22 VOL 1 THE
“Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he wAS sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.” ~Catch-22, Joesph Heller
Dear Mrs., Mr., Miss., or Mr., and Mrs., Reader, I’m off to Sweden. Your Devoted Editor,
EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Cat Gilbert
Contributing Editor Ansel Elkins Dolores Alfieri
Special Thanks To John Jennison Jeff Burns Robert O’Haire Nick Cretens Cafe Orwell Eric Zboya TenEleven Laura Grandmaison Kim Berman
Adriean Auguste Koleric
1) ADRIEAN AUGUSTE KOLERIC (pg 1) has worked as an interior, industrial and furniture designer in Edmonton, Canada since the mid-nineties and has helped create such shows as THAW and FROST through IDEA (Industrial Designers of Edmonton Association). He has shown his design and collage work at venues worldwide since 2003 including Art Basil (Miami) and The Resistance Gallery in London.
2) Alan Bigelow
(pg 9) writes digital stories for the web. These stories are created in Adobe Flash and use images, text, audio, video and other components. These stories are created for viewing on the web, although they have been shown as gallery installations. http://www.webyarns.com/
3) Andrew TopEl (pg 13) and his wife Crystal live in Florida, where Andrew edits & publishes Avantacular Press, specializing in visual poetry, other-stream writing, limited edition posters & one-of-a-kind art books. You can visit the online catalog at: http://avantacular-press.blogspot.com
4) Ansel Elkins
(pg 23) is an Alabama native who now resides in North Carolina. She is a recent graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Poems appear or are forthcoming in The American Scholar, Boston Review, Ninth Letter, Mississippi Review, and The Southern Review. She is one of four winners of the 2011 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize.
5) April Gertler (pg 27) received her BFA in Photography (1997) at the California College of the Arts and her
MFA in Photography (2002) at Bard College in New York. She moved to Germany and has been working and living in Berlin since 2003. April has exhibited her work and taught photography on an international level. She has most recently exhibited at AtelierFrankfurt (Frankfurt, Germany), Pool Gallery (Berlin, Germany), Samsa (Berlin, Germany), and Agent Double (Geneva, Switzerland). April has taught photography workshops at California College of the Arts, (Oakland, California) Krabbesholm, (Skive, Denmark), Kunsthøjkol AErø, (AErø, Denmark) and Bilgi University (Istanbul,
6) Brian Dettmer (pg 37) is originally from Chicago. He currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA. Dettmer is
represented by Kinz + Tillou in New York, Packer Schopf in Chicago, MiTO in Barcelona, Toomey Tourell in San Francisco and Saltworks in Atlanta. His work has gained International acclaim through internet bloggers, and traditional media. He has had work featured in The New York Times, Modern Painters, Harper’s and The San Francisco Chronicle.
7) Dolores Alfieri (pg 47) is a native New Yorker who writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her work tends to focus on the life of the family and the individual within it. Her work has appeared in the Oxford American, Paste, Stop Smiling and No Depression.
8) Doug Pierre Baulos
(pg 51) is an artist and teacher in Birmingham, Alabama. He holds a BFA from The University of Alabama and a MFA from the University of New Orleans. His work has been included in several collections including the J.P Getty Museum in L.A., The MOMA in NY, The New Orleans Museum of Art and The Bern Porter Collection of Art, Miami. His works seeks out the emotions and connections forged by the experiences of loss, mortality and memory and he enjoys the delicate exhalation and mediation inherent in the assembling of collage elements into complex combinations.
9) Edgar Oliver (pg 59) started performing in New York at the Pyramid in the mid-eighties alongside artists
including Hapi Phace, Kembra Pfahler, Samoa and playwright Kestutis Nakas. As a playwright, many of Oliver’s plays have been staged at La MaMa and other downtown NYC theatres. As a stage actor, he has performed in countless plays including Edward II with Cliplight Theater, Marc Palmieri’s, Carl the Second, Lipsynka’s, Dial M for Model and numerous productions at Axis Theater inlcuding his widely acclaimed one man show, East 10th Street. Edgar is one of the most beloved storytellers at The Moth and recently stared in Gentlemen Broncos (directed by Jared Hess). His published works include A Portrait of New York by a Wanderer There, Summer, and The Man Who Loved Plants. You can find these books and others at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/oilcanpress and http://www.goodie.org/pantherbooks/oliver.html
10) Eric ZBOYa (pg 13) graduated from the University of Calgary with an honors degree in English Literature.
Two of his current projects of visual poetry investigate how mechanized vessels, such as graphic imaging software, visually translate text through algorithms and how language can be modeled and manipulated to photo-realistically depict interstellar phenomenon. His works have been published by Echolocation, Filling Station, Rampike and Graffiti Broadside. He is currently working on his first book of visual poetry.
11) ERIN SYNDER
(pg 61) is a writer, business analyst, philosopher, toy collector, and all-around geek currently living in Queens, New York. Originally from Maine, he writes what he knows, which is entirely things he makes up. He’s published two novels, Facsimile and For Love of Children with Threat Quality Press. In his free time, he maintains a number of side projects, blogs, and websites, including www.erinlsnyder.com, where you can find more information about everything he’s working on.
12) Jeff Burns (pg 71) is a filmmaker currently living in Brooklyn. His recent editing credits include Bill Dixon:
Going to the Center, Edgar Oliver:The Hermit and Other Poems, and Joseph Daley: Earth Tones Ensemble. He’s the director of the When History Attacks film series and also co-founder of Gratuitous Art Films. Soon to be released, his feature length film, That’s Beautiful Frank, includes writing and directing credits.
