My poem “Scientific American” appears in the latest (and last) issue of Michael Schiavo’s The Equalizer. You can read the entire issue here and the section with my poem here.
Between 1977 and 1982, the artist Rosemary Mayer, who died in 2014, developed a group of works that went beyond the fabric sculptures she had made earlier in the 1970s. These new works were site-specific installations: they relied on ephemerality, temporariness, and audience engagement; they made the private and ordinary equal to the public and historical. Mayer dubbed them her “temporary monuments.”
Here’s my review of Temporary Monuments: Work by Rosemary Mayer, 1977-1982 (Soberscove Press, Sep 2018), up at Hyperallergic.
I reviewed an exhibition of poet John Ashbery’s collages at Pratt’s Manhattan Gallery for the Brooklyn Rail.
After the death of the artist and poet Joe Brainard in 1994, his friend, the poet John Ashbery, recovered an envelope of paper cuttings Brainard had collected for use in collages. The envelope was a posthumous message for Ashbery and reminded him of the collages he had made while spending time with Brainard and the poet James Schuyler in the 1970s. For Ashbery, who died in September 2017, the envelope was a fond reminder of his friend and signaled a return to his work as a collagist.
In July 1971, poet Bernadette Mayer set out to complete what she called an “emotional science project” by setting a set of constraints for herself: to shoot one roll of Kodachrome film on a 35mm camera each day of the month while simultaneously keeping a set of journals. The photo and sound installation that resulted, entitled Memory (1971-72), has long occupied a cult status in Mayer’s wider oeuvre. This September in New York, CANADA re-installed Memory to its original specifications and with its original snapshot prints for the first time since its 1972 opening at Holly Solomon’s 98 Greene Street loft in SoHo. The installation’s diversity of stylized images, selfies, and out of focus snapshots remind us that in the Instagram-era, we’re still looking backward at an obsession with photographs that has existed since their inception.
My essay on George Sand’s novel Indiana (1832) is out in an edited collection from Cambridge Scholars Publishing. It’s edited by Françoise Ghillebaert.
Indiana tells the story of its heroine—a young woman, in a loveless marriage to the old Colonel Delmare, who finds herself seduced by the rakish Raymon de Ramière. Raymon causes more trouble than he's worth: Noun, Indiana's beloved servant, foster sister, and sort-of twin, is already involved with Raymon; Indiana’s cousin, Ralph, is secretly in love with her; and Delmare tries to make Indiana move with him to Île Bourbon, a far away French colony.
In my essay, I analyze how customs of hospitality and the kinship relations in Delmare’s household ultimately undo his power and challenge the power of the patriarchy.
What do we do when we journal, or keep a diary? To follow the example of Rosemary Mayer’s newly excerpted and edited journals, which document a pivotal year in Mayer’s life and career, one might recount one’s thoughts on the relation of beauty to the art object or what it takes to be an artist, along with impressions of concerts attended, friends visited, lovers lost or found, and meals eaten. In her journals, Mayer—who co-founded the all-female A.I.R. co-op gallery in 1972 and died in 2014—worries, too, about how to pay her rent, and how to stay on unemployment while pursuing her ambitions as a young artist of 28.
I talked to Harmony Hammond about martial arts, the painting body, and violence in her work.
Harmony Hammond made her start as an artist in the feminist milieu of 1970s New York, co-founding A.I.R. Gallery, the first women’s gallery, in 1972. Her early artwork developed a feminist, lesbian, and queer idiom for painting and sculpture, especially in such celebrated works as her woven and painted Floorpieces (1973) and wrapped sculptures, like Hunkertime (1979 – 80). Since 1984, she has lived and worked in New Mexico. Her current show at Alexander Gray Associates (May 19 – June 25, 2016) showcases what she calls her “near monochrome” paintings and monotype prints on grommeted paper that Lucy Lippard has termed “grommetypes.”
I wrote my dissertation in part on Claude Cahun’s work, and then I reviewed Jennifer L. Shaw’s biography of Cahun here.
