Friday 26 December 2014

Pressure to Tweet

Having started Hot Tub Astronaut, a new e-zine for contemporary poetry and fiction, I'm confronted with the pressure to tweet. Its becoming clear to me how much duress the internet can put on a person to develop an online presence and to gather readers, contributors etc. Its difficult to relax. I think I have changed the HTA website one thousand times and still I am unsure of it. And then there is twitter. What to tweet? Holiday gifts? What I am reading? That submissions are open they're open they're open... And then there is a whole other level of pressure... to produce work yourself, to produce literature and to be creative and then... to find a way to demonstrate this creativity. I guess I may be in one of those phases where I have gotten a taste of what it is like to be published and then you find yourself writing for reasons that are different from your initial drive to write. Perhaps its narcissism, at least a little. Either way, I guess writing is always a struggle in some way or another and takes a lot of effort which is perhaps in conflict with what you are supposed to do during the holidays... that is, not to do much, to refresh, if you will. 

I published my own poem on Hot Tub Astronaut today and although I'm not too sure how I feel about self-publishing in this way, I think its probably a good idea that I participate in what I'm hoping others will too. I suppose there may be this inherent fear of your project failing (at least for me) and so this seems like a good way to be a part of it and help to gather support. 

Something less scary/risky though is my excitement about delving into my new Tadeusz Różewicz book that I received as a gift for the holidays.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

A few photos I took on a short hike from Bray to Greystones, Ireland

Words that I like for different reasons

- malleable
- rainbow
- zine
- lemon
- tangible
- palpable
- jacuzzi
- bubble
- television
- practice
- slumber
- solemn
- slander
- savvy
- grim
- dollop
- woe
- tablet (of chocolate)
- marzipan 
- bath
- wayside 
- hullaballoo 
- chestnut
- grotto 
- marshmallow
- ween 
- tween
- serene 
- phantom
- planter
- cactus
- peonie 
- ruby
- glitter
- waffle
- gremlin 
- fume 
- plunder 
- stalagmite / stalactite 

Monday 8 December 2014

Weegee's Invitation to Dance

I've been quite obsessed lately with these photographs by Weegee of the Jewish community in New York in 1945. I think they are so completely wonderful and full culture. These photographs preserve and celebrate Judaism and Jewishness at a time when it was otherwise so deeply threatened and devastated. 

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American, 1899-1968); Invitation to Dance, Rehearsal Yiddish Theater, New York

Monday 1 December 2014

Cory Arcangel - Working On My Novel

I think that even when I am not actively writing, I am working on my novel. Having read Cory Arcangel’s book titled Working On My Novel, I was informed or perhaps reminded rather of the mass of people who are constantly writing, who need to write and who at any given moment may be working on their novel. Just as in this book, Arcangel’s larger artistic practice is Internet-based. This project can be read as appropriating a Duchampian tradition by way of repurposing found objects to be qualified as art. And yet, Arcangel’s found materials are not objects at all but are instead tweets, personal sentiments, and utterances describing brief moments, feelings or occurrences with regard to writing.

By collecting these phrases, all of which include the words “working on my novel”, Arcangel collects people and forms a community whereby the testaments of people working on their novel interact with one another in such a way that the assemblage forms a narrative. There is almost a sense that there exists a single protagonist working on his or her novel over the course of some time, at once inspired and encouraged and at other times lethargic, disappointed or merely in a state of procrastination. Despite this, Arcangel does not wish to merge these writers stuffing them into one manufactured character. He includes with every quite the name of the tweeting author, the exact time of the posted tweet and the precise date during the year 2012. Is Cory Arcangel writing a novel?

Placed sporadically throughout the book are pages with line drawings of a stove kettle, each picture drawn from a unique angle. The altering angles have a temporal quality whereby not only is the viewer moving around the kettle as object but we become aware of the kettle as a mercurial thing in and of itself. It becomes hot, comes to a boil, and then begins to shriek on the top of its lungs until it is removed from the fire and let to cool anew. I began to consider that this is not dissimilar to the ways in which one experiences the process of writing a novel. At times you are hot, you are smoking, you are so fucking on fire that your hand cannot keep up with your head. You are unstoppable. You are a genius. And there are also those other times. There are those times you cannot bear to even think about working on your novel, times you spend hours and hours staring into blankness (be it paper or screen) only to change one word and then change is back again. There are those times you feel your mind is so empty, so banal, how dare you call yourself a writer.

It is all part of the unavoidable highs and lows of accessing one’s creativity in a way that is brave enough to actualize something real. In the end, we are all really just kettles getting hot and cold about life and words over and over again.

A tweet collected by Cory Arcangel:

“I’m working on my novel again, and it feels good, you guys. I love my mind.

Stephen Mangol – 11:44 PM, 23 Sep 2012.”

Monday 24 November 2014

A quote by Agnes Martin

"Art work has only a tinkering of what it attempts to represent to the artist and to responsive observers. It is not beneficial, nothing is gained from it, and it does not tell the truth. It is enjoyed or not according to the condition of the observed. A very small gesture of exultation."

-Agnes Martin, Writings. 

Untitled #9, 1999. acrylic and graphite on linen, 12 x 12 (30.5 x 30.5 cm).

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Thursday 6 November 2014

Arctic Fire on Electric Cereal

Here is a poem I wrote called Arctic Fire which was published today on Electric Cereal! Check it out here:

Sunday 2 November 2014

Abject/Object: (Un)Healthy Art

As a man and woman announced that the gallery is to be shut down and replaced by a health-concerned juice bar, the audience stood before them in the parking lot of the Hackney-based gallery Space In Between, each holding a glass of apple, celery, kale, lemon and ginger juice. As the premise for Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau’s performance, Communal Juicing, a prelude to his first solo exhibition with the same title, the actors promised to take yoga seriously and not to laugh at those runners who wear separate toe shoes. They proceeded to dance to a catchy tune as they sang the words, “be true, be free, be who you wanna be!” Only at the end of the performance were the audience members allowed to take a sip as they were thanked for participating in this communal juicing. Playing a minor role in the performance, I stood behind the two characters cradling the masticating cold press Omega 8006 juicer – the culprit, the agent, the object responsible for closing the gallery. And it all made me think: is art healthy?

