center - the Russian monument - built by the Russian empire, in the outskirts of then Constantinople. It was built to honor killed Russian soldiers following the Ottoman’s defeat during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878.

Image description: A screenshot of a news clipping from the December 19, 1898 of the New York Times. It reads: “Russian Warriors Honored: A Monument Unveiled Is Reviving Hatred Among the Turks. Constantinople, Dec. 18 - The Russian Grand Duke Nicholas, who arrived here on Friday on board a Russian steamer, unveiled to-day at Galatana, near San Stefano, where on March 3, 1878, was signed the treaty of peace that terminated the Russo-Turkish war, a monument to the Russian soldiers who fell in that conflict. The unveiling was accompanied with much ceremony and military parade at which representatives of all the Balkan States were present.”

It was destroyed upon the Ottoman Empire’s entry into World War 1 in late 1914. The film stock and equipment was provided by the German army. The film is credited to Fuat Uzkinay.

The film doesn’t exist. Some say it was never made. Some say that Uzkinay shot it, but it being his first film, nothing was exposed and the film came out blank. Some say that the film, which was stored in a palace, was thrown in to the Bosphorus as they didn’t want the nitrate strip to burn down the building. Some say that someone else made it. A film canister bearing the films name was found; inside the can was another film. Some people said they’ve seen it; others have doubted the supposed viewers’ honesty.

Image description: A photograph of a strip of 16mm film from Ekrem Serdar, The San Stefano Project. There are perforations on the side of the strip, and individual images, in green, depicting a the Russian Monument at San Stefano prior to its destruction. The scan lines of a monitor are also visible on the individual frames.

When Turkish historians refer to it as the First Turkish film, what they mean is the first film by a Sunni Muslim. They don’t mean the first film made within the Ottoman Empire--for that would be the Manaki brothers in Macedonia. Besides its non-existence, its consideration as “the first” demarcates the violent turn to ethno-nationalism, the collapse of the empire and the birth of the nation-states in the region.

It acquired its status with a slow accumulation of decisions after the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, almost 100 years ago. First a “director’s” name. Then, a blurb. In the early 2000s, a gallery exhibition celebrating Turkish film history fabricated a movie poster for the film.

Image description: A photograph of a three film frames from of 16mm film from Ekrem Serdar, The San Stefano Project. There are perforations on the side of the strip. The three frames, in green, black and white, show an illustration of a young person wearing a fez looking at a working film projector. Underneath, two almost identical frames of an illustration of a person with a mustache wearing a fez. The image is abstract enough that its not clear if he is smiling, or if his features have been greatly exaggerated.
The historian of cinema faces an appalling problem. Seeking in his subject some principle of intelligibility, he is obliged to make himself responsible for every frame of film in existence. For the history of cinema consists precisely of every film that has ever been made, for any purpose whatever.…The historian dares neither select nor ignore, for if he does, the treasure will surely escape him.
The metahistorian of cinema, on the other hand, is occupied with inventing a tradition, that is, a coherent wieldy set of discrete monuments, meant to inseminate resonant consistency into the growing body of his art. Such works may not exist, then it is his duty to make them. Or they may exist already, somewhere outside the intentional precincts of the art (for instance, in the prehistory of cinematic art, before 1943). And then he must remake them.
-- For a Metahistory of Film: Commonplace Notes and Hypotheses, Hollis Frampton, 1971

The series of films I worked on focused on this non-existent first Turkish film to think through the fall of the Ottoman Empire. It took ample inspiration from Hollis Frampton’s words regarding metahistory and his own uncompleted Magellan project, as much as I understood of it. I had never decided how many parts it would end up being, or how far it would sprawl. Ideas considered at the time included found footage films including interviews with Uzkinay’s daughters. A film regarding the jihad read by the Sheikh ul-islam at the Fatih Mosque just ahead of the monument’s destruction, calling Muslim’s worldwide to rebel against the infidel (except the Germans). A film wondering what soup the Fatih Mosque was serving that day. An adaptation of Molière’s play Le Marriage Force, popularized in Constantinople by an Armenian theater troupe, and which was the basis of the first credited narrative film (also lost) directed by Sigmund Weinberg. Including films by others, the Manaki brothers of course, but also Chienne d'histoire (2010) by Serge Avedikian, an animated film about a historical event where the street dogs of Istanbul were banished to the Princes’ Islands, which Weinberg also documented.

Image description: A photograph of a strip of 16mm film from Ekrem Serdar, The San Stefano Project. There are perforations on the side of the strip. It is a photogram of an egg: an egg yolk placed on a film strip and exposed to light. The yolk is a dark circle on the right side of the image. There are swirls of light on the left.

I finished two very short films in the series in 2010, in so far as I attached green and red leader to the beginning and end. The last time I screened them - attempting to show both as a multiple projector performance - some of the splicing tape got caught, and I decided at that moment to hold on to the film so the lamp burned through the frames. Haven’t opened the can since.

The sprawl was a reason for the abandonment of the project. My technical inexperience -  another. My physical distance to Turkey - in all its implications - another. At the time, my mind was stuck on questions I needed answers to, before being able to proceed just a further frame: Why was I making this on 16mm, when that format didn’t even exist then, nor was it ever popular in Turkey (and why was I making it on film, period?)? What language would the title cards, captions, text be? Who was this project - its aesthetics informed by the North American avant-garde, but asking audiences to be invested in the region's ongoing history - for? Why situate this moment of history as a center of this project?

The film project may have been abandoned, but I do continue to follow many of those questions, in which I found friends, interests, focus. A question to a listserve - “where can I find a 16mm film projector in Turkey?” - led to lifelong friendships and the Küçük Sinemalar group and our screenings in Turkey, the US, and big tables of rakı and beer late into the night wondering what experimental media in Turkey looked like, could look like. My interest in Frampton’s notions of metahistory towards other writers, artists, thinkers what to do with linear time and history. The Manaki brothers found themselves in Punctures: Textiles in Digital and Material Time. My concerns on legibility across continents led to my continuing love of artists working, writing, theorizing on working transnationally. Meanwhile, I’m thinking less of Uzkınay, but some of those thoughts animating the San Stefano project are swirling around the Princes' Islands nowadays, where the chienne d'histoire were banished at the turn of the century; where Trotsky lived in exile as Turkish communists were arrested; where Adnan Menderes was hanged, nowadays named Democracy Island; where Jesús Franco shot Vampyros Lesbos (1971); the islands where so many Turkish dizis take place, among many other histories. Another sprawling archipelago, for another time.

Image description: A photograph of a strip of film that is twirled into loops. There is splicing tape, barely holding two bits of it together. The images show a man with a mustache and wearing a fez, and a woman with white hair.

(To those interested in The Destruction of the Monument at San Stefano, I found Dilek Kaya Mutlu’s research and articles to be the most incisive.)

The author would like to encourage you to donate to relief funds for Syria and Turkey in light of the catastrophic earthquakes. Some easy options for residents in the USA that go to non-governmental efforts are Molham, Turkish Philanthropy Funds and the White Helmets.

Andrew Ingall

Warlé, Yesterday, and Today

Last year, after reading an article about the importance of mining queer history*, I discovered the lives of my cousins Warren and Leon – a couple who were partners in life and in business for almost 60 years. For many LGBTQ+ people like myself, we share a desire to construct an ancestral lineage that’s often hidden or erased. And if the silences are too strong, we have license to cultivate a family tree that’s “logical” rather than biological:** to claim LGBTQ+ elders who we admire or for whom we have an affinity. Take your pick: Uncle James, Aunt Audre, Cousin Harvey, Papa Walt, etc. And yet another aspect of queer genealogy is speculative nonfiction – creatively filling in the gaps of what you don’t know based on data, documents, and stories that you’ve collected.

My cousins Warren and Leon were creative individuals and entrepreneurs who wore many hats. They co-founded Warlé, a small business on Manhattan’s Upper East Side specializing in antiques, contemporary objects, art framing, restoration, and interior decoration. Leon was a Jewish refugee and fashion designer who fled Bolshevik Russia, relocated to Weimar Berlin, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1940; Warren was a ghostwriter, journalist, antiques dealer, and an operative of the WWII-era U.S. Office of Strategic Services. They left New York City in 1980 and relocated to Townshend, Vermont and became beloved citizens of this rural community until their deaths in 2002 and 2007. I never met them but at this point, I almost feel like I did. I’ve learned quite a bit through genealogical records on, oral histories conducted with “logical” family members who I tracked down, references in newspaper articles and magazines, and a trove of drawings, sketches, illustrations, and ephemera in Southern Vermont.

Leon’s career in fashion began in Weimar Berlin. Although born into an assimilated Jewish family in Russia, he spent his teenage years and young adulthood in Germany. Two key archives helped me learn a bit about Leon’s early professional life in Berlin.

Photos courtesy of Archives Nationales (France)

I located a dossier on Leon and his parents at the French National Archives in Paris. Between 1936 and 1938, Leon paid several visits to the French consulate in Berlin. He sought permission to travel to Paris for work. In visa applications, he states that his employer, Max Behrendt, sends him to Paris four times a year to purchase samples of haute couture gowns.

Between the wars, Berlin had a substantial ready-to-wear fashion industry. They would copy the latest fashions for mass production. By the mid-1920s, there were 80,000 companies, half of them Jewish-owned. And they employed around 200,000 workers including Leon.

Photo: Eliza Thomson with Leon’s drawings; Credit: Andrew Ingall

The second archive is in a plastic file box at the home of the Thomson family in Townshend, Vermont. It contains hundreds of sketches, illustrations, drawings, news clippings, and other ephemera–evidence and documentation of Leon’s work in fashion. The Thomsons were part of Warren and Leon’s informal care team in their twilight years. The couple recognized that Eliza Thomson, at a young age, expressed an interest in art and design and designated her as the keeper of Leon’s collection.

Photo: Max Behrendt invitation courtesy of Eliza Thomson

Like all Jewish-owned businesses, Max Behrendt's company was ultimately liquidated by the Nazis but Max had the foresight and resources to open a satellite business in England. He emigrated to London in 1935. Four years later, Behrendt assembled a team of former employees who also had the means and the luck to escape the Nazis.

That team included Leon.

I know this because Liza’s collection includes an invitation to the opening of Behrendt’s first – and last – collection with his new British company. The card is dated September 6, 1939, just five days after Hitler invaded Poland. But the start of World War II was not going to stop the fashion world. With Leon’s help, Behrendt launched a collection of sport suits, dresses, cocktail suits and gowns, and skirts. On the front of the invitation is an illustration of a woman in high heels. She’s wearing a dress with shoulder pads appropriate for a football player. The hemline is just below the knee. Tiny waist. There’s yards of fabric to emphasize and widen the hips. Cigarette smoke curves elegantly in the air like her hourglass figure.

And this feminine archetype appears again and again in Leon’s illustrations and drawings. Think Joan Crawford, who starred in The Women – a film that was released in 1939, the same year Leon designed the collection.

Photos: Drawings by Leon Ingall courtesy of Eliza Thomson; stills from The Women, 1939


There will always be missing buttons and loose threads in the story of Warren and Leon. Going forward, the best I can do is reconstruct what was taken away and to mend what was broken.

Photo: Max Behrendt invitation courtesy of Eliza Thomson

** Armistead Maupin coined the term in his memoir Logical Family (Harper Collins, 2018)
† Westphal, U., & Jennings, K. (2019). Fashion metropolis Berlin 1836-1939: The story of the rise and destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry. Henschel.
‡ Cukor, G. (1939). The Women. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Warlé is a multi-platform project that re-envisions my cousins’ mid-century boutique as a pop-up site for discussion, storytelling, and art. Using archival documents, photography, artifacts, and stories, my goal is to reassemble the personal and professional lives of Leon Ingall and Warren Kronemeyer and inspire action on behalf of LGBTQ+ elders and refugees.
IG @warleinc

Anthony Banua-Simon

These are a collection of doodle collages from 2008-2012 made out of paper scraps I would then scan and and assemble in Photoshop. I was usually drawing them compulsively in scenarios that made me anxious.

Chelsea Spengemann

The text below was written as my contribution to “Talking Guston” hosted by Helen Molesworth and Laura Raicovich on November 19, 2020. The other participants in the Zoom panel were Gregg Bordowitz, Nikki Columbus, Alison Ferris, Coco Fusco, Charles Gaines, Pablo Helguera, Steve Locke and Terence Washington. We were asked to speak for five minutes. Over 600 people joined the event. The recording is accessible here

Hello, thank you Helen and Laura for organizing this gathering and inviting me to share my questions. 

Thank you to all the participants for your incredibly thought-provoking comments.

My name is Chelsea Spengemann. For the past ten years I have had the privilege of working with Sara VanDerBeek as the Director of the Stan VanDerBeek Archive.

In January, Sara and I will launch an artist collective called agency [Soft Network]. I am also the co-founder of AFELL - a network of artist's estates and foundation leaders.

To be honest, the cancellation of the Guston exhibition was not a flash point for me.

As someone who has embraced the nuance and challenge of posthumously re-presenting an artist’s body of work with an extremely limited budget and no endowment - I was not particularly worried about what happened to this exhibition.

From my vantage point, it was only going to stretch the resources of four prominent museums and further uplift the value of a master painter with an extremely supported foundation and blue chip gallery representation - all at a time when so many were in need of so much.

Perhaps I was too wrapped up in the pandemic fallout - witnessing living artists with no financial security struggle through this current moment, seeing many museums across the US still not reopening almost a year after closing, experiencing children losing the opportunity for an education, women without support being pulled from the workforce, people without healthcare, basic human rights being withheld from most, blatant, violent, hate-fueled attacks on black and brown lives never more on full display.

Really — How was it that this issue — the cancellation of a monographic exhibition of a painter at 4! Museums - was the one that prompted 2,000 influential people to sign a petition for change?

Are we really still fighting for blockbuster solo shows? Is Guston really for Now? OR even for two years, or four years from now? If you take several years to plan a show, at what point do you add to the title “Now”??

Who benefits from a monographic exhibition at this stage?

Should this format still dominate?

Might a group show using Guston’s work to uplift other artists shed a more complex light on these works at this moment?

Why are precious resources being spent over several years to produce scholarship, conservation, organization, and capital on artworks that already have plenty of everything?

