Introduction Matt Morris
LET ME Outside of her studio, one of my mentors from graduate school told me that she didn’t consider me a friend. She dragged on a cigarette. She was suspicious of art world relationships, dismayed in being unable to tell anymore what motivated those in her social circle to engage with her. I replied. I spoke alongside some of the experiences she had recounted. But when I spoke, I said ‘we,’ referring to my partner and I navigating our field together. She chastened me, pointing to my partnership’s a priori standing in relation to whatever relation she and I might have, and in so doing, she characterized how embedded each teacher, student, colleague, friend, lover in her life had shown themselves to be. ‘We’ are covered in the residue of other, prior ‘we’s. The presumptuousness of ‘we,’ in part, idealizes a network of power relations in such a way that what is shared is emphasized over what forms of domination underlie this first person plural. If there is any justice in the word, it’s that it renders visible the point from which such a claim of selfhood issues. The curtain is pulled back, revealing the man, or the thing, or the thing that Jennifer discovered on a sidewalk, melting. And unlike the wily ‘I’—a mode of self-identification that always doubles, fractures, and then disappears from apprehension wherein one speaks about oneself, and is, as evidenced by the position from where one speaks, more than the one that is spoken about—the invisible author-manager is rendered visible through its ‘we,’ located at least in relation to, well, me. My tacit participation is the price for seeing power. To whom do I address this request, which is to say: to whom do I submit? Who allows permission for my work to be realized? I’ve often thought that my mother was the capital F Father in the household of my childhood, so when I say that we supplicate to our fathers, they may be incarnated as sky gods, art historical canons, formal conventions of artistic mediums, compulsory social regulations, roles, deterministic inevitabilities, course descriptions, prejudices, Foucault (ouch), laws, and mothers. I want to work into these problems of control. I want to measure the difficulty in disclosing the powers accreted onto my position, and the perhaps more difficult admission of who I answer to, and for what reasons that dynamic may, on occasion, perform as ‘we.’ BE It’s not queer enough to ‘be’ anymore, everyone’s ‘becoming,’ and the last seven people who told me they are queer are practicing heterosexuals, so this is all going really well. It seems like loss to attempt to function without referents, shortcuts, distractions, repressions, denials, tidy explanations, categorization…. What remains? The apparent nothing is an eschatological lie that incites fears of scarcity and panic, and from behind it charges a pulsing more that holds together all the excesses unrecognized under the Law. There is no outside of power, no escape from the system, but being apart from reductions demonstrates that there is more here than was explicated by patriarchal assessment.
It has been violent, so much so that pondering underlying symbolic violence may pause in the path of violence that sweeps over bodies and landscapes and flooding waters and relationships and federal governments and their nations and Floridian dance clubs. With considerable tenderness, I understand how times like these precipitate a reinforcement of held notions, known quantities. You hold what you know in the absence of what you’ve lost. These attachments are fraught, however: that piece you still have becomes your concept upon which your project is constructed, usually dialectically, so that the consequence of content is produced and then commodified for consumption. An alternative formula for another violence, no? Lurking among these stages of production is a nagging compulsion to identify in compliance with those forces who permit you to be known as something. A chain reaction catches ‘you’ up as a known quantity held onto in times like these. This spurious enterprise of knowing and being known as capitalist exchange toward the setting of values is not art making. Rather, be with the violence. Take it into you and through you. If you accept the inescapability of this place, then be in it. Learn to be in its most violent forms, in times like these. If I am to be, let me be a wraith. Say the words that destroy the ghost town of your own pretenses. AN OBJECT THAT She was never a subject. He was never a subject if he was dark skinned or had sex with other men or failed fabulously at masculinity or was not physically able or lacked class or economic status. They were not a subject if their gender wasn’t legible within an imposed binary. The cruel twist of this transcendence to subjecthood even for the portion of men who were granted it was that its promises were bankrupt, and if he was a subject, he was in fact not agential and liberated, but rather subjected, submitting to the interpellating ideology that produced him as, well, him. She was never a subject, ergo she is an object? At least a hysteric, clattering around in caverns and swamps, “trailing sequins and incense.” Some would think her deranged for giving up a project that had been working for her, that is, if they were able to think her. An object, in psychoanalytic terms, can be disappointment, denial, rejection materialized (ouch). But fine. Wittig called for her readers to vacate the category of ‘woman,’ to be other than even the othered position contrived in contrast to a subject. Not ‘she’ but ‘it.’ After ‘it.’ A quaking position of undoing, unthinking. It was queer momentarily before language coopted, subsumed, and used the term as capital. I find it resists naming. One approaches that quake after they have looked past meanings that occurred easily because they were considered beautiful. Others never trusted easy answers or good looks, maybe because we never had either. We are shadows cast by nothing, casting spells, demonic outliers who see that the Law always broke itself in order to appear to protect its subjects, see the extent to which our minds have been colonized and even subversive forms of labor and production have been capitalized, see ahead of ourselves without obstruction. Lately I’ve noticed the bas-relief included in the facades of buildings throughout Chicago’s loop, including on the exterior of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Maclean Building on Michigan. So often, the figures are proudly nude and of serene countenance. Man, they really have their shit together. Only their fronts are rendered visible, how they wrap around to their buttocks and neck napes and heels obscured by the planes of the buildings they adorn. Elegant, impassive, perhaps cruel in their
disinterest, solipsism objectified. They hold the secret that a gorgon’s stare didn’t turn her/its/dark purple’s antagonists to stone, but rather, starting at the tearful eyes, the gorgon turns her/its/dark purple’s self to stone. SCREAMS Finally, eventually, dark purple. My mother imagines fire, but it’s just repetition around the rim of a hollow. When your underwear has been slid down your legs, bunched and forced into your mouth, this is what builds. Starting at the tearful throat, I’ve stopped being haunted not only because I am a ghost now, but because I’ve stopped needing the pain of too-big memories and feelings not fitting into the places where I had been made to live. Doubt, I say. Doubt positivistically, as I asked of James. Doubt the sources of your pain and your fear. Name the violence and deduce the residue of your own entanglements, embeddedness. Break the law. Destroy, she said. The hopes that you’ll be treated as a person preoccupy too much of you when an enormous quantity of caring is required in times like these. A care that is not determined by subjecthood, personhood, or the criteria of either. Rather, you and I might be abyssal. I want to quake and hold this place together. Please don’t use tricks. Don’t leave anything out. Start with the excess, a language of utter undoing, and a curiosity with what you are that you haven’t yet been allowed to be. Rest in the radicality of unsanctioned action. The most abhorrent trait of these imbricated systems of control are the policed apertures through which love is seemingly withheld. See ahead of yourselves without obstruction: see not only that you are loved but that you are able to participate in love that can hold your horror and exhaustion and malaise and melancholy. When you risk really making art, you make love. Mostly, annotating the fears of that very possibility is preferable, like easy good looks. But I see that you have something there in your stare and in your utterances that relates to power in a way that undoes, cuts perception. Now scream.