In her 1930 masterpiece Disavowals: or Cancelled Confessions (French title: Aveux non avenus), Claude Cahun offers her reader the following provocation: “Only with the very tip would I wish to sew, sting, kill. … Only ever travel in the prow of myself.” As in the poses she takes in her photomontage self-portraits that illustrate the book’s surrealist text, Cahun stares down her readers in this passage, daring them to follow her on this journey fraught with surprise and danger. Jennifer L. Shaw takes up this challenge in Exist Otherwise: The Life and Works of Claude Cahun, the first book-length critical biography of the artist in English, a richly illustrated volume appended with translations of lesser-known texts by Cahun.
Here’s my review of photographer Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s 2017 exhibition.
The relational spaces opened by the images in Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s Figures, Grounds and Studies are a happy disturbance to the homogenizing squares and grids of social media and dating app profile photos. Most of the images in this exhibition involve the photographing of mirrors with cut-up fragments of other photographic prints taped to them; others feature bodies hidden and revealed by heavy drapes. The photographs scramble our efforts to parse what is figure and what is ground, and the encounter of different skin tones, of bodies differently marked by race but apparently sharing a gender, complicates our identifications with the images and their figures.
Adrian Piper is everything. I reviewed the catalogue and critical reader from her 2018 MoMA retrospective here.
Adrian Piper has long grappled with the immediate, present-tense experience of the viewer in front of an artwork—an art encounter that can bring awareness of what she calls the “indexical present.” In pursuit of this kind of experience—for herself and for her viewer—Adrian Piper dances, hums, and speaks to thin air. She wanders around doused in vinegar, and wet paint. She philosophizes, practices yoga, and makes art. Two books published by MoMA to accompany the retrospective Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions 1965 – 2016 offer a model of reading (and writing) that invite the reader into further proximity with Piper’s works.
On September 21 at The Kitchen, Wayne Koestenbaum performed a suite of trance-like Sprechstimme improvisations at the piano to mark the publication of his new book, The Pink Trance Notebooks, a series of poems assembled from a yearlong experiment in journaling (Nightboat, 2015). In the most rousing of these songs, Koestenbaum intoned praise for having his tubes tied at Duane Reade—all set to a piece by Chopin. The week before this performance, Koestenbaum, whose seventeen other books include volumes of criticism, poetry, and a novel, sat down with Phillip Griffith in his Chelsea studio to discuss poetry and painting, trance, the French language, and “fag ideation.”
Juliana Cerquiera Leite is a sculptor whose work I admire. I reviewed her 2016 exhibition at the now-closed gallery Regina Rex here.
Everyday life presents each of us with the opportunity to play out a carefully choreographed (if unrecognized) performance: I rise, I shower, I dress, I walk. In Juliana Cerqueira Leite’s set of five sculptural works, exhibited under the title INTRANSITIVE, pink, yellow, and purple Hydrocal casts of the artist’s body document her interaction with a collection of DIY furniture built for the exhibit. The sculptures attest to a reciprocal relationship between artist and object that challenge notions of agency and narrative in the artistic process.
David Deitcher’s hybrid work of criticism and memoir was published by Secretary Press in 2016. I reviewed it.
A large blank white paper sheet with an inch-wide black border, from Untitled (The End) (1990), a paper-stack work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, hangs on my bedroom wall. Friends react variously to this sheet taken from its stack, often with confusion at how slapdash it looks taped up there, sometimes making fun of the idea that it’s an artwork, with pause for its perceived melancholy. Born in Cuba in 1957, Gonzalez-Torres came of age and into his artistic career in New York City in the 1980s, at the beginning and height of the AIDS crisis that would claim his life in 1996. Melancholy, however, is only one affective mode deployed by Gonzalez-Torres’s works. Over the years, I’ve squirreled away candy from his candy stacks, too, taking great pleasure in them, sometimes saving the candies, sometimes only their beautiful wrappers, allowing me a more personal connection to the artist. In Stone’s Throw, David Deitcher depends upon this and other complicities between himself and his subject (ostensibly the work of Gonzalez-Torres) and between himself and his readers to craft a hybrid work of criticism and memoir.