13)John Jennison (pg 75) is a illustrator, artist and events coordinator living in Brooklyn. He graduated from the
University of Southern Maine and will be part of their alumni show in March. Much of his work deals with the sexual vs. emotional aspects of relationships but his current series is highly focused on octopi. http://www.etsy.com/shop/dogoodergraphics
14)Joseba Eskubi (pg 85) lives and works in Bilbao, Spain. He currently teaches at the Faculty of Fine Arts of
the University of the Basque Country (Leioa). His work is gestural and organic, a kind of still life where the matter is in a process of continuous metamorphosis. He also manipulates images of some classic artists, considering the painting as something alive and open. His work has appeared in Dust & Dessert (Issue no 3) and in Mental Shoes (Issue no 18). He has shown extensively in group and solo shows throughout Spain.
15) Kate Javens
(pg 91) was born in Missouri and spent her childhood in Japan, Mexico, and the bicoastal United States. She attended Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Javens is a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Painting Fellow, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts Disciplinary Winner in Painting, and a three-time MacDowell Fellow. Her works are held in private and public collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum, the Palmer Museum of Art at the Pennsylvania State University, the Telfair Museum of Art and The Blanden Museum of Art. She lives and works in New York City. You can see her work at Marcia Wood Gallery and SchmidtDean.
16) KATHERINE TZU LAN MANN (pg 99) is a painter living and working in Washington, DC. She completed
the Triangle Residency in Brooklyn this past October and a residency at the Anderson Ranch Residency in Colorado this spring. She holds an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and has shown extensively throughout the US and in Taiwan. Her works are large, abstract pieces that she describes as ever-changing fantasy worlds where blood cells, rainforests and coral reefs collide and intertwine. She is a recent fellow at the AIR Gallery Fellowship Program in Brooklyn.
17) Louise ROBINSON (pg 23) is a artist and illustrator from the UK who works primarily with Photoshop. She
describes her work as symbols for nature or embodiments of attitudes and concerns about the environment. Occasionally they represent specters, ghosts, and immortal souls.
18) Max Evry (pg 109) graduated with a degree in Film and Television Production from Boston University, where
his student film Eskimo Hill received a completion grant and was honored at the 2004 Redstone Film Festival. He has served as an associate producer, co-writer, and designer on the PBS Kids pilot Finkyâ€™s Kitchen and currently lives in New York where he is a filmmaker and a freelance critic. His other films include Phone Mom, Blue Lollipop and Best Friend Fun Party.
19) MICHAEL BABIN (Touverakois) (pg 113) grew up in the Southwest of France and has worked in wood industry for ten years. He studied in Bordeaux from 1996-1997 and is currently training to work in solar power.
20) Samantha Kostmayer Sulaiman (pg 115) is a writer and activist from New York City. She is currently working on a volume of short stories. Her translations have appeared in The Wolf and The Manhattan Review poetry magazines.
21) THREEFIFTY DUO (pg 119) is a New York City based classical guitar duo formed at Yale School of music. The
members, Brett Parnell and Geremy Schulick, recently finished a tour of the UK this past fall and their second album Circles was released in 2009. They have been featured at various venues including The New York Guitar Festival and have been featured on WNYC, Time Out NY and the UKâ€™s Classical Guitar Magazine.
22) Tobias Stretch
(pg 125) is an artist and stop motion filmmaker originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania. He has worked with a variety of bands including Radiohead, The Crystal Fighters, Matthias Strum, and Efterklang to create surreal takes on the music and the natural or unnatural world it inhabits. His current projects include life size humanoid puppets and a longer format transcendental fantasy/adventure film in the tradition of The Wizard of Oz.
DRIEAN OLERIC 2
READ FULL INTERVIEW
THE 22 MAGAZINE: Where did you go to school? Adriean Koleric: I was born and raised in Edmonton, a northern city in the province of Alberta. I attended NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology), where I earned a diploma in interior design technology. Everything after that was entirely self-taught.
22: What was your first experience with art? AK: My mother was, and still is, an artist who never focused on a single medium. She always seemed
to have a desire to explore all possible avenues, which inspired me to do the same. She took me to galleries and always had books lying around for me to educate myself. Though I did find a lot of it dry back then, as most kids would, I appreciate it now and find I’m doing the same with my kids.
22: How did you begin to incorporate design with college? AK: I originally started as an interior design technologist, bouncing from one firm to another until I
ended up at an architectural millwork company doing their shop drawings. I slowly became familiarized with furniture design, and that pretty well led me to all but abandon dealing with interiors. I was more interested in the components that filled a space rather than the space itself. I began to explore aspects of furniture design, and I sought out like-minded designers in hopes of generating collaborations. IDEA (Industrial Designers of Edmonton Association) was a band of industrial designers who pooled together their talents and produced local furniture design exhibits as a means for Edmontonbased creatives to showcase their work. Eventually, I became a member and helped put together a biannual series of exhibits called THAW and FROST. As I continued practicing furniture design, I came across the designer toy scene. This is a subculture where underground visual artists create toys based on characters from their paintings and sculptures. It was a movement that completely changed my view on everything I did from there. I had the urge to form a collaborative designer toy/furniture piece that produced a floor lamp titled MONSTER, made with the intent of allowing visual artists to customize the piece in their own way. That led me to work with Brooklyn-based artist Motomichi Nakamura and with a collage artist, named Chad Kouri, based out of Chicago. That last collaboration was the catalyst which gave me the collage bug, an art form I hadn’t practiced since I was a teen. I opted to incorporate elements from my design portfolio and develop reoccurring characters based on past furniture pieces. I looked at this as means to help me develop a distinct voice in the collage medium, which, to be honest, I’m still working at.