Matt Morris December 1, 2016
Letter to James Hapke Reid Drake Dear James, When I began writing this, I found it much easier for me to speak freely when addressing an imaginary audience. I suppose for the sake of the draft that audience wasn’t actually imaginary, just Matt Morris. I used your name a lot to hide behind the rhythm of repetition. The distance in speaking about you and your work like you were out of the room felt necessary. And while many things sounded nice, they all ultimately fell flat for me. It felt like an exercise in posturing, pretending to be a writer for some magazine I’d never want to read. Because, honestly, the only person in the room is you. I am restructuring this piece of writing into the form of a letter in an effort towards honesty. Let’s be honest… You are concerned with something much bigger than your self, but are uncomfortable with the fact of your soul. You want to position yourself as an antagonistic outsider trickster guy, but the fact of the matter is you will never be outside. You grew up in the church, in a church, in the OC. Your current practice is steeped in religion, but that interest makes itself seen in the products of your practice much less than I might expect. You do a lot. You try to do a lot. You try a lot. You work with wood. It’s hell of a lot of wood. It’s in your largest piece I’ve seen, the structure resembling a child’s school desk, that I see this confluence of religion and wood most starkly. The piece stands almost eight feet tall— a plywood box in the shape of a desk top teeters atop slender, whittled wooden legs that recall Dali’s fucked up elephants or that piano Gaga played in front of Queen Elizabeth in 2009. It’s the whittled legs that bring me to religion in the piece. Or, I guess, religion is too large a word. Maybe better would be repetitive ritual, meditative escape, something to do with the spirit, something that takes practice but shirks discipline. When I was a child I remember my father, a painter, would take breaks from being in his studio (our attic) during the summers to sit outside and whittle figurines from scraps of wood. I remember asking him why he took a break from making something by making something else. He responded, I’m not making something, just doing something. Are you just doing something? How do you organize the difference in making and doing? I have struggled with this question this semester and feel that it has something to do with engagement, something that has come up even more in the wake of this past election. When do you engage and with what? When you are not engaging, or rather, when you are only engaging with your self, with your hands, are you making anything at all? Who else enters your studio when you are making? What else besides fear? In the image of a child’s desk there are hints of order, of organization. But in all other aspects of this sculpture there are oddities that offer entry into other territories. Small pieces of pigment are arranged here, and in other sculptures, like a rainbow of Tribbles wedging themselves into any crack or crevasse they can find. These small pieces of cotton are soaked in Crisco and pigment to become bright balls of color, reminiscent of the swabs that collect around my body on a Sunday night as I repaint my nails for the coming workweek. In this image I can’t help but ponder redaction. What role does
redaction play in mark making? What new marks are made in the process of removing another? Of course, we both know that these Tribbles are not actually byproducts of a homemade manicure. But as they engage a grammar of cotton balls, of home care and the domestic body, I feel the need to ask, why aren’t they? The pock marks on the legs of the desk appear similarly in many of your wooden objects. They are not the same slow slices of a pocket knife I watched my father use to turn a piece of 2x4 into a praying woman or curled up child. They are repetitive lashings against a material ready to give itself up, to become what its possessor wants it to be. In this case, that’s still wood. But it is wood acting not as something besides itself, but as something more than itself. Your sculptures try in no way to hide their wooden nature or to disassociate themselves from the processes which landed them in your studio: lumber mill, flatbed truck, hardware store, or any combination of any variation of the human forces which made them what they are today. There is so much separating your wood from the ground it came from. Your unwillingness to disguise the wood as anything but wood brings, on some level, these processes into the objects themselves without making them central to their being. But still, the lashings you have placed on the wood distort the shape, take the focus away from flat planes and natural grains, and replace it with an unstable surface recalling violent waters, refusing to calm down after intervention, in the wake of a passing barge. I see the something similar in another piece, two legs attached in the middle. This wooden appendage curves into a jagged S shape, its joints held together with foam, its diabetic compression socks taped shut at the ankle, its flesh (more foam) finds its way through the woven cotton of the sock— a grid lock of bubbles, a sickly yellow erupting from a bleached white ground. The piece stands against a wall so that each foot, facing opposite directions, supports the structure from adjacent surfaces. It is wearing Nike running shoes, the kind that come in pale, bright colors, the kind that were at first only worn by the straightest, most confident cross country runners my high school had to offer, but have since transcended their ironic conception and found homes on the feet of people the word over. Their signature colors now signify, scream, to the people around the runner, hey! I’m too busy running to concern myself with masculinity! These shoes look new? Did you steal them? Did you apply for a small grant to buy new shoes to never be worn? I hope you stole them. Regardless, this object acts as the most literal representation of a connection to the/a/my/your/our body in your sculptural work. You do something here that you do elsewhere on the page. This contorted body moves a vision of your work out of the world of inanimate objects and into bodies, into grotesquerie. These fucked up, functionless prosthetics don’t signify the grotesque because of their resemblance to a body or because of their connotation to dis/ability or illness. They are grotesque in their construction, in what they ask of a viewer to consider of their own body. How am I whittled down, over flowing, barely being held together? How am I excess, abundance, and never enough? Who has meditated on my body in order to inflict these same lashes, turn me into choppy waters to be seen at a distance, observed in the wake? I’m not pointing out the grotesque nature of this work because these are questions that shouldn’t be asked. I absolutely think they are interesting and important questions. But they are swampy ones, ones we must wade through for answers, ones we might not enjoy asking and most likely don’t enjoy answering. You are preoccupied with god, systems of order, things much large than yourself. Yet, you return to yourself. Well, not yourself, but a self, or at least the thing we tie so much self to— a body. You have a hot body. The kind that could carry itself when asked to fill
the blank in, “I ____ in my Calvins.” But that’s not the body you draw. When I’m out of ideas I go back to the body, you said to me one time. That’s good. That’s where ideas grow, I suppose. And on the train. That’s where you return the body. The train. Your notebooks are filled with these figures— twisted, tangled things, trying to stretch themselves into something else, into something more painful and free. I understand. I do the same. Lean into hurt in hope of some open room on the other side. Some of your drawings succeed, disappear themselves into shadows or walls or become some formless figure all together. You describe these drawings as therapy, sketches to fill time, to kill a commute. At one point in our conversation, in your studio, we discussed the differences of going to therapy genuinely and going to therapy to perform. I wonder, are these drawings of other bodies genuine therapy or are they performative? You describe a sort of respite in these drawings, something akin to my father’s whittling. I know I kind of set it up to seem like I am claiming doing something rather than making something means you are not engaging with the world around you, but I think that’s a little naïve of me. In these, you are engaging with something by simply doing. Is it your own body? Is it the bodies of others around you on the train? Or what else are these figures standing in for? You said yourself that these drawings get the most reaction out of audiences, out of friends. Is that because figurative drawing is generally more accessible across the board, or is there something of yourself in these drawings that gets lost in the conscious construction of your other works? Could that something be so essential to your person that it will only come out in your doings and not in your makings? At another point in our conversation, you posed the question of how to make your practice more like that of a monk. My McSweeny’s answer is, become a monk. But I’ll expand. Monk’s don’t make, they do. Their selves, in whatever processes of making they may be engaged, are extensions of something greater than they were meant to be. What is greater than you were meant to be? And why are you anything more than a hand for it to move? At a panel event, after the recent lecture given by Claudia Rankine, I sat in the audience while five artists and writers tried to articulate how their work engages politically with the world in which they create. One panelist became defensive after getting pushback for an answer which, essentially, took the position that his creative process is too holy or precious to be engaged with such things as the politics he was invited to discuss. I clocked him— his gelled back hair, his Nordstrom button down, his LV loafers and multiple NPR references, and thought, of course. Of course your writing can’t be bothered to engage with these subjects. How can your art embody something that you don’t in your everyday life? This, to me, is the scariest thing about art making. It will, eventually, inevitably, expose us all as liars. Even those of us who humbly make art to better the world, to be continuously engaged with the changing and challenging dialogues that surround us. What then, are the lies that your art can’t keep secret? What will have to be left behind to get your art closer to God? What do you have to do to make your practice more like that of a monk? All my gratitude, for your time and attention. Love (no homo), Reid
Crumble in My Arms (or studio)- Material Embrace in the Work of Alex Peyton-Levine. James Hapke As an adolescent the exotic and decrepit material of Miss Havisham and her Satis House crumbled off the page and into my hands as I read. Her rat-eaten wedding cake, a towering monument to having been left at the altar, is rank and petrified. The curtains of all the windows have been drawn, and the air is stale. Her threadbare wedding dress, still worn years laters, overtakes her shrinking body and echoes the cobwebs that overtook her chambers. The intrigue, though, was the voyeurism into the vibrance and embrace of her obsession with the materials of her life and their ability to measure time and symbolize ideals. She is constantly stuck in suspension between engaging a past that haunts and a present that rots. Personally, I have never felt that enlightened about thinking of my own death. In all of Alex Peyton-Levine’s work there are dying or dead flowers. At the time I was in her studio I was presented with arrangements in multiple stages of decay: dried, dull, crispy leaves hardly hanging to the stems of roses; plump, sumptuous petals strung on string; wrapped and sweating blossoms steaming up plastic; and bud embalmed in sumptuous wax. The effect is not one of grief over death, but of insight into death’s process on materials that have come to represent an obsession with youth, beauty, romance, femininity, and the history of these ideals’ commodification. As the material of her work inevitably dies, so does its potential to symbolize these ideologies. My high school girlfriend would have been pissed to receive any of PeytonLevine’s work from me on Valentine’s day. Her impulse to use flowers to materially demonstrate the impossibilities of these marketable versions of romantic ideals are flushed throughout her work. In one body of mostly wall objects the flowers have been bent, reassembled, tied up, and masked. The purple gradient polystyrene that wraps a lily is pulled down into a skirt just barely revealing the end of the stem while the clear plastic gets pulled up around the whole flower and pinned to the wall. Over time the plastic becomes foggy with moisture as the plant browns and droops in the dying process. The rearrangements feel formally intuitive with an underlying acceptance of the spectacle of decay. Petals have been plucked and adhered as pattern to plastic wrap with printed gradients. Leaves and blossoms are used as armature for plastic forms that are tied up with neon string or shoelaces. These moves achieve formal qualities that are immediately pleasing in their imaginative re-envisioning of the classic bouquet, but they also feel like variations on ways to use flowers as art. In this instance, an aestheticization of the flower object confuses any critical approach Peyton-Levine may have. The choice to use flowers seems to be the predilection and the forms materially manifest this desire. These forms look the most like art objects, and have undergone the most transformation, but the moves to aestheticize feel like a crutch to suppress a latent discomfort with her choice to use flowers. I find myself more drawn to the forms when the flower is behaving most like a flower. The straightforward moments when a blossom is covered in clear plastic entices me into the specific material processes of the present. I was delighted to observe the wilting flower through the fogged up plastic which functions as real time evidence of the plant “breathing”. The accretion of sweat until a bead is too heavy and then slips down the plastic- these specifics of moment are celebratory and contingent on the material’s plantness in ways that don’t evade death, but allow for intimate moments right now. In one piece, strings of rose petals, starburst wrappers, and plastic hang the height of the wall in what look like over-sized lei necklaces. The petals and wrappers become nodes on a obsessive timeline like a rosary. Although it is unclear what they mark: grief and longing? I love you, I love
