Thursday, December 30, 2010


* Video Broadband
* Video 56k

The book Abeceda (Alphabet) is a composite of experimental poetry, modern dance, graphic design and photomontaged typography, based on a poem by Vitĕzslav Nezval in the order of the letters of the Latin alphabet. Each double page features a set of quatrains facing a sometimes abstracted letter composed of typographic elements and a photograph of the dancer Milca Mayerova.

Nezval wrote the poem in the late 1922, inspired by ‘the intellectual gymnastics afforded by poetry’s most immediate object: letters’. He concentrated on letters primarily for their visual suggestiveness. Thus, the opening line to many quatrains focuses on an image from which he then develops his themes and associations. ‘A’, for example, is introduced as a ‘simple hut’, ‘C’ as the

Mayerova based her choreography, consisting of about three to four poses per quatrain, on Nezval’s verses rather than conceiving an independent interpretation. For ‘H’, she figures the simple act of respiration described in the text. Her pose has also been read as a ‘triumphant step of an emancipated “modern woman” in the parlance of the time’. Mayerova’s outfit, a dark, sleeveless top and shorts with a stripe on both sides, topped by a tightly fitted cap of the same design, furthers heightens this emphasis. The photographs by Karel Paspa record one pose each, matching with the line of the poem that provides the visual association for each letter.

In his seminal credo Moderní Typo (Modern Typography),
Karel Teige remarks, ‘In Nezval’s Abeceda, a cycle of rhymes based on the shapes of letters, I tried to create a “typofoto” of a purely abstract and poetic nature, setting into graphic poetry what Nezval set into verbal poetry in his verse, both being poems evoking the magic signs of the alphabet’.

In his layout Teige respects the integrity of the text, but also plays with it, as well as with photographs of the dancer and the letters themselves. He was not trying to illustrate the words through images or typography, but instead to foster a similarly poetic dialogue between text and images. The entire project thereby explored the relationships between verbal and visual art, industrial technology and mass media in a new way.

Murayama Tomoyoshi

Tomoyoshi Murayama (村山知義, Murayama Tomoyoshi?, 18 January 1901–22 March 1977) was a Japanese artist, playwright and drama producer active during the Showa period of Japan.

Murayama was born in the Kanda Suehiro district of Tokyo. His father, who was a medic in the Imperial Japanese Navy, died when he was nine years old. His mother became a fervent Christian after having been converted by Uchimura Kanzo, and was active in the pacifist movement. Murayama was initially encouraged towards watercolors and traditional Japanese painting, but was later drawn to philosophy, particularly the works of German philosophers Arthur Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. He converted to Christianity himself after being assaulted by fellow students for echoing his mother's pacifist views.

Murayama entered Tokyo Imperial University in 1921 with the intention of studying philosophy, but soon left to study art and drama at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. Initially drawn to the genre of Constructivism as typified by the work of Wassily Kandinsky, he later became dissatisfied with the detachment of Constructivism from reality and developed his own style by using a collage of real objects to provoke concrete associations. He coined this method ‘conscious constructivism’, which was known as MAVO. The “Mavoists” sought to eliminate the boundaries between art and daily life, and rebelled against convention by combining industrial products with painting or printmaking in a collage. Protests against social injustice were portrayed by use of theatrical eroticism, which also mocked public morality.

As part of his efforts to bring art into everyday reality, Murayama and others helped design the Aoikan movie theater in Akasaka, Tokyo. He occasionally designed the cover of the theater's pamphlets.

On his return to Japan, Murayama introduced both expressionist and constructivist art, but was drawn more toward the modern theatre, especially the proletarian theatre movement of the 1920s. He applied many of the same techniques and aesthetic modes from his paintings into the realm of drama, including elements from German expressionism, dadaism, futurism and other avant-garde European movements. He wrote and produced Marxist-inspired versions of Robin Hood and Don Quixote.
[edit] Pre-war period

In 1929, Murayama greatly alarmed the authorities by producing a drama glorifying a 1923 incident on the Jingguang railway in China, where Chinese communist labor union leaders incited their disgruntled workers to riot, and in the ensuing mob violence, murdered the railway managers and sabotaged the equipment before being violently suppressed by the military.

In May 1930, Murayama was arrested on violation of the Peace Preservation Laws, and was released on December. In May 1931, he joined the Japan Communist Party. This led to his arrest again in April 1932 in the middle of a dress rehearsal. He was only released on probation in March 1934 after recanting his political views and agreeing to disperse his theatrical company. In May, he published a novel, Byakuya ("White Night") serialized in the literary magazine Chuo Koron. However, he soon returned to the theatre, producing a dramatization of Shimazaki Toson's Yoake no mae ("Before the Dawn") in November 1934. He quickly followed this with numerous other works over the next couple of years, including efforts to revitalize the genre of shimpa and to produce new forms of kabuki. Murayama was known for his outspokenness against Japanese militarism and against censorship, which again drew official wrath. He was again arrested in August 1940, released on bail in June 1942, and re-sentenced in 1944. In 1945, while released on probation, he went to Korea, and in July 1945, he went to Manchukuo.

In December 1945, after the end of World War II, Murayama returned to Japan. In February 1946, he formed a new theatrical company. However, the company was rent by politics, internal dissention and police issues with the Communist sympathies of a number of its members. In 1959, Murayama restructured it into the Tokyo Art Troupe, which he led overseas in a tour of China and Korea in 1960 and 1966. Murayama also participated in the formation of the Japan Democratic Literature Alliance in 1965, serving as its vice chairman for several years. In his later years, he devoted his energies to publishing compilation of plays, writing an autobiography and continuing to fight for intellectual freedom.

IMAGE: Florian Pumhösl at Kunstverein Dusseldorf

Friday, December 24, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

G. Agamben - Notes on Gesture

Image: Thinking of Niagara, Niagara (1997) a movie on Tourette's syndrome and the end of bourgeois!

G. Agamben - Notes on Gesture

From Giorgio Agamben's book:
Infancy and History - The Destruction of Experience

By the end of the nineteenth century the gestures of the Western bourgeoisie were irretrievably lost.

In 1886 Gilles de la Tourette, formerly an intern at the Paris Hospital and the Salpetriere, had his Etudes cliniques et physi-ologiques sur la marche published by Delahaye and Lecrosnier. Never before had one of the most common human gestures been analysed according to strictly scientific methods. Fifty-three years earlier, when the bourgeoisie was still; untouched by scruples of conscience, the project of a general pathology of social life heralded by Balzac had produced naught but the fifty - when all was said and done, disappointing - pages of the Theorie de la demarche. Nothing discloses the distance - not only a temporal distance - which separates the two approaches as much as the description Gilles de la Tourette gives of a human step. Where Balzac saw only an expression of moral character, here the gaze at work is already prophetic of the cinema:

With the leg as support, the right foot is raised from the ground in a rolling motion from the heel to the tips of the toes, which are the last part to be lifted away: the whole leg is brought forward, and the foot touches down at the heel. At this moment, the left foot, which has completed its roll and now rests only on the tips of the toes, in turn leaves the ground; the left leg is carried forward, moves closely alongside the right leg and goes past it, and the left foot touches the ground at the heel just as the right is finishing its roll forward.1

Only an eye endowed with a vision of this kind could formulate the footprint method, which Gilles de la Tourette sets out so boldly to perfect. A roll of white wallpaper, around seven or eight metres long and fifty centimetres wide, is nailed to the floor and split in half lengthwise with a penciled line. In the experiment the soles of the subject's feet are then sprinkled with powdered iron sesquioxide, which gives them a nice rust-red colour. The footprints left by the patient walking along the guiding line enable the gait to be measured with perfect precision according to different parameters (length of stride, distance breadthwise, angle of downward pressure, etc.).