America’s basements and attics are overflowing with radical ideas and expressions that have been excluded for too long. They are deteriorating and they will disappear. Who will offer care?

Call me jealous or irreverent - what it really comes down to is this cancellation is a perfect example of the fear and avoidance museums have been forced into practicing since public funding disappeared.

This event also demonstrates the complicated reality of our cultural institutions’ servitude to social media. Having worked so hard to invite the “public” in, museums now have to contend with each body being equipped with access to hundreds of others and the ability to immediately re-frame an image a museum worked so hard to fix and fixate upon.

Harnessing a collective has never been easier.

Reactive, protective and afraid of the masses. The calculation is clear - Shock the art world elite and Guston acolytes? Or risk the possibility of an image of a hooded klansman being removed from its academic context and let loose on social media- with it all traceable back to your institution? I would also choose the former.

An interest in the layers of the collective in this issue are ultimately what drove me to reflect on the cancellation and ensuing response.

The power of the collective - seen this past year harnessed in social uprisings on the left and right; as needed for pandemic control; as used to out and "cancel" abusers; with the potential to make someone a millionaire; as we are told is necessary for democracy; - and in our small art world - determining what museums show; being the reason for this event; and hopefully affecting the overhaul of institutional museum practice that is long overdue.

Collective power, at its best, drives progress.

The alternative of singling one man out, of continuing to uplift individuals via a painting show or even the farce of a presidential election, yields the pathetic figures we by now all recognize in Guston’s hooded cartoons themselves. Alone, separated from a group, cloaked in whiteness, they are powerless.

Edgar Arceneaux

The Severed Foot

I don't remember what day of the week it was, or even what month, but it was the year 2000, and I was walking down the middle of the street, carrying a long wooden ladder over head. It wasn't an exceptionally tall ladder but it was big enough to get upon the roof of a house. I had borrowed it from the Watts Towers Art Center and I was in the process of returning it to them.

Walking towards me was Mark Greenfield, the Art Center Director at the time, and he was peering into the distance across the park towards the flashing lights of a police car. "What's happening over there?" I asked. “They say that a kid coming home from school found a foot in the bushes over there.” As I began to stand the ladder up and lean it against my shoulder. I watched the policemen exiting the car and walking towards the abandoned field. They stood there shoulder to shoulder peering down towards something obscured by the tall brushy weeds.

The entire park used to be filled with golden and green plants with their elongated stalks and heads that remind a city boy of wheat. The then new John Outerbridge Park has a few mounds of grass within its landscaping, a recent investment in the neighborhood by the Cultural Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to help beautify the area. It was part of a 1968 master plan to rebuild Watts after the 1965 uprising but it was so expensive it didn't get realized until 1999. 

Both officers seemed identical in character, neither tall nor short, dark tight-fitting shades with close-cropped haircuts, tan uniforms and gun belts. One had the curiosity to take out his baton. He reached down with it and returned with a clear plastic bag on its end. From our point of view it was grimy and hardly transparent, but the shape that the weight of the bag made proved the shape of a foot. It was a brown foot, dark walnut in color and looked to have been there for days. I wondered where the person was who had once been attached to it.

Before it became part of the city of Los Angeles, Watts was once a working class suburb. A community formed after the great western expansion by immigrants of both European, African American and native Indigenous descent. Before that it was Rancho La Tajuata, a ranch for cattle and beef production. And long before that, during the Crustacean Period,  it was an ocean basin.

Simon Rodia, an Italian immigrant, knew this when he built his Watts Towers in the shape of a ship. He worked on it for 33 years, from 1921 to 1954. Rodia had a grand ambition to build something great, so he started in his own backyard constructing monuments that stand as a testament to individual will. He constructed Watts Towers entirely by himself, of rebar, chicken wire, concrete and a veneer of mosaic made of broken plates, bottles and tile.

The tallest of the towers is 99.5 feet tall on a site made up of 17 separate sculptural elements, including a wedding chapel, a small ship and baptistry. Watts Towers, composed of complex polyhedrons and tetrahedrons, is considered one of the most significant sculptures of the 20th century.  I believe the geometry of the towers, both inside and out, explores complex relationships between inner and outer states.

A tower is the inverse of a pit, and a pit is the inverse of a tower. In the Bible, as punishment, you were either cast in a pit or locked in a tower, that was what happened to those that challenged the status quo. While imprisoned, you typically survive through introspection towards enlightenment. Physical freedom from societal norms serve to liberate your people and yourself. You must possess power over yourself if you want to have power. I suppose that's the essence of the stories of Moses, Jonah, Jesus, and the guy left in the cage with the lions.

Rodia’s towers are all the more magical when you learn he was a self-taught engineer and sculptor who, like my grandfather, never went to school past the 6th grade. His towers sit on a triangular lot created by the railway lines of the Pacific Electric Railroad. These are the tracks that cut across the grids of LA’s segregated landscape.

Watts Towers and the wall that surrounds them form a ship with a bow that points southeast towards Rodia's  native Italy. He named his four towers after the ships of Marco Polo, a fellow explorer who knew there was once an ocean here too. But with time, those layers of ocean sediment were obscured by a thin, fragile crust of civilization. No one told Rodia to be wary of where he walked because he might crack that surface.

Jazz legend Charles Mingus would later describe how, as he walked to school, he would see some towers went up and some came down. It was always a work in progress over the decades. Rodia didn't have a master plan but believed in an emergent process that would steer him toward the best designs. But because only he understood what he was doing he was deemed a madman, tormented by kids who threw things at him while he hung high in the air working. During World War II, some  people even thought he was a German spy building a radio tower.

If you visit the Towers today you find no evidence of his explorer spirit. It's been buried in the stratum of the ocean floor, to tell a more conventional story that benefits those in power. Not the towers that inspired Charles Mingus's improvisational roots,  but towers stripped of their true transgressive power.

To look too deep is to find oneself alone in that ocean. It was always there, it's still there but remains invisible to those who haven't been taught to see it. Be aware that if you stumble into it, into the successive waves of ripple effects made by unjust decisions across time, that you will be on your own.


The officers were standing there, leaning over as they stared into the bag. Then suddenly, one started swinging it into the air and flung it deep back into the weeds. They walked back to their car, lights cutting off as they drove away.

I looked at Mark, I don't remember anything of what he said. "Welcome to Watts," maybe? Standing there stunned. I imagined that ladder now able to stand up on its own and me climbing it into the clouds, looking for Beatrice, as I escaped this sphere of the Inferno in hopes to get to Paradiso.

I call the Watts Uprising of 1965 the Great Eclipse, that singular event that obscures all of Watts past and forms its potential future. Commonly called a race riot, the phrase immediately criminalizes that action, obscuring it as part of a global phenomenon where working-class people revolted against the false promises of industrialization.

These revolutionaries wanted to build a more just and equitable society. One based on meritocracy and fair reward for hard work. Most of the uprising saw destruction of property, not attacks on people. It was a reaction against capitalism. When one is stripped of the ability to shape their space they will reshape it out of that frustration. I believed then as I do now that the role of art in the public sphere is to give people the ability to reshape the space they live in. To move beyond the great eclipse is not to attack that infamy but to build new stories together.

Watching that bag spin on that baton and fly through the air seemed to happen in slow motion. I didn't see where it landed but as it arched through space I thought of the history of police abuse in the city of Los Angeles on the poor, the segregation of blacks both geographically and economically with the dehumanization that comes along with it. Slaves captured after attempting to flee the plantation must have suffered similar fates.

I dreaded the answer to the question, “Whose foot was that and will we find parts of this person elsewhere?”

Mark came and told me later that they did find a foot, but that it was made of rubber. A rubber foot. It had been Halloween a few days earlier and someone had left that prop there either by accident or design. A dark humor underlies the relief, yet I wonder, why did the cops throw it back in the field. Didn't they think someone else might find it? Perhaps they thought a severed foot in the brush made sense in Watts somehow? I guess I could have gone and gotten it too, but I didn’t.

Edgar Arceneaux, 2014

Assaf Evron

Erich Mendelohn's Park Synagogue

In 2019 I was invited by the curator Lisa Kurzner to visit Park Synagogue in Cleveland, Ohio for a potential project. Park Synagogue is one of four synagogues German Jewish architect Erich Mendelsohn built in the US. The project was never realized; however, a conglomerate of thoughts, research, and images was formed that I would like to share here.

Erich Mendelsohn is a man of the 20th Century, a man of many exiles. He was part of the German expressionist Avantguard of the teens and twenties. Among the many buildings he designed in Germany is the Einstein Tower in Potsdam, a sculpture and a building at the same time. He developed the streamlined modern department store and designed the Schocken stores across Germany. In 1933 with the rise of national socialism, Mendelsohn and his wife Luise fled to England. He split his time between London and Palestine collecting commissions in both places. In 1938, hoping to be more involved in the building of the developing country, he moved to Palestine. However, pretty quickly he realized that he would not receive the commissions he was hoping for, and in 1941 the Mendelsohns immigrated to the United States.  

Before moving forward I would like to linger on the building he designed for Friedrich Steinberg, Herrmann & Co. Hat Factory in Luckenwalde. This building holds two key moments for our story. The first one is professional, about the potential of a representational building. Mendelsohn described the hat factory as an intelligible building (Letter Nov 7, 1947). It is a building for a hat factory that looks like a hat. This concept preceded the postmodern ideas about a building that communicated what it is by its appearance (more than half of a century later, Pizza Hut applied similar architecture to the franchise). The second moment is personal to Mendelsohn: in 1921, the same year he designed the hat factory, Mendelsohn, who already suffered from impaired vision, lost his left eye to cancer and had a glass eye as a replacement. Those two moments would coalesce 25 years later on the other side of the Atlantic in Cleveland, Ohio.   

In the twenties, America had a significant influence on Mendelsohn. In 1924, he visited the US and published a photographic album based on his travels. Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, and New York presented new architectural territories for him. Despite his criticism of American Capitalism (caption of allies island photo), he was fascinated with the American industry and the immense structures of grain elevators and silos. The utilitarian architecture, the organic nature of the structures (Letter Nov 7, 1947), and their matter-of-factness left a deep impression on young Mendelsohn and had a strong impact on his work in the twenties and thirties. However, in 1941, as an immigrant, his encounter with America was different.

As Erich and Luise Mendelsohn arrived in the US, with the support of his friend Frank Lloyd Wright, an exhibition of his works and drawings was presented at MOMA. The exhibition opened in November 1941, but with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the escalation of World War II, the exhibition did not receive any attention. Mendelsohn joined the American war effort, and with his knowledge of German architecture and infrastructure, he helped design A German Village in the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, a test site for the bombing of Nazi Germany (Cabinet). Nevertheless, due to the strict immigration rules, Mendelsohn could not work as an architect and receive any building commissions until much later in 1946 when he became an American citizen. Despite the struggles of immigration, Mendelsohn kept his optimism and belief in the American Dream. In a letter to Julius Posener, he writes, “Work is everywhere, and a good worker works always as his own magnet. My migratory years will come to an end, and a new world will become my own. Where chances are plentiful, hazards don’t come. We Jews are used to it”.

 Mendelsohn in America was living the life of the Wandering Jew. He was an architect in the autumn of his career on his third exile reinventing himself. At that point in his career, the personal and the professional intersected as never before. On the surface, it was a thing that a modernist architect could not afford, as there was no place for the personal in the so-called objective and functional world of architecture. However, the spiritual aspects of Judaism, the question of how to be a Jew in modern America in the shadow of WWII, and the difficulties of his years of immigration had stirred Mendelsohn’s practice in a new direction. He turned into himself and his community. During this US period, he mainly had built synagogues for communities across the Midwest: St. Louis (Missouri), Grand Rapids (Michigan), Minneapolis (Minnesota), and Cleveland (Ohio).

 When Rabbi Armond Cohen from congregation Anshe Emet in Cleveland invited Mendelsohn in 1945 to discuss a commission for a new synagogue, Mendelsohn was very excited. He flew into Cleveland amid a snowstorm. Mendelson discussed with Rabbi Cohen his ideas about the design of the temple as a dome and having a tent-like structure shielding the arc. In that conversation, in a semi-comic remark, Mendelson said: “I am a one-eyed architect that can’t draw a straight line but the draftsmen in my office would generate perfect drawings for you” (based on the memories of Rabbi Cohen). On the surface a small anecdote, but looking at the building I could not stop seeing Mendelsohn’s eye.

 In the short bio in the Mendelsohn archive at the kunstbibliotek in Berlin, the loss of the eye is described in these dry words: “In 1921, Mendelsohn’s left eye had to be removed due to cancer. The fact that this does not lead to any loss of business is due to the very good staff and employees, who worked in his office. Despite the accelerating inflation, he was able to realize large orders with his office in the early years of the Weimar Republic, including the conversion and expansion of the Rudolf Mosse publishing house in Berlin and the hat factory Friedrich Steinberg, Herrmann & Co. in Luckenwalde” (kunstbibliotek). The loss of the eye is presented here as a minor anecdote that should not interfere with the so-called objective and pragmatic image of a great architect of the 20th century—or this matter, the personal and the professional run on two parallel planes that should not intersect or interfere. However, Mendelsohn had a more complex understanding of objectivity in relation to architecture. “The analytic concept of architecture refuses vision; the visionary doesn’t understand analytic objectivity” (Letter Nov 7, 1947). For him, architecture is not a rationalist or a functionalist structure. Architecture, for him, is charged with meaning and significance. It is saturated with vision that is spiritual, cultural, and I would argue in the case of Park Synagogue, also psychoanalytical.

Once the story of the missing eye is introduced into the conversation, the architecture of Park Synagogue becomes saturated with Oculi. Every architectural feature in the building becomes an eye. The giant dome, the rounded windows, the light fixtures all become eyes—looking at you or for you to look through. Even the metalwork inspired by the Hebrew letter Shin resembles a clan of Cyclops holding hands.