22: In Series 2 the red box figure named “Sherman” is combined with signage and collage from past eras. What inspired this juxtaposition?
AK: The collages I had been working on for Series 2 were pretty involved. It took quite a bit of time compiling images, themes, compositions, etc. I wanted to develop a series of more stripped-down versions that told a continuous story at the same time. Each piece was to come across as a single 5
panel, almost like an alternative form of a comic strip with no dialogue, and a narrative left up to the viewer. I chose to focus on the “Sherman” character, which utilized my first furniture piece of the same name. I liked the idea of attempting to create emotions with a faceless expression of a red box for a head. Just a slight tilt forward and you have a sad character; tilt it upwards and it’s a character with a sense of wonder and curiosity. I liked the idea of controlling emotion by subtle positioning rather than spoon-fed facial expressions. As for the vintage elements, it just felt right. I used imagery from a set of 1955 Popular Mechanics magazines. That time period just felt so straight-laced and square—nothing organic; everything was just point A to point B. But the imagination back then was huge. Looking through these publications, it floored me seeing these folks who all looked like accountants drumming up insane ideas of flying cars, rocket packs, etc.
22: Any thoughts on appropriation in art? AK: What’s collage without a bit of thievery? Art is a means to tell a story and to drum up dialogue
and emotion. How that’s done is up to the artist. All I care about is the end result and how the piece interacts with the viewer. But as for collage, you’ve hit the nail on the head. For me, the medium stands on the foundation of adopting and re-imagining past works.
22: What artists inspired this series? AK: Science fiction artist Frank R. Paul. I am absolutely floored at the work he created in the twen-
ties and thirties. The content he produced during that era was an absolute eye opener. His landscapes consisted of the most ridiculous characters in the most ridiculous settings. Pure poetry. The man was a genius, and is a major influence on me.
22: What are your reasons behind using the reoccurring Star Wars characters? AK: There’s no underlying motive for using the Star Wars element in my work. It is a means for me to stay connected to my childhood.
OPENING SPREAD: Classics Series: The Unapologetic Appropriation of The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn Page 3-4:Appropriated Lecture Scene PAGE 7 TOP LEFT: Untitled 42 BOTTOM LEFT: CLASSICS SERIES: The Unapologetic Appropriation of Dance Foyer at the Opera by Edgar Degas TOP RIGHT: Untitled 65 MIDDLE RIGHT: Untitled 61 BOTTOM RIGHT: Untitled 48
PAGE 8 Top LEFT: CLASSIC SERIES: The Unapologetic Appropriation of Bathsheba with Davidâ€™s letter by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn TOP RIGHT: K1 BOTTOM LEFT: Untitled 64
ALAN BIGELOW 99
Saving The Alphabet addresses governmental and corporate threats to the free use of language. Language is sim etymologies on the web. The piece uses ActionScript code to decay language events as they are triggered by use
multaneously constructed and deconstructed by Orwellian double-speak, trademark claims, and invented ers. This decay is gradual and erases elements of the story after they appear.
THE 22 MAGAZINE: What do you find compelling about the convergence of digital art and literature?
Alan Bigelow: I first got involved with web art in 1999. Until then, I had been writing tradi-
tional fiction for the printed page, but when I saw the potential within the Internet, I felt compelled to go there. It seemed a shame: the web was full of all sorts of opportunities on how a story could be shared—text, video, audio, animation—and yet, very few writers were taking advantage of this multimedia. I imagined writing a story that broke the mold of what a traditional story looked like and, as a bonus, anyone in the world, at any time, could read it. I tried Cinema2.com as a starter story, which was fun. I tried another, Wander Wire, and that was fun too. Before long, I was writing exclusively for the web. Eleven years later, I have only once or twice looked back. I hope we are in an age where digital art and literature are trying to find an apex.That would mean we would see more college degrees in this field, less suspicion on the part of established writing programs, and broader acceptance of emerging forms. Like it or not, digital literature, in all its various forms, is here to stay.
22: A lot of your work seems to deal with technological, political, and consumer identities as fact or fiction. Is identity important in your work?
AB: Yes, identity is important to me in terms of how I represent myself through digital fictions as a
public persona; an image that I am willing to share with other people, even those I have never met. The concept of identity also circumscribes my sense of our national morals or social philosophy, and how they can be represented in digital stories and poems. The connection between self-identity and national identity pervades my work. In fact, I cannot imagine separating the two; to do so would denounce my commitment to transparency and political activism. But, as an armchair participant in both senses, in truth they are both fictions. All you see is what I project from the privacy of my studio at home. My only recorded identity on the page is my baby footprints in black ink on my birth certificate. I have no copy of these footprints, so now they are virtual. And my idea of fiction? Fiction is truth at the moment of creation, before it becomes a lie.