If we study the reproductions of the footprints published by Gilles de la Tourette, we cannot fail to be reminded of the various series of split-second photographs that Eadweard Muybridge made in those very same years at the University of Pennsylvania, using a battery of twenty-four cameras. The 'man moving at a walking pace', the 'man running with a rifle', the 'woman walking and picking up a jug', the 'woman walking and blowing a kiss' are the visible and fortunate twins of those sick and anonymous creatures who have left these traces.

A year before the walking studies, Tourette had published his Etude sur une affection nerveuse caracterisee par de ['incoordi­nation motrice accompagnee d'echolalie et de coprolalie, which was to provide the clinical context for what would later become known as Tourette's Syndrome. Here that same isolation of the most everyday movement that had been made possible by the footprint method is applied to a description of a staggering proliferation of tics, involuntary spasms and mannerisms that can be defined only as a generalized catastrophe of the gestural sphere. The patient is incapable of either beginning or fully enacting the most simple gestures; if he or she manages to initiate a movement, it is interrupted and sent awry by uncontrollable jerkings and shudderings whereby the muscles seem to dance (chorea) quite independently of any motor purpose. The equiva­lent of this disorder in the sphere of walking is described in exemplary manner by Charcot in the famous Lecons du mardi:

There he is, setting out with his body leaning forward, and the lower limbs rigid and held tight together balanced on tiptoe; they slide over the floor somehow, progressing by means of a kind of rapid twitching ... when the subject has thrust himself forward in this way he appears at every moment to be on the verge of falling headlong; at any rate it is virtually impossible for him to stop of his own volition. Usually he needs to hang on to some other body near him. It's as if he's an automaton moved by a spring, and in these stiff forward movements, jerky like convulsions, there is nothing reminis­cent of the looseness of walking…. In the end, after various attempts, he sets off, and following the mechanism just described, he slides rather than walks across the floor, with his legs stiff, or at least scarcely bending at all, with abrupt twitching movements somehow taking the place of steps.

What is most extraordinary is that after these disorders had been observed in thousands of cases from 1885 onwards, there is practically no further record of them in the early years of the twentieth century - until the winter's day in 1971 when Oliver Sacks, walking through the streets of New York, saw what he believed were three cases of Tourettism within the space of a few minutes. One of the hypotheses that can be j constructed' to explain this disappearance is that ataxy, tics and dystonia had, in the course of time, become the norm, and that beyond a certain point everyone had lost control of their gestures, walking and gesticulating frenetically. This, at least, is the impression one has in looking at the films that Marey and Lumiere began to make in those very years.

In the cinema, a society that has lost its gestures seeks to reappropriate what it has lost while simultaneously recording that loss.

An era that has lost its gestures is, for that very Reason, obsessed with them; for people who are bereft of all that is natural to them, every gesture becomes a fate. And the more the ease of these gestures was lost under the influence of invisible powers, the more life became indecipherable. It is at this stage that the bourgeoisie - which, only a few decades earlier, had still been firmly in possession of its symbols - falls a victim to interiority and entrusts itself to psychology.

Nietzsche is the point where this polar tension in European culture reaches its peak - a tension towards the effacement and loss of the gesture on one hand and, on the other, its transmuta­tion into a destiny. For it is only as a gesture in which potential and action, nature and artifice, contingency and necessity, become indiscernible (in the final analysis, therefore, solely as theatre) that the idea of eternal return makes sense. Thus Spake Zarathustra is the ballet of a humanity bereft of its gestures. And when the era became aware of this, then (too late!) began the headlong attempt to regain in extremis those lost gestures. The dance of Isadora and Diaghilev, the novels of Proust, the great Jugendestil poets from Pascoli to Rilke and ultimately - in the most exemplary way - silent cinema, trace the magic circle in which humanity sought, for the last time, to evoke what was slipping through its fingers for ever.

Contemporary with this, Aby Warburg was initiating those researches which only the short-sightedness of a psychologizing art history could describe as 'a science of the image', whereas in reality, at their centre was gesture as a crystal of historical memory, its hardening into a fate, and the strenuous effort of artists and philosophers (verging on madness in Warburg's case) to free it from this by means of a polarizing dynamic. Because these researches were conducted by means of images, it was believed that the image was also their object. Instead, Warburg transformed the image (which for Jung will furnish the model of the metahistoric sphere of archetypes) into a resolutely historical and dynamic element. In this sense, the Mnemosyne atlas, with its two thousand or so photographs, which he left unfinished, is not a fixed repertoire of images, but virtually a moving repre­sentation of the gestures of Western humankind from classical Greece up to Fascism (in other words, something closer to De Jorio than to Panovsky). Within each section the individual images are treated more as the frames of a film than as an autonomous reality (at least in the sense intended by Benjamin when he compared the dialectical image with those little picture-books prefiguring the cinema, which, when their pages are turned quickly, give the impression of motion).

Gesture rather than image is the cinematic element.

Gilles Deleuze has shown that cinema wipes out the fallacious psychological distinction between image as psychic reality and movement as physical reality. Film images are neither 'timeless postures' (like the forms of the classical world) nor 'static sections' of movement, but 'moving sections', images which are themselves in motion, which Deleuze calls 'moving-pictures'. We need to extend Deleuze's analysis and show that it has a general bearing on the status of the image within modernity. But this means that the mythical fixity of the image his been broken, and we should not really speak of images here, but of gestures. In fact, every image is animated by an antinomous polarity: on the one hand this is the reification and effacement of a gesture (the imago either as symbol or as the wax mask of the corpse); on the other it maintains the dynamis (as in Muybridge's split-second photographs, or in any photograph of a sporting event). The former corresponds to the memory of whose voluntary recall it takes possession; the latter to the image flashed in the epiphany of involuntary memory. And while the former dwells in magical isolation, the latter always refers beyond itself, towards a whole of which it is a part. Even the Mona Lisa, even Velazquez's Meninas, can be seen not as timeless static forms but as fragments of a gesture or as frames of a lost film, solely within which would they regain their true meaning. For in every image there is always a kind of ligatio at work, a power that paralyses, whose spell needs to be broken; it is as if; from the whole history of art, a mute invocation were, raised towards the freeing of the image in the gesture. This much was expressed in those Greek legends about statues breaking the fetters that contain them and beginning to move; but it is also the intention that philosophy entrusts to the idea, which is not at all - as it is commonly interpreted - a static archetype, but rather a constellation in which phenomena are composed in a gesture.