In “The Complete Works of Mendelsohn,” Bruno Zevi looks at the preparatory drawings for Park  Synagogue. He focuses on the iconic sphere that characterizes Mendelsohn’s drawings throughout his career. In his sketches, Mendelsohn used the sphere to anchor the architecture under the sky and place it in a dynamic worldly environment. However, in the drawings for Park Synagogue, Zevi denotes that the celestial sphere and the dome or the cupola of the building are merged together. Zevi interprets this gesture as a metonymy; the dome stands in for the sky. It is also a poetic gesture, the crowd of worshippers gathering under the symbolic sky to pray. The idea of the dome as a sky is not new and has been applied throughout history since antiquity. However, Park Synagogue is the first and only building in Mendelsohn’s career with such a dramatic dome or Oculi.

Looking at preparatory drawings and sketches can give great insight into architects’ ideas and thinking processes. Drawings can show the formal and conceptual development of ideas and disclose information that is not necessarily apparent in the accomplished building.  drawings for Park Synagogue show that Mendelsohn’s absent eye might be more than an anecdote or a Freudian slip in his conversation with Rabbi Cohn. And perhaps the dome is not only standing in for the sky; maybe this is another one of Mendelsohn’s intelligible buildings similar to the hat factory.

The drawings for Park Synagogue show an explicit embodiment of the anatomy of an eye in the design of the building. The dome obviously operates as an oculus looking up at the sky, but the floor plan for the main congregation under the dome, as well as the annex, are surprisingly designed as an anatomical section eye. The lens, the retina, the iris, and the pupil are all present in the drawings. The retina is the back of the temple where the crowd enters the congregation, and the lens is where the arc resides at the optical focal point.

Thinking about Park Synagogue together with Mendelsohn’s drawings takes us back to the hat factory in Luckenwalde. Perhaps Park Synagogue is also one of these unique intelligible buildings but in a slightly different way. Unlike the clear and direct appearance of the hat factory, Park Synagogue does not look like an eye but rather has the structure of an eye as an organizing principle. The eye is sublimated and abstracted into the plan of the building. It operates on a formal and a metaphorical level to convey how ideas of spirituality can intertwine with architecture. But there is another voice hidden here, a personal one, the voice of a one-eyed architect on his third exile.

1. Erich Mendelsohn, Hat Factory Friedrich Steinberg Herrmann & Co. , Luckenwalde, Brandenburg, Germany
2. Erich Mendelsohn, Hat Factory Friedrich Steinberg Herrmann & Co. , Luckenwalde, Brandenburg, Germany
3. Richard D. Burke, Pizza Hut restaurant
4. Assaf Evron, Park Synagogue, Windows
5. Erich Mendelsohn, Drawing for Park Synagogue, Western Reserve Historical Society, CLE
6. Assaf Evron, Park Synagogue
7. Assaf Evron, Park Synagogue, Dome, Altered
8. Assaf Evron, Park Synagogue, Metal Work
9. Erich Mendelsohn, Drawing for Park Synagogue, Western Reserve Historical Society, CLE  
10. Erich Mendelsohn, Drawing for Park Synagogue, Altered, Western Reserve Historical Society, CLE
11. Assaf Evron, Anatomical Model of an Eye
12. Erich Mendelsohn, Drawing for Park Synagogue,Western Reserve Historical Society, CLE
13.  Assaf Evron, Park Synagogue, Doors

back to home ︎ 

Christine Rebet

Looking for BB

“Looking for BB" is a series of drawings that I created more than ten years ago for French film director David Teboul during the production of "La Méprise" (Bardot, The Mistake). His film, produced by Arte, is dedicated to French actress Brigitte Bardot’s personal and public archives.

I followed the director around the mystical port city of St. Tropez as his crew were scouting and shooting the locations that define the icon’s private life. On these visits, I concentrated mostly on the empty scenes and mundane corners found among the actress’s houses, gardens, animals and family tombs, metaphors, in a way, for the gaps in her biography and what remains unknown of her work as an animal activist.

For Teboul’s film, we used the drawings as animated sequences to re-create missing or confidential archives and as motion graphics for the end credits.

I lost the originals in the Istanbul airport during a flight transit.

Dubravka Sekulic

An incomplete archive of all notices and warnings I encountered in public during my first year in London
(for Kenneth Goldsmith, Marija Marić, and Andrea Steves)

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Enrique Ramirez

To The Pole Star

Lynd Ward, Wood-engraved illustration for Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus. New York: Harrison Smith and Robert Haas, 1934. Lynd Ward Wood Engravings and Other Graphic Art, Pennsylvania State University, Special Collections Library.

Amid the northward journeys of my youth, a desert. Not the kind with spiny cacti bristling from the baked earth. No, in this desert, there is only a stillness of the kind that makes a day like this ever so more frigid and desolate.
The sun hangs in a cloudless sky. The air bristles with needles. This is winter in suburban Chicago. Evanston, to be exact, less than a mile from the shore of Lake Michigan. I am unprepared for this weather, so unlike anything I had ever known growing up in the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast. The threadbare car coat I wear belonged to my father, but I cannot recall whether this was the coat he purchased for a business trip to Montréal back in the 1970s. My alpaca wool hat was supposedly a kind worn in Peru. I bought it at a store not far from the El called, laughably, The Mexican Store. On my hands are unlined leather work gloves, a kind that may have been worn while operating a lawn mower.

The skies turned dark, as they often did in the colder months. I looked up and imagined a map of the skies. Polaris hung there, ensnared in a dense weave of isobars and isotherms above me. Every shallow dip in this fabric brought a mass of frigid air, covering everything with a thin layer of ice. Here, on this street, it registered as heavy snowfall. Sheets of snow fell from skies as if from a giant unburdening, titans in the air releasing an epoch of pent-up cold on the unsuspecting world below.

In this snowstorm, a bookstore. It was called Great Expectations, which, in retrospect, was not so much a literary name, but an indication of its owners’ unabashed optimism. This is where one went for refuge, and the rewards were great. I do not remember much of about the exterior (who does), but inside, it looked like the aftermath of a storm—a storm of books. Imagine being inside a house, and now imagine it cast adrift in an expanse of water. You look at the white caps only to realize that they are not foamy, cresting waves. They are pages of opened books, fanned apart, rustling in the violent winds. They undulate in giant, epic swells that appear as moving mountains, or rather giant, slovenly piles that stalk the horizon. You see these through a large window framing this violent scene. A wave crashes through, and the inside is strewn with piles and piles of books. There is no logic, no order. You hold on to a pillar, searching for familiar titles as if they were life preservers, hoping that holding on to them will keep you moored. But this is before you surrender to the undertow. You are adrift, perhaps like Ophelia, going where the books take you, letting them weigh you down.

As I recovered, things began to reveal themselves to me slowly. I saw the owner, or at least, a man who I thought was the owner. He was a large man with a gray beard. He wore a red tartan shirt and suspenders that hoisted his fading jeans. He read a small paperback and occasionally turned the knob on a stereo console behind him. He may have been playing any kind of music. These sounds are lost to time. But there are things that I still recall in sharp detail. Like the cats. They sat on stacks of books like slovenly sphinxes. One even threaded its slinky body between my feet as I browsed a bookshelf. There was no reason here, only atmosphere. Yet there were some places in here where the books were arranged in manner so obvious that it was halting. All the Penguin Classics, for example, were kept in a room in the back of the store. The titles were not alphabetically arranged, however. They were grouped according to the colored flashing at the top of the spine. German and French titles were in yellow. Classics in purple. Chinese, Arabic, and Japanese in green. In the grouping of American and British titles, with their distinctive red flashing, I found Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. My knowledge of this book was only through movies stills, comic books, and Halloween costumes. And here I was, in a cocoon of books, swaddled by words. I was comfortable, not wanting to venture out into the storm. I found a comfortable chair and began to read.

I spent the rest of that afternoon with Frankenstein. Reading it was a kind of voyage, treacherous, sometimes confusing. I encountered tricky passages and strange words, and before I was left adrift in these shoals, I collected myself and walked to a giant open dictionary mounted on a wooden lectern. It sat there like a ship’s helm, and from this vantage point I looked at the world outside. The pale wintry light flowed through the shop window, casting a dull glow on the stacks of books. Gusts of wind rattled the pane, and through it I saw the snow drifts accumulate and cover the world outside in a powdery swirl.

I held on to this image when I got back to Frankenstein. It was no longer a horror fantasy, but an Arctic adventure where one of the most famous creatures ever committed to the page drives a sled team through the boreal night. The cold fascinated me, born in Texas and raised in the Caribbean, and never having experienced anything like winter until a couple of days earlier. That was when I stood on the edge of campus, on the shore of Lake Michigan, bracing myself against the freezing gale and staring at the beach rocks covered by sheets of broken ice. I had never seen anything like it. The ice became giant shards of glass, a treacherous valley of crags and planes I would picture as the setting for Frankenstein here on this snowy afternoon. I bought the book and a small paperback atlas and walked home in time for dinner. Why an atlas? Something about Frankenstein required it. I wanted to anchor these images of vast Arctic landscapes to something known. I used the atlas as a kind of reference in the same way I would use a dictionary or thesaurus. This led to a discovery. The action in Frankenstein moved along a northerly course. Victor Frankenstein is Genevese, born in Naples, at forty degrees north latitude. He studies at the University of Ingolstadt, in Bavaria, at forty-eight degrees north latitude, which is also the place where he assembles his creature. In the Orkney Islands, around fifty-nine degrees north latitude, Frankenstein begins—and abandons—experiments to create a female companion for his humanoid male. And as for the novel, it is written in an epistolary fashion, secreted away in a packet of letters written by one Captain Walton while on a brig, first near Saint Petersburg, also fifty-nine degrees north latitude, then near Arkhangelsk (Archangel), on the shores of the White Sea, at sixty-four degrees north latitude. Once north of this bearing, which we can assume is somewhere near seventy degrees north latitude, Captain Walton sees the Aurora Borealis and has his first sightings of Victor Frankenstein’s sled team. Frankenstein is in hot pursuit, which means that his creature, also on a sled team, may be well above eighty degrees north latitude.

Looking back at the years since this discovery, I understand my education has been one where I too have been reading towards the northern latitudes. Several years later, as a law student living in Washington, DC, I learned the importance of incorporating maps into fictions and landscapes. I was taking a class with an English lawyer who made a career of working on territorial disputes before the International Court of Justice. In his honeyed gravitas, he described the international law of territory as a tangle of meridians and parallels, a terrain where history and self-determination were almost always at odds. His knowledge of a particular case drew on his broad knowledge base, a chance to argue that whether drawing a coastline on the Barents Seas or settling a boundary between Botswana and Namibia, these were issues rooted in the annals of the Justinian Code or in the Commentaries of Accursius. So was his latest case: a territorial dispute concerning the status of the waters between the Eastern coast of Greenland and the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen. In the case, the International Court of Justice created boundary zones between Greenland and Jan Mayen that respected both international law as well as the behaviors of Denmark and Norway throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was important to have a map in these cases, for the legal arguments made no sense without any kind of guide to the spaces that were being deliberated in the tony tribunals of international law.

Without maps, international law is only dead reckoning. The outcome of one dispute can only be located by fixing a previous one. This was the lesson of these disputes between Denmark and Norway. The Jan Mayen case had its origins in 1933 with the Eastern Greenland Case, the only decision that established principles of territorial sovereignty in the Polar regions. This dispute began in 1931 when an expedition from the Norwegian Arctic Trading Company planted a flag on Myggbukta, a small whaling station on King Christian X Land on Greenland’s eastern shore. This act set off a chain of diplomatic cables claiming that Norway was violating Danish territorial sovereignty. In a previous treaty, Denmark agreed not to make any claims on Spitsbergen (now known as Svalbard) if Norway left Greenland alone. As contentious as this case may have seemed, the two countries agreed to have an international tribunal settle the dispute. The Permanent Court of International Justice—established by League of Nations in 1922—considered the geographical and historical factors at play. It looked at the claims from a broader environmental, geographical, and historical context. Drifting ice sheets and polar bear migrations showed that gaining a foothold in this land was tricky. Language was also an issue, for there was little agreement among the medieval Nordic sagas concerning crucial historical details. At the heart of the Grœnlendiga saga, or “History of the Greenlanders,” is the story of Bjarni Herjólfsson, plying the northern oceans in hopes of joining his father, Herjólfr Bárðarson, who founded the settlement of Herjolfsnes on the southernmost tip of Greenland in the tenth century. And though this colony would be settled continuously for the next half century, the account of its founding is absent from another important Nordic saga. In Sturla Thórdarson’s Hákonarsaga, Greenland was originally two independent colonies: Vestrigybd, on the western coast of Greenland, and Estrigybd on the East. Both were ruled by Eerik Raude, also known as Erik Thorvaldsson, or Erik the Red, and both colonies became part of Norway in 1261.

In 1993, my teacher arrived at Jan Mayen and Greenland’s eastern coast with a team of surveyors and lawyers. They were there to verify the legal and geographical claims that were laid out in the 1933 case. At Jan Mayen, they walked along the black volcanic sands along the eastern coast. They visited remnants from other epochs: graves of seventeenth-century Dutch sailors; abandoned equipment, rusted and worn, once part of a Norwegian meteorological station; and the crumpled remains of Luftwaffe bombers. Wearing brightly colored parkas, and armed with radio transmitters, they trundled along the rocks and ice fields, always keeping sight of the massive Beerenberg volcano, and active presence in the land. Successive eruptions in 1970 and 1985 created lava fields that spread to the north, altering the island’s terrain, and increasing its surface area.

They crossed the Denmark strait and sailed up the coast of Eastern Greenland from Scoresby Sound to Shannon Island. Their guide was a map with hundreds of small dots, each labeled “Trapper’s Hut” and scattered among inlets, sounds, and fjords. It was an architectural archipelago, or even a triangulation net draped over this desolate and forbidding land, a true settlement pattern. Along the crenelated coast, both land and water carried the names of dead royals and distant worlds, 


It was a journey north through the links on a chain of title, a rambling meridian that tracked along the original line of settlement described in the Hákonarsaga as a voyage “right up to the Pole Star.”

Enrique Ramirez is a writer and historian of art and architecture. His work considers histories of landscapes, buildings, and cities within larger cultures of literary and artistic production in Europe and the Americas.

