Paper Clip is a weekly compilation of online articles, artifacts and other—old, new, and sometimes BOMB-related.
Nick Thurston on how Kim Rosenfield’s Lividity and Steven Zultanski’s Agony both convert the long form poem into an act of hyper-objectification, and how both do so to brutally contemporary effect.
In an age of acceleration and over-production, wherein the very ontology of published language has been transformed by its reformation through and as principally-digital data, the most intelligent and imaginative poetic responses seem to have come from the field of so-called Conceptual writing. Basically this is because conceptualist approaches to cultural production demand that “makers” consider what they make in the context of their field or community at the level of social epistemology as well as that of the projective imaginary. That is, the maker-subject recognizes herself as just one producer within a specific community and history of possibilities that are united by some shared concerns (technical, political, economic, geographic, sexual, whatever), and which are in turn embedded in other communities and histories of production. Those maker-subjects re-imagine those shared concerns by holding them together, often in dispute, which means that they don’t have to agree on what those concerns “mean,” but that they do privilege them as a/the problematic(s) for their community of production. The job, then, is to develop that shared problematic(s).
Conceptual writers are writing beyond other communities of literary practice because they’ve taken the risk of advancing the problematic(s) of poetry, whereas other communities of poetic practice (at least the ones who are producing textual fields that we would currently recognize as “poetry”) are failing to even at least sufficiently develop the problematic(s) of poetry in our age. At present, the conceptualist approach to writing (which is something that expands before and beyond so-called Conceptual writing) seems to be exploring what it means for poetic writing to be “contemporary” in the most interesting way right now. And the contemporaneity at stake in this contemporary moment seems to be being shaped by the unprecedented tension between a pair of facts that are perfectly articulated in Kim Rosenfield’s doublet “THE BRUTE MATERIAL OF WORDS. THE BRUTAL MATERIAL OF WORLDS.” (Lividity, p. 165), partly because of what it says and partly because she makes no claim to having said it first.
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt on the politics of art school admissions, knick-knacks, and linguistic gate-keeping in contemporary art.
Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt is a doggedly peripheral figure in an historic and cultural narrative in which he’s actually played a central role. He was out as gay before Stonewall (he’s one of the few surviving participants), he made “installations” before they were branded as such, and he has persisted in maintaining a relationship with the Catholic faith which was and is still highly suspect to the art world and activist liberal community.
I interviewed Tommy this past January in the Hell’s Kitchen apartment where he’s lived for four decades, to discuss his recent exhibit at MoMA PS1, Tender Love Among the Junk. The largest survey of his work to date, the show included work from the late-’60s to early-2000s that accreted into a radiant, cathedral-like environment comprised of hundreds of hand-wrought and jewel-like artworks, many made on the TV-dinner tray nested in the far edge of Tommy’s bedroom.
Ours was a long, meandering conversation held over the course of a weekend—an otherwise unassuming continuation of a conversation we’ve been having since I was 18 and I first met him in person.
Jessica Baran I’m wondering about the relationship between the time when you were assigned to decorate the school bulletin board in your Catholic elementary school in Linden, New Jersey and the story of how you got your first review in the Village Voice, which was by stenciling “Object Art” all over an East Village city block. The Object Art project seems very different from both that childhood bulletin board and the artwork you subsequently went on to make.
Banker White takes us through the impermanence of memory and familial filmmaking in his documentary on his mother and mother’s mother, The Genius of Marian.
Artist Banker White’s second documentary feature, The Genius of Marian, tells the story of the filmmaker’s mother, Pamela White. When White started filming with her almost three years ago, Pamela was experiencing symptoms of what was to be diagnosed as early onset Alzheimer’s dementia—the same disease her own mother, Marian, had when Marian was in her 80s.
Using a collage of Super-8 family home movies and other evocative archival set against this intimate family drama from the White family home in New England, Banker immerses us in the daily life of Pam, whose relentlessly deteriorating condition threatens to wipe out the memory of her own mother, about whom she is writing a memoir when her symptoms start to worsen. The Genius of Marian retraces both women’s lives and legacies to create a complex and powerful portrait of motherhood.
Banker—whose previous film was 2010’s award-winning Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars—spoke to me from his home in San Francisco where he lives with his wife and baby, Dylan Tilly White. As he shifts gears from making the film to getting ready to share it with the world, we talked about the ways in which he created this moving and poignant piece of work.