Cinema leads images back into the realm of gesture. Accord­ing to the splendid definition implicit in Beckett's Traum und Nacht, this is the dream of a gesture. Bringing the element of awakening into this dream is the task of the film-maker.

Because it is centrally located in the gesture, not the image, cinema essentially ranks with ethics and politics (and not merely with aesthetics).

What is gesture? An observation by Varro holds an extremely valuable clue. He inscribes gesture in the sphere of action, but distinguishes it clearly from acting [agere] and doing [facere]:

A person can make [facere] something and not enact [agere] it, as a poet makes a play, but does not act it (agere in the sense of playing a part); on the other hand the actor acts the play, but docs not make it. So the play is made [fit] by the poet, but not acted [agitur] by him; it is acted by the actor, but not made by him. Whereas the imperator (the magistrate in whom supreme power is invested) of whom the expression res gerere is used (to carry something out, in the sense of taking it upon oneself, assuming total responsibility for it), neither makes nor acts, but takes charge, in other words carries the burden of it [sustinet].2

What characterizes gesture is that in it there is neither produc­tion nor enactment, but undertaking and supporting. In other words, gesture opens the sphere of ethos as the most fitting sphere of the human. But in what way is an action undertaken and supported? In what way does a res become res gesta, a simple fact become an event? Varro's distinction between facere and agere derives, in the final analysis, from Aristotle. In a famous passage from the Nicomachean Ethics, he contrasts them thus: 'Action [praxis] and production [poiesis] are generically different. For production aims at an end other than itself; but this is impossible in the case of action, because the end is merely to do what is right.'

1 'La jambe servant de point d'appui, le pied droit se souleve du sol en subissant un mouvement d'enreulement allant du talon a I'extremite des orteils qui quittent terre en dernier lieu: la jambe toute entiere est portee en avant, passe a cote de la jambe droite dont elle tend a se rapprocher, la depasse et le pied gauche vient toucher le sol par le talon alors que le droit acheve sa revolution.'

2 Varro, De Lingua Latina, VI, 77.

Lost issue!

Issue 26 Magic Summer 2007
Table of Contents

This issue, with a themed section on Magic guest-edited by London-based artist Jonathan Allen, is 128 pages and includes a pull-out poster by Implicasphere.

* Inventory / Talk to the Hand
Brian Dillon
Deciphering the language of gesture
* A Minor History Of / Aquatic Ambulism
Joshua Foer
The sport of God
* Colors / Olive
Dziga Lovechild
Kind of conceptual
* Object Lesson / Lost Object
Celeste Olalquiaga
What can be said about what Breton loved?


* The Porcupine Illusion
George Prochnik
Freud’s prickly secret
* The Illusionistic Magic of Geometric Figuring
Margaret Wertheim
Virtual reality, medieval-style
* Stripes
Belly up to the bars
* Simmering Statecraft
Sandy Isenstadt
Politics amid the pots and pans
* Artist Project / Kitchen I & II
Terence Gower
* The Real Thing
Joshua Glenn
The Coke bottle and the third way
* The Bitter Scribe of Quail Springs
Sandy Zipp
John Samuelson's Rocks
* Marking Territory
Sarah Whitney Womack
Into the jungle with man's best friend
* The Barber Trial: Sivan vs. Finkielkraut
Thomas Keenan and Eyal Weizman
An analysis of the libel case
* Sivan vs. Finkielkraut
A translation of the trial transcript


* Deceptionists at War
Jonathan Allen
Martial magic
* Perspective Correction
Greg Allen
The beguiling stagecraft of American politics
* Image Magic
Alexander Nagel
Idol hands are the devil's tools
* Artist Project / Legerdemains
Ruth Claxton
* Black Herman's African American Magical Synthesis
Yvonne P. Chireau
Between folklore and vaudeville
* Modern Enchantments: An Interview with Simon During
Sina Najafi and Simon During
Secular magic and the modern cultural imagination
* Impossible Return
Adrian Heathfield
Watching Tommy Cooper die, again
* Alive at Both Ends
Paul Kieve
A brief history of magic's most famous illusion
* I Can See Your Ideology Moving
Sally O'Reilly and Ian Saville
Ventriloquizing Marx
* Artist Project / Tommy Angel
Jonathan Allen
* Protean Fakirs
Shreeyash Palshikar
Indian magic's new superstar
* Koringa: From Biknar to Blackpool
Vanessa Toulmin
* Currencies of Wonder
Tim Reed
Magicians make money
* Rule 13
Edwin A. Dawes
David Devant's illusion
* Spell Check
Craig Conley
A brief glossary of magic words


* Postcard / The Mystery Card
Scott Penrose
* Bookmark / Perforation Curse

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lili Dujourie

Lili Dujourie (Belgium, born 1941) is known for her video works and photographic series from the 1970s and early 80s, but also for her works on paper from the same period and her three-dimensional works from later decades. These are often executed in techniques and materials that resonate with many centuries of tradition, such as draped velvet, marble intarsia, lead or ceramics. Lili Dujourie is continuously concerned with contemporary reinterpretations of themes, forms and gestures from art history, which is one reason why her many-faceted but dense and precisely articulated oeuvre is so visually and intellectually rewarding.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Exhibition Title: Forbidden Love: Art in the Wake of Television Camp

Date: September 25 – December 19, 2010Images courtesy of Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne

Artists: Judith Barry, Joseph Beuys, Chris Burden, Paul Chan, Mel Chin and the GALA Committee, Jaime Davidovich, Simon Denny, Kalup Linzy, Christoph Schlingensief, Ryan Trecartin, Francesco Vezzoli, Andy Warhol

Press Release:

While television still plays a part in determining our thinking, behaviour and actions as a matter of course, it is now also numbered among the things we no longer reflect upon by sheer force of habit. In light of this it seems an appropriate time to take another closer look at the “goggle box”. Forbidden Love: Art in the Wake of Television Camp will observe the seductive methods of television, with its “gaudy mannerisms”, and describe television as a world of experience with different formats, forms of communication and inherent ambiguities. The project aims neither at a thematic nor a moralistic analysis of television, but rather at an aesthetic, “camp” approach, in keeping with Susan Sontag’s analysis in her Notes on Camp.