Nell Irvin Painter

From 1872 to 1876 in the Space of One Year

During this year of 2021 I’ve been going around smiling, telling my friends that I feel like I’m living in 1872. As a historian, I know that 1872 was a high point of Reconstruction in the South, a moment when it looked as though true democracy had arrived in a region that before the Civil War had had the greatest disparities of income and wealth—between immensely wealthy planters and enslaved workers without wages or possessions—and the greatest political polarization: not only were all women disfranchised, but also men identified as Negro could not vote. Reconstruction promised to turn much of that around by enfranchising Black men.

Reconstruction legislatures did try some good policies, such as public schooling and, through the Freedmen’s Bureau, enforcing employment contracts. For the first time in the South, race did not bar men elected to office from taking their places in local and state legislatures. Promising indeed.

During this year of 2021 I had been basking in the anti-racist upheaval of 2020. Yes, the pandemic saddened me, the illness, the death, the economic crisis that left hundreds of thousands hungry and threatened with homelessness. But the largest public demonstrations in memory brought Americans into the streets against police brutality and for racial justice. Unlike the civil rights manifestations of the 1950s and 1960s, this time it wasn’t just Black people and a few of our non-Black allies in the streets. This time it was Americans of all races and ages, all over the country.

In its apparent depth and breadth, the anti-racist reckoning that followed also felt new to me. By now even the overpowering Robert E. Lee monument in the capital of the Confederacy has come down, part of a nation-wide questioning of the meanings of the symbols we have chosen to embody our civic identity. No longer can the champions of a nation dedicated to the permanence of slavery dominate public spaces where Americans of many races and ethnicities live.

In national politics, the Biden-Harris administration has been seeking to enact policies that I favor, from protecting voting rights to addressing climate change to supporting the wellbeing of children. I haven’t noticed a widespread application of the terms “Reconstruction,” or “Third Reconstruction” (the “Second Reconstruction” had been applied to the civil rights legislation of the 1960s). Nonetheless, in the arenas of business and culture, diversity and equity seemed to be meaningfully addressed. Here I was, feeling as hopeful as 1872, even though I know what came after 1872.

We know now what came after 1872. In nineteenth-century prevailing parlance, it was “Redemption.” “Redemption” was the work of terrorists on the ground, of bloodshed and intimidation. On the national level, it was the Tilden-Hayes compromise after the contested election of 1876 that withdrew the last federal troops from the still reconstructed states of Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana. In the U.S. Supreme Court, it was also the Slaughterhouse Cases of 1873, which reoriented the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment from people to corporations, from voting rights to property rights.

We are at a pivotal point in our Third Reconstruction, as Democrats, now the party of civil rights, are being urged to jettison voting rights in order to court White voters without college degrees. As in the presidential election of 2016, the argument is couched in terms of class, not race, when class is interpreted in terms of education and applies only to White people. It’s not said that White people without college degrees don’t care about Black people’s access to the ballot. It’s not said that White people without college degrees prefer to keep the pre-2020 racial order intact. In pundit language, “class” means the mass of White people.

But what happens if Democrats don’t stress the causes that Black voters care about? Would Black voters turn out massively, as they did in 2020 for the Biden-Harris ticket, though, as Biden acknowledged, Black voters had delivered his margin of victory? Between the disregard of White voters without college degrees and declining enthusiasm from Black voters of all classes, national Democrats are doomed. Once again, just to make sure, the forces of Redemption are once again resorting to terrorism, as at the Capitol on January 6 this year. Emboldened by congressional Republicans, the Redeemers promise a return, in the states and in the nation.

We may not be in 1877 yet, but pundits are preparing its way, reinterpreting “class” to mean not upsetting White people’s place in the racial/cultural order. Our “Third Redemption” aims to undermine voting rights, a foundation of American citizenship whose history is racialized. For now, though, I’m savoring my 1872, with its promise of multiracial, multicultural American citizenship.

Zeljka Blasic aka Gita Blak

In 2017 I was in Vienna for a few months, as part of the Q21 Museum Quartier artist-in-residence program.  During my stay, I was filming and photographing Red Vienna’s most prominent buildings.

This is a short clip from a film I shot at Karl Marx Hof, famous municipal tenement complex built between 1927 and 1930 by city planner Karl Ehn. It held 1,382 apartments designed for a population of about 5,000. At over one kilometer in length (1100m, 0.68 mile) and spanning four Straßenbahn (tram) stops, Karl Marx-Hof holds the distinction of being the longest single (contiguous) residential building in the world.

It looks like a barricade from the outside and was a battlefield during the short-lived Austrian civil war of 1934, shelled by the army, attacked by right-wing paramilitaries, defended by its inhabitants.

For both sides the building was not simply the home to thousands of working class radicals, but also symbolic of the struggle for a new Austria.  I was also interested in ceramic sculptures at the front part, so the film… that I finally get to finish this year will be told through the eyes of these four allegories (Allegory of children’s wellbeing, Allegory of the health care, Allegory of liberation and Allegory of education).

Jimbo Blachly

Inwood, NYC, 1/17/22                  

While traveling in Maine and the Catskills during the summer and autumn of 2019 I had been struggling to find a framework or approach within which to record my experiences of moving through the landscape that would expand beyond the conventional notions of the depiction of a particular view or scene. I realized suddenly that I wasn’t making a painting OF the landscape but rather… I was making a work FOR the landscape. The slight shift in language allowed a new space for me to operate in, pathways have been opening up in my sense of collaborating with the environment.
Current thinking on approach for Maine.

One or two days like a sesshin... structured time, activity, sitting, speed, medium...

Just drawing, maybe watercolor. Vague oil built up on wood slats. A bare wood in relation to actual ground… darks…A few nocturnes. Some text

Note accurately some color juxtapositions

Edgar M. Tennis Preserve, Maine

It occurred that today I was trying to make things that “fit in” the landscape ... an object that sits there, on a rock, against a pile, a tree... if only temporarily.

Inwood Oblique strategies after Eno/Peter Schmidt

Where is the weight
Picture/card/slat as prop as tool as experience
Observe boarders - build up or traverse.
Word as ground... clove, embowered etc.
Collapse distance; abruptly shift modes.
Atomize attention with space in between.
Be as detailed as possible trust that your current mood will direct.
Sonic components as organizing principle.
Observe kinetic aspects, don’t symbolize.
Reduce narrative. Don’t try to go somewhere else. No development. Observe.


Speed...different rhythms or breath... seems like they are a living thing- expanding and contracting.  The slow or quick abstract artifact that registers a particular place.

Talked to Howard Smith; he said paint like a blind person, seems you are groping.

We are the landscape
We are PART of the landscape not separate.

Remember Tuttle dream-tree vibrations, Kay Sage’s light, Small A. Martin wood pieces.

Slats/incidentals oblique plaques
Several fine bright stripes      Mirror like...
To sit in landscape on rock, against a tree, log
Scattered on pine needles and rocks.
Hung on lines between trees.

Little briefly realized arrangements like Stone House poems...
Or that other Chinese poet who pulled random lines from his bag while he walked.

Palmer lecture by Malcolm Andrews

English pastoral comfort snug picturesque neat/utility, managed /productive. Idyll rustic fiction... rough break with the classical re romantic naturalism

Going-in-it-ness: seclusion, nooks, deeps, dells, hollows.  Blake woodcuts for the Eclogues. Palmer caught between visionary and realism...

Mystic glimmer; he sought early morning, late twilight, full moon.

Compressed space intense scale shift (Cezanne like) simplified tree forms and colors intense range of mark making and pattern. Van Gogh, rhythm markings.

Space of an oak underground - Root space, density
Trunk- a tilted voice from the center’s pith declaring;
Branch’s aeration
Leaves inspiring aspiration
Space of the wind    Unceasing winds

Space of paintings; campground picturesque. immediate environment, perhaps this is hermetic in its orientation, extreme locality, primarily closeups, how to undo a scene? Porous border of the hermetic. While maintaining a connection to specific observations of environment…time warps/space. Find an overlooked 5” dell

What allows for spatial imagination? Lack of completeness of a dominant image…
Perforate… aerate the pristine image.

Recollections from little pond

New bark abstraction, cloud and mud, tree mirror. Worked at night again, tree balanced. Good to place blanks off trail and around campsite. Failed to write initial impressions on panels or work over inked ones, which is front? Painted or title/poem side? Lytle said just pick one for this time.

             Showing front,
             showing back,
             maple leaves fall.


What could a hollow slat be?
A notebook and sheaf of card poems taken out, lying in the leaves in a hollow
Claim check in pocket for a hollow prelude/epitaph
Pause at damp stump
Wait on leaf drops
Hold a card in hand, in the hollow of a hand
Look overhead
Out    Under    It.      Listen
Oh leaf- tapping knee, tapping leaf
Is this a hollow?   “Russell Brook” flowing down yellow leaf carpeted gorge.


How plain airs are related to the seaweed receipt
The token.
Flag to fold in the pocket ...Oldenburg
Souvenir, slat, broadside, card in hand, card to stand, wooden card, Plaque.

A floater
               in a brook
                                under a hemlock narrowed sky

*Hemlock not oak, Salamander not newt… perhaps.

Anthony Graves

What follows are a selection of anonymous questions asked to me by students in professional practice courses in studio art programs I taught between Fall 2019 and 2021. I have been in the practice of asking students to write down their anonymous questions, not in order to provide answers, but instead to reflect on the premises, anxieties, and desires that motivate them as young artists. Initially this was a way to conclude a semester on a good note, but it has since become a process that inaugurates each class and forms a thread throughout.

I ask students to write their questions on a piece of paper with the knowledge that I am obligated to respond as truthfully as possible, no matter the question. The papers are folded, and the questions placed into a hat. I pass the hat, and they draw at random and read the question selected. But before I answer, I first insist we discuss what the class imagines motivated the question. When we’ve sufficiently explored the motivations, I attempt to answer it as honestly as I can manage.

The questions range from issues of financial stability, power relations, and queries about the practical lives of artists and teachers, to anxieties of a racial, social, and sexual nature, to absurdist questions that have their own surprising insights to offer.

This is an ongoing practice in the classroom. I first began this exercise after seeing artist Tyler Rowland do his own version, which was based in turn on an activity led by a Jesuit teacher from his Catholic all-boys high school years. One can imagine the perverse pleasure in putting a priest on the spot—most of their questions were about sex. While this selection reflects the diversity of questions offered by students, most questions raised in the professional practice course are about sex’s closest relative—money. Here are 20 of them.

–Anthony Graves, 2022

 back to home ︎ 

Alix Pearlstein

From Animals in Space file (ongoing) 

Amy Kao

Untitled, 2021, ink on paper

This body of work is situated in a liminal space between pictorial production and image perception. They are emphatically about drawing - pictorial construction in the most elemental sense, a profusion of minuscule lines marked with ink on paper. Their paths criss-cross, overlap, parallel, repeat and cumulate on the surface. In a pictorial encounter, what emerges is ultimately a negation of cumulative and laborious acts of mark making. They become immersive fields, an emergence through negation.

Anna Talarico

An interview with Brian Harnetty and Mary Lucier, 2021

In 1970, artist Robert Smithson created Partially Buried Woodshed on the campus of Kent State University, covering an abandoned woodshed with soil until its central beam cracked. Unsettling traditional notions of landscape and environmental art, Smithson’s project also addressed a connection to Ohio’s Indigenous earthworks, many of which were destroyed—or willfully overlooked—by white settlers during the Frontier Era.

In the decades since, artists have continued to approach Ohio’s landscape as a site and a subject, challenging the conventional representations of the state’s history and cultural legacy. Gathering works from a diverse group of artists, Partially Buried: Land-Based Art in Ohio, 1970 to Now—an exhibition on view now through November 28, 2021 at the Columbus Museum of Art—grapples with the state’s history as a former frontier territory, confronting unanswered questions around land use, interpretation, preservation, and representation.

Curator Anna Talarico spoke with Brian Harnetty and Mary Lucier, the exhibition’s two Ohio-born artists. Partially Buried: Land-Based Art in Ohio, 1970 to Now features Harnetty’s sound installation Forest Listening Rooms (2018-present), and Lucier’s video, Ohio to Giverny: Memory of Light (1983). The artists reflect on how Ohio has loomed large in their practices and their intersections with environmental and social justice. The conversation that follows has been edited for clarity.

Anna Talarico (AT)

Mary and I were just chatting about the last time she was in Columbus because she showed Ohio to Giverny: Memory of Light at the Columbus Museum of Art several years ago. I was saying that my mom grew up in Van Wert [Ohio], and my dad is from the Ohio River-steel town area near Steubenville, so they come from two very different parts of Ohio with interesting histories. I'm curious to hear about your families and your Ohio origins.

Brian Harnetty (BH)
I'm from Westerville (near Columbus). But both of my parents’ families are from southeastern Ohio — Perry County — which is part of Appalachian Ohio. My dad is from Junction City and my mom's family is from Shawnee, Ohio, two small rural towns. So, Appalachia looms large in my in my mind and in my memory, but I don't identify as Appalachian. I do have a kind of introduction card for meeting with communities there. And they trust me a little bit as an outsider because they knew my family. My mom's family came as Welsh coal miners to Shawnee in the 1870s. And then my dad's family is mostly Irish, working as farmers and in the local clay mills. How about you, Mary?

Mary Lucier (ML)
Well, I come from Bucyrus, which is about 60 miles north of Columbus, 90 miles south of Cleveland, in the middle of nowhere. Very small town, one of those places where everybody knows everybody else. At least they know their family background, and they all know about one another. My father was from Marion [Ohio], and my mother was born and grew up in Bucyrus. She went to Columbus School for Girls, which was a boarding school. We have a long family history of descendants on my mother's side who lived in Bucyrus. They originally came over from Scotland, I believe, and somehow settled in Bucyrus and established lives there. My mother, when she was quite young, traveled in Europe for a while and married a German man and had a child, my sister, who lived in Columbus. I went to Brandeis and stayed on the East Coast and have been here ever since. Mostly in New York City. I was obliged to leave [Ohio]. My mother basically said, “get out of here.”

What was what was [your mother’s] context for you to “get out of” Bucyrus?

Our family was very literary. Many of them were extremely well educated and had gone to good colleges. And my mother's idea for both my brother and me, was that we should go away, that there were no prospects for us, certainly not in Bucyrus.