22: Do you think user interaction is integral in making web art successful? AB: User interaction is something I find useful in creating engaging stories, but when it comes to
the web, the question might be more about degree rather than necessity. The necessity is a given. In my view, the web, in its current incarnation, requires interaction as a basic premise of usage. You move your mouse, click a screen or tilt a device. With this type of user interaction as a prerequisite for navigation and basic usage, it then becomes a question of how much interaction a piece of web art demands of it’ s viewer. For me, the answer varies. Some pieces, like When I Was President and Saving The Alphabet, simply require that users navigate through the various narratives or vignettes to reach the ending. Other pieces ask for something more. This is not a Poem, for example, offers not only an opportunity for users to deconstruct the poem “Trees”, by Joyce Kilmer, with the use of mouse-overs, but also to “scratch” the disk where the poem is playing, thereby disrupting the audio reading of the
poem. In other pieces, users can write into the stories. I-Pledge.org offers users the opportunity to rewrite the Pledge of Allegiance; the rewrite is saved into a database so other visitors to the site can read it. In MyNovel.org, the viewer reads a series of famous novels (i.e. Moby Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1984) reduced to four sentences apiece and then, if they wish, they can write their own foursentence novel, which is saved to a database and plays against a background Flash movie. These, and other pieces, ask for more than the usual interaction. They ask for contributions from users. The fictions themselves become a collaboration that is constantly evolving, and taking on new forms, and identities.
22: What are some “fictions,” or works that have inspired you? AB: Well, my influences have come from many sources: art (anything from the Old Masters to Ab-
stract Expressionism), music (you name it), theater (Sam Shepard, Tom Stoppard, Jean-Paul Sartre, Luigi Pirandello, Sophocles), and poetry/fiction (Laurence Sterne, T.S. Eliot, John Barth, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Emily Dickinson, Jean-Paul Sartre), and the list goes on... The qualities many of these works share are an engaging sense of play, a wild exuberance of thought, a conservation (or over-the-top expenditure) of language, and a visual experimentation on the page. I only wish that some of these authors had not died before the advent of the web—what miracles they might have created!
CLICK HERE TO VIEW SAVING THE ALPHABET. 12
ANDRE TOPEL ERIC Z
EW L& ZBOYA 14
ABOUT TRANSLATIONS In Prehistoric Digital Poetry: An Archaeology of Forms, 1959-1995, C.T. Funkhouser remarks that the growing numbers of digital poets—and poetry readers—reflect a burgeoning interest in the expressive capabilities of computers, and the dynamic programs these computers utilize. For many visual and avantgarde poets, the expressive capabilities of computers and computer programs now play an integral role in the composition of poetry, and help to create a point of departure for new dimensions of textual creation and exploration that could not otherwise exist without these mechanized vessels. One of these points of departure, what I like to call “algorithmic translations,” employs graphic imaging software to help further add an element of dimensionality to a text by reconfiguring each page as a kind of non-Euclidean entity. Through a series of algorithmic calculations, the computer program extrudes a sequence of abstract images based upon the original topographical placement of the type on the space of the page. This algorithm transforms each letter, each mark of punctuation, into dendrites of signification that extrude off the shell of the page, like nonEuclidean stalagmites into a transcendent, dimensional continuum of textual space. Each image is inimitable; the image can never be recreated in the same way twice due to the program’s seemingly aleatory function during the algorithmic transliteration. Within the cyberspace continuum, these abstract images possess an array of Cartesian, geometric properties that allow for each textual entity to be viewed from all angles in a more volumetric space. The end result quite literally showcases a three-dimensional, computer-generated translation that physically upholds the lattice suggested by the text’s original structure, while semantically retaining the text’s abstract concepts. - Eric Zboya OPENING SPREAD AND LEFT: EXCERPTS FROM TRANSLATIONS BY Andrew Topel/Eric Zboya
AN INTERVIEW WITH ERIC ZBOYA THE 22 MAGAZINE: When did your artistic interests begin? Eric Zboya: I have always possessed an interest in the arts, especially literature. Poetry—more specifically, visual poetry—did not quite materialize until my third year of university. By the end of my last year, under the mentorship of Christian Bök (who supervised both my honour’s thesis and my advanced poetry writing manuscript), visual poetry, essentially, became the forefront of my artistic practices.
22: How did you become involved with text manipulation? EZ: My interest in text manipulation originally began in a junior poetry writing class under the mentorship
of Robert Majzels. The current works of text manipulation, as The 22 Magazine showcases, did not truly unfold until I began work on my honour’s thesis. This project explored critical and visual themes of transcendental dimensionality in the poem “Un Coup de dés” by Stéphane Mallarmé. The visual portion of the project consisted of utilizing newer technology to illustrate the text in a higher-dimensional light, like the use of anaglyphs and Ji Lee’s Univers Revolved typography. The curious, Rorschach-like images ended up being the visual centerpieces of the project, which, interestingly enough, found their origins simply through curiosity while I sat at my computer. The end result transformed the page into three-dimensional dendrites that extruded off a shell (that was once the page) into a geometric space within the cyberspace continuum. At the time, I really did not know what to make of these abstract images; however, after illustrating my finds to Bök, I was told that I may have stumbled on a completely new way to read, translate, and visually depict a text through a digital medium.
22: What artists inspire your work? EZ: One of the primary artists who inspire my work is derek beaulieu [name lowercase at request of author], author of such poetics as Flatland: a romance in many dimensions and Fractal Economies. The work that derek produces, and the mentorship he provides, has shown me, especially when I first started out as a visual poet, how to convey ideas or meaning without employing the norms found within standardized, nonconceptual poetics, like stanzas, lines, metering, et cetera. beaulieu believes that these normative attributes have become flattened into a sameness that no longer possesses the three-dimensional aspects of poetic originality, production, and thought. To combat this poetic idleness, beaulieu reconfigures the building blocks of language into abstract, nonlinear structures that challenge the reader’s notion of comprehension and perceptibility. This also represents my poetic aim: to convey language, meaning, ideas, in new and abstract ways that will help challenge the reader to think.