The exhibition Forbidden Love: Art in the Wake of Television Camp readdresses an area that the Kölnischer Kunstverein helped to shape decisively during the 1980s with the presentation of Gerry Schum’s Videogalerie – Fernsehgalerie in 1980 and through exhibitions such as Video-Skulptur in 1989 by Wulf Herzogenrath, and The Arts for Television in 1987. Today however, the focus for artists seems to not be so much a question of the development of technical possibilities or even a critique of this homogenising, consumer-oriented mass medium. At the same time, this year’s exhibitions like Changing Channels at the MUMOK in Vienna or Are you ready for TV? at MACBA in Barcelona show a renewed interest in historical art-projects for television from the 1960’s – 1980’s that paved the way for this kind of analysis of TV.

Instead, Forbidden Love: Art in the Wake of Television Camp will present artists who work with the structural conventions of television, using them for their own ends. Like Warhol, these artists can knowingly utilise the rules of the attention-dependent economy, play with celebrity culture, and adopt the episodic structure of soaps, TV shows, music clips, or talk shows, turning them into something else. The exhibition includes artists who are not necessarily using their own transmission slot on television. Instead, like parasites, there are those that infiltrate existing TV with their own artistic concerns. One example is Mel Chin (b. 1951) and the GALA Committee, who manufactured and manipulated loaded stage props for the 4th and 5th seasons of the well-known television series Melrose Place.

Having grown up with television, the younger artists in particular approach the medium from the position of the specialised viewer. They pursue a fascination for the dethroning of the serious (Sontag), for the stylistic howlers of image cultivation, and the opulence of surface splendour. As consumers of television, they return the ball to the opposing court and mirror the medium. The ambivalent and exclusive mechanisms of television, its ambiguous methods of communication and an attitude of expectation emerge particularly clearly in childlike role-playing, reflecting the desire for participation and an exaggerated cultivation of image.

Artists like Kalup Linzy (b.1977) look back to television formats such as the Soap or the Casting-show. In his videos, reflecting upon childhood experiences, Linzy performs all the female main characters, if not

also all supporting roles. He performs with the knowledge that his brand of drag would be quite unlikely in „real“ television, while also repeating clichés and phrases bound to television and the enforced desire of intensity and fame. This attention to forms that shape desire is an aspect that one could also track in the work of Francesco Vezzoli’s (b.1981). Ryan Trecartin (b. 1981) picks up language, aesthetics and characters from the Internet and computer games as much as from TV. He blends stories and realities so much that they become quasi-abstract images.

To give these various perspectives on television a framework Simon Denny (b. 1982) has developed a setting for the exhibition. His exhibition design works with the paradox that the television industry, being so strictly bound to the present, does not leave relics behind. Denny integrates the exhibition architecture with parts of stage sets from current television-shows borrowed from local TV-production company Brainpool, offsetting the art-object/sets by Mel Chin and the GALA committee with non-relics form the industry.

The exhibition Forbidden Love: Art in the Wake of Television Camp is a co-operation with the Kunstverein Medienturm, Graz. A combined catalogue will be published with both institutions. The exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein was conceived by Simon Denny, Kathrin Jentjens and Anja Nathan-Dorn. Simon Denny currently holds a studio-stipend from Kölnischer Kunstverein and the RheinEnergie Stiftung Kultur.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

14th April 1965

Dear Eva,

It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itchin, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!

From your description, and from what I know of your previous work and you [sic] ability; the work you are doing sounds very good “Drawing-clean-clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful – real nonsense. Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!

I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working – then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to DO!

It seems I do understand your attitude somewhat, anyway, because I go through a similar process every so often. I have an “Agonizing Reappraisal” of my work and change everything as much as possible = and hate everything I’ve done, and try to do something entirely different and better. Maybe that kind of process is necessary to me, pushing me on and on. The feeling that I can do better than that shit I just did. Maybe you need your agony to accomplish what you do. And maybe it goads you on to do better. But it is very painful I know. It would be better if you had the confidence just to do the stuff and not even think about it. Can’t you leave the “world” and “ART” alone and also quit fondling your ego. I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before your work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself. Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can’t understand why you are so bothered by it. But you can see the next ones and I can’t. You also must believe in your ability. I think you do. So try the most outrageous things you can – shock yourself. You have at your power the ability to do anything.

I would like to see your work and will have to be content to wait until Aug or Sept. I have seen photos of some of Tom’s new things at Lucy’s. They are impressive – especially the ones with the more rigorous form: the simpler ones. I guess he’ll send some more later on. Let me know how the shows are going and that kind of stuff.

My work had changed since you left and it is much better. I will be having a show May 4 -9 at the Daniels Gallery 17 E 64yh St (where Emmerich was), I wish you could be there. Much love to you both.


A contribute by Filipa Ramos

Filipa Ramos is an art critic, writer and curator who lives in Italy. She is Associate Teacher for the course of History of Contemporary Art at the Accademia di Brera, Milan and at the Visual Arts Laboratory of the IUAV/University of Venice. Among others, she curated “Clearly Invisible - An(invisible)”, Centre d’Art Santa Monica, Barcelone, 2006, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” at Galleria Galica, Milan and “Incidental Arrangements” at Galleria Gentili. In 2009, she launched the new Gallery of Massimo De Carlo in London, where she studied, lived and work for the past four years. She is the co-author of the book Lost and Found - Crisis of Memory in Contemporary Art (Silvana editoriale, Milan, 2009) and contributes for several international magazines. She is currently Associate Editor of Manifesta Journal and project manager at Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Erase and Rewind

Elaine Sturtevant

It’s hard to know where to begin.

Elaine Sturtevant made Warhol Empire State, a black and white film, in 1972. Although I have never seen it, to remake Warhol’s most notorious, ‘unwatchable’, and purely conceptual movie is an act of great, breathtaking beauty - in a way not unlike Douglas Sirk’s making of Imitation of Life (1959) anew. Warhol Empire State situates Sturtevant’s project in terms of contemporaneity; what is seen and unseeable; what causes thinking and what passes unthought.

In 1991, Sturtevant presented an entire show consisting of her repetition of Warhol’s ‘Flowers’ series. It was not the first time (although what ‘first time’ means in terms of seeing and re-seeing art is important to consider) she had investigated the flash and physics of encountering this work. In the mid-60s, she asked Warhol for the original silkscreen with which he had made his ‘Flowers’ - an image he appropriated, not uninterestingly, from a Kodak ad - to make hers. Warhol gave her the screen. At a later date, after being bombarded with questions about his process and technique, Warhol responded: ‘I don’t know. Ask Elaine.’ As Sturtevant puts it: ‘Warhol was very Warhol’. 1

This is a complicated statement. How did Warhol get to be ‘very Warhol’? How does one come to recognise - see, consider - a painting, film , or anything by Warhol once he and everything he’s done are slated only to be ‘a Warhol’? It is Sturtevant who knows how to make a Warhol, not Warhol. It is Sturtevant who allows a Warhol to be a Warhol, by repeating him. Copy, replica, mimesis, simulacra, fake, digital virtuality, clone - Sturtevant’s work has been for more than 40 years a meditation on these concepts by decidedly not being any of them.