you not? At their best I take them for a meditative observance of indulgence into longing, decoration, taste, and the pleasure a routine practice of these modes of being can induce. I also hear them as a self conscious mantra: “I can use flowers, I can use flowers, I can use flowers...” that offers an honestly latent discomfort with the choice of materials, and a preoccupation with proving that they are a viable material for her to be working with. In viewing the sheer volume of flowers in the work, and the multiplicity of modes in which they are presented-- sculpture/ installation/ collage/ painting-- I feel thrust into a dialogue PeytonLevine is having with herself about making art with flowers. It becomes unclear whether or not my presence as viewer is necessary or even accounted for, and that the studio has become testing ground for finding different ways to transform flowers into art. In this sense the variety of flower objects has the ability to alienate and dislocate me from any observed material intention. Maybe that is a beauty and cunning pulsing through the work: by indulging in her personal predilection for the material, she takes the power of a commodity for whom she is the target market, and transforms it into her own pleasure, or at least for her own satisfaction. In this sense my relationship to the work becomes about accepting that she use flowers. The question, then, is can I celebrate her satisfaction in the absence of mine? If at times I feel invisible to Peyton-Levine, there are other instances where the work utterly exposes my own impulses to participate in socially constructed notions of symbolism, and I feel seen. In one of her collage pieces Peyton-Levine layers multiple sheets of tissue and metallic paper on a large piece of cardboard in a post-minimal homage to Josef Albers’ Homage to the Square. But within the field of the outermost concentric rectangle, she has attached a single rose horizontally hovering over the main mass of the paper. The single rose in this piece offered some breathing room amidst a body of work constructed predominantly with flowers, and is an instance where the material of flower feels like a specific device within the greater whole. The horizontal rose could be seen as a key, and I read this piece like a key through which to read the rest of the work: the rose interrupts my experience of the piece as a unified whole like a kid trying to get attention. The muted, translucent tones of taupe and federal blue papers lull me into a visual openness that is then interrupted by the single stem rose. Formally, it disrupts the unity of the piece, but I also find myself expecting it to mean something exotic or poetic because it is a rose. As I found no place in the otherwise sterile piece to put the goo of backlogged symbolism- (Where are you Shakespeare? I’m late to prom. CVS card aisle. Is that Wordsworth making out with Gertrude Stein?) I became aware of my own impulses to use prescribed systems of symbols to enhance or substantiate my experience. It felt like waking up from a dream where you get to school only to realise you’ve forgotten to put on your pants. In a faux wedding reception hors d’oeurves spread, starbursts are plated on like-color rose petals, and drizzled with milky white wax, and finally stuck with a toothpick or corsage pin. The material equilibrium between petal/ wax/ candy/ toothpick/ corsage pin allows for a more sensual experience of the material interactions. The fleshy petal and milky wax are framed through the tactile act of unwrapping the starburst or the prick of a pin. In this piece I never wondered, “why flowers?” which ends up being a nice pace change in viewing the work as a whole. I feel conflicted by her desire to both embody a “3rd wave feminist” reclaiming of socialized understandings of femininity, while also critiquing the standards and constructs on which those generic prescriptions of womanhood are built. That conflict ebbs throughout APL’s material and gestural choices. Her choice to use store bought bouquets as the main material in the work intuits a socialized impulse towards conversations about femininity, and seeks to claim them. Yes! She likes flowers, yes! she is a woman. Although I take her various modes of using flowers
more as the indulgence into personal material boundary pushing that, as itâ€™s own end, is an act of empowerment through embrace. The binding and suffocating, although seemingly employed more as formal gestures toward aesthetic ends, convey frustration towards the material and ideology embedded within it. In this way she critiques those ideologies through her decisions to use the materials. Whether engaging the various nuances of constructed femininity, the endgame of death in narcissistic consumerism, or the fifteen layer cake of taste, the impulse to utilize as critique and to embrace as empowerment, is at the core of APLâ€™s decisions in the studio.
Chasing Chansey Pink Jennifer Huang Poet Reid Drake’s words flow with a quiet transgression, steadily defying accepted norms. Raw, inexpressible emotions gather shape, forging fluid identities, challenging common assumptions. In imaginary landscapes, childhood awe and budding sexuality are unashamed and left free to wander. Drake’s “Pallet Town” envisions a safe place in the woods, where “your father isn’t there and you are so optimistic.” The narrator seems to speak to a younger self about ecstatic bliss, the kind that is possible when one drops societal burdens enforced by an overbearing father. This kind of ecstasy is barely fathomable, the pure joy of self-discovery -- “Of course, you don’t have words for this, not yet.” The author assures the reader, “You are not a child, barely even a body.” The “you” becomes a member of Pallet Town, a player within the “GameBoy music.” This is an alternate reality, where “in the trees behind your parents’ house, more than anything, you are sure.” This safety in assuredness is the result of walking down “the road ahead, the Chansey pink joy of it all.” It is the sense of complete belonging, self-acceptance and understanding. In other poems such as “Nice,” Drake depicts the confined reality outside of Pallet Town. Through the steady repetition of “nice,” Drake renders suburban ennui with such tender accuracy. She is nice. Very nice. She drives to work. A short commute but she likes the time to herself, appreciates the quiet, says it’s a nice way to frame the day. She locks her doors (a habit), keeps her windows up (allergies). She keeps her eyes on red lights, her hands on the wheel, her money in a wallet in a purse behind her left foot. Bound by an artificial sense of duty and purpose, the protagonist of “Nice” is a tightly wound character. Every other stanza reaffirms, “She is a nice person.” Its constance infers a feigning stability that threatens to unravel at every anecdote. Reading Drake’s poem, “Nice,” I think of Ann Cvetkovich’s description of Sharon O’Brien’s memoir, The Family Silver: She especially emphasizes how the “niceness” demanded of middle-class girls keeps them silent and frustrated… She offers a feminist account of fear as the root of depression: “fear of speaking up, fear of expressing the self truly, fear of not being… well, nice.” “And then, fear of what you fear will follow speaking your mind, or not measuring up to what people expect -- abandonment, the ghost that had haunted me and my family for a long time” (23).1 Drake’s protagonist is that middle-class girl, saddled with fear and frustration. Through other voices, Drake animates characters who have pushed through that fear into unknown, sometimes unsettling, intoxicating territory. Never explicitly stated, but the space between Drake’s words, the arrangement of punctuation, of italicization, of quotations, underscore an unspoken anxiety, especially in “Nice.” Their phrases build layer by layer, pulling at your heart strings with their subversively simple, yet sumptuous language. They pinpoint moments of ineffable feeling -- at once in love and in fear, in remarkable strength and crippling decrepitude.
Ann Cvetkovich, Depression: a public feeling, 143-144.
In “After Rimbaud & Verlaine’s Sonnet to an Asshole,” Drake weaves italicized quotations by Rimbaud and Verlaine, into present-day personalized experiences, “limping from the bathroom to a nine o’clock class.”2 The worry and timidness in the beginning transform into a sense of eye-opening surprise and self-discovery by the end of the poem: Feminine promised land, rimmed, round with dew. A cocoon built inside my body, a quiet rustling felt as I reach for the ground. Something bursts forth. I do not greet them. I will not turn around -- their body dripping and new. Like Pallet Town, sensual encounters are wet with possibility. The poem ends anew. There is an uncovering that is at once terrifying -- “Did I agree to this.” -- yet richly “blooming, blooming.” The earlier female protagonist of “Nice” fears this “feminine promised land, rimmed, round with dew.” This land is not without risk; it is “bursting where I don’t want seams.”3 Whereas the “Nice” woman is completely sewn shut, her seams aching with the wavering potential behind the steady mantra of “Nice nice nice,” the speaker of Sonnet to an Asshole is bursting with an unknown potential. This possibility, this burgeoning fantasy beginning at Pallet Town, follows Drake’s work, even in their first foray into writing. At a young age, Reid Drake befriended an eccentric woman, a student of their father’s. Their friendship grew over horror films, and Drake soon found themselves to be a writer of scary stories. These stories always featured the archetype of the “final girl,” covered in blood and clinging onto an axe or a baseball bat in the final scene. In writing about these girls’ beyond-belief perseverance, Drake found “a way for me to be allowed to embody those characters.”4 In the wake of this Trump presidency, horror film becomes reality. How can we even begin to contend with this reality -- are we to be the “final girl,” the one who fights tooth and nail to stay alive, or can we flee “to the woods,” to Pallet Town where “Chansey pink joy” is still attainable? Reid Drake’s poetry takes the “u-n-s-t-o-p-p-a-b-l-e”5 will of the final girl in pursuit of Chansey pink joy. Drake speaks to Lady Divine in the poem, “Multiple Maniacs,” after the John Waters’ film of the same name. Drawing from Divine’s final monologue in the film, the poem professes: You first showed us what it means to confront the self, crooning: You have to go out in the world your own way now. Going out into the “i-n-c-u-r-a-b-l-e” world, where reality so often disappoints and confines, one wonders the extent of lived fantasy, if it can be sustained in this world. And later we pay $15 to sit in a theater in the LES, pretend we don’t miss our friend who, not unlike you, had gone too far… How could you have been stopped. You’d crack Baltimore between your knuckles if you could. (You could.) Lady Divine, gone too far, her fantasy lives on in dreams, “in our homes, and then on our phones,” and later at the theater in the Lower East Side. Still believing in Divine -- “(You could.)” 2
Reid Drake, “After Rimbaud & Verlaine’s Sonnet to an Asshole.” Ibid. 4 E-mail correspondence with Reid Drake, 11/05/2016. 5 Reid Drake, “Multiple Maniacs.” 3
-- Drake mourns the loss of a friend while still trusting in her fervor, her need to live her fantasy in this incurable world. Drake takes this complicated sentiment to their new persona, Mx. Drinx, who is both vulnerable and vivacious at times. Prior to her entrance on stage, Mx. Drinx stands in a cold reality, experiencing self-doubt: You wonder if your lavender nightgown makes sense past this line, if the people standing every few feet across the dance floor are going to go with you through this whole thing...6 But “past this line,” one enters the realm of fantasy. On stage, fear of rejection transforms into a sense that “nothing is wrong.” Bearing her all, Mx. Drinx is safely assured -- “They are feeling your fantasy.” This fantasy -It is bigger than the room and pushing up on the walls; it is bigger than the moment but knows better than to step outside it; it is seeing and being seen; it is everything in the mirror and more; it is purple, soft and sequined; turning in the light, it pulls you closer to something you still can’t name, know you never will. I, the reader, am a part of that they, feeling that fantasy, longing for that unnameable, possibly purple or Chansey pink feeling. In “Pallet Town,” the speaker recognizes something that “you do not have words for...” The poem begins with a prompt: “Go the woods and touch yourself to GameBoy music -- it’s Pallet Town.” Like the stage, in Pallet Town, in the collision of fantasy and reality, one sees the self, touches the self, “confront[s] the self,”7 one experiences “something you still can’t name, know you never will.” Though this feeling cannot be adequately accessed through words, it can be felt and experienced. In the act of acknowledging oneself, of touching and confronting oneself, there is a place of acceptance, of knowing that you belong. To know and “express the self truly”8 is a fantasy worth fighting for. Reading Reid Drake’s poetry, I know what it’s like to be that “nice” girl and to be that vulnerable lover in “After Rimbaud & Verlaine’s Sonnet to an Asshole.” I know the contradiction in being both those two things. I know that by willfully pushing deeper, “blooming, blooming,”9 there is a fantasy that can exist simultaneously alongside reality. I know Chansey pink joy is attainable, even if only in fragmented moments, as Mx. Drinx. The accumulation of these experiences of fantasy, of utter acceptance, push me to trust possibility, to keep me living in this reality, to keep overflowing with empathy. In Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, she recalls a drawing by her partner: In one of my favorites of your drawings, two Popsicles are talking to each other. One accuses, “You’re more interested in fantasy than reality.” The other responds, “I’m more interested in the reality of my fantasy.” Both of the Popsicles are melting off their sticks.10 Though this current reality may have us melting off our sticks, powerful poetry renders a space of belonging, the chance of finding true Chansey pink joy.