Well, at the time, I couldn't wait to get out of Ohio! I did my undergraduate at Ohio State, and then worked for several years and travelled a lot, and then did graduate work in music composition at the Royal Academy of Music in the UK. I had always planned on staying in Europe after graduating, but I had a conversation with one of my teachers, Michael Finnissy, where he thought that there was something that I needed to address in Ohio, some kind of story about myself and Ohio as a place that he thought I should return to and dig deep into. So I took him up on that challenge (thinking it was only temporary), and then over the years, I've just spent all of my time focusing on local issues through the lenses of listening and sound: place, energy extraction, and social and environmental justice. I also found myself working in Kentucky often, with Appalachian communities and archives. I brought these experiences back to Ohio and made Appalachian Ohio my subject, and as a place to base my work. It's exactly where I thought I wouldn't be twenty years ago! But I am glad it has turned out this way.

It's something that's interesting about Ohioans—there's always this strong sense that you can never really leave Ohio. Ohio is just so part of your identity. Because I have such a strong family history in the state, that was really something I started to think about when I was invited to curate an exhibition at the CMA: how can we artistically represent Ohio? How has Ohio been a site and a subject [for artists]? Mary, is that desire to leave, to get out of Ohio, the driving force behind Ohio to Giverny: Memory of Light?

Most American artists at some point must come to terms with European art history. But until relatively recently, European art was placed on a pedestal, and it wasn't until Abstract Expressionism that American art became the dominant visual art, in the Western world. Back in 1982, when I started this piece, I was thinking about the fact that I had been to Europe before I ever traveled west of the Ohio River. I had traveled to Europe, before I ever saw the United States, except for Ohio and Massachusetts. I had also seen a show [in 1978] at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called Monet’s Years at Giverny: Beyond Impressionism, and I discovered something in his work that I had not really known before. I'd always thought of those iconic images as pretty but not terribly interesting. Then I began to see his later work in which there is a lot of blank canvas and gestural brushwork, and suddenly you see this man is in a hurry. I found out later, his eyesight was failing, his health was failing. He apparently used to paint facing the sun, and I was shooting video facing the sun, which defaced the camera tube. (That's a whole other story.) He was like a man rushing through the final body of his work as his vision failed. If you look closely at those paintings, you can see areas that are very close to Abstract Expressionism. And then there was the personal story. My uncle was a small-town lawyer in Bucyrus, and he and many of my close relatives all made their maiden voyages to Europe when they were quite young. Of course, they went by ship. I distinctly remember my mother's story of my Uncle Bill, leaving a train on a train from Crestline, Ohio to New York. The scene [my mother] described to me was [Uncle Bill] taking out his toothbrush and waving it to them as the train took off. So, I had this childhood image of a man who had taken a train to Europe. If you listen to Ohio to Giverny:  Memory of Light, you will hear train sounds throughout. That was the basis of the work: the personal story, the condition of American Art arising out of European and the dilemma of every American artist's confrontation with European art up to that time.

Now, when I saw Ohio to Giverny: Memory of Light, I saw a lot of meaningful confusion between the two places, and I kept thinking about how the places where Monet worked are so storied. At the same time, I was finding the landscapes of Bucyrus just as visually compelling. You might have something else to say about the quality of light — because I know that's what a huge part of that piece was all about — but I just kept thinking about senses of place and wondering how much that might have factored into it.

The first part takes place in Ohio. But once the camera effectively goes out the window, you arrive in Paris. And from then on, it's France, except for the very end after the dedication, "a mon Oncle" on a tombstone; the last pan of the camera is back in Ohio farmland.

I just keep thinking there's a well-known mythology about France, in relation to the footage of Bucyrus. And the footage in Bucyrus creates a different mythology around what it is to be there. I appreciated that because it leveled out the playing field, as it were; you're reconciling your own history with European history and these other larger cultural centers in history, through landscape. So, I very much appreciated that quality, because if you come from a place such as Ohio, you often feel like you have to prove yourself, or you have to do something in a larger cultural city to be able to compete, or to have a voice, or have something to say. For my own work, I grapple with these ideas, but I also think that the most ordinary of people and overlooked places might have extraordinary things to say and offer — so I work to tell those stories and find a way to make them as compelling as possible. Then, the archival recordings that I use give context to environmental problems, labor struggles, and natural resource extraction issues, and all of these things that play into Appalachia more broadly. Ironically, I think focusing on these issues and senses of place give me something relatively unique to offer.

As I was thinking about the exhibition, and how I wanted to present these artistic representations of Ohio, I was struggling with these conflicting perspectives of the way the world sees Ohio and the way that I see Ohio. Brian, I’m hanging on to what you said about feeling like you have to prove yourself if you're from Ohio. That struggle is what drew me to think about art from this area, because it obviously has so much more to say beyond the kinds of stereotypes that are widely accepted about the state. At the same time, I came into the exhibition with a very keen awareness of colonial histories in the state and the Indigenous history that preceded Ohio statehood. That is a huge part of what [the exhibition] raises awareness about, in terms of the relationship between the land and Ohio and its culture, people, economic, and industrial histories.

Ohio to Giverny: Memory of Light (1983), Mary Lucier. Still. Video (color, sound). Image courtesy of the artist.

My work has primarily been based in landscape since the ‘70s and pretty much even through the present moment, I think that I've been asked many times why. I can only think that it has something to do with my growing up in this small town that was surrounded by farms and forests, and laden with anecdotes, stories, and tales about Indigenous Native Americans. Think how many of the towns and rivers have Native American origins in their names, and how the stories are passed down about those people, or about their descendants. For example, [Bucyrus’] athletic teams were called the Redmen. I don't think “Redmen” is a term one can use anymore or should use. But in fact, there was a great deal of respect among the citizens of our little town for the notion that the red man—the Native American—was a very special and powerful person. That was interesting to me on another level. But I do think that those landscapes—and the fact that all I had to do was to ride my bicycle 10 minutes and I'd be out in the middle of cornfields, or I'd be in a forest—have something to do with my later preoccupation with aspects of landscape in my work. I remember flying home from shooting in the Brazilian Amazon: suddenly, you hit the United States, and you're looking down at this fertile land that's filled with crops and cattle, and one thinks, “what, what an incredible difference there is between [Ohio] and a place like the Amazon, where we actually believe the world needs the forest, but they don't want it.  They want it to be like the Ohio wheat fields.” When I think of Ohio, I think of that rich, productive landscape.

As I was preparing for the exhibition, I did some research on the Ohio Valley region and why there were so many thriving Indigenous communities in this area for thousands of years. And the very reason is because of the fertility of this area, and the access to river ways.

Today, if you go down the Ohio River, ecological conditions get worse and worse.  If you start out in Youngstown and head south along the river you get to Chillicothe where it's filthy. The air is polluted from the paper plants and other big factories that sit right on the Ohio River, which becomes a dumping ground. It's quite devastating, in many ways.

What's so important about both of your practices is that address different kinds of histories and trauma that the land has faced, not only culturally but also socially. And that's something that I didn't realize we would unearth in the exhibition, but it truly does come through in each of the works. Despite the environmental devastation inflicted onto the land, the collapse of many industries in Ohio—as well as the economic stability that they provided—is something that the exhibition emphasizes. There’s a strong sense of, what do we do now?

The piece that I've been doing as a social practice project since 2018, Forest Listening Rooms, is trying to listen to the past and present, in order to do just that: figure out what to do now and into the future. As part of that focus, it addresses labor history and environmental and economic decline in southeastern Ohio. One of the towns that I work in is called New Straitsville, and in the 1880s warring labor groups came together there in secret to create the United Mineworkers, to have a unified voice against the mining companies. And in researching and celebrating this history, I learned that you can be opposed to extraction and mining, but also appreciate that the long history of labor in the region. In addition, Appalachian Ohio is more diverse than what people think: there were lots of different miners coming from all over the world, and they would often have their own small little towns, and many are gone now. Importantly, looming over everything is the Native American history. Because I am a sound artist, I often use archival recordings as material for my work; but here, all Native Americans were forcefully removed from Ohio some forty years before recorded sound was even invented, so there's a huge absence in recorded media of any Native American record in the region. I think my frustration in looking for a sonic history of a place is that Ohio, in so many ways, seems silent when it when it comes to those peoples.

And yet, there are some good stories, too, albeit complex. One thing I am fascinated with now is that despite the old growth forests of entire region of Appalachian Ohio being completely clear cut by the early 20th century, the forest has returned. Through a New Deal program in the 1930s, the whole area was designated a national forest (despite not having any trees). Now, almost 90 years later, we have our state’s only National Forest. To me, this forest in southeastern Ohio is now like a huge social sculpture. It's so rich, and it has so many contradictions in it. It's very fascinating to work with as a subject.

One of the reasons why I wanted to call the exhibition “Partially Buried” is because Robert Smithson's Partially Buried Woodshed really was the trigger for these questions I had about art, the landscape culture, history, politics, and the environment. I have done a lot of research on Robert Smithson and his interest in Ohio as a site, which led me to his proposed earthwork for Egypt Valley, which is just about an hour east [of Columbus] on [Interstate] 70. The work never came into fruition [during] planning stages with mining companies that were obviously abundant in the area. But what came from Smithson’s involvement in the area was a real acknowledgement that the land can never return to its pre-mining state. So, what can we do with the resources that are available and the state that [that the land] is in? That's an exciting thing that I think the exhibition realizes.

Forest Listening Rooms (2018 – present), Brian Harnetty. Sound, pendant speakers, bench. Image by Calista Lyon, courtesy the Columbus Museum of Art.

I think that Smithson’s proposed, but unfinished work is a good example of how these types of projects require huge political and social efforts to be able to come to fruition. My own project, Forest Listening Rooms, is on a much smaller scale, but built over a much longer period of time, and is trying to address those issues you're talking about very directly. Forest Listening Rooms is a sound piece that’s built with components from a long tradition of composers and sound artists. My main audiences are local residents of the small towns in Appalachian Ohio. We first take a sound walk into the Wayne National Forest, following the traditions of John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Annea Lockwood, and so forth. We then walk to specific locations to sit in the forest, or “rooms,” and just be quiet and listen in silence for fifteen or so minutes. After that, I share archival recordings of people from the past that lived in those very places. The people on the recordings tell their stories about labor, place, and destruction. And then after that, we have a guided conversation about the land: public versus private land, extraction, and about how the land should be preserved or used in the future, all in an effort to end fracking within the Wayne National Forest. And again, many of these people are local residents who are on the opposite end of the political spectrum from myself, but they are the people that I really want to reach out to. And what I found was the process of walking and listening in silence, followed by listening to the cautionary tales of past residents — perhaps even in some cases their own ancestors and relatives — and then talking about the land candidly, it opened a new way, a new space for conversation. It wasn't about opposites clashing, it was about finding some common — literally, common ground — over the land and a sense of pride in the land. For example, I would go out with hunters, and again, stereotypically, they would often be much more politically conservative than myself. Yet they have a great love for public lands and are very happy to have national forests and lands to use sustainably for hunting. So, I found unusual allies, as it were, across these political divides. But I think it was all facilitated by the forest itself, and the trees became something like mediators between the different people from these communities. So, I think it touches on what you're talking about with imagining new futures, but you must do it through a sense of commonality; something has to be common between us.

There is some degree of co-production and co-exchange between the artworks in the exhibition and the land. That's not something I had realized until you just put that spin on it. This makes me think about how many works in the exhibition grapple with achieving a true history or real history. Most saliently is the extraordinary photograph that Dawoud Bey captured in Northeast Ohio. It's not an exact, pinpointed location [along the Underground Railroad]; rather, Bey approximates the location from careful research. So, in thinking about the exhibition in that context of these partially buried, partially uncovered histories, there's an element in the exhibition of never knowing the whole story about what happened in the land.

I think that Dawoud Bey’s photograph is capturing an essence of the whole exhibition, and it works very well in uncovering these hidden histories. In southeastern Ohio, for example, there's an underground mine fire that's been going on since the 1880s. And it's almost impossible to find it. Maybe in the wintertime, you can see that if there's snow on the ground, there's probably a patch that's melted, and maybe that's where the fire is. So, in searching for this hidden history, I would often go through a process of asking myself, “what is the sound of the mine fire and how might I find it that way?” I could never find out exactly where it was. And yet the searching, the looking for it and trying to find it became part of the work — it’s reminiscent of Tacita Dean's From Columbus Ohio to the Partially Buried Woodshed — where her search for the woodshed is the work itself.

Verité is one thing, and it’s essential for documentarians. However, sometimes one can run into trouble in the art world when you have work that has one foot in what I call documentary—which is more about the examination of facts, and interviews with people, their stories, their histories, usually backed up by a lot of research—and then have the other foot in something that is evocative of those things but doesn't actually make a political point. For me working on Ohio to Giverny: Memory of Light with one toe in documentary and one whole foot in video art, I sometimes ran into this issue of whether anybody was "getting" it. Was anybody really understanding? Because this was an installation of two channels of video on seven monitors, it had a wide sweep, and it had a big impact, visually and auditorily. It became incredibly popular, but there was also this undercurrent of political distaste for what I had done. I really don't know what the feeling is now, I only know that MoMA hasn't shown the tape in a million years, and the Whitney has not shown the installation in a million years, because it's completely out of vogue, partly because it's been misunderstood. Even people who sensed that there was a personal narrative in it said one could do without that. And they were the ones who were pro-Monet. And then those who were anti-Monet, didn't see any anything personal in it. They just saw this bourgeois phenomenon of Impressionism. There was one curator/critic, Bruce Jenkins, who is one of the very few writers who got what the piece was about, that it was about the interface between the technology of video and the technology of Impressionism and dealing with the quality of light and the way the light entered Monet’s eye when painting facing the sun. But in fact, the two processes were very closely related, and that's what I was investigating, as much as the personal story that I used as the hook to lay my images on. Maybe it was too complex for people because it looked so simple. Maybe it looked too pretty. I don't know. I don't think it would look that pretty today. You can't anticipate people's perceptions, how they change over time, and how the perception of an artwork can shift over time

I hope that those ideas in Ohio to Giverny: Memory of Light are a little more evident because of its inclusion within the exhibition’s context about the landscape and the culture and these histories in relationship to each other.

That's a good thought. It's a very good thought. And it removes it from that other context: beauty.