Strangely absent from most histories of Pop and Conceptualism, her work has important ramifications for the understanding of both movements. It is as if Sturtevant, with a radical pragmatism, observed and considered so intensely the art of her contemporaries that her gaze burned through to its core. Study Sturtevant’s Stella for Picabia (1988). If the initial response is to see ‘a Stella’ and recall his famous 1962 dictum ‘what you see is what you see’, then to avoid vertigo upon figuring out that the painting is not by Stella, the viewer must hold on to everything usually thought about Stella and consider what it would be for all of it not to be what it was. Sturtevant discerned a way to present what you cannot see as what is seen. In no small part due to her being positioned as the original appropriator, and because she has made Sturtevants of certain Duchamp pieces, her philosophical consideration of her contemporaries and of contemporaneity has been short-changed. If Stella is a crucial impetus, so is Lichtenstein - in particular his amazing painting Image Duplicator (1963). She looked into, through, and beyond the eyes beaming out from Lichtenstein’s image. She eyed the science, the fiction, and the possibility of the sci-fi interlocutor’s demand: ‘What? Why did you ask that? What do you know about my image duplicator?’ Sturtevant’s project has been to pragmatically demonstrate what she knows, and how and why how what she knows operates.

In ‘Unwritten Histories of Conceptual Art,’ the final essay of Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (1999), Thomas Crow examines the necessity of interrogating the ‘assumed primacy of visual illusion as central to the making and understanding of a work of art’, and focuses on how Sturtevant ‘acutely defined the limitations of any history of art wedded to the image.’ 2 Sturtevant’s project questions the primacy of visual illusion - not by marking a point in the 60s when this became necessary, but by her repetitions demonstrating how aesthetics has, all along, been structured and determined by whatever is understood to be the non-visual, the non-retinal - the unseen and thought. Through her exploration of the underpinnings of what the encounter and/or physics nominated as ‘art’ is, she dematerialises the primacy of the object and of the visual, but not by abandoning the object, the methods of its making, or even visuality itself; this is why her work is stranger and more promising than even Crow suggests. She provides immanence - and it’s contrafactual. Sturtevant has written: ‘It is imperative that I see, know, and visually implant every work that I attempt. Photographs are not taken and catalogues [are] used only to check size and scale. The work is done predominantly from memory, using the same techniques, making the same errors and thus coming out in the same place. The dilemma is that technique is crucial but not important.’ 3 Crucial that she paints, makes, does - but not important, crucial ‘to find a way to use an object that would not present itself as an object, that would at the same time talk about the structure of aesthetics as the idea.’ 4 Not exactly jettisoning the history of art, she always illuminates the potential of art’s contemporaneity - which partly explains, for example, why she repeated a Muybridge (a study of a woman - Sturtevant - walking with hands on hips) in 1966, as well as Warhol Flowers in 1964-65, 1969-70, 1990, and 1991. From Duchamp Fresh Window (1992), to Beuys Fat Chair (1974), Lichtenstein Happy Tears (1966-67), and Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (1997), Sturtevant repeats works for the necessity of a catalytic recognisability, sparking an investigation of what allows ‘art’ to be, so that the entirety of the structure of art is reconsidered horizontally not linearly. 5

Sturtevant had her first her solo show in 1965 at the Bianchini Gallery. It included Sturtevants of Warhol’s ‘Flowers’, a Johns ‘Flag’, an Oldenburg shirt, a Segal sculpture, a Rauschenberg drawing, a Stella concentric painting, and a Rosenquist. When she redid the show a year later in Paris, there was a difference: ‘the gallery was locked at all times, making the show visible only from the street.’ 6 Originally most of her artistic peers supported her work, and even sceptical critics often applauded what they interpreted to be her savvily making fun of the artists and art of the moment, showing how ridiculous contemporary art was by doing something even more absurd. The climate began to shift when, in April 1967, she repeated The Store of Claes Oldenburg at 623 E. 9th St., a few blocks from where Oldenburg had made his Store on E. 2nd St. By the mid-70s, as Christian Leigh has noted: ‘What had at first been laughed at and appreciated for all the wrong reasons [...] quickly turned to anger, rage, mistrust, and misunderstanding on a collective scale.’ 7 After her 1974 Beuys exhibition at Onnasch Gallery, New York, Sturtevant ‘made a slow and conscious decision to stop making work. A theoretical stance rather than a defeated withdrawal, she felt that the combined hostility could only dilute and dissipate the power of her work.’ 8 Some have interpreted Sturtevant’s withdrawal as a repetition of Duchamp’s silence, his abandoning art for chess-playing and breathing. Her work would not be seen again until the 1986 White Columns show in New York.

Sturtevant as Beuys, walking down the street for the frontispiece of her 1992 Württembergischer Kunstverein survey, or with a pie in her face for Study for Beuys Action (1971); as Duchamp, in Duchamp’s Wanted (1969), or covered with shaving cream curved into devilish horns for Duchamp’s Man Ray Portrait (1966); as Cranach’s Eve with Robert Rauschenberg as Adam for Duchamp’s Relache (1967). John Miller has been the only writer to identify an inherent Feminist critique as part of Sturtevant’s project. This is something the artist denies, although she suggested such a possibility in a letter to Francis M. Naumann, writing that her intention ‘was not to anger anyone but rather “to engender polemics”, to “give visible action to dialectics”, and “to narrow the gap between the visible and articulate”.’ 9 I would want to question her choice of the word ‘engender’. While Sturtevant’s project is not limited, nor reducible, to an investigation of how the concepts of ‘genius’ and ‘original’ are conditioned by ‘gender’, I do believe that her work concerns the polemics of engendering and its relation to being, identity, and selfhood. To one critic who inquired whether it is ‘important that you do the work of exclusively male artists?’ Sturtevant replied: ‘Oh no, that question!

It never dawned on me. My choices were made on another level.’ 10 She has made a work by Yvonne Rainer, but when pressed on whether she saw gender/biography as having little to do with her project, or if there were a fluidity about the imaginary that overwhelms/disregards gender/biography, she responded: ‘Surely you don’t want me to reiterate. Gender discourse has nothing to do with the work. Why agitate? Why bring it up? A[nswer]: desire & drive to/for surface + flacks probing issues.’ To bring the issue to a complete halt, she added: ‘These questions are not for you/you.’