Reid Drake, “First Dance as Mx. Drinx.” Reid Drake, “Multiple Maniacs.” 8 Sharon O’Brien qtd. in Ann Cvetkovich, Depression: a public feeling, 144. 9 Reid Drake, “After Rimbaud & Verlaine’s Sonnet to an Asshole.” 10 Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts, 63. 7
Conor Stechschulte’s: The Graphic Novel in a forgotten America Sejake Matsela I had not known about the work of the artist, Conor Stechschulte’s, until at the beginning of fall this year. From September 1st, 2016 we would spend most Thursdays of a semester together attending a critique seminar run by Matthew Morris at the School of Art Institute Chicago. As is the way of graduate school, we came to class every Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m. At midday when the class disbanded we went our separate ways. After all everyone is busy. The first weeks I did not know people, especially names. I was new in Chicago, after arriving a few weeks earlier (mid August) to begin my life here. After a year in the US, I was very suspicious of interactions with people after spending a rather traumatic time in a small rural town, two and a half hours south of Chicago. I was apprehensive of my space amongst white males. After all, I had all reason to fear because I had lived my younger years through one of the most debilitating, very dehumanizing racial systems in history; the apartheid system. Conor was among the first white males with whom I met and shared space with in Chicago. The seminar began on a rather high pace, and for a few weeks I struggled to remember the names of other participants. Until one morning, when I was about to get off the train on Adams and Wabash, and still my sense of direction was warped, I recognized Conor in the same carriage that I was in. I did not know who he was then, but I had been assigned to write about him. But because I recognized the face for someone with whom we would attend the seminar together that morning, I spoke to him, with the hope that we would walk together. He immediately struck me as a good person. He was with his girlfriend, whom he introduced to me. As we walked up Jackson Street towards Michigan, from the station next to the library, I was to get my first glimpse into his person. I also would not mistake him for James Edward Hapke again, as I had for the weeks preceding that day. I wonder how this would have worked out, if I had not paid attention until the time came to execute this assignment. After all, I do have that wandering mind where people just fit into the next script I will write. Weeks later, I was to attend a critique session of his work, where for the first time I was able to look closely at his work of graphic novels. But, for the purpose of this rather personal essay, I will begin with giving my own background view of my short time in the US. This will inter-weave with a critical analysis of Conor’s work, its contextual nuances, and the context and time in which it is produced. After the critique session, which was held in Conor’s studio, I left with three copies of his graphic novels to read and study. Immediately I was stunned by the cover designs of both part one and part two of his ‘Generous Bosom’ series. The critique itself had not gone well, but I was prepared to establish my own views of these rather complete works by him. But that is for later… So far, let me begin where I promised. * For about a year I had lived in a small town in central Illinois called Monticello. I arrived in America during what was the most polarizing election campaign. Race issues as well as issues with immigrants were thrown around in statements, so much this added to the
difficulty of assimilating in a new country. That aside, I had been in an art desert for the whole year. Champaign-Urbana is not a city known for it cultural products. My entire year in Monticello, I had preoccupied myself with writing, and also trying very hard to stay alive. I did not feel safe. Every other day for months that dragged, I was surrounded by young people who called themselves rednecks, whose cars’ front number plates were replaced by pictures of the confederate flag, whose main objective that year was to make a big bonfire. The year had begun in July 2015, when I arrived from Southern Africa to settle in the US. The first few weeks marked the journey that I would travel in isolation. For a year, I was trapped in one room, while a violent dog roamed the house that we shared between my wife, her younger sister and her boyfriend. This boyfriend would become the reason for my perpetual ‘imprisonment’ in the house. He hated the color of my skin, he was insecure about my interactions with my sister-inlaw, and he made it his business to incite hatred towards me amongst their friends. Some of them never got to speak to me, but they hated me anyway. As a result, when I moved to Chicago, I was apprehensive of my space. My suspicions were very clear. I did not trust white males around me. * Time bestows upon one’s mind these fears, especially when challenges are met on a day-to-day basis. What history has done, we cannot undo. In her essay, ‘Ending Racism’, Bell Hooks observes that: “(p)sychological depression is one consequence of traumatic racist assault coupled with despair about whether racism can be challenged and changed” (Hooks, 2013: 179). The absence, or rather omission of a racial discourse in Conor’s work is quite evident. It brings about a calm and ease of navigation as one is put within spaces of familiarity for those who occupy them. Glen our protagonist occupies a table in what seems to be a bar or pub. He is fiddling with his mobile phone. This is the first page of the novel. The page before this one, which is not numbered has a quote by the Japanese writer, Abe Kobo. Glen is at the pub waiting for his friend who is half an hour late. At this point (the beginning) one is already aware of Conor’s suggested nuances of space through the ink choices. The first top frames are cast in dark blues, landscapes that suggest a dark night outside. The two bottom frames show the fading blues as brown ink sketches the inside of the pub and the human figures within. It is clear from the point of view that Glen’s friend is looking from the outside as he walks to enter the pub. This we are not shown but can only imagine. Imagination is what one requires to read through the first pages of this graphic novel. The frames shift from the wide landscapes on the first page to squares that obliterate the background, bringing us close-up to the faces of the characters. At first I reacted to this as incomplete renderings of space, until I realized it to be a recurrent aesthetic choice. For a moment it reminded me of similar approaches in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, which followed the same approach of simple but recognizable characters, and rather empty frames that do not cluster one’s mind with too much information. As an ardent reader of graphic novels I had found too much information in some works to be distracting. The minimalist approach does a lot for the reader, so much the imagination itself is an important tool in the reading process. That is an opinion I formed on Conor’s novels as I began to absorb them.
The brown ink is not there for long, or at least those points where Glen is having a conversation with his friend. On page four, we are already receding into a flashback. Again the blue ink takes over. This goes on for the bulk of the novel, at instances brown ink punctuating space to indicate to us that the Glen is narrating the story to his friend. At the beginning of this section of the essay I quoted Bell Hooks on views about race. The bulk of the novel profiles white characters in what seems to be a small town. We are made aware of this in the flashback scenes when Glen’s car has broken down, and we are told then that there is one place where tires are fixed. There is no indication of characters of any other race, nor is there any mention of such interactions between such characters. The theme of aging is explored briefly in the beginning dialogue, laced with dry humor about self-image and the worries of loneliness. The protagonist, Glen, is losing his hair and his friend comments on that when they meet. They have been to another friend’s wedding where Glen tried to get laid with a girl at that wedding. Only that does not pan out. When Glen leaves the wedding, that evening two of his tires become flat. He walks around the neighborhood to find help, and he is drawn into a weird sexual experience. In the world of comics the theme of sexually repressed characters is common. Indeed one has to only look into American works by artist like Robert Crumb, even when his aesthetic is quite removed from Conor’s. The fetishized female body is visible in this repressed atmosphere, somewhat as a masturbatory object to savor. That is Crumb. Conor on the other hand brings his reader into a world where the female form is fetishized as object. But here issues of gender are manipulated cleverly to establish equal responsibility. The female body is in view equally to that of the male. Art and Glen as males have levels of sexual dysfunction. Glen suffers early ejaculation while Art is depressed and totally dysfunctional. * The narrative in the flashback scenes is a prologue to what happens in the second novel. Without going into much detail on the aesthetics that I have discussed earlier, I found the second novel as much entertaining. The style remained the same, with a few changes in ink colors. I was able to follow the narrative of Art and Cyndi’s manipulation of Glen easily. New characters were introduced, whose role I did not quite comprehend. The introduction of the black character seems to come in abruptly which leaves me a bit confused. It is here that I sought to find wisdom in the quote from Bell Hooks. I find that while the character is not introduced to enhance the discourse of race, it begs for an explanation, maybe in the following sequel? It does not complete the journey that I have traveled as a reader. The general feeling is that as a newcomer in the American art scene, meeting artists of the new generation is a breath of new air, and indeed a thought-provoking journey. Conor uses the page as a space to lure the reader into life as escape, away from the danger of its outside reality. But the space occupied inside is not beautiful either. It is confining and claustrophobic. His framing of scenes is just about the best way to describe this. He rarely goes for the panoramic, focusing rather on squared frame. He invites one to look at the character first before their space. His work, if to share my bias, is the most innovative in the world of young comic artists. His awareness of narrative, and his free hand to subvert it makes the graphic novels a marvel to read.