22: In the relationship between text and art where do you think the two meet? EZ: I think that if we were to examine this question on a fundamental level, in that if we agree that text and typeface are inseparable, and merely just different manifestations of the same thing, then the answer would
be that there is no real intersection between text and art, simply because text is art. Look at the multitude of varying types and typefaces that we, as an artistic society, utilize, modify and experiment with in our everyday lives—types like Ariel, Courier, and Times New Roman, or even the more technologically sophisticated, and geometrically elegant, types like Ji Lee’s three-dimensional Univers Revolved or Anatol Knotek’s Rotated Alphabet, or Jakob Nylund’s Pyramid. Our continuous desire to reinvent typeface—to reinvent the building blocks of text—showcases the idea that we do not believe type to be a hollow and static vessel that merely acts as a kind of passive assistant in the semantic presentation of a textual work, say a poe, but that type is the active and artistic extension of the language used to convey the work as a whole, not to mention the visual prolongation of the semantics of the text. In essence, every textual entity that you come across is at the very heart, a work of art. Now, if we talk about the relationship between text and art with regards to the computer, then there really is no meeting point, but rather just a transference from the printed word to a purely visual medium. Now that I come to think of it, I guess one could make the argument that the meeting point between text and art lies at the moment when I hit enter on the keyboard—when the computer program begins the mathematical configuration and transliteration process. So, the meeting point between text and art, at least within these translations, lies in mathematics; lies within the algorithmic formulae.
Model, ANDREW TOPEL
AN INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW TOPEL Excerpt from IT BY Andrew Topel, John M. Bennett & Jim Leftwich
THE 22 MAGAZINE: When did you start working with text as art?
Andrew TopEl: While in college studying art, I also took a class in creative writing. It was shortly after this that I began trying out hybrid forms, blending the two disciplines into visual language. I personally see them closely related. When I look at a letter, I see its shape, its potential in creating a composition. I find the calligraphy of other languages fascinating and beautiful. Some writing systems depict in their characters ideas broken down into ink strokes. In that sense, writing is an art. It also seems natural to me to create in a hybrid field, closer to life in a sense. As I interact with the world, my senses are working at the same time. When I pick up an orange slice, I see its color, I feel its texture. If I bring it up to my nose, I can smell the orange slice. These senses occur simultaneously and not individually. When I look at, and create visual poetry, it activates multiple perceptions at the same time, mirroring in a small way how life works.
22: How did you start working with Eric Zboya? AT: I first saw Eric’s work in a chapbook that derek beaulieu [name lowercase at request of author] shared with me. His ideas to visually translate language immediately made my retinas begin to salivate. I contacted him through e-mail and asked if he’d like to collaborate. Once he accepted, I sent him several foundational texts that I was working on that attempted movement on the page. I was curious to see what Eric would transform them into as he translated the texts and images. I’m excited to see where Eric’s ideas will take him.
ABOVE: excerpt from drafting a poetics OPPOSITE PAGE: TOP, FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: excerpt from Black on White on Black excerpt from Concrete BOTTOM , FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: excerpt from CHEMICAL excerpt from Puzzles
Poems by Ansel Elkins Illustrations by Louise Robinson
TWELVE GHOSTS There is no ancestor so powerful as one’s earlier selves. —Lewis Mumford Twelve ghosts in the house, and all of them you. Caught like birds, in the stations of girlhood. The first one in the dirt road pitches rocks with her good strong arm, casting further down the road and further still. Another, the quieter sister, at the kitchen window watches the one in the drive. One kneels before the empty hearth and sings her sister’s name. Up into the cool mouth of the chimney, her echo climbs the chimney’s throat, the voice shivers its return. Twelve ghosts. Each sister wears a different color ribbon in her hair. One sweeps all the rooms of the house.
At One with Nature © Louise Robinson
Two stand before the mirror: One shouts lamb! The other whispers tiger. But it’s bad luck for two or more to look into a mirror at the same time. The youngest will die. And what of the one in the basement? No, we don’t visit her.
Each daughter moves in the mood of a different month. They carry the tides, the seasons, the year of you. Each daughter, each dancer, an apostle of the message of you. All of them clapping together the noon hour of you. Someone forgot to whisper your death to the bees. And so all the bees have left. And the fruit trees have died. Twelve ghosts, and all of them drink from one well. Twelve, and each with her own room to haunt. One opens her motherâ€™s drawer, runs her fingers through the silk slips, brings the slips to her cheek. One plays a nocturne on the piano. Another skips into the room, strikes the discordant keys and vanishes. Twelve white plates laid out at the table for supper. Twelve ghosts, and all of them you. One puts her ear to the dead wasp nest and closes her eyes,
And the last fancies herself a rider of racehorses, straddling the propane tank in the yard and riding, reckless, riding.
SĂŠance ÂŠ Louise Robinson
listens to the anguish that kicks in the heart of the nest.