Miller situates Sturtevant provocatively in the tradition of the dandy, but unlike the numerous male artists who ‘cultivate a persona infused with artifice in order to project an aura of exceptionality, their female counterparts tend to concentrate on selfhood itself as artifice, foregoing Romantic pretensions of genius.’ Miller invokes Wilde’s aperçu - ‘it is only the unimaginative who ever invents. The true artist is known by the use he makes of what he annexes, and he annexes everything’. He goes on to describe Sturtevant: ‘By raising the challenge of an artistry divorced from the production of new imagery, she calls closer attention to art as discourse than before, making it, rather than the art object per se, the subject of connoisseurship.’ 11

How gender appears and disappears (part of the body’s difference, the body as difference), how it can be destabilised by looking like exactly what it is not, potentially analogises some of the ways Sturtevant’s repetitions work. She has written that it is Duchamp’s ‘reluctant indifference [...] his repetitive indifference, lack of intention, non-commitment - a sort of throwing away; letting it all go’ which has captivated her most, not his objects. Sturtevant’s words beautifully repeating, yet not exactly repeating, continue: ‘What Duchamp did not do, not what he did, which is what he did, locates the dynamics of his work. [...] The grand contradiction is that giving up creativity made him a great creator.’ 12 She concludes that ‘how Duchamp lived contains the functional totality of his work.’ Despite her own indifference to biography, her own appearance as difference - somewhat Rrose Sélavy-like - in certain of her works, and given her most recent pieces focusing on the body as object (using parts of nude bodies collaged with objects - such as a breast juxtaposed with the top of the Empire State building), Sturtevant begins to provide a trenchant commentary on identity and self. 13 On the back of a recent catalogues, over the image of a glorious fuschia field and a rising Batman figure, appear the words ‘Body, Objects, Image’. Sturtevant has said that the work concentrates on the ‘cybernetic overload, the danger of rejecting objects, about “having” instead of “being”.’ 14 The announcement card for a concurrent show at Air de Paris had World Cup soccer players kicking the ball, and on the verso the Adidas logo; both recto and verso were diagonally crossed by the phrase: ça va aller (everything’s going to be all right). She wrote to me about this card: ‘Simply put & it is simple: mass culture is art and not reverse’.

Some of the redefinitions and reversals are perhaps more ominous. Her video in the Paris show, Copy without Origins, Self as Disappearance (1998), demonstrates how her work has never been historical (nostalgic homage) but proleptic. The video examines ‘our cyberworld making copyright a myth, origins a romantic notion; with self as information, and identity as disappearance.’ If the body is an object, how does one object if one wishes to, and what occurs if virtuality dispenses with the need for bodies altogether, everything seemingly electronic, light and immaterial? To consider the questions raised by Sturtevant’s work, appalling or enthralling, remember Warhol’s automatonism, his body as invisible sculpture, absence; think about the human as only an affect or effect, a device of the aesthetic. See the number of Sturtevant yous, the number of Sturtevant mes making up whoever me is. Self and being as immanent contrafactions.

Every word she wrote to me was a facsimile. It’s hard to know where to begin.

1. Bill Arning, ‘Sturtevant’, Journal of Contemporary Art, vol. 2, no. 2, Fall/Winter 1989, p. 43.

2. Thomas Crow, ‘Unwritten Histories of Conceptual Art’, in Alexander Alberro (ed.) and Blake Stimson (ed.), Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1999, pp. 555-6.

3. Sturtevant, ‘Interior Visibilities’, Magritte, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec, 1997, p. 124.

4. Sturtevant, quoted in Dan Cameron, ‘A Conversation: A Salon History of Appropriation with Leo Castelli and Elaine Sturtevant’, Flash Art, no. 143, November-December 1988, p. 77.

5. Although the choices of what she has chosen to repeat have to do with historical change and crises, with ‘art’s move from interior to exterior, from creativity to manipulation; origin to synthesiser (as in image)’, it is important that her choices have ‘nothing to do with judgement (this would be a severe interference)’. Facsimile to the author, 21 February, 2000. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations from Sturtevant are from a series of facsimiles to the author from January to April, 2000.

6. Christian Leigh, ‘The New Good Old Days’, Galerie Six Friedrich, Munich, 1989, unpaginated.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. ‘Apropos of Marcel: The Art of Making Art After Duchamp in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, 8-30 October, 1999, at Curt Marcus. Francis M. Naumann’s brilliant show consisted of multiple Duchamp works by Richard Pettibone, Elaine Sturtevant, Sherrie Levine, and Mike Bidlo.

10. Arning, op. cit., p. 42.

11. John Miller, ‘The Weather is Here, Wish You were Beautiful’, Artforum, May 1990, p. 158.

12. Sturtevant, ‘The Reluctant Indifference of Marcel Duchamp’, unpublished essay.

13. See Rosalind Krauss, ‘Claude Cahun and Dora Maar: by way of Introduction’, Bachelors, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1999, pp. 42-3.

14. Joerg Bader, ‘Elaine Sturtevant, l’éternel retour des chefs-d’oeuvres’, Artpress, no. 238, June 1998, p. 34.

Bruce Hainley

Monday, November 29, 2010

See you All... All is like everybody?

Koudlam - See you All

Suggestion by Francesco Grassi

Monday, November 22, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010



Issue N#2


is a Fanzine (Xeroxed and Self-distributed).
The project consists in a special collaboration between myself and a different artist for each issue. The idea is to create a monographic fanzine where I will invite an artist to design an original cover. The publication will be filled with quotes and references that the artist deems important and influential for his/her own research. The design of the fanzine will be the result of a binary collaboration between the invited artists and myself.

***OUT NOW*** ***OUT NOW*** ***OUT NOW*** ***OUT NOW***

If you want a pdf version or a copy send an email to:

Sandrine Nicoletta is an artist living in London.

The first time I met Sandrine she was so white. It was not an official meeting.
She was in Bologna and many of their characters appear in a cloister of the University.
Then she was in London, many people with her in a confusion. She was like a perfect snow-ball.
She is a line.

PHOTO: Bénédicte Bara

From Three diamonds by Gerard Malanga

A Chealsea Girl

One of the most significant members of New York’s underground film scene in the 1950s and 1960s, Marie Menken inspired a generation of filmmakers—from Andy Warhol and Gerard Malanga to Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, and Jonas Mekas. Celebrated for her lyrical sensibility and improvisational style, Menken, according to Mekas, “filmed with her entire body, her entire nervous system,” spinning her observations into luminous haikus of color, texture, and light. Tonight’s program includes Glimpse of the Garden (1957); Hurry! Hurry! (1957); Dwightiana (1959); Eye Music in Red Major (1961); Arabesque for Kenneth Anger (1961); Notebook (1962–63); Go Go Go (1964); and Andy Warhol (1965). 1957–65, Marie Menken, USA, ca. 70 min, 16mm.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010


The Darktown Cakewalk: Celebrated from the House of FAME, a thirteeen-hour performance event by artist and musician Linder in collaboration with musician Stuart McCallum (also The Cinematic Orchestra), fashion designer Richard Nicoll (also Creative Director, Cerruti) and dancers and musicians from varied traditions and disciplines.

The Darktown Cakewalk is an epic invocation of glamour and fantastical pageantry. Witch trials and beauty queens, ragtime and Euro Pop merge to enfold the viewer in a secret history of prejudice and dissent. The thirteen-hour performance will begin at 10am and be divided into two six-hour sessions ('masque' and 'anti-masque') with a thirteenth hour. The audience will intermingle with the performers and will be able to come and go over the thirteen hours as they wish.

