Artist Marie Lorenz goes against the current with her recent body of work.
I first met Marie Lorenz at the American Academy in Rome in 2008, where she was a Fellow in Visual Arts. We spent the year with about 40 other scholars, artists, composers, architects and their families living in a palazzo on top of the Gianicolo hill. One comes to know people differently by living, eating, and drinking together everyday in close quarters. Marie, it quickly became clear to me, and to everyone else, was an adventurer, a trailblazing kind of person. She was not too concerned about what other people thought and had an amazing ability to make things both more fun and more dangerous. She spent much of the year building a boat out of wood and carving it with ornate patterns. She would take people out on her boat in the Tiber and other bodies of water around Rome. All of her nautical adventures, from Rome and back in the United States, are documented on her website. I sat down with Marie, on the occasion of her recent show at Jack Hanley Gallery, to discuss garbage, funky smells, and her relationship to the tides.
Jennifer Coates What is the most disgusting piece of garbage you have ever found on one of your boating trips?
Marie Lorenz That is such a good one. Well, I have never come across a dead body . . .
Laurie Weeks’s Zipper Mouth takes readers on a mind-bending journey through the body’s ins and outs. Weeks talks with Jennifer Coates about the novel’s psychedelic dimensions and the creative parallels between writing and growing plants.
I was really excited to sit down and talk with Laurie Weeks about her recently published novel, Zipper Mouth. We had been internet acquaintances for years through blogging (we both had online alter egos) and have been developing a texting friendship for the last few months. This was our first chance to talk in real space and time, two things Weeks’s writing enthusiastically dilates. Zipper Mouth has been described as a lesbian drug novel and is set mostly in nineties downtown NYC, but wormholes open up repeatedly into an abusive, escapist suburban childhood. “If I was wasting away in a hospital like a deer, very quiet and shy, everyone would feel bad for being blind fuckheads and put me in a foster home. World’s greatest dream.”
Journal entries and letters to Sylvia Plath from adolescence punctuate the book at comically disruptive intervals. We zoom back and forth in time as inward life (hallucinations, memories and desires) and outward connection to the world blur together. What holds the novel together is the off-kilter rhythm of the narrator’s drug-fueled highs and lows and the unrequited desire for her straight friend, Jane. Dirty streets, deadening part-time jobs, looming uncompleted life tasks, and self-hating hangovers are the dark backdrop on which moments of poetic transcendence stand out. “For what is desire but this dervish drilling into the air a window on the glimmering panorama that flashes into existence the second you think I’m in love. As soon as you approach that enchanted space, desire spins it away.”
Juxtaposing the abject against the ecstatic, Weeks’s unnamed, unstable, but thoroughly lovable protagonist can project an acrobatic circus routine onto a classroom, a field of flowers onto a dirty elevator shaft.
Jennifer Coates Have you ever had contact with the vegetable over-mind?
Laurie Weeks No, but I think of myself as a psychedelic person. My brain is in a vegetated state, but more because I’m so obsessed with growing flowers. I am ready to take mushrooms, I just want to do it correctly . . . according to Terence McKenna’s instructions.