OPENING SPREAD LEFT: G2G, 2001 RIGHT: HOLDING ON TIGHT, 2010 29 29Maurice: THIS PAGE: On the way to Togo, 2008
THE 22 MAGAZINE: Why did you choose to live and work in Berlin? APRIL GERTLER: I finished graduate school and had done an exchange program in Germany and
Frankfort at an art school there, and I was sort of weighing my pros and cons. I had always wanted to live in Europe. My father’s from Hungary, and my mother’s from Holland. I thought about living in Holland, but having this chance to be in Frankfort had been really exciting, and Berlin has always been this kind of city of promise. Berlin is really exciting and just offers so much. There is so much vastness and openness. There is still this feeling of opportunity, but the opportunity is very much there for you to develop yourself, which is what I also find really difficult about living in Berlin. There is a huge positive, but the huge negative is that there’s not a lot of energy coming from the city. What I mean is, here, in New York, you walk on the street and there’s sort of this vibration. There’s this buzz because there are so many people in the street; you feel people’s energy and get electrified from that. It doesn’t exist in Berlin. It’s a very slow city. It’s very calm. That is why I really like it, although, it’s very hard to get motivated. So, there’s this challenge with the city.
22: Can you talk about your beginnings in social science, and how you eventually moved to photography and collage?
AG: My degree was in Social Science Interdisciplinary Studies. It was pooled classes from the Social
Sciences department, Women’s Studies, and Sociology; so it was a combination of many things. I was really interested in social theory. Women’s studies played a role in my undergraduate interest and degree. As far as art, I kind of had this secret fantasy, ever since I was a really little kid, that I really wanted to be an artist but never really pursued it or told anyone about it until after I finished my undergraduate degree. I was always doing creative projects on the side, but they were just creative projects, not art. After being out of undergraduate for three years, I decided to apply to art school and pieced together a portfolio. I had thought about photography, and I had never really been a picturetaker, but I took a class at San Francisco City College and liked it a lot. A lot of people fall in love with the moment when they see the image coming up in the developer. I’m not interested in being in the darkroom, actually; I don’t really like it, but those were those magical beginning moments of photography. That moment of losing myself in making the image was so exciting. It was a feeling I had never had before.The collage component of where I find myself now is much more related to being in art school. What ended up happening is: finding myself not having enough money to buy film, living next door to a flea market, and going every weekend. People were selling entire photo albums, which I bought and would look through the images, and piece together images that I thought were interesting. I would remake narratives, write small stories and make little books.
22: What is the “Picture Berlin” project? AG: I thought about starting a residency program [in Berlin] because I wanted to bring my friends
over from the states, and other countries, and introduce them to the network that I was building there. Things evolved, and I started thinking about a different concept, and that was “Picture Berlin.”
Stormy weather, 2008
I wanted to create a situation where people would have a chance to be in the city and have an immediate access point to what the art scene was really like, instead of not really knowing where to start. [“Picture Berlin” offers] people a chance to discover what the Berlin art scene is really about.
22: Can you tell me a little about some of the people you’ve had at this past residency? AG: Last summer was our first session.We had eight countries represented with eleven participants,
and they were all across the board in terms of their professional careers. Some people were already teaching photography in other countries, and they really wanted to have that access point into Berlin. Other people were just starting with their careers and wanting to find their way. People were at different stages, but somehow the group actually worked really well together, and that was really exciting. People had different skill sets, of course. A lot of people were really interested in film.There was a young woman from Canada who had no official training in film-making, but she was really interested in pursuing photography and seeing what photography could offer her.
22: One of your projects, G to G–the Polaroids–was really interesting considering [Polaroids] are
somewhat obsolete. What does it mean to you to take the Polaroid photo now and to use the mail to send it?
AG: One of my all time favorite artists is Ray Johnson. I saw a show of his in ‘97, in North Carolina,
and I was totally mesmerized and amazed that he could send what he did in the mail. Mail has always been something that I’ve been very interested in. In San Francisco they have a postcard show that’s been happening for years where you make a series of postcards that can be mailed, and I’ve participated in it for seven years in a row. I still really appreciate the hand-written document and the fact that there’s a time that you take to put something in an envelope and send it. This project , G to G, started with a colleague of mine from graduate school. I was at Bard—which is a summer-only MFA program. We finished our program, and she was living in New York, and I was living in San Francisco, and we both thought, “We have to keep our thought processes going, and we have to keep in communication as much as possible, so why don’t we start this project?” We started it in 2001, and the mail component of it was really important. We really wanted to receive each others’ original document as the Polaroid. Even when we started the project, it was special for us; the Polaroid was still special. It’s been a really important element of it to have the mail be part of that project.
22: A lot of your work is collaboration or discussion with artists. You also travel a lot, so the discus-
sions are always changing. I’m wondering if it goes back to your initial study of social sciences, and the idea of understanding the artist as much as the artwork that you’re making?
AG: It’s very important because a lot of my work is narrative-based, so I’m really interested in stories.
I’m interested in exploring how to break apart a story and find the essence or the point—the subtlety of the story. Therefore, I need to talk to a lot of people and hear a lot of stories, but I’m really interested in human beings anyway, and I’m really interested in having connections with people. I like bringing people together. I also like knowing different kinds of people. So, it plays a huge part in my own 32
PAGE 36: TOP: She could see far and wide, wall drawing with collage, 2010 LEFT:The Beginning started with Understanding, 2008 ABOVE: Moving in, 2008
PAGE 37: TOP: 9 Attempts (INSTALLATION VIEW), 2010 BOTTOM: 9 Attempts (detail), 2010
work and also in my greater work in terms of “Picture Berlin” or other projects that I’ve done. Two years ago in France, I was invited to do a residency in Niort, which is a little town near La Rochelle in Brittany. Up until that point, I’d been using a lot of other people’s photographs—people who I didn’t know—and making up my own stories. To a point, that had been really exciting and interesting, but I kind of hit a wall, and I really wanted to start knowing who the people were in the photographs. So, I did a project where I interviewed a couple of families who lived in this town, and I asked them to show me their family photographs. The point of the project was to get a tour of this town through their family albums, and their family stories. The agreement was made beforehand that I would be able to scan in their personal family photographs, while they were telling me the stories. I took some notes while they were talking to me, but it was very much more of a conversation that we had. From their stories that I collected and the photographs that I collected, I made a series of collages for each family. It was a really interesting exploration because I was using the same people over and over again in those collages and referencing those family stories. It wasn’t evident, unless you knew the stories, to look at the work and say, “Oh, yeah, I understand what’s happening in this image.” It became much more it’s own thing at the end, but the story had really informed how the work was developed and created.