Active Grounding: The Work of Alex Shapiro Alex Peyton-Levine In Shapiro’s practice, the body precedes the mind. In conversation, Shapiro describes his body as a creative space, his roving studio, which points to the experience of physicality as both the origin and incubator for his ideas. In his written works, there is a focus on corporeal senses, his vocabulary lingering on the tactile. Shapiro utilizes this focus on the physical to explore expansive and esoteric notions such as human development, time, and consciousness. Effectively, Shapiro utilizes ontic sensation as a grounding framework for abstract thought, creating a useful sense of security so as to support an enduring confrontation with profound concepts, positing human physicality as the junction between individual consciousness and humanity at large. Shapiro writes in first person, mining his personal experiences for content and context. Authorship is not in question, as every poem of his that I’ve read includes the words “I” and “my”, physically locating him within the work. He tends to use indicative language, clear and simple in structure. Using this language to describe physical sensitivity, he activates a sense of individuality through a focus on form, sensation, movement, and clothing. These descriptions function as a yielding skeletal structure which sparingly joins and organizes the meat of the poem just enough to keep the thoughts from blending together. By loading his work with sensory descriptions, Shapiro provides the reader with an accessible platform from which to access his ideas about the unknown. Through the effect of relating to the physical sensations that he writes about, the reader can become mindfully grounded in their own body, fortified by individuality in the face of “the magnitude of brilliance and emptiness in everyday life”, as he categorizes some of his musings. The resulting sense of fixedness is useful for the reader because Shapiro has left space in his work for concrete language to break apart, allowing evasive concepts expand indefinitely, leaving the reader responsible for maintaining focus while navigating nebulous ideas. One way in which he makes space for expansive thought is by conceding narrative power. As much as he orients the reader within a sense of physicality, his works are concise and sparing in a way that barely begins to tell a story, leaving most accounts of chronology and plot wide open. In “Plugging”, for example, he consolidates a “lifetime” into the repetition of an act of self-construction, describing the detailed consumption of foreign objects without any indication of time or other happenings. We are made painfully aware of our own porous skin and we are left alone to reckon with the penetrable nature of our physical boundaries without any other reference. In the face of the despondent questioning of selfhood that may arise from such a concept, it is helpful to feel grounded and present in order to endure in abstract contemplation. Through such frugal narrative and resistance to static chronology, his work maintains a sense of flexibility and impartiality, creating space to move his reader from the ontic toward the ontological. Shapiro approaches the ontological through notably saturated clusters of words. While his language is clear and accessible, his descriptions pile up to form densely layered sensory experiences. In “Feralizing” he writes, Air sits heavy out / here, saturated in noise, / all the voices blunting against harmony. In these three lines he activates sensation and emotion in a stimulating, symphonic blip. Heavy air implies humidity and
seems to speak of an effortful act of drawing in breath, activating anatomical senses while also suggesting psychological awareness of a looming social tone in that space. The saturated noise evokes a sonic experience of public life, adding to the deluge of swampy air, threatening to submerge the individual. The blunting voices draw the breath back out, emphasizing shouting or speech that breaks on the ear in uneven variation, the individual’s experience of a space in time becomes a sensorial and psychological soup. Essentially, Shapiro packs a punch with a few words, infusing generous tactile and emotional sensations into concise verbal arrays. This particular tactic serves to create a relationship between the words and the significations, where the written letters occupy far less space than the ideas they carry. One could liken this to the relationship between physical space and psychological space, where the latter might inhabit a far greater spatial expanse. The psychological potency of Shapiro’s work necessitates patient consideration on the part of the reader. Situating the work in regard to physical senses is a way of anchoring the reader in their own space and body, commanding a grounded presence, which facilitates patience and enables a more leisurely exploration of abstract notions. This seems an act of mindfulness on the part of the artist – a conscious consideration for the present physical moment as a means to explore the vastness of the mind without becoming overwhelmed or distracted. This anchoring method is useful when reading “A City’s Insides”. Throughout this piece, there is a warped sense of space and time, alternately drawing the reader through micro and macro perspectives. From a generally dislocated notion of implosion at the start, the scene stretches between external and internal space. Spaces between city blocks are butted up against tenant walls, gaps contrast with infrastructure, and booming bass echoes over the buzzing of human presence. These buoyant shifts in perspective resist any physically definitive boundaries. Sprinkled throughout this undefined structure are considerations of consciousness, poverty, human development and entropy. The sociopolitical gravity of the piece combines with the abstracted sense of space and time to create a fluctuating presentation of existential and moral considerations. Here’s where the anchor comes in. As the reader navigates the city’s insides, there is an enduring sense of touch. There are membranes that hold us, we are massaged, and we are reminded that we have feet and thumbs. The advice given to new tenants to “be wary” is a suggestion to heighten one’s physical senses in order to stay safe. These small written gestures, however sparse and gentle, serve to maintain an awareness of the body, keeping the reader just human enough to stay on the ground, to engage in abstract thought without being carried away. The anchor is a little more tenuous in “A City’s Insides” than in other pieces. Often, Shapiro’s descriptions of physicality are a more active component, whereas in this work corporeal senses are fleeting and don’t belong to a first person perspective. Perhaps this is because the author’s gaze moves outward to other bodies and spaces, as he writes “we” and acknowledges that he is not alone. It would seem that the acknowledgment of other bodies being present might also serve as a grounding element, where the reader can hold on to the presence of others in the same way one might be present with oneself. A similar experience can be gleaned from Shapiro’s installation work. As he claims space with words in his writing, Shapiro asserts his own presence with physical mapping
in his 2016 studio installation “48:22.07”, in which he evidences his body in obvious gestural touch and mark making. The installation is a wall drawing consisting of continuous looping lines, as well as marks made by rubbing and smearing charcoal across the surface. Apparent hand and finger marks at the top edge of the drawing make it clear that the artist utilizes his body as a limitation for the scope of the work, the piece only reaching as high as he can. It would seem a true study of his own self in space, his explorations always delineated by the parameters of his body. On one wall, there is an arrangement of texts on small, cutout paper rectangles that are posted within certain boundaries of the drawing, the language printed on them containing vague descriptions and notions not necessarily related to any one narrative or statement. The language, like the drawing, meanders and floats. The studio being a smaller room with all white walls and a grey floor renders it prisonlike, where the viewer is acutely aware of the boundaries in which the experience is contained. As the drawing loops around from wall to wall, the viewer is visually consumed by the work. There is the notable absence of any real focal point, there is no explicit emphasis on the viewer’s body, only the artist’s body, which leaves us to navigate the space untethered, not sure of being above or below ground, part of or apart from the installation. The architectural boundaries of the room hold fast, but the experience inside is an abstraction of space, blurring the senses in a way that leaves the viewer questioning. The only grounding experience available to the viewer is the physical relationship to the marks made by Shapiro’s hands. The absence of corporeal activation in the viewer is notable in comparison to the experience of reading Shapiro’s poems, and comes off as an intentional exclusion. In this way, the viewer might experience the dilemma of the artist in struggling to translate evasive and abstract thought into a piece of writing. The viewer is set adrift in a visual dérive, emotionally disoriented in a psychogeographical map, and is forced to reckon with the anti-gravity of the nebulous drawing trapped in the room. This communicates about process, focusing on the journey of the work without a concrete ending, addressing the issues a writer might have of locking down in language the amorphous concepts that float in the mind. Ultimately, Shapiro’s work conveys an understanding of physicality as a philosophical tool. If one can be grounded in sensation enough to maintain security in the physical self, the mind can potentially explore the unknown to a great extent without risking complete detachment from identity and existence. Shapiro’s implementation of the senses serves to secure and fortify a patient engagement with his work, activating corporeality as a medium through which abstract concepts can be explored. One is left to consider the human body as a sensitive boundary between the individual mind and the expansive world.