The film will have its world premiere as part of the World Documentary Feature Competition at this month’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Pamela Cohn I’m always interested in the process of discovery a filmmaker has about his or her own project, particularly those projects that are so personal. You welcome an audience in immediately by opening with family home movies. The reverberations of that footage mixed with the immediacy of lives lived now is always so affecting. The years you spent being, in a way, your family’s archivist, set you up perfectly to make this kind of film. How did you work with your editor, Don Bernier, in extracting the best narrative?
Banker White Even before I identified as a filmmaker, I would film every family vacation and any other family function. So did my dad. So for the film, I could easily go back into that material. I also continued to shoot after what you see as the end of the film, and suspect I will keep doing so into the future.
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read two poems by Evie Shockley with art by Paul Roden and Valerie Lueth, selected by Daniel Moysaenko.
a white web veils its own frailty
each wan tendril an arachnid’s will
spokes wielding silence speak volumes
the white weave concedes its empty center
its see-through beauty colors the view
Rachid Djaïdani discusses his new film Rengaine (Hold Back), and the advantages and hazards of guerrilla filmmaking.
Rachid Djaïdani’s unusual career spans from mason, boxer, actor, writer, to filmmaker. Although he made two short films before his first feature-length film, Rengaine (Hold Back) (2011), these films garnered little critical attention, despite having been shown in a number of festivals—Sur ma ligne (2006) and La ligne brune (2010).
In the first, Djaïdani filmed himself in the process of writing his second novel Mon Nerf (2004). The film aimed to prove that he was indeed a writer, after his authenticity was questioned by his editor at the publishing house Seuil. In the second, he filmed the pregnancy of his wife over its nine months. It was shown in the Festival Pickpocket in Paris. In both, Djaïdani isn’t in a hurry. He seems interested in taking his time. He filmed both in an improvisatory, spontaneous manner, composing sequences of images that often aren’t well explained that but revolve around a single face or a single object.
We can certainly say the same about Rengaine, which won the International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI) for the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, 2012. Djaïdani worked alone and without studio support during the nine years it took to complete this film. In the following interview, he describes the difficulties and the joys of the filmmaking process, as well as the choices he made along the way.
Translated from French by Matt Reeck
Laura Reeck What led you to make Rengaine? What idea did you want to explore?
Rachid Djaïdani As far as I can remember, the idea came about when I was working on Peter Brook’s Tierno Bokar. Little by little I began to invent the story of a black man who falls in love with a rebeu [person of North African descent], and how that was complicated by the fact that she had brothers. Then, by the end of the play’s tour, I had the idea of giving her forty brothers.
LR Did your parents’ relationship influence the story?
Luke Wiget on the commanding sounds and biographical narrative in Li-Young Lee’s re-released The Winged Seed.
In The Winged Seed Li-Young Lee gathers up his memories of his mother and father and his childhood and dreams about them. The family’s displacement from China to Indonesia to the United States is reordered in Lee’s memoir in a way that mirrors the tangled process of remembering. For Lee, his father’s spent shoes and exposed ankles and his mother standing for hours at the gate to the prison where Lee’s father was being held are the raw material, the genesis, for a story, that though it is supremely unique, exceeds its own content with its universality. This reissued edition begins with a new foreword by Lee who writes, “Once upon a time, we were children in a river valley, and teachers getting our names wrong helped to keep us hidden, safe to make the most faithful playmates of God and Death. Any wonder, we were ruined for any other company.” This is the echo of idea that Lee spoke of in an interview with BOMB following the initial publication of the book in 1995 when he said, “I can’t stop thinking about love and death; no other issues interest me.” With the addition of God, who at one point Lee refers to as a “monster in [his] eyes,” The Winged Seed is a remembrance of love and death and God.
The 2013 reissue by BOA Editions is the same text as was published in 1995 and had since gone out of print, but now includes a small collection of photographs of Lee and his family as a well as the previously mentioned foreword by Lee himself. For those who have read a lot of Lee’s work it may be a little reductive to see Lee’s father, so mythologized and looked to in Lee’s poems and here in the memoir, confined into a two-by-two inch photograph. To hear Lee’s voice in the present, some 18 years after the book’s initial publication and sounding just as sure and also as shaky, is the real appeal with this new publication. He writes in the foreword, “It’s just time: the book I read, the letter I write, the window I look out of. Just a sleeve I keep trying to mend, the spool diminishing.” Lee’s story is not over, it can’t ever be.