Over the last three decades Linder has consistently questioned roles of gender identity and commodification in society. Part of the late 1970s and early 1980s Manchester punk and post punk scenes, she has been described as a 'post punk feminist crusader', and as a 'corrective' to punk which - even in its anti-establishment, popularist posturing - still spoke primarily to (and from the perspective of) young men. Best known for her photomontages, such as her artwork on the cover of the 1977 Buzzcocks single 'Orgasm Addict' (now in the collection of Tate Modern), the narrative, structure and casting of this performance are based on a range of collaged material and ideas. The Darktown Cakewalk is a development of recent performances at Tate St. Ives and The Arches / Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2010.

The Darktown Cakewalk is produced in collaboration with Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow and supported by Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2010, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, Stuart Shave / Modern Art and Shane Akeroyd.

Linder was born in 1954 in Liverpool. She has recently presented solo shows at Sorcha Dallas, Glasgow (2010), Baltic, Gateshead (2007) and PS1/Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007). Recent group shows include The Dark Monarch (Tate St. Ives, Cornwall, 2009), After Twilight (Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, 2009), Crossroads (Salamanca Insitute of Culture, Salamanca, 2008), and Punk. No One is Innocent (Kunsthalle Vienna, 2008). Linder's work is included in the Tate collection. Linder is based in Haysham, Lancashire.


Follow the cakewalk blog at

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Old - Pierre Clementi

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Harry Hay
‘It’s dangerous to let the public behind the scene, there is a little disillusion and an angry with you for the illusion they loved’
from Vain Victory by Jack Curtis

Kinsey Institute




Dancer Freddy Herko was a sometimes-roommate of Billy Name on East 7th Street, and appears alongside Name in Warhol’s Haircut. He had been accepted at the American Ballet Theatre at age 19, and later performed his own choreography with the Judson Theater. He was also one of the A-men, amphetamine poppers who frequented the Factory. “The people I loved,” said Warhol, “were the ones like Freddy, the leftovers of show business, turned down at auditions all over town. They couldn’t do something more than once, but their one time was better than anyone else’s.”

Herko’s Screen Test is tough to watch when you already know he would be dead a few months after it. He smokes, shifts around, looks gaunt and exhausted, and the film itself seems to run extra slow, stretching to five minutes. He lived that summer in 1964 in an apartment in St. Mark’s Church, and his behavior became ever more erratic. He started giving away all his possessions. Finally his roommate asked him to move out. On October 27 he ran into Johnny Dodd at a diner. Dodd invited him back to his 5th floor walk-up apartment on Cornelia Street. Herko went inside to take a bath. Dodd put Mozart’s Coronation Mass on the hi-fi. Herko emerged and began dancing naked around the apartment. When the record got to “Sanctus,” he danced right out the window, all the way to the sidewalk across the street. We never did listen to the Mozart piece; instead Britta played me an acoustic track in a minor key, all flutes and acoustic guitars, that she had been working on. We decided to electrify it, rehearsing with our live band, watching Herko’s every move on a laptop computer, starting with an ominous floor tom, building slowly to the point where Herko rises from his chair, switching keys, and ultimately changing to a major key for the final 45 seconds. Herko’s life ended tragically, but with an element of triumph; we wanted the music to do the same.

Freddy Harko

Frederick Charles "Freddie" Herko (February 23, 1936 – October 27, 1964) was an artist, musician, actor, dancer, choreographer and teacher.

Herko studied piano at the Juilliard School and classical ballet under Valentina Pereyaslavec at the American Ballet Theater School. He took additional dance classes with Merce Cunningham and James Waring. In the late 1950s he was a regular member of James Waring's dance company and also danced with Katherine Litz and Aileen Passloff. He was a member of the Judson Dance Theater, contributing two pieces to the group's inaugural concert on July 6, 1962. He performed in Frank O'Hara’s Love's Labor and several of Andy Warhol’s earliest films including: Haircut (No. 1), Kiss, The Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys, and Rollerskate (also known as Dance Movie).

Herko was associated with a group of habitués to Warhol’s Silver Factory on 47th Street including Ondine, Rotten Rita, and Billy Name. Nicknamed “mole people” on account of their intensive speed usage and subterranean habits — “mole because they were known to be tunneling towards some greater insanity that no one but this inner circle was aware of”[1] — members of this group performed their manias and drug routines in a life/art blurring spectacle in crash pads and stages throughout the city. They are best remembered for their roles in many of Warhol's experimental films.

Herko was a close friend of Diane di Prima, who writes of him in her biography Recollections of my Life as a Woman. She met him in 1954 as he sat on a bench in the rain in Washington Square Park. He was “crying because autumn always made him sad.”[2] Later he would tell Diane that, “He needed speed to push his body so he could dance the way he wanted to. He felt otherwise he didn’t have a chance; he had come to dancing too late in life to make it work for him.”

Di Prima describes Herko’s elegiac performance For Sergio: “He arrived in black tights and a leotard, with a fierce archaic face mask painted on his face, and whispered to us to kill all the lights: house lights, stage lights, everything. I noticed he was in toe shoes. Then I stood silent, in awe of what was about to happen — something sacred and diabolical all at once. Freddie had an antique wall sconce with a mirror, the kind that used to hold a candle, and he lit the taper he had placed in it. And in that dark and suddenly silent theatre with his back to the audience, he began laboriously and slowly to go down one side aisle of the theatre, across the front below the proscenium, and up the other side. En pointe. The only music was the sound of his deliberately exaggerated and labored breathing. And the slow scraping of his toe shoes on the rough floor. The light, the flickering light of the candle reflected his painted face in the mirror in his hand ... He was gone again before any of us could move.”

On October 27 1964, Herko was strung out and homeless. He went to Johnny Dodd’s apartment and took a bath. It is unclear whether he was brought by Dodd, or just showed up. Some accounts say Herko invited a group to watch a performance. According to Dodd, Mozart’s Coronation Mass was playing as Herko emerged from the bath and danced naked in the loft, “occasionally making a run toward the windows. At the time Dodd wondered whether this was going to be the "suicide performance" that Herko had been promising his friends during the weeks prior: "It was obvious that Freddy had to do it now: the time and the place were right, the decor was right, the music was right." As the music climaxed, Herko leapt through the open window. It was five flights down to Cornelia Street below.

Afterwards, Di Prima went to Deborah Lee’s apartment where some of Herko’s things were stored. "She and I went through it together. Black velvet was everywhere. Many shards of mirrors. Magick wands made out of old bedposts. Feathers. Lace. Broken statuary. Scraps of fabric, or carpet. Everything thick with some dark energy. There was one whole attaché case of male pornography carefully cut out of magazines, as if for use in collage. On the floor in his room there was a book by Mary Renault open at the page where the king leaps into the sea. Where the ritual to renew the world is described. It was the closest we found to a suicide note.



Throwing four balls in the air to get a square ( best of 36 tries ), John Baldessari,1974.