Certainly not all of de Kersaint Giraudeau’s works are “healthy”, his Cheesedough Series containing in them Cheetos, oil, salt, instant noodles, candy, alcohol, energy drink and tobacco. These sculptural works, designed to elicit cultural abjection perhaps do not contain healthy materials, but are they, because of this, healthy for us as art? On the walls hung The Protuberance Series, one object titled Relic and ten pen drawings hung on the walls partake in a series called Drawings From an Infinitely Ongoing Series Cataloguing Every Object, Both Real and Imaginary, in The Entire Universe.

While, during the performance a few days back, the actors confirmed to the audience that the juice they were about to consume contained no spit, no hair, no semen or vaginal fluids, de Kersaint Giraudeau’s Protuberance pieces contain all of these. However tempting it might be to draw the link, these cannot be regarded as an endeavor equivalent to that of Tracey Emin’s bed. While the latter is a manifestation of autobiographical events and physical states, de Kersaint Giraudeau does not assert himself as the “author” of any of these liquids. Rather than wishing to say something about himself, de Kersaint Giraudeau’s comment is more on cultural abjection and collective desires that run deep through our society. The artist repurposes materials such as Creatine, rabbit skin glue, vegetable oil, ash, Walkers prawn cocktail crisps and, of course, human excretions that reside either underneath or on top of stretched, pink-grey, wet look lycra so that they refer to but do not overtly represent human genitals.

While chatting with de Kersaint Giraudeau about these works, he disclosed to me that the late works of Canadian painter Philip Guston inspired him as he created these wall sculptures. Not only is the same pink shared by Guston and de Kersaint Giraudeau, but Guston’s paintings of a one-eyed man smoking and eating in his bed are materialized and made into objects by de Kersaint Giraudeau. In their different media, both artists are playing here with the indisputable desire that accompanies abject behaviors and objects and that it is in fact one’s desire for them that renders them abject in the first place.

Not only does de Kersaint Giraudeau materialize liquids so that they become objects, but he actualizes concepts and inaccessible entities so that they become objects in and of themselves. Some of his objects on paper include Success, Susan Sontag, Tinder, and Intern. These entities made real, made object, through drawing are not limited to those that de Kersaint Giraudeau has chosen to share with us; they could, in theory, depict any aspect or feature of “the entire universe”. In fact, the artist gives body to his objects by creating an assemblage of glazed ceramic items sitting in a pile of dirt under the table, some of which refer to the figures represented in the object drawings on the back wall. If Communal Juicing concretizes the mundane, the everyday into objects, then the viewer must reduce a thing (tangible or not) to an object and to conceive of how this reduction is at the same time an expansion of that very same thing. And why might this be a healthy exercise? Why should the gallery remain open? To keep us healthy of course.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Dialogue: Family Tree

Dialogue: Family Tree

-       I can’t sleep
-       Why?
-       Because I’ve been writing.
-       So?
-       So when I write, I can’t sleep.
-       Why not?
-       Because my brain is too active.
-       So don’t write before bedtime.
-       I don’t. Its just like, I lie in my bed and even if I don’t write anything on paper, I am writing in my head.
-       That’s weird.
-       Why?
-       Writing in your head?
-       Yeah. Like coming up with it all in my head. So, if I don’t write it down its all a waste.
-       I had a weird dream the other night.
-       What was it about?
-       I could go back in time. It ran in my family but the thing is, no one can tell you you can do it. You just have to figure it out yourself. And I was the first grandchild in my generation to figure it out. The first of ten.
-       Why are you saying grandchild?
-       I guess because the first thing I did was go to see my grandfather. He died this summer.
-       Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.
-       Its ok. Thanks. So anyway, I went to see him and I said I figured it out! I was the first grandchild!
-       You wanted his approval.
-       I guess. I guess I wanted him to be proud of me. But that’s not the point.
-       What is the point?
-       Well I’m trying to tell you. So I could go back in time. I found myself back in time in a church or something –
-       But you’re Jewish.
-       It was just a dream… and I’ve been in churches before.
-       Right.
-       So I was in this old marble church and my aunts see me and come running to me to tell me all about going back in time and how it works, how I need to have this bracelet and then think really hard about where I want to go. Almost like programming it in my brain. I think I even saw green digital looking numbers all lit up in my head.
-       Then what happened?
-       So I decided to go back to when I was a kid. I managed to go back. I saw my parents as young parents, which was weird because they weren’t that much older than me right now and looked really young but also really familiar. I guess how I remembered them. I played with my younger self. I guess I was three. Then I wanted to go back to the moment I was born.
-       Why?
-       I think because I wanted to see how happy everyone was that I was alive. I know its a bit narcissistic but I think its human too.
-       Yeah. I think I would want to do that as well.
-       So here’s where the weird thing happened. So I try to go back but I guess because I wasn’t fully alive yet, the whole system got screwed up and I went so far back to Medieval times and I was scared because I was trying to figure out if I was rich or poor and if I was in danger. Then I woke up.
-       Woah.
-       Yeah.
-       Can I write a story about this?
-       I guess.
-       Ok awesome. I swear I won’t use your real name.
-       Ok.
-       Oh great! I’m so excited!
-       You should probably try to sleep though.
-       Oh, now I definitely won’t sleep.
-       Oh god.
-       What?

-       Nothing.