A refection on Jennifer Huang’s artistic practice Miguel Sbastida Jennifer Huang’s work is a rich dialogue between texture, color and material, which come in play along an exploration of aesthetics, embodiment and personal desire. As the maker she is, her practice is grounded in material experimentation. This includes sculpture, ceramics, weaving and papermaking. A seashell covered in paper, a tapestry with hair woven into the fabrics, small and colorful ceramics with indexical relations to the hand. Much of her aesthetic interest comes from the ocean, the world of reclaimed objects and the unexpected encounters of everyday life. She collapses these materials into small configurations, which are often reinterpretations or rearrangements of encounters with natural (such as shells, rocks or hair) and cultural elements (discarded objects, dirty subway chairs, melted ice cream). There is a sense of exploration and investigation in her works. An exploration filled by curiosity and necessity to understand. But Huang’s works aren’t just an agglomeration of visual interest. Beyond an exploration of material and aesthetic dialogue there is personal longing for and searching for identity: a need for grounding that is embedded in each of the works and which becomes particularly present in her installations. Huang was born in Yorktown Heights, New York. Her parents are from Taiwan, as were her grandparents and grand-grandparents before. Her family tree comes from the Pingpu aborigines, a matriarchal culture that was largely eliminated by the Chinese during the Quing dynasty. Huang found herself growing up in the United States, detached from her cultural ancestry. This cultural removal has triggered her effort to understand her own identity in relation to her ancestral home and the current society that surrounds her. Growing up in this situation is like being caught between two places, trying to balance where you come from and where you stand in relation to your race and cultural origins. I think a person is formed first, psychologically –this is the belief system, the education and cultural background- and second, bodily -by the life experiences and physical environment that shape us as we grow. In both cases, body and mind are informed by one another. Our bodies are the result of the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the places we live in and the materials present in our everyday life. The mind is the result of memory, of personal experience and of education. In a similar way to Huang’s personal cultural-diaspora (her cultural sense of displacement and her efforts in reconnecting and making sense of it), the materials of her works also develop a sense of displacement and belonging. Where do they come from? How did their actual material and cultural configuration come together? Are they a totality or just a fragment? How can we understand an object without having access to its origins? In Huang’s work, found and made operate equally relevant as they are part of an interconnected process. There is no one without the other and therefore, there is no party with more importance. By collecting objects from encounters she finds significant, she is also able to make meaning out of biographical experience. Her works are often the result of mementos, things that catch her eye such as seashells, stains on the train’s seats, melted ice cream on the sidewalk, small drills on the wall, the moving air of the subway. While these realities are the trigger for aesthetic study, they mutate along the process, in a constant discovery and re-interpretation. Through these desires, she analyzes the space she inhabits, and reflects on it by projecting a hidden beauty, a mysterious magnetism. Her arrangements collapse, re-organize and put in dialogue objects, colors, textures and matter, providing space for contemplation, bewilderment and new meaning. Objects and materials are combined -complementing and completing one another- creating a vibrancy of color and texture; a rhythm between skin and body; a conversation between volume and space. Although these parts become unified, the initial components remain clearly visible, with a small degree of artifice. There is no trick to the eye in Huang’s work, as things are allowed to be and stand by themselves. A sensual character appears in many of these
agglomerations, through which several bodies come together to shape new entities. The light pastel colors she makes bring up associations to childhood (as these are widely implemented in children products), which are reinforced by the small size of the objects and their installation displacement on the floor. The materials she makes use of, bear clear and persistent referential properties to Huang’s own persona. A series of indexical relationships not only to the hand of the maker, but to the personal experiences that involve her encounters and the choices she made in the making process. In fact, many of her ceramic, plaster and porcelain works bear the imprint of the hand through the gesture of pressing material against her palm. These pieces will become fragments for future mutations, through color choice, material re-configurations and everyday narratives. Huang has apparent affinity for smallness, detail and intimacy. As a Child, she remembers carrying small pebbles in her pockets. Round stones she pressed between her fingers, which she referred to her parents as “her friends” as cited in her goo-goo water texts. These are amulets of belonging —objects that through their presence and materiality against the palm of our hand, mirror our existence—, devices for embodiment —small arrangements of materials and textures that remind us we exist, we are grounded somewhere and we are part of something—, things we have the power to hold within our very hands. Through the physicality of these objects, we can feel ourselves in contrast. Through their shape and volume, we get to understand the size of our hand and the limits of the body. In a way, this sense of self-understanding though reflection feels connected to the ways in which she arranges her work in space. Often times, Huang also reacts to the History of the sites in which her work is installed, by making use of existing holes and marks on the walls from previous set-ups, and therefore, pushing the viewer into discovering the objects and also their new history in relation to the site. Her installations invite to navigate the space, pushing the viewer to understand the body in relation to the dimension of the scattered objects and the place these inhabit. Her works are microcosms, arranged in a way they become a totality. Furthermore, I would argue this process of constant self-definition —or at least— selfdiscovery is very much in play with her cultural feeling of detachment. Through art making processes, aesthetics and personal narrative, Huang navigates the space of the self: a journey towards an understanding of the interactions between her ancient cultural, biological roots and her current identity. In fact, there is a sense of history in all of her pieces; a trace of the original, a reference to the process of making and a state of the final product. Some of her textile work and papermaking include other materials such as hair, which were present during the making process. The way these are embedded into the final product, generates a relationship to both maker and methodology, a relationship to craftsmanship. The materials and creative procedures she makes use of —such as ceramics, paper making or textiles— have a sense of history too. This one comes perhaps through the division between craft and what has been rendered as fine art through History. By making use of craftsmanship —and its commonly assessed category as low-art manifestations— and reintroducing these practices in the field of Fine Art, this division becomes blurred and uncertain. The objects and their methods —product of a mix between ceramics, plaster casting, handmade soap, natural organic materials, papermaking and weaving— behave in this way as diasporic subjects, detached from their material and cultural contexts. These are the result of material and cultural displacements that become entangled through new situations, generating new meanings and pointing at the mystery of their origins. Objects that bear the mark of their maker and the mark of their making process. Configurations wishing to find a place between what they were and what they are. Entities wishing to be understood and to hopefully understand their new place in the world.
Bodies Under Attack: Setting As Antagonist in Sejake Matsela’s Writing Alex Wells Shapiro Sejake Matsela is a writer, poet and filmmaker from Lesotho. His textual work, whether poetry dripping in surrealist detail or telling stories in casual, self assured prose (like a tour guide), has cinematic qualities. Within these worlds, Matsela is the narrator. Perspective becomes part of the setting in poems he narrates. When you know who he is speaking as, it provides context as a setting would. However the more literal settings are not unimportant. The settings of these texts are established early and established as key contributors to whatever effects the people within them are feeling. Often these effects result in anxiety, both for the speaker and the reader. Matsela only uses the phrase “exiled” once in these texts, but it would be an apt term to describe them all. In this way, the settings of these texts function less as backdrop and more as antagonist, poking and prodding all other characters involved and imposing the uncomfortable relations Matsela details. The poem “Melanin” opens with the walls peeling around the speaker. Such an image immediately positions the setting as a place of, at the very least, unease. In the second line, paint sinks toward the room’s floor. This unifies the setting as one simultaneously capable of pulling and in some way falling apart: a complicated, seemingly dangerous space. In these lines the setting becomes the antagonist. “Melanin” alternates between descriptions of the environment the speaker is in and the bodies (including the speaker’s) occupying that space. The speaker seems to be in a sort of hellish nightclub, as a dance floor is described and it is referred to as a hell. These bodies are struggling to exist here. Even laughter is “embroiled in blood and phlegm”. The conflict this poem describes may be best explored through the sonic language used. Along with the image of unpleasant laugher, whispers of coughing manage to be heard through the noise. This noise would seem to at least partially consist of the music that their “heaps” move with. These moments feel particularly useful in that they demonstrate some of the most direct discourse occurring between bodies and setting. The word “heaps” comes in a place where one might expect the word ‘hips’, an implication that the music, and thereby the space, is rendering these bodies heaps. Additionally, the people move towards the music, despite it not having a necessarily positive connotation. The whispers presence among the loud puts the bodies in the poem (and specifically the speaker) into a suppressed existence, one that becomes haunting in the last lines when the bodies are summoned to a “gaping womb, stillborn”. Even as the bodies are in motion, this new environment has the agency, as the bodies are suddenly described with new language. That this language implies death only further darkens power the setting holds throughout the poem. Whether moving to music or being shaved bare, the humans in this poem are exclusively reactionary. Such an existence leaves them bare of agency, fully at the whim of this setting. The anxiety the setting imposes in this poem is due to a distinct and ominous lack of control. In “A Night on Long Street (In Cape Town)” the entire poem is contextualized by a particular place, as the title is the name of a street and specifically is located in Cape Town. In the second line, the speaker states that they are “exiled to this land”. Already, the speaker is positioned as displaced here. The anxiety caused by this displacement is elaborated on by describing “daughters” who seem to be prostitutes.
Referring to these women as daughters implies a sort of victimhood under the space that they and the speaker share. This shared position is reinforced by the poem’s opening proclamation “Mama! Papa!”. This line renders the speaker as a son or daughter as well in the context of the poem. The speaker is relating in certain ways with these women. Both the speaker and the daughters are further contextualized by the title, the environment of Long Street, implying that the space these people share is causing the distress and anxiety displayed. The people in this poem are victims of an environment attacking them. While “Melanin” described a room’s effect on the speaker and the bodies within, this poem takes place outdoors. However, this exterior space, which becomes geographic with the specification of a Cape Town Street, functions in a similar way to the “Melanin” room antagonistically. Such geographic characterization is highly political. This makes sense due to the frequent political conflict in South Africa during Matsela’s lifetime. He grew up in a family actively fighting the horrors of apartheid, and therefore not only experienced the horrors of the system but also learned first hand about the fight against it. For this reason, it makes sense that setting functions as the antagonist in his work; his environment has been antagonistic throughout his life. Now living in America, Matsela finds himself embroiled in battles fundamentally similar to those he took part in back home. While his poetry about his home country tends towards the surreal, his poem “Morning News in the Land of the Free” more directly political. This is not to say the poem is less dense or evocative, however that it is clear in his approach that the concerns voiced in this work are of a fresher intimacy, less complicated by long term rumination. There are certainly moments that step outside the bounds of average everydayness and towards the surreal, such as the police officer being referred to as “the blue man” and the positioning of the poem where the speaker is seemingly standing with Alton Sterling’s body alongside a community of onlookers. All of Matsela’s poetry is interested in people, and how their environments affect them. However, in this poem, as opposed to one or two people feeling their setting, it is many intertwined humans dealing with a setting most dominantly defined by each other. As opposed to walls peeling, people are dying. These deaths set the scene for an anxiety that is less abstract than that of “Melanin” or “A Night on Long Street”, yet environmental and visceral all the same. The lines “low and behold he was crucified” and “the smooch and orgies that shave us bare” both are dark and gruesome, but the latter is upsetting for reasons the reader may not immediately be able to identify. The pressure and character a location can contain is evident in the in progress story of Matsela’s immigration to America from Lesotho. The literal soil of Lesotho is given extremely heavy weight immediately. His mother is buried there, and she had been assassinated (it would seem by those in power in his country). It is a place his family has battled with. His parents were political activists, and his family must leave the country because both he and they had spoken out against those in power. This weight is complicated by delicate descriptions of the country’s climate and landscape. Even when the winter is referred to as “odd”, it is the kind of comment that can only be made by someone who has known a local climate long enough to locate the outlier. The descriptions of his home’s mountainside provide a body for an immediately dense and multifaceted character. He clearly loves Lesotho, and yet he is being forced to leave for America.