I interviewed Michelle Stewart, who's another artist featured in the exhibition. What's wonderful about Michelle is that she stands out in the exhibition as one of the true foundational land artists, if you will, so she is within the same realm as Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt, among others. She said to me that the legacy of land art is environmentalism, and to encourage reverence for the land and its resources.

[Michelle Stuart] is a wonderful artist. I see some of what you're talking about Brian, up here in upstate New York as well. We still have some hunting, and we have an enormous deer population. When I first moved up to this region, people were very poor, and the people who hunted were those who really needed the deer meat to get through the winter. I came to understand that there were those who desperately needed to have a freezer full of venison for the winter, though it's not so true anymore. There are so many different sides to the whole notion of hunting.

What you're describing gives a sense of local history. And because you've lived there for a long time, you have been able to observe it over many years and see how it's changed. Time, to me, is so fascinating. I think this is a way socially engaged art and land art can come together: it is this element of time, and observing places and people over years and decades, and having a set of relationships and friendships with them — all of this can influence your work in really interesting ways. In one sense, I feel like in some small ways I am affecting or even altering the places where I work in Appalachian Ohio. I'm part of some small changes there, working with people as an artist and community organizer. But the people and the places are absolutely affecting my work and changing it, too! And that exchange is what I'm really after.

Brian Harnetty is a Columbus, Ohio based interdisciplinary artist using sound and listening to foster social change. He works with sound archives and the communities connected to them, creating encounters that are rooted in place and the transformative power of listening. For the past decade, Harnetty’s projects have brought together myth, history, ecology, and economy in Appalachian Ohio, informed by his family's roots there. His current project, Words and Silences, is a musical portrait of monk and writer Thomas Merton, fusing archival recordings of his voice with newly composed music. Harnetty is a two-time recipient of the MAP Fund Grant (2021, 2020), and received the A Blade of Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art in Contemplative Practices (2018), the Creative Capital Performing Arts Award (2016), and a National Performance Network grant (2016). He has also twice received MOJO Magazine’s “Underground Album of the Year” (2019, 2013). Harnetty has released eight internationally acclaimed albums, and as a sound artist his installations have been shown across the country, including the Columbus Museum of Art (Ohio), Headlands Center for the Arts (California), Audible Gallery (Chicago), the New York Historical Society, the Gund Gallery (Ohio), Massillon Museum (Ohio), and many colleges and universities.

Mary Lucier has been known for her contributions to the form of multi-monitor, multi-channel video installation since the early 1970’s. After studying sculpture and literature at Brandeis University she became involved in photography and performance. She traveled with the Sonic Arts Union for several years, collaborating with composers Alvin Lucier and Robert Ashley in concerts throughout the US and Europe. Her mixed-media work has often explored the theme of landscape as a metaphor for loss and regeneration, and trauma as articulated in more obliquely narrative modes. Lucier has also produced a significant body of single-channel pieces which have been screened in museums and festivals world-wide. Her video work has been shown in major museums around the world where it now resides in numerous collections, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Reina Sofia, the Stedeljik Museum, ZKM, the Columbus Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. She has been the recipient of many awards and fellowships, notably Anonymous Was a Woman, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Fellowship, Creative Capital, USA Artists, and the Japan-US Friendship Commission.  She is currently at work on an installation dealing with issues of death and survival, derived from the final text of her late husband, the painter Robert Berlind. She lives and works in New York City and Cochecton, NY.

Anna Talarico is the inaugural graduate of the Department of History of Art’s Contemporary Art and Curatorial Practice MA program at The Ohio State University, from which she also holds a BA in History of Art and a BA in French. Anna has worked at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Anna most recently curated Partially Buried: Land-Based Art in Ohio, 1970 to Now at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Branden Koch

ARC EYE: an essay

Abigail Child

Ethnography’s Excess

It is perhaps worth remembering that the impetus for collage is from technology and from mass communications, beginning with newspapers from the 19th century on, with their adjacent pages and columns, allocating space to the time of the commuter’s passage to work, to her or his “read”. Thus, work outside the house and printed news—i.e. new forms of labor and information under industrialization with its ability to swiftly reach people across space— combine to underlie what we might call a collage culture.

I grew up within that culture: of the picture magazines, LIFE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, the articles switching from country to country, face to face, colonialism to cereal to physics to war. I grew up as well with television, the prodigal exemplar of switching, tuning, changing, channeling content and advertisement. Given this world, and indeed the global world of the internet, of course we glean, we scan, we scavenge, we collage.

Figure 1. GANGLIA

I have always been interested in excess, what doesn’t come clean. Not the perfect image, but the messy one, the left over, the inordinate, the extraordinary, the scrappy. Not the monumental unity, but the pieced. Not random, but  maximal and inclusionary.

“…. What shape does an engaged politics assume in an empire of signs?”  

Fragmentation of the image-object invades and evades, the human body is spun and punned across the page. Melodrama relies on intensity and mystery, takes on Sisyphean humor while patterns emerge: of wheels, faces, conundrums, colors. The connections shape a medley of relations, the images acting as free radicals, reaching rhizomatically into the life of other image-objects to build another, impossible? world, a soft architecture of the imagination. Where eyes pass through thresholds to new doors, nuns’ habits become stars in an alternate sky, Arab men feast before a garden in front of a prison. The layers of meeting and meaning proliferate: magnetic, recognizable, estranged, communal.

Figure 2. PLUME

Simultaneously influenced by and eliciting the surrealist Americanism of a Bruce Conner, the cut-and-paste gestures of Hannah Hoch and the sensuousness of color and intensity of the abstract expressionists, these collages are alive to the makeup of the social body. None of these works are works of nostalgia— neither for the 1950s nor family. They are not send-up’s, nor satires of famous Hollywood features, nor adoration of mythic heroines, nor mourning for the dead.  These are image worlds built out of refuse, out of the tossed, marginal and kitschy, jumbled, upside down, topsy turvy, gleanings from the mainstream, savings, salvage.

I give myself “obstructions.” This collage will only be made out of triangles, this one structured by color, another only of complete objects or products. In the process I begin to understand the overall figuration of paintings by Bosch, the limits of the page and influence of size, how the process parallels my filmmaking: that moment when every piece ‘suits’—and the next, where it all falls apart.  The attempt: to structure the mind’s heap of image-eyes—to re-play/reread/re-arrange the industrial/capitalistic landscape of images flowing to us via the net, social media and media in general. To create amidst the swiftly changing accelerating welter of beauty and information in the contemporary. Not to return to landscape, not to sexual exploitation, but to swim in and twist, “bust” the flow. 

Figure 3. NEBULAR

The eras’ modern and now postmodern, post-internet citizens of the 21st century have exhibited a previously unimaginable capacity to cope with the discontinuous, in aesthetics and in our physical, as well as virtual life.  We live in a world cluttered with things, so it is a necessity to go behind them, underground, surround them, to locate sources,  transmutations, asymptotes— so as to re-contextualize  and upset the usual associations— rather,  to underline hidden meanings, refresh their vitalities and irresolution.

Questions remain: has digital simply increased the ephemerality of our collective images, even as it has widened the availability and use of same in art and in the commercial spheres? Are we living in TOO MUCH-TOO MUCH to quote the artist Thomas Hirschhorn? Are we connecting everything, because we sense that we are lost, we are frightfully disconnected in the first place? Or as Vilém Flusser suggests— is it that 

Human beings forget they created the images in order to orientate themselves in the world. Since they are no longer able to decode them, their lives become a function of their own images: Imagination has turned into hallucination.


Yet for artists who live in the saving/savaging that art-making is— we continue to refigure, and refuse, excavating objects and emotions, remaking relations to confabulate a future—transmuting hallucination (back?) into /and through imagination— reshaping our visualized world into a constitutive and comic realization.

New York City/ Staatsburg NY

May  2021

Christina Battle

In October, 2018, I was invited to take part in research instigated by the Synthetic Collective, an interdisciplinary collaboration between visual artists, cultural workers and scientists focused on researching and thinking about plastics and micro-plastics pollution.

As part of the research, across 10 days, I drove around Lake Erie along with artist Eeva Siivonen: sampling the strand lines on a number of beaches; collecting, and recording, the amount of plastic pellets washed up and embedded within the sand.

We found a lot of plastic.

The final scientific report for the project is available online here:
A comprehensive investigation of industrial plastic pellets on beaches across the Laurentian Great Lakes and the factors governing their distribution.

Soon after I was home, I set myself up in the studio. Along with the rocks and other materials I had kicking around, I started to record a number of animations.

All I could think about was EXCESS, and all of these materials I had in the studio for no real reason. About how they all tied back to this larger issue of plastic production and waste that we had been sampling for across the Great Lakes.

I wasn’t sure how to make sense of all of this excess.

All of this stuff.
Or how to explain the experience.
And all of these rocks.
Why did I gather all of these rocks?

Nothing ever came of these videos: I couldn’t finish the project. When you think about the whole plastics industry for too long, it’s hard to make things make sense.

But I still have the rocks.

I’m sharing some of the videos here with hopes it might help make it all make a bit more sense.

There’s something about the ritual of repetition.
Help make it make sense.

John G. Hanhardt

Nam June Paik in Performance

There are no accidents,” says my analyst whenever I make a slip of the tongue. “Everything is interpretable. (1)

Nam June Paik had a long career during which he produced a large body of time-based media art. In addition to creating small- and large-scale installations and sculptures, he refined the electronic medium of video and invented ways of manipulating the moving image. His impact was global, and his brilliant ideas reshaped the landscape of contemporary art. In 1982, Paik was featured in a one-artist exhibition I curated at the Whitney Museum of American Art honoring and celebrating his accomplishments.  This retrospective exhibition was a comprehensive view, up to that time, of the artist’s pioneering transformation of video into an artist’s medium.

Born in Korea in 1932, Paik pursued his early interest in music at the University of  Tokyo, where he wrote his thesis on the modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg. Paik moved to Europe in the late 1950s, following his interest in the avant-gardes emerging there. Soon after arriving in Europe, he met the composer John Cage and George Maciunas, the Lithuanian-born entrepreneur of the avant-garde who founded the Fluxus art movement. Both inspired Paik to challenge the aesthetic forms and materiality of art and the conventions of art exhibitions. As early as 1963, he had a one-artist exhibition at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal, Germany, where he showed an array of manipulated and interactive televisions and audiotape pieces alongside dismantled and reconstructed pianos. It was a landmark exhibition and signaled Paik’s ability to create events, performances, and objects that opened a new path for artists. Paik’s performances and actions across Europe were gaining attention. The composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s description of Paik performing his composition “Simple” conveys something of the experience of watching him perform:  “Paik came onto the stage in silence and shocked most of the audience by his actions as quick as lightning. (For example he threw beans against the ceiling, which was above the audience and into the audience.) He then hid his face behind a roll of toilet paper, which he unrolled infinitely slowly in breathless silence. Then, sobbing softly, he pressed the paper every now and then against his eyes so it became wet with tears. He screamed as he suddenly threw the roll of paper into the audience, and at the same moment he switched on two tape recorders, which was a sound montage typical of him, consisting of women’s screams, radio news, children’s noise, fragments of classical music and electronic sounds. Sometimes he also switched on an old gramophone with a record of Haydn’s string quartet version of the Deutschlandlied.  Immediately back at the stage ramp, he emptied a tube of shaving cream into his hair and smeared its contents over his face, his dark suit, and down to his feet.  Then he slowly shook a bag of flour or rice over his head. Finally he jumped into a bathtub filled with water and dived completely underwater, jumped soaking wet to the piano and began a sentimental salon piece. He then fell forward and hit the piano keyboard several times with his head.” (2)

Paik’s actions were inspired by the context of the site and the moment and what he felt would work. His performances were direct, playful, and confrontational, all distinctive features of Paik’s artmaking and exhibitions. For Paik, there were no protocols, and within every action/performance/installation, there was room for anything to happen.

To Act is to snatch from anxiety certainty. To act is to bring about a transfer of anxiety. (3)

I want to focus on a couple of actions taken by Paik and suggest how they speak to the challenge of a contemporary art practice in our time of renewed technological change and the ongoing threat of the pandemic. The first piece I want to discuss is from 1960: during a performance at the Atelier Mary Bauermeister in Cologne attended by John Cage, Paik leapt off the stage to attack Cage’s necktie with scissors. It was an act that alluded to his effort to break free of his dependence on his teacher. Many years later, I visited Jean Brown’s home, a former Shaker seed house in the Berkshires, to see her collection of Fluxus art, which later went to the Getty Museum. Brown showed me a drawer full of ties cut in half –  the Paik-Cage tie-cutting encounter had become a celebrated relic of the avant-garde. After Paik passed away in Miami in 2006, a final “cutting of the ties” was performed at his funeral at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in Manhattan. After the eulogies, Ken Hakuta, Paik’s nephew, announced that the ushers were passing out orange-handled scissors.  He noted that for anyone wearing an expensive necktie, “it was too late,” and the crowd laughed. On the count of three, each person with a necktie was asked cut it off, and that ended the program.

I am tired of renewing the form of music….I must renew the ontological form of music…. In the “Moving theatre” in the street, the sounds move in the street, the audience meets or encounters them “unexpectedly” in the street. The beauty of moving theatre lies in this “surprise a priori,” because almost all of the audience is uninvited, not knowing what it is, and why it is, who is the composer, the player, the organizer—or better speaking—organizer, composer, player. (4)

The second action I want to mention features Paik’s  Robot K-456 (1964), a life-size figure made out of bits and pieces of metal and cloth, fitted with a tape recorder, whose movement is directed by means of a remote-controlled device that was created by Paik in collaboration with the enterprising Japanese engineer Shuya Abe. Used by Paik in impromptu events in Europe, including at the Galerie Parnass, in street performances in SoHo after he moved to New York City in 1964, and in Charlotte Moorman’s avant-garde festivals, this hybrid-gendered figure with spinning breasts, shitting beans out its backside and broadcasting speeches by John F. Kennedy, embodied Paik’s desire to humanize technology while refusing to hide its materials behind a glossy metallic skin. Its title references a Köchel listing (a catalogue of all of Mozart’s works) for Mozart piano concerto K 456, another play on the kinds of signs and references that Paik reconfigured in the textual play of his artwork.