22: What was that project called? AG: That project, actually, was separated into three parts, but one of the main projects from that is
called Maurice. There are images on my Flickr page.
22: In your project gertler/maver/reiser you present the work without the artist’s names. Do you
think stripping the artists or the artwork of the identity changes the art?
AG: We’re really a collaborative team. We’re interested in telling a story. It’s kind of the perfect
number cause it’s always two against one. We vote on each others’ work, and we’re very fair with each other. We make sure that each person is represented equally in the show, but we’re very interested in making sure that the narrative is open enough, and we really want the work to talk about the concept rather than just be so concentrated on the fact of the maker. We’re interested in developing the process and creating a body of work that’s new for us. I think we’re adding to, in the sense that we’re creating something completely new together. I think a lot of artists have trouble with that, and feeling like they’re on the same level sometimes, but we really try, and we really want the work to speak more than us. We’re much more interested in the work than our egos.
22: How did your chalk drawing series start? AG: The chalk drawings began when I decided to move from the page to the wall. I’ve been really
interested in working in installations for a long time and I had a really great critique with a colleague of mine where she suggested that I explore working in this particular way. I think what is really interesting is that [the drawings] create an environment, and bring life to the smaller works. It makes the viewer understand the smaller works in a different way within the context of site-specific wall 35
drawings. The process of making them is very labor intensive. With each line I’m basically re-coating the string with chalk and re-snapping the line onto the wall. It’s a very long process; the drawings take about eight hours minimum. I’m getting to the point where I actually need to work with somebody else to make them. In my most recent chalk drawing I used black pigment, which gave a completely different quality to the line with the pigment. Using that color blue was really interesting and important to me because that blue is the standardized color that’s used on construction sites, and I liked the simple connection to building and creating.
22: Can you talk about your idea of reality versus truth telling in art making? AG: I think that is a question that should be asked to all image-makers. It’s really interesting because
it’s the obvious question of when you read a book, a fictional book, and the main character’s female, and the writer is female. You automatically assume that the writer is writing about herself. That’s kind of true with my work. My work is very personal, definitely, and because I’m very interested in telling stories, I do tell a lot of stories in my work, and not all of it is true. There’s a balance that comes and goes, in and out. Where it comes and goes is where I get to play and have a good time, and that’s what I really enjoy, but, it’s a back and forth that that I’m playing with. So, I’m not telling everything; I’m choosing what I’m telling. I’m elaborating some things, and I’m not telling other things. I’m creating or developing my own world, as any artist is.
Everything in the finished piece is always exactly where it has always been. I never move or add anything, and while I’m working, I never know what is coming next.
OPENER: Detail from Amerigo, 2007 AND Column 1, 2007 OPPOSITE PAGE: Modern Painters (1873), 2008 TOp: InsIDe the ARTIST’S studio Left: Consumption Drains Dreams, 2009 RIGHT: New Universal, 2007
THE 22 MAGAZINE: Where did you grow up and attend school? Brian Dettmer: I grew up in Naperville, Illinois, a fast-growing suburb outside of Chicago. We lived in the older part of downtown. It was really ideal as a child, but as soon as I turned eighteen, I moved to Chicago to be in the city, where I attended Columbia College and studied art.
22: How did you end up in Atlanta? BD: I had been in Chicago my whole life until about four years ago, when I was ready to quit my day job
and had enough galleries that I could live anywhere. My wife found a job in Atlanta and we were both looking forward to getting away from the Chicago winters. Atlanta has been the perfect city to focus on my work. It’s just big enough to keep us going, and it’s easy to fly anywhere we need to.
22: What caused you to pursue your current trade? BD: I can’t even remember my first experiences with art. Ever since I can remember, I was always draw-
ing, painting, sculpting, you name it. I always knew I was going to be an artist; I never felt I had a choice. Of course, you have to work up to spending all your time on your own work. I worked at a sign shop when I was in school and became a manager there when I graduated. I liked the merging of design and handson work it provided, and I always loved working with language in a visual way. After that, I worked at the Field Museum as a preparator and ended up being the graphic shop supervisor there as well. I left for one more job at an architectural sign place, but despite all these jobs I was working on my own art every night until I ended up having the demand [for my own work] that allowed me to quit my day job.
22: Describe the physical act of carving and sculpting a book. Is it a delicate or laborious process? Does it
require patience, force, or both?
BD: I think it is all of these things, but I don’t think of it as patience. Patience is required when a fifteen-
minute drive takes forty-five minutes. I think of my work as more of a ten-hour drive without any traffic jams—it requires focus and stamina, but not patience. I enjoy the time it takes to work on my art. I remove one layer [of the book] at a time, so it is a delicate, repetitive process. In the beginning, however, I am often manipulating, sanding, and binding books into shapes and forms they aren’t designed for. I set the initial shape or form with rope, weights, clamps, whatever may be needed, and I seal the book with a varnish. I cut into the surface and peel back one page or layer at a time.
22: Are you confronted with feelings of moral ambiguity when you deconstruct a book? BD: I used to have trouble with the idea [of destroying the book’s original form], but I slowly worked into it. [The books] I use [are] mass-produced, and I never work with something that isn’t still plentiful. I like to think of my work as a way of reading—a representation of experience before a narrative is constructed, or a representation of the fragments that remain from an experience or memory. I also think about
the position that books are in today, and the occurrences, mutations, and losses that are natural with digital information. We are at an interesting, exciting, and frightening point in history right now. We can see photographs and letters from our grandparents, but have no idea how our grandchildren will be able to view our letters and images. I can’t even open an image file from eight years ago.
22: What was the first book that you ever carved? BD: The first books I carved were a series of single encyclopedia volumes. I had no guilt about it because
there was no reason anyone would want a single encyclopedia without the rest of the set.
22: Are there any books you will not carve? BD: I won’t work with any books that are too valuable or that have only one known copy in existence. I like the idea of suggesting a loss of information or history without actually participating in an extinguishing of ideas.
22: How long does the carving process usually take you? BD: I work about eight to twelve hours a day in the studio and usually have two or three pieces going at the
same time. It can take me anywhere from a few days to a few months to finish a piece.
22: What are some of the current projects you are working on? BD: I am working on a series of pieces with multiple books that are folded or shuffled into one another.
This allows me to create new forms and larger shapes to work with. It has been very exciting to see how many different ways I can expand this idea.
22: What artists have inspired your work? BD: Inspiration is a weird thing. I stay aware of other artists who work with books to make sure I’m not
going in the same direction. Artists like Tom Friedman, Tim Hawkinson, and Gordon Matta-Clark amaze me and inspire me to look at basic materials and normal surroundings in a new way.
LEFT: Travel Plans (Europe), 2007 RIGHT: The New Century (Detail), 2008
LEFT: Me Can Collect (Detail), 2008 RIGHT: Vertical Knowledge, 2009
MICHELE AND PIPPINA a short story by Dolores Alfieri
He tried not to look at the leaves. It was autumn.
He would do it like pulling off a band-aid, he thought. Then again, he thought, he
would do it slowly, with graceful strokes.
Michele placed a kitchen chair down in the backyard, four legs of wood set into the
late-season grass. His fingers, crooked, bent with stiffness, the cool air suffering them to the bone, held the orange chord and plugged it into the outlet beneath the porch.
The wind blew against him; he looked down at his shirt, the fabric snapping back
against his chest, clinging to his faded muscles, and he touched his chest.
Once, he saw a scarecrow on the highway. Oh, the straw came out from every inch.
The straw came out of holes in its chest, its arms, legs; holes were all the scarecrow was. The threads between held him together, yawning wide and wider, stretching with a threat to sift him apart. The scarecrow, thought Michele, was simply old, and he understood.
Old age was looking at photos and counting how many of the people in them were
still alive. Now when Michele looked at old photos there was no one, no one save him; him standing in the middle of the dead, him like a man among ghosts, among them, and so not far from them.
No, not far at all. It seemed all he had to do was lift his head from the black and
white celluloid and turn to his brother or his sister, his papa or his mamma, his aunts, uncles and say, “I’m ready,” and when he lay his head back into the photo, he would be of them.
When they were young Pippina’s hair was brown like coco, coco that is fine and
photo courtsey of the author
feels like silk upon fingertips, silk with chips of gold worked into it. When they were young it was long so that she could sit on it. The strands curled at the ends beneath her bottom. It went back into a tail. It went up, all of it, into a shiny chocolate swirl upon her head. Later, it fell around him, only after the priest had blessed them man and wife, of course.
He blushed at the thought. It had fluttered down around his face, unloosed, wild,
and he, surrounded by a cascade of her, would push his fingers through it.
Now her hair was gray, but still it was long, not as long, but still it fell down her
back. Now she fastened it into a taut, coarse braid, and its shine had dulled, like dust thrown over gold.
How many times she had wanted to cut it, and he forbid her. She did not want to
disappoint him. It was all they had of their youth, bundled up behind her back, hanging against her body.
â€œNesting,â€? the doctor had said.
And Michele thought of birds gathering twigs and leaves to wind up into a home.
She said she did not want to wait for that to happen. She said she did not want to
wait to see it on her pillow in the morning, on the kitchen floor, on the carpet, where hair did not belong.
Pippina came out of the house. The screen door clapped shut behind her. Her
hair was loose, surrendering toward the ground like the leaves of a willow, falling over her cheeks, her shoulders, her breasts, falling in tired waves until it touched her waist. A blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She held her hand over her breast, a habit she had recently developed, as if she was trying to hold the catheter in; hold in the thing that fed to her the thing that would save her.
She looked down at her feet, watched them move, one foot, and then the other, to
be sure each step landed with a bit of ground beneath it. Michele had never seen her look so pale. Her eyes were sunken and dark, but her lips were red, as red as they had always been.
She lowered her body into the chair. She gathered her hair and then released it and
it fell over the back of the chair. It was dark and aged, like a tree, but like a tree, it was beautiful to look at; like a tree it held within it the whole story of their lives.
She bowed her head. He slid his thumb and pushed the switch up. The razor