Paper Clip is a weekly compilation of online articles, artifacts and other—old, new, and sometimes BOMB-related.
Shara Hughes on painting with her fingers, dismembered bodies, and making work about love.
In 2008, Shara Hughes returned to her hometown of Atlanta after graduating from RISD in 2004 and living in New York and Denmark. Not only has she embraced the extra studio space to make her work—or mental space to process it—but Hughes has also actively asserted herself into the Atlanta art community while remaining internationally connected and actively exhibiting in New York at American Contemporary (her most recent solo exhibition, See Me Seeing Me, was in Fall 2012). In Atlanta, Hughes operates SEEK ATL—a studio visit group that meets monthly in an artists’ studio for conversation and critique—along with founding partner Ben Steele. Hughes opens her first Atlanta solo exhibition, Don’t Tell Anyone But . . ., at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center this month (April 19–June 15, 2013) and will also have a solo exhibition next spring 2014 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Georgia as she is the recipient of the 2012/2013 MOCA GA Working Artist Project fellowship.
I spent a day with Shara to visit both her home studio—where she consistently produces her paintings—and her sculpture studio—a temporary space at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center’s Studios provided to produce new sculptural works specifically for this exhibition. The conversation that follows weaves a thread between the dualities that are at play in Hughes’s practice: Balancing abstraction and representation, labor and spontaneity, difficulty and ease through two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms exemplifies the ‘flip’ she consistently refers to as a necessary and dynamic part of her visual practice.
Rachel Reese Maybe a good place to start talking about your work would be to back up. What did your work look like coming out of RISD?
Shara Hughes I was making like a lot of minimal paintings about dead animals, but used as furniture. So, for example, bear skin rugs and heads on walls and stuff, which then I think turned into some larger kind of weird trend. Generally you don’t see much of anymore. But I remember a while people were making that kind of work.
And those were based on my parents getting divorced and how I felt. There were all these ‘dead’ things at home so I latched onto the idea of interiors because I was always trying to create some other kind of home, in a way. Whereas my space—the one that I’ve always known—has been broken.
RR So the interior has carried throughout your work over the past several years? Specifically, using the idea of the interior as maybe a rubric that you could lay your either your style or your imagery on top of?
SH Yea, so I think that’s when I first started doing interiors—it always felt like the best resolution to everything for me. Within an interior, you can make a landscape through a window or you can make another person’s painting within the painting, or you can paint figures or not. I never really started doing figures until now. And they’re still broken up and pieces of things.
Deerhunter discusses automatic writing, Monomania, and setting the record straight on Connie Lungpin.
“Keep him in the bathroom! We’re not done yet.” Bradford Cox yelled as I entered the hotel room where I’d be interviewing Deerhunter in just a few moments. On Late Night with Jimmy Fallon this week, Cox, dressed in drag and covered in fake blood, tore through his band’s latest single and album title track, and prominently displayed what looked to be his own dismembered fingers. I was the last of a series of interviews they had done that day. The band was understandably worn down.
Monomania, Deerhunter’s fifth album, is described in their press release as a “nocturnal garage” album, and the description couldn’t be more apt: peaked guitars and distorted vocals evoke such classics as The Stooges’ Raw Power and Royal Trux’s Twin Infinitives in equal parts. From “Dream Captain”s bratty wreckage of a melody, to the serene middle jangle of “Monomania,” every song has the immediacy of a sort of punk rock Everly Brothers cover band, a far cry from their more abstract breakthrough, Cryptograms. Sitting down with the members of Deerhunter, I successfully avoided Cox’s infamous interviewer ire and discussed their recent lineup change, the writing process of Monomania, and the mysterious masked man they’ve been bringing on stage with them.
“You’re not hiding in the bathroom are you?” his press person asked a few minutes later. I emerged. The interview began.
Gary Canino I really enjoyed your performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night. Who was your friend on the side of the stage with the tape player?
Bradford Cox (lead vocals, guitar) Paul! He’s the greatest guy.
Moses Archuelta (drums) He actually messed that up though, it was amazing. He forgot to rewind the tape—
BC I made this cassette, like these motorcycle sounds that are on the record, but Paul was so spaced out by the cosmic NOW of the idea of satellites and shit…he’s a great kid. He’s been with the band for a long time. He’s kind of like our little brother.