  All of this came into play during the Whitney exhibition, when Paik decided that he wanted to take the robot off its pedestal and out of the museum, where he would stage a public event that would attract television coverage.  The robot was made to walk up the sidewalk outside the museum and proceed across Madison Avenue, where a staged accident occurred. The artist Bill Anastasi drove his Honda Civic into the robot, throwing it down onto the crosswalk, an event that was, in fact, covered by the local CBS affiliate. Paik was asked by the television reporter what this all meant. He said he was practicing how to cope with the disaster of technology in the 21st century. He also noted that the robot was 20 years old and had not had its bar mitzvah. Playful and extravagant, this performance concluded with the “body” of the robot being wheeled into the museum and reinstalled in the gallery. The street performance demonstrated that Paik did not see his artworks as inert, completed pieces but as objects that could be refashioned in new forms. In this case, the robot became an emblem of the anxiety we were feeling as technology was becoming a harbinger of cheap labor at the same time as it was insidiously dominating our daily lives.

In one final ironic play with the robot, I fast forward to 1989, when Paik released his single-channel videotape Living With the Living Theater. This is a prime example of Paik’s creative manipulation of the electronic image to construct, in this case, a narrative that looks to the radical form and content of the theatrical avant-garde as it simultaneously reveals the  contradictions of art in an advanced capitalist society. The Living Theater came together during the 1960s as a collective of performers under the direction of Julian Beck and his wife, Judith Malina. Brilliant and charismatic, they embodied a vision of an alternative collective utopia that featured freewheeling performance pieces such as the celebrated Paradise Now. They remade the improvised theater pieces into a mobile, transparent, and porous space where their genre-busting improvisatory expressions of sexual liberation, drug-taking, and rock and roll could unfold.  Throughout the videotape, Paik plays himself as a subversive interviewer and ironist, asking who in a collective washes the dishes and reflecting on the property in Switzerland where Julian and Judith are videotaped smoking dope over the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin’s grave – a bucolic property which, Paik notes, escalated in value when it was sold as a capitalist utopian investment. The tape also records the funeral of Julian Beck in 1985, showing Judith mourning inside the temple and at the graveside. Following the principles of Paik’s dialectical montage, he brings the taped event of the robot accident into Living With the Living Theater so that the robot’s post-accident removal is connected to the mourners at Julian Beck’s gravesite. Here Paik elides the avant-gardes of a new performative technology embodied in the robot, who was born in the 1960s, with the Living Theater, which was coming to life at the same time as a new theater of possibilities. Two years after Beck’s death, Paik reflected on that loss and the last performance of the robot at the Whitney in this videotape. Robot K-456 and the Living Theater, embodied in Julian Beck and Judith Malina, became one in the video as figures of bygone hopes for the future.

1 . Elizabeth Rottenberg, For the Love of Psychoanalysis. The Play of Chance in Freud and Derrida (New York: Fordham University Press, 2019), p. 35.
2. Karlheinz Stockhausen quoted in Edith Decker-Phillips, Paik Video (Cologne: DuMont Buchverlag, 1988), trans. Marie-Genevieve Iselin, Karen Koppensteiner, and George Quasha (Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Arts, 1998), p. 29.
3. Jacques Lacan, Anxiety: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book X, edited by Jacques-Alain Miller, translated by A. R. Price (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2014), p. 77.
4. “Postmusic (1963)” in We Are in Open Circuits: Writings by Nam June Paik, edited by John G. Hanhardt, Gregory Zinman, and Edith Decker-Phillips (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press), p. 24.

A portion of this essay was first published in The Lacanian Review No. 11, 'The Art of Singularities'. New Lacanian School, Paris, June 2021.

Images courtesy John G. Hanhardt Archives, MSS.010, CCS Bard Library & Archives, Bard College, Annandale on Hudson, NY.

Bill Brand

In 2016 I was an artist-in-residence with Katy Martin in China at Shanghai University. The project I had proposed was to draw pencil on paper from photographs and video. But once there, I started painting with ink because, as residents in the Chinese painting department, we were provided ink, paper and brushes and were expected to use these materials. 

During our stay, I filmed and photographed two Shanghai artists, Zhuang Yin and Zhao Bo, having asked them to take me to favorite places that had special meaning for them. Yin chose a small grove of trees, an urban oasis surrounded by building construction, and Bo chose a street market for plants and pets. From these photographic images I drew with pencil and painted with ink.

Untitled (Bo & Yin Market 1), 2016. Ink on xuan paper 27” x 38”

The works on paper derived from video and I wanted to bring drawing back to the video. I drew abstract shapes with ink that I animated and composited digitally with the video footage, a technique I had developed in the 1980’s with analog film and optical printing.

Birgit Rathsmann & Rick Karr

Betty & Willy

I am four years old, and I am spending the summer with my Oma Betty in her apartment in the Wandererstrasse in Nuremburg, Germany.  Every morning when we wake up, we lay around in her big double bed and she tells me stories from her former lives.

Oma has lived in this very apartment since she was six, just a little older than me, and all of her stories happened right here. Or across the street, where there was a big department store called Quelle, which means “source.” Oma started working in the athletics department there after school and quickly developed a crush.  Both of  them were young socialists.  They went to trade fairs together for work, and to socialist conferences for fun.

After the Nazis took over Germany, Oma, her crush and a small group of their socialist friends got worried about a very young, very charismatic, and very smart comrade and friend. They had met him at a young socialists conference in Dresden.

"When he spoke, you could see a better future,” Oma said.

It had become clear that he was not safe in Germany anymore. He had been couch surfing at different people's houses, hiding his tracks. Oma and her crush and their friends were convinced that they needed to send this friend and comrade to a safe place. So they put all their coins together and helped to figure out a way to get him to Norway.

After much anxious waiting, they received a telegram from Norway: He was safe. He learned enough Norwegian to work as a journalist there, and after Nazi Germany later invaded Norway, in Sweden.

After the end of the war he returned to Germany, eventually taking over leadership of the German Social Democratic Party. He became mayor of West Berlin, coached JFK to say his famous sentence at the Wall, and then Willy Brandt, Chancellor of Germany.

And as chancellor of Germany, he did something incredible. 

"Looking back, I know that this is really what we risked our lives for", Oma said.

It was as big a thing as it would have been if Lyndon Johnson had made reparations part of the Civil Rights Act. Or if Jimmy Carter had apologised for the genocide of Native Americans. Willy Brandt, Chancellor of Germany, fell to his knees in Warsaw and asked for forgiveness in the name of all Germans, including the ones who previously had wanted him dead. There is a famous photo of this incredible moment. 

Why am I thinking about this now? The gift my grandmother gave me with this story was an invitation to do wildly impractical things in the service of a future dream, even when the present is unbelievably dire.  For the past year, I have spent a lot of time assessing what's worth doing wildly impractical things for, then figuring out how to do them.

Here is a photo of Oma on the day she got married to her crush, just before he shipped out to the Russian Front of World War Two, and the siege of Stalingrad. After the war, it took him two years to walk back home. Even though he had died four years before Oma told me this story, she was still totally in love with him.

Claudia Hart


An-My Lê

IFC Center, New York, New York, 2020

Cobble Hill Cinemas, Brooklyn, New York, 2020

The Joyce Theater, New York, New York, 2020

NiteHawk Cinema, Brooklyn, NY, 2020

Bibi Calderaro

what happens when conditions of possibility meet

David Schafer

Colosseum, 2020

The way that shopping malls were structurally laid out historically has changed. Constructed as a closed system usually with multiple levels, an open floor plan, mirrors, openings in floors, represents a design strategy from the 70’s that was a classic layout for shopping malls. This was to manipulate, confuse, and entrap the consumer for an extended period of time. These original malls of a larger scale have experienced a decline, ultimate removal, or transformation into more of a pedestrian oriented mixed-use facility that may include living, working, and policing.

Colosseum evolved out of my continued interest in the relationship between language and the built environment. Many have written about the series of enclosures that we inhabit and pass through in our lifetime; home, school, barracks, and factory, and how that has evolved into a collapsed situation that destabilizes the boundaries between them. Urban development and gentrification continue to erase the past and colonize land and space in order to maximize profits for investors and developers, while installing massive spaces of consumption and high-density living. In many situations the live/work/shop/play spaces are integrated and are inextricably intertwined into one colossal complex.

These highly engineered social frameworks and platforms have been compressed algorithmically to maximize profit and density, and at the same time exclude specific strata of the public. As the Neoliberal agenda dictates what is good for the market is good for society. Societies of control, as discussed by Burroughs, Foucault, Deleuze, and more recently Shoshana Zuboff, also speak to spectacle, consumerism, and appearances. With newer opportunities for surveillance, from the panopticon to digital tracking and now data mining, the authoritarianism of our society is invisibly woven into the new models of the social sphere. The audio for this work is a spoken word track provided by an AI natural reader program and edited. Colosseum is an audio script signaling the colonizing of space for consumption, living, working, education, playing, and confining.

Cristóbal Lehyt

 Piece of New York

In my kitchen in Chelsea, many years ago, I made a sugar sculpture.
I immersed it in resin and put it on my fire escape for a few weeks.
Then I sent what resulted to a show of contemporary art at the Museo Histórico Nacional (National Historical Museum) in Santiago, Chile.
It was installed on a table with historical objects and paintings, and has become part of the collection of the museum.


Alina Tenser

Alissa Quart

Astria Suparak


Proposal: A giant playground for the feral parrots that live in cities like San Francisco, Pasadena, Chicago, Austin, Miami, Perth, and Auckland.

This colorful bird gym will be brimming with chew toys, rope knots, swings, perches, and shiny bells for the whole flock. Providing distinctive activities from the usual options of the cityscape, the playground may be comfortingly familiar to recently released or escaped parrots and other medium-sized birds.

Form: A single temporary sculpture, or a series of sculptures designed by different artists.

Featured Materials: Cotton rope for parrots to untie, shreddable soft wood chunks, and other bird safe materials.

Location: Public parks and pedestrian plazas close to where parrots roost or along their flight paths. Sculpture would be placed at treetop level. Viewing platforms for humans could be incorporated, or it could be sited where publicly accessible balconies, rooftop patios, and high-rise buildings already exist.

This project was conceived while in residence at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, California, where a flock of vividly-colored parrots flew over the residence every day at sunrise and dusk. The tropical birds were always at a distance; this proposed public art project would provide a way to observe these intelligent creatures more closely without disturbing them.

Images: From internet searches of “bird gym,” “parrot play gym,”  “DIY bird stands,” and related terms. Sources include,,, Etsy, eBay, and others.

Alejandro Cesarco

 Alice’s Cookies

On a floured board sift 2 cups flour. You will require 2½ cups unsalted butter, the yolks of 6 eggs and 1 cup icing sugar with which a vanilla pod has been pounded and sifted. With the tips of the fingers very lightly work in one-sixth of each of the ingredients until all of each of them has been worked in. It may take more flour, depending upon the size of the yolks of the eggs and the quality of the butter. Only add enough flour to roll. Roll to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut with a round cookie cutter of any size that suits, but not more than 2½ inches in diameter. Place on cookie sheets and bake in 300° oven for about ¼ hour. The cookies should not be coloured. When done remove very carefully from cookie sheet with a metal spatula. They are as fragile as they are exquisite. Cover generously with sifted icing sugar. Do not put in tin box until cold. If the box has a cover that closes hermetically, the cookies will keep for two weeks or more.

A staple for over sixty years in the Stein/Toklas household.

SOURCE: The Alice B Toklas Cook Book


Anne Sherwood Pundyk

Zombie Sisters
An Excerpt

Zombie Sisters is a book of short stories paired with paintings on paper.  I wrote the stories and made the paintings over the last three years in the aftermath of a sibling’s traumatic injury. These two creative enterprises are intertwined. My sister’s physical trauma reverberates psychically through my immediate family. I have distilled subsequent meditations and recollections into stories organized thematically into the book’s four chapters. Simultaneously, I have developed works on paper composed of stains, blots, and rivulets in deep pure tones of indigo blue accented with warm flashes of yellow, orange and red. These paintings are composed by cropping and editing the free-form shapes. I recombine selected passages by stitching them together while introducing circles and arcs in paint and colored pencil. Two intertwining threads, one red, one blue—the colors often used to depict veins and arteries—lead the reader from page to page, from written word to painted composition. Chapter Two, reproduced here, operates as a bird’s eye view of fundamental family relationships by imagining a few solitary moments in a morning of my mother’s mother and my father’s mother at the very beginning of my parents’ lives in June 1928.

Notes on the artwork:


Dark Matter, 2018, Acrylic, Latex, Water Color, Gouache, Egg Shells, Colored Pencil and Stitching on Paper, 9.25 x 9.5 inches


Shore, 2019, Acrylic, Latex, Pencil and Stitching on Cut Paper, 14.5 x 18 inches

Little Turtles

Night, 2018, Acrylic, Latex, Pigment, Colored Pencil and Stitching on Paper, 42 x 40 inches

Adoption 1928

Just Then, 2019, Acrylic, Latex, Colored Pencil and Stitching on Cut Paper, 17 x 18 inches

Anne Sherwood Pundyk []  is an artist and writer based in Manhattan and Mattituck, NY.

Andrew Hibbard

Eggplant, Banana, Super Glue

In my current course of NHS-furnished Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, I have been told to filter out my negative thoughts, to become aware of building a mountain out of a molehill.

I don’t particularly believe in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (in my undergraduate psychoanalysis seminar, I became convinced I was a Lacanian hysteric). CBT feels like a lot of clichés inching toward the worst form of mindfulness. But I increasingly feel like the cliché might be the most important form of knowledge. It’s probably wrong to summon Audre Lorde in this context, but I do believe she is right. “[T]here are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt, of examining what our ideas really mean (feel like) on Sunday morning at 7 AM.” That even holds for the most trite of ideas.

I bring this up because I’ve recently been thinking a lot about my relationship to art. Something that has always plagued me is the necessity to fit into a taxonomicstructure of the art world: artist, collector, critic, curator, dealer. My education in critical theory made me uncomfortable with all of these labels, despite being trained as a curator (or so my degree says). My CBT toolkit would suggest that I should bemore confident, that instead of focusing on how I have failed to fulfill some idea of these taxonomic structures, in some regards, I should focus on my successes, what I have done. I do curate and write things sometimes, ergo, those are my places in the taxonomy.