The USA, and particularly the Midwest, imposes itself on the speaker’s body immediately, giving a new, more immediate and literal weight to this new land. The humidity and pollution comingling in the air strikes his face as soon as he steps outside O’Hare Airport, and he is immediately aware this is a different heat than what he had experienced back home. He had thought he could withstand heat, as he had lived many years in extreme heat back home, but the air in Illinois is heavy too. He found himself unprepared for Chicago’s humidity and smog. He additionally feels the touch of his wife when he arrives in America. This is certainly a more pleasant experience, but it is still intertwined with the other phenomena in this new land. He has primarily come here to be with her. This is a similarity between the lands discussed in this story; both are home to people the speaker loves dearly. Matsela’s speaker is not in America for long before again feeling an effect from his home. He must show his South African passport to enter the USA, and this document is loaded with significance. It brings him to a discussion about citizenship, and how black folks were citizens only on paper in South Africa and Lesotho. This discussion goes in a number of directions, and the speaker readily admits to his “rambling”. However, the rambling makes sense conceptually, as the complicated nature of immigration is being revealed. He refers to America “or any other place where to reach you have to fly” as being a “dream” directly after elaborating on his struggle in his home country. This feels like something of a love triangle, with America and Lesotho as the speaker’s two lovers. Lesotho is the lover he has had a longterm relationship with and he has tried to make the relationship work despite the discomfort and abuse he has endured.. He knows Lesotho’s beauties and horrors. America is more of an idea at this point. He has visited, but to live in an country is a more immersive experience.. The reality of a new environment impacted him immediately and heavily with the weight and pollution of the air, the surprise of which being as shocking as the sensation itself. Over his time in America, reality will set in on his perception of the city, warts and wonders. “Morning News in the Land of the Free” makes it clear that there is some discomfort for Matsela in America. In this way, this story has set itself up as having two protagonists, as there are two distinct environments being negotiated, albeit from different temporal directions. The most obvious trope when reading Sejake Matsela’s writings is his use of setting and environment as antagonist to create the anxiety his work portrays. He uses this anxiety to portray both colorful, horrific, surreal scenes as well as more direct political commentary. None of his speakers are in a place of comfort. The ground is constantly shifting under the speakers’ feet; the walls are constantly peeling around him.
On Jim Stewart Conor Stechschulte Noticings: James Stewart III’s fiction pursues the consequences of late-era capitalism on male subjects at different locations along the economic continuum in America. Stewart reveals his own skepticism of this system in the voice with which he describes its effects in the stories As Is, A Defiant Act, Family Man and Lords of Creation. The discontinuity between how American culture sees and values these male protagonists and how they see and value themselves forces them into an ironic and/or dissociative distance from themselves and the reality in which they exist. This dynamic plays out in the way Stewart describes the act of looking. Throughout Lords of Creation the narrator, Chicago Wright, watches the events of the story through the haze of substances and detached irony. He takes a powerful hallucinogen at one point and it’s never clear if the effects ever wear off as seemingly normal occurrences are followed by dips into psychedelia—his own senses are not to be trusted. In a final act of unconscious narcissism, he watches himself on a sextape. Not looking to, “grade” his performance, but “for something else,” though he’s not sure what. It’s clear that not only does Wright not know what he’s looking for, he’s also looking for it in the wrong place. In Family Man we meet the narrator at his son’s football game where he is also under the influence. Distracted by the litany of regrets playing through his head, he only registers that his son has made a game-saving play when the parents around him begin cheering. At the end of the story, the narrator watches through the patio doors as his son, returning from a party, animalistically raids the fridge. With both of them high and skulking around the house in the middle of the night, a moment of identification, empathy or at least bro-ish camaraderie seems available. Instead, he looks on feeling, “like a god damned burglar wondering who those people are inside.” Stewart approaches the act of looking more complexly in As Is. The story begins with Gary Cooper, the narrator, stating, “It appears as though the entire mall is staring at us.” The gaze of these strangers others Gary and his disabled nephew Lee. “I have tried,” Gary says, “not to care or even notice the hordes of people looking our way but I do every single time.” In the process of calming Lee down, Gary drops his glasses; in trying to accommodate the looks of strangers he loses his vision altogether. He can’t bear to care for both his nephew and the gaze of others. Once he focuses his attention on Lee—their world shrunken back down to just the two of them—he’s able to pick up his glasses and regain his vision. It’s Gary’s gaze upon Lee that constitutes his world: “As a matter of fact I have trouble keeping my eyes off him most situations. Part of it is the obvious safety concerns Lee presents to himself and others...After all these years I’m trained to watch every move he makes during almost every second of every day. If I take a moment off in some situations it can lead to Lee or someone else being seriously hurt. I couldn’t have that, but even considering all these factors there’s something else that transfixes my gaze on him. A calm or some sort of peace it brings me maybe…”
In A Defiant Act, Stewart provides a different version of the closing scene of Family Man. Again, we have a father watching his child(ren) eat and feeling disconnected. This father, instead of feeling like his progeny or his life are not his own, believes his own vision doesn’t belong to him: “Every decision the father now makes is no longer through his own eyes. Not through the eyes of a person who places his children’s joy above all but through the eyes of a cold, calculating accountant with the two forever at odds.” We meet the characters in these stories as they are enmeshed in drudgery. Even the world-famous writer Chicago Wright is just going through the rote motions of a jet-setting badass. The narrator of Family Man shares Wright’s disatisfaction and disidentification with his public image, success though he is, he enjoys none of it. Gary Cooper and the father in A Defiant Act both identify with their burdensome caretaker roles. Where in Lords of Creation and Family Man the narrator/protagonists wish to be free of their obligations, the protagonists of As Is and A Defiant Act only wish they had the means and the energy to do a better job. Their work provides their lives with meaning and purpose. Or at least, their work is where they look to find meaning and purpose in their lives. In the case of A Defiant Act, this fact causes conflict when meaningful labor is denied to the father. In Lords of Creation and Family Man, the protagonists’ lives have lost meaning because of their dissociation from the work they do: the narrator in Family Man describes his job as staring at variously-sized screens while sitting at variously-sized desks and that he wouldn’t be able to tell his own son about what he did all day without his eyes glazing over in boredom. In Lords of Creation, Wright hasn’t written in over a decade and he composed his one major success while under the influence. Like Wright, the narrator of Family Man is searches for friction in his life of mind-numbing ease. After several pages of reciting “catch phrases,” to suit whatever scenario he finds himself in, he finally has an authentic response to his own not-so-sunny memories of a family trip to Disney World, “I audibly giggle at my complaints and self-pity but they’re mine so therefore they have meaning to me. It’s the only pain I can REALLY feel.” Lords of Creation opens with a quote from the fictional book of the same name written by the main character, “Born into a generation passionless and lost; addicted to comfort and commodification, he wanted to make art but where was the pain? It came from knowledge in the lack thereof.” Wright goes on to say that, “My blood should be splattered across a dirt backroad in the deep south. I’ve always felt I was born too late and missed all our country’s greatest battles.” Work, energy and striving are directed towards the ideal of leisure in American capitalism. Why then, having won a life of ease, would this successful writer fantasize about his blood being splattered across a dirt backroad? Jim included a quote from Lucretius in his assemblage artist statement that reads, “It is great wealth to live frugally with a contented mind.” This ideal haunts these stories. The systems that his protagonists find themselves in—capitalism, American masculinity, celebrity—are all excessive in their gifts and withholdings. This leaves these men either glutted to nausea or starving. That Gary from As Is may be the only character to embody Lucretian balance is hard to see at first since his situation bears no resemblance to a prototypical American success story. His life at first glance is one none would envy and yet he’s the only protagonist in all four stories who doesn’t wish it to be otherwise. Comparing himself to his brother Gary says, “He’s made it to partner now at his firm