The Cellules are life-sized models, or prototypes, for living quarters to be installed in various major cities of the world, including Frankfurt, Paris, Tel Aviv and Zurich. Absalon intended them to be stopping points in his own travels. Relatively small and formally minimal – painted white inside and out, involving very basic geometry – each is different. Their structures were determined by the dimensions of the artist’s body and his movements, responding with the greatest possible economy and even in the slightest details to the functional needs of everyday existence. Each contains particular defined spaces for cooking and eating, for bathing and toilet, for working and sleeping.

Resembling bomb shelters or decompression chambers, and with room only for one, the Cellules have a hermetic quality which suggests a need for protection, for distance from the chaotic quotidian world inhabited with others. The minimalism of the work at once suggests ascetic behaviour and a desire for strict control. What Absalon was proposing existed somewhere between solipsism and megalomania, extreme secrecy and exhibitionism, but the fact that he is no longer alive – the fact that he had AIDS, and therefore could never have finished his project – potentially changes our perception of his work. Through the exhibition of Cellules we have an opportunity to put ourselves literally and metaphorically in Absalon’s place.

Absalon was the alias of Eshel Meir. He was born in Ashdod, Israel, in 1964 and died in Paris in 1993

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pierre, or the Ambiguities, 1852
Pierre o delle ambiguit�, trad. di Luigi Berti, in Opere scelte, II, Meridiani Mondadori, 1975

Tra gli ingredienti di questo lungo e complesso romanzo figura l'amore fra un fratello, Pierre, e una sorellastra, Isabelle. � certo che Robert Musil, la cui lettura ha impressionato profondamente Duras, si era ispirato a Melville. Le pagine pi� enigmatiche di Pierre sono quelle di un opuscolo intitolato Cronometrica e orologica: cronometriche sono le verit� assolute e metafisiche, orologiche sono le verit� empiriche e pseudo-razionali. In Agatha, i protagonisti, lettori di Musil e replicanti dei suoi personaggi, fanno un'esperienza temporale insolita, fuori dal tempo orologico: "LUI: ...E poi ho visto l'orologio della pergola, ho visto che ci eravamo sbagliati sull'ora, che eravamo arrivati sulla spiaggia un'ora prima del solito. Il giorno prima, me l'avevate chiesta, avevate detto che il vostro orologio si era fermato, e io vi avevo dato l'ora, dopo il pranzo, nel corridoio sul quale davano le nostre camere, vi ricordate? Probabilmente avevo visto male... - LEI: E poi non avete corretto l'errore. - LUI: Cio�, me ne sono accorto, ma voi stavate gi� dormendo. - LEI: E poi avete dimenticato. La mattina avete dimenticato [...] - LUI: Avevo un'ora di anticipo sul mondo. Un'ora soltanto. Ed � bastata" (p. 54). (EM)

Ne dites pas que je ne l’ai pas dit – Le Perroquet

It happened last year...during my birthday in New York.

Go See – New York: Marcel Broodthaers ‘Ne dites pas que je ne l’ai pas dit – Le Perroquet (1974)’ at Peter Freeman, Inc. through December 23, 2009
November 22nd, 2009

Broodthaers, 1974, Detail View Parrot, Via Peter Freeman
Bringing attention to the theme of repetition– a detail of view of the caged parrot, part of Broodthaers’s minimal and highly conceptual installation.(2009) Via Peter Freeman.

Currently showing at Peter Freeman, Inc. in New York is an exhibition of Marcel Broodthaers’s installation entitled “Ne dites pas que je ne l’ai pas dit – Le Perroquet” (Don’t Say I Didn’t Say So – The Parrot”.) The show marks the first time that Broodthaer’s installation has been exhibited in the United States. The show, in its entirety, consists of two palm trees, an African gray Parrot, a glass case displaying Broodthaers’ catalogue from his 1966 exhibition at the Wide White Space gallery in Antwerp (along with a reprint from 1974), and a recording of the artist himself, reciting one of his poems: “Moi Je dis Je Moi Je dis Je…”. Broodthaers formed the concept for the 1974 installation as a kind of symbolic setting in which the booklet for his solo exhibit at Antwerp’s Wide White Space Gallery could later be presented.

Broodthaers, Parrot btw Trees, 1974, Via Peter Freeman
An installation view of the caged parrot, situated between two palm trees. Part of Broodthaers “Ne dites pas que je ne l’ai pas dit – Le Parroquet.” (2009) Via Peter Freeman, Inc.

Visually, the installation itself is minimal. A live African gray parrot sits inside of a cage, in between two palm trees. Across the way, a recording plays Broodthaers reciting his poem– a version of which is also in the encased catalogue. The poem conveys the artist’s interest in (re)presenting his past, including his own work as a poet and writer. While the show is visually sparse, the minimalism is counteracted with an invisible web of narrative connections that bring the objects together. During Broodthaers final years he completed a series of retrospective installations known as the “Decors,” (meaning interior design, or film set, in french) all of which explored ideas of repetition and artificiality while also dealing with objects, text, history, museology and identity. He was particularly interested in the relationship between languages and sign, often finding Belgian bilingualism as a source of inspiration. The inclusion of a parrot–being a tropical bird known for repeating itself and the words of others, along with the showcasing of a catalogue from a previous exhibition, works to emphasize and bring attention to the idea of a retrospective as repetition in “Ne Dites pas que je ne l’ai pas dit- Le Parroquet.”

Often using palm trees, old prints, and nineteenth-century furniture, Broodthaers’s installations were designed to mock the retrospective as a kind of form, or stage, “reducing the artist’s production to a trite arrangement.” This exhibition, which stands as the most “compact” of the various installations and retrospectives that occupied the artist in his final years, focuses on this central theme– artwork as “scenography.” The constraints and limits upon a retrospective when subjugated to being an “exhibition” are explored, and in effect, questions are raised about the role of institutions that protect and promote the art. Additionally, the ways in which context affects the meaning of an object is examined. The artist is sometimes credited for having brought about the category of Conceptualism known as “institutional critique.”

Born in 1924 in Brussels, Belgium, Broodthaers worked as a poet while also exploring journalism and film, before venturing into the visual arts in 1964 at the age of forty. By 1960, he had published two books on poetry, produced a film, and was giving lectures on art. One of his first art endeavors involved embedding fifty unsold copies of his book of poems entitled “Pense-Bete” in plaster. The artist is known to have said “I, too, wondered if I couldn’t sell something and succeed in my life… The idea of inventing something insincere finally crossed my mind and I set to work at once.” One of his most notable installations was exhibited in 1968, when the artist created his own private museum in his apartment in Brussels. Entitled “Museum of Modern Art,” the show was complete with labels and an accompanying catalogue. The artists work has been linked to Pop Art, Conceptualism, Dada and Minimalism, and is known for retaining an “elusive and enigmatic quality.” His exhibit “New dites pas que je ne l’ai pas dit- Le Perroquet,” will be showing at Peter Freeman, Inc through December 23rd, 2009.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010