This presents the problem to me of what to contribute to this context. What have I written that hasn’t made it’s way into the world. Or photographed? I take a lot of pictures of dogs, but those always make it out into the world somehow. But in fact, so much of the writing I do, we all do, is enclosed to Post It notes and emails and other private channels. This is the way I am most a writer. And the thing I write about most is food. I’m constantly worried about what to eat. My dear friend Janique loves to ask me “what are you having for dinner?” “What should I make for lunch?” As we like to say, this is a question of great intimacy.

My interest in food might come across as some millennial cliché, but I do see that food has been an indelible aspect of my identity and cultural expression. My grandmother immigrated to the Boston area from Newfoundland in the 1940s, and my aunts and uncle would always tell me how they had to schlep to Wilson Farms to get the produce and dairy and meats. As my mom would say, “we were poor” [more accurately, upwardly mobile lower middle class] “but we always ate well.” My grandmother believed that preservatives were going to be the death of America. She was probably right.

I realized recently that the thing I write the most is grocery lists. I have a document of my pantry essentials. I have a master grocery list. And then I have the list “Grocery TODAY.” I don’t much believe in the Hans Ulrich urgency model, but the capitalization of that list suggests that while the exhibition model might lack urgency, my groceries have it deeply. My list, and its completed items, are my own Sapphic fragments to my sustenance and luxuries. It is a deeply personal text, less personal than my receipts or a stool sample, but autobiographical nonetheless. Like my mother and grandmother before me, I insist on eating well.

This list is also full of shame for all my purchase of carbonated water in plastic bottles.  And its ellipses are many – chocolate likely doesn’t appear because I dare not not have it. I wish this list could be time-stamped so it could show the changing seasons, and also to show how some things linger constantly unchecked, not as necessities, but signifiers of what I hope to eat and never do, horizons of a better life. But I should remind myself that, like poetry, ricotta is not a luxury.

Andy Graydon

Schnitzeljagd [Scavenger Hunt] 2013/19

Schnitzeljagd was taken on my hunt to retrieve the results of an art fabrication process that was part of my film and installation work “The Findings.” I asked a fabricator in Berlin to create a work based on a short piece of text from the film, a description of a mysterious object. Their response was to put me on a ’scavenger hunt’ for a box hidden in a locker somewhere in Berlin, which contained a map, and a spinning top that drew a line for walking on the map. I then found the site marked by the map and took the walks that the top drew for me. I took photos all along this hunt, and this is a selection of those photos.
Schnitzeljagd, 2013/2019

Angela Washko and Jesse Stiles
A-SIDE: Machine Learning Elegy for Christine Margaret Blasey Ford from Her Written Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee
B-SIDE: Machine Learning Hate Poem for Fucking Scumbag Piece-of-Shit Brett Kavanaugh from His Verbal Opening Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee

A-SIDE: Machine Learning Elegy for Christine Margaret Blasey Ford from Her Written Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee

I have been the mark
and I have been the messaged
the sexual assault

I do I do
I decided to
I do I did the decide
I do I decided that

I do I do I decided to do

I do I do I do I do
I had and I do I do

I responded to the sexual, the sexual assault

Exposing Mr. Kavanaugh
Brett  Pounded

the state of the decision of the house of the bed
the most sexual

the bed consideration
the experience of the bed and the heater
workers saved me.

I had to relive the sexual second
confirmed on the media.

Brett is not a person


the sext to the one on top
the rescuing of my family

I had to relay the assault
and the sexual exntnecttinnsn
consider themash

a counter
ashamed to the expression of the experience

I had the bed
I had the bed

I had the consideration of the bed
I had most of the bed

I did not up want that mashrood.
I wt.peeeearea

about the bed
the fear

the possibility
I had to relay the experience of
the experience of the bed

hard down this happened


I had been the mashed
the mashed

I do I do
I decided to drain the masher
and I do

I did not
I do I do I do
I have been the mark

the boy and the beer
Mr. Kavanaugh

in a couple of his messages
the details of the beer  
the letter

it was the bed friends of the sexual house
in a counter that you caused, Brett

with my life

so abhorred
the assault
the weight
the behavior
the bathroom

on the bathroom
to the ground

the assault that I did not understand
without consideration

because I file the assault,
you came out of the bed

the fascist moment
rips from the bed
Meat without a house

privacy bears into home
in the name of the bedroom

my boys of the bed
the sense of the Senate
the bedroom of the Senate
the bed

the presence
the sexual assault
without time, consequences.

next to speak
the masher

Senator Supreme Confidential
his year of porn

the valve of therapy
the reality of stairs.

Brett with his acting on fire
the beer,

the secure nominee stated constantly

Brett Kavanaugh discussed the bedroom.
I supposedly wailed in the Senate


I thought that I had my own heat
this tremendous insight

July 16, 2018.
Senator, run out my life.
hard to recall Mr. Kavanaugh's drunkman line.
the roles of my same hearing faced off
nominee drink

anxious, I recall

professional personal attacks

I had never never memories
the bed was hard to me to relive

the assault
the thing
the bedroom

the consequences
the trauma

the meds
the information
the experience
the letter

the details
the Senate
the President

the Washington Post violence
the assault in the room
coming forward.

coming forward
make my life.
Use my life.

I tried to describe the house
It was on emails,

and three drying from the bed
that bed post yells,

Brett, enormous drinkator
This tremendous trout

I had never, Brett
I was too afraid

heated by the assault without consent
the serious cut

the bedroom facts Furious

I am the  media,
he is not my boss
but the words,
first fear my boy.

B-SIDE: Machine Learning Hate Poem for Fucking Scumbag Piece-of-Shit Brett Kavanaugh from His Verbal Opening Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee

Recall any one of the summers.

at the work of the committee
when I was a committee

at the calendars of the committee
and in the works of the committee
and when I was testing a committee

it was beer.
I was some of the reference in committee
at the house

with the littly new years  
the Service CountryCommittee

dead calendar
come in my mom
recall anything

we counted on this calendar
and this committee

in the law
sexually in the country

I’ll have 5 millions from the country
and some of the sexual school
sensitivities at the hearing

and confirmation of the
sensitive sexual sensitivities

The hearing was meant to terrorize the law

a crime of the committee
the confirmation of assault and the country

the man who also rises
i became ever beensidents.
Exposed, grade me.

Augumented Ashbooks
cross out the nation’s Past.

comments and the wind
for the confidence of my dad
for the mere American court senator
All for my own

the Democratic senate shows allegations
I attended and described

any summer of 1999

the judge
always said people judge
at the old high school

this committee on the weekends
they judged my fraught speed take
on the Square Clinton

highest merely stupid days
I attended my former old women by name.

Diseased listening.
And kind of talking too

the committee was the people
the people allegedly

the people’s allegations
at the party of the people
in the summer of 1982

I worked at the party
and worked in the football time
in the summer of these consequences
another point and statement

to the funder with this country.

low points
the people stand still as ever.
Perverts from 2008

Dull her fans
Of the summer of 1982

This government said the house is a committee
the last time of the media

for high school
They said

the preparation of the Democratic Committee
is not for this country.

In the summer of 1982

I will train real hard to do not this.
training the four law country.

back breath,
question of fact on nomination.
In me.

I was a background judge of the woman
on the lawn

and worked for the people
allegedly worked

and came to the committee
With my calendar

and the other  time
with the law calendars.

just a lot of the party of my former and my family.
And a girl
this I never sexually assaulted
there have been women

by some political assault
oh why was this started
this committee

you would clear me
the president is serving me
and my family

and my calendars.
last night,
confirmation for me.

And this is a thing,

your friends.
I think to be judge over the calendars.
I am.

That was 17 year times.

bubblesort is a semi-clandestine collaborative generative music and performance art project by Angela Washko and Jesse Stiles.

Our interdisciplinary project combines Washko’s practice of analyzing, scraping, re-presenting and re-framing found cultural materials for video, video games and performances with Stiles’ practice of making electronic music and generative algorithms to control sound, light, video and robotics.

Using politically charged texts as source material – we train machine learning algorithms on manifestos from a variety of ideological perspectives, speeches by feminist heroes and demagogue villains, books by controversial visionaries and more to produce poetic lyrics which sound like they are coming from a computer’s dreams.

The two texts submitted to this journal are poems produced out of this process. We trained text-generating neural networks on the transcript from Christine Blasey Ford’s testimonial letter outlining her experiences of sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as well as the transcript of Brett Kavanaugh’s verbal testimony to the Supreme Court Judiciary committee arguing against Christine Blasey Ford’s claims. The neural networks create their own new texts, pulling from the patterns and vernacular of the original source material – and we redact them into poems and then later manipulate them even more to produce experimental songs.

Normally these poems would not have a life on their own – but we thought that these two should exist as texts independent of other media.

-Angela Washko and Jesse Stiles (bubblesort)

 back to home ︎


Christina McPhee

Flaming Debt

Flaming Debt was a series of photomontages compiling performance, wildfires, and debt. I started these performance-montages during and after the autumn fires in southern California in the fall of 2007. I stopped making them in late 2009. I was trying to get rid of credit cards. I decided to make a practice of doing a performance of cutting up credit cards only when I could pay one off. Then the fires began in California—forest fires engulfing the island-hills and mountain ranges around LA. I associated the fires with the personal instability of accumulated debt, as if like the chapparal, it gets thick on the steep slope and only takes a careless moment to trigger wildness, the firestorm. Hypersaturated superheated, ready for the match. Cutting up the cards fueled the digital cut up of the images of the performance, cutting up the images of my hands cutting up the cards, the scissors. Fireworks and bonfires strayed into the composition, from the Saint John’s Saints Day fireworks at midsummer night in Copenhagen— fireworks from the era of burning witches—bonfire of vanities, rule of a baptism by fire. I tried to make it a rule to only make ‘flaming debt’ images when I might pay off a debt. But, as debts have their way of accumulation and conflagration, I figured out how to cut up one card by stashing the debt on another. Now I recycle the performance debts into increasingly recidivist carnevalesques.

This body of work was never shown as a group. One made it to the NADA Fair. After that, although some were
consigned to the gallery, none sold. How perfect that at the moment of the Wall Street crash, and my micro-flameout of a lost house and a lost teaching job, that apparently nobody with the scratch to collect them turned up.

Christina McPhee





Claire Barliant

Delphine Drawings

About the Delphine Drawings

It is fitting that Delphine means “dolphin,” since the French actress Delphine Seyrig slipped with astonishing fluidity from one twentieth-century auteur’s film into another. Her IMDB filmography looks like a cinephile’s dream syllabus: films by Alain Resnais, Jacques Demy, Luis Bunuel, Chantal Akerman, William Klein, and Ulrike Ottinger. Her first film—her first film—was Pull My Daisy (1959) by Robert Frank, with narration by Jack Kerouac. And yet I could find no book or article, even, that seemed to fully address the span of her career. One (male) critic dismissed her as the Flying Dutchman of actresses, as though all of those appearances were some kind of accident, and not due to her chiseled features (that were also so mutable) or her uncanny skills as a performer.  

So I began making these drawings, just loose, quick renderings of stills I found on the Internet. It was a way to get to know her, but it never really got off the ground. Part of the reason I backed off was that I was daunted by the breadth of her career. Still, I hope to finish this project someday, if only to understand her powerful draw as muse to some of the greatest directors in film history.

—Claire Barliant

Deborah Ligorio



Anna Faroqhi


An Episode from a Graphic Novel To Be

Episode Hannah Arendt

2017, colorprint on canvas
The graphic-novel miniature “The Right to Have Rights” shows an
imagined episode in the philosopher Hannah Arendt’s life. Nazi Germany had taken away German citizenship from German Jews in the 1930s. Like many others, Hannah Arendt had become stateless. It took ten years and a successful career as a university professor, author and lecturer to finally grant her US-citizenship. The graphic novel episode refers to Arendt’s essay “We refugees” from 1943. Arendt criticizes modern nation-states and their political disinterest in the many refugees from Europe, especially the stateless, the Jews and proclaims a fundamental right to have rights.
In connection with the events in Syria and the growing refugee problems since 2015, I’ve re-read Anna Segher's "Transit" and came across Hannah Arendt's short essay "We Refugees". Surprisingly, it is two women who deliberately and lucidly deal with the situation of the most powerless. In 2016 and 17 my working partner Haim Peretz and I documented current escape stories in Berlin and Leipzig, and I decided to do a graphic novel about the refugees from Europe 70 years ago. Protagonists are three women who succeeded in reflecting on their personal experiences in their work; Helene Nathan, Anna Seghers and Hannah Arendt.

Helene Nathan was head of the public library in Berlin-Neukölln and a socialist.Because of this and her Jewish heritage she was forcibly dismissed in 1933.She had to face ostracism, the deprivation of her rights, and isolation.She took her own life on October 23, 1940, the day on which the deportation of Jewsfrom Berlin began. Helene Nathan only managed to escape into death.

Anna Seghers was a writer. She became well known in the 1920s, and was forced to emigrate first to France and in 1940 to Mexico. (The US denied her entry.) Seghers described with unprecedented precision and humor the turmoil of waiting for a departure opportunity in her novel »Transit«. She was a communist; after the war she returned to East Germany, the part of her old home country that seemed to promise her a new life.

Like Seghers Hannah Arendt emigrated in 1933, and escaped to the United States in 1941. There she became well known for her uncompromising and perceptive writings. Throughout her life, Arendt consciously kept her German-Jewish identity, but returned to Germany only as a visitor. She became an American citizen in 1951, ten years after her immigration.

For me, the making of a graphic novel is an old-fashioned, time consuming process. Other projects and everyday life have a tendency to come in the way. The three miniatures of which the presented episode is a part of, the concept and the protagonists are introduced.

I am currently working on the Helene Nathan episode for the graphic novel. A Berlin-based publishing house has showed an interest in publishing it. I am currently looking for financing.

Anna Faroqhi is a Berlin-based filmmaker and author of graphic novels. She teaches film for opera directors and musicians at Hanns Eisler University Berlin.

Barbara Hammer

Brooke Singer