while I, Gary Cooper, have made it to the exalted position of chief purveyor of fries and president of poop.” Stewart’s sarcasm doubles back on itself as we realize that, when put on a Lucretian scale of wealth, president of poop is in fact an exalted position. The meaning and contentment Gary has found in taking care of Lee has much to do with the immense amount of time he has invested in it. In Lords of Creation long durations of time have a similar redemptive power. In both the fictional Lords of Creation and the novella itself, the elites assembled at the jungle getaway have discovered a way to extend their lives. Their newfound longevity broadens their perspective beyond short term profits and makes them into better stewards of the earth. The science fiction needed prop up this Atlas Shrugged-style fantasy of the benevolent ruling class, along with the narrator’s ironic detachment (he’s not only read this book before, he wrote it) evince the twenty-first century’s disillusion with and distrust of those perceived to be guiding world events. Stewart displays his own disbelief in capitalism’s teleological bend toward a better future by writing the story in present-tense—in contrast to the fictional novel Lords of Creation that we read in passages throughout the novella which is written in the past tense. This presumes that the fictional narrator of the fictional Lords of Creation is looking back from an utopian, or at the bare minimum safe, future. Chicago Wright, on the other hand is not granted a future from which to look back on the events of the story. He is in a space of response and reaction rather than reflection and the future is up for grabs. Responding and reacting to Lee comprises Gary’s life as a caretaker. As Is, like the rest of the stories discussed here, is also written in the present-tense and for Gary the present moment is permanent: “I’m here. I’m still here Lee. Gary will always be here Lee.” The future is only an extension or repetition of this permanent present: “We’ll try the mall again tomorrow.” Gary sees the world and his “role” within it as fixed: The mall has fallen back into its normal rhythms. It always does. Now we just fall back into our roles as the troll and the retard. The world can call us whatever they want….No name change has transformed either of us into anything else. Gary has cathected to this rhythm and long duration spent with Lee perhaps more than to Lee himself: “The only way to get to know him is to sit in silence for hours upon hours, day after day, year after year.” There’s no way for him guage Lee’s love or gratitude, but he’s positive that he’s put in his time and absent any other rewards offered for the work he’s done, he’s proud of that time. Gary occasionally leaves the present to indulge in “ifs” throughout the story: what if he had friends, what if he’d continued his job stocking shelves, what if Lee was normal. By the end he dismisses this practice outright, “[the plague of if] sometimes seems so overwhelming as to blind us from the actual and now.” Trying to steer clear of “if” is both a self-preserving tic and a necessity—right after this musing he’s jolted back to the present by the fear that Lee has been too quiet for too long. For Gary, there’s an electric fence around the present, if he wanders away into the past or future, he gets shocked back into place. Regret rather than responsibility defines the narrator of Family Man. He feigns surprise at where he’s ended up in order to ignore his own culpability—apparently not even
remembering how he got his pair of “dad jeans”: “Are these sold in stores or do they just hand them out at the hospital after your child is born?” He projects the blame outwards at others’ expectations of him: I’m high at my son’s football game because it’s where I’m supposed to be. The entirety of my parental career has been nothing but doing things it seems like I’m supposed to be doing...To tell the truth I haven’t enjoyed much of it. The father in A Defiant Act is also detached from the present by his own regrets. Writing again in the present tense but this time in the third person, Stewart is able to bake the father’s dislocation in time into the tense and position of the language itself. The children, the readers, and the narration are all in a present from which the father is barred: While smiling on the outside and appearing to the kids as if he is enjoying himself he is silently wishing he could actually enjoy this moment. To be present in the present instead of in the past where he messed everything up; instead of in the future where this downward spiral continues to unravel with no end in sight. For him a brief respite this cannot be. Here the father mentions having “messed everything up” but most of his misfortune in the story is tracked to huge systems far outside of his control. If there was a mistake that set the downward spiraling into motion, it was the mistake of trusting in these systems. Wonderings: In these stories or the ones to follow… I wonder about multiple presents: what would it be like to jump in time, what would be left out, where and why would we stop following a character, where and why would we begin again? What would it be like to see from more than one POV? What kind of events and interactions would be better described this way? I wonder how Jim would write a child’s voice. I wonder how Jim would write about extreme pleasure. I wonder what it would be like if we saw more or heard from women. I wonder are these characters free? I wonder how to even answer that. I wonder what it means to watch someone else eat. I wonder what else can it mean? I wonder about the discomfort with the privileged position of a writer that Jim has expressed in class. I wonder if these stories allay that discomfort in their execution, or completion, or in the thinking about them, or if future ones may.
The Skater and The Stone: The Process and Practice of Miguel Sanchez-Bastida James Stewart III With visible breath I am walking. A voice I am sending as I walk. In a sacred manner I am walking. With visible tracks I am walking. In a sacred manner I walk. (Elk, 134) Miguel Sanchez-Bastida told me about how he used to love to get to know new cities by skating them. Skating presents a good speed to tour a new city. It’s just not fast enough to blow by the scenery like in a car, a motorcycle, or even on a bike, so you have time to absorb your surroundings. On a skateboard you feel every single bump in the terrain, every change in the surface. After enough falls, because you weren’t paying close enough attention, you learn to respect the ground you skate on, the ground you walk on. It makes sense that he shows an appreciation for their story. The rock, sand, or gravel that make up our walkways took a journey from a quarry to where they have ended up. After two knee surgeries, he no longer skates. He’s now an artist that draws inspiration from the land. On his personal website, he states that his work searches for “an ongoing conversation related to issues of perception and cultural ecologies.” Sanchez-Bastida hasn’t left skating completely behind though, as he still walks the streets with his neck craned down searching for inspiration the same way he used to search for a new rail to grind. While rocks often seem ignored by most of the world, outside of geologists, they’re currently at the heart of Sanchez-Bastida’s practice. At the School of the Art Institute Chicago, he works in a cramped studio in the Columbus building. While there’s work on the walls, it is the work on the floor that’s concerning to a visitor. A combination of rocks on varying platforms atop maps. It’s something he’s currently working on to provide context to the stones through displaying them within their place of origin using topographical maps and photographs. There are rocks being adhered to each other to fill cracks in the land for another project. As he talks about his practice he excitedly brings out even more rocks. Early in our conversation Sanchez-Bastida is quick to bring up that rocks are in our mouth, that our bones are nothing but calcium repositories, we eat rocks, we sweat rocks, or rather minerals. The minerals that make up these stones are absolutely essential to sustaining our planet and our species In his 2015 installation ways of understanding Sanchez-Bastida cleverly employs various mediums to present different ways of relating to minerals, whether through a topographical map, a painting, a sculpture, photographs, and other means. While minerals were the material subject of this installation it is an observation that can be taken past the material as subject and directly into interpersonal relations. In his 2013-14 installation find your stone he asked individuals to share stories about stones that meant something to them. He heard from people in Japan, Australia, Norway, Portugal, Holland and Spain. They sent their stories along with the stone at the center of them. Sanchez-Bastida compiled these together using a combination of text with stones along with the packaging materials. His stated aim was to examine the ““mineralization processes” of the individual, determined by our life experiences and how these can shape the character and type of person in which we become.” Sanchez-Bastida destroyed the stones, turning them to dust, at the completion of the project.
The installation reads more as a travel narrative than directly to the process of mineralization, which requires heat and pressure, two items missing in any way from the installation. However, the mineralization process is an apt metaphor for the forming of our personality through the memories that form our ever-evolving self. Sanchez-Bastida can relate to the journey of these stones. The idea that people and place have an inseparable bond is one that permeates a great deal of his work. The Spaniard is living on a different continent, on the opposite side of the Atlantic from the place of his birth. In order to better understand the planet the human species inhabits travel has become a large part of his practice. His project, walk like a glacier took him to Alaska where through video, text, and photography he documents a lengthy trek to a glacier. Upon reaching the glacier he removes a portion it, before depositing it in a scenic lakebed. The project examines humanities complicated relationship with nature as both guardian and destroyer, while also striving towards the idea of a oneness with the natural world. The project makes some strong statements, but they are at times obfuscated by the sheet amount of materials present, which include photographs, video, and an essay. The most powerful of these examples is a side-by-side photograph of Sanchez-Bastida shirtless next to the piece of the glacier, which he transported by wrapping with a rope he then strapped to his back. The rope left scars in the glacier as the friction caused those areas in direct contact to melt faster and the rope left mirroring marks in his skin. This clearly and effectively displays the relationship between man and nature as being intertwined. It shows how the effects of one directly impact the other, assuming the two can even be separated. With Sanchez-Bastida’s work often involving travelling and themes that address humanities relationship to nature, the issue of eco-tourism becomes difficult to ignore amidst a rapidly changing planet due to global warming. If art is supposed to communicate an idea and if we hope to create change through the dissemination of art should the artist attempt to live a life that leads by example? If doctors and their Hippocratic oath espouse that at very least they “do no harm,” shouldn’t that be a reasonable start for us as artists? It sounds good, but this artist doesn’t know the answer. I’m a writer who deals in the hypocrisies of mankind and often relies on these to propel a narrative somewhere, so my hypocrisies are part of my art, but that’s a cop out. Sanchez-Bastida travels by plane, train, and automobile, which requires the burning of fossil fuels. It’s possible that his process, at times, has a negative impact on the environment. There is a physicality to Sanchez-Bastida’s work that at times, such as in walk like a glacier, that literally leave marks on his body. This is what his life as a skater has brought to his art. Skating left permanent scars on his body, which he now uses to push his art, that continues to leave marks. Arising from the physicality in his work emerges a narrative of adventure, which can have the affect of turning the relationship of humans and nature or human as nature to man verse nature. It’s this last dichotomy which has proven extremely dangerous to the natural world, which his work obviously strives to appreciate and respect. Sanchez-Bastida has exchanged his skateboard for a surfboard. It’s much friendly on his joints, but it’s really just another means of understanding our environment. Through his art and his sports he mines the liminal area between human as individual verses human as indistinguishable from a geosphere where all items are interconnected. A system where all parts are essential including the land underneath our feet that we often take for granted.
A collection of essays written by and about artists who participated in an interdisciplinary critique seminar at the School of the Art Insti...
Published on Dec 1, 2016
A collection of essays written by and about artists who participated in an interdisciplinary critique seminar at the School of the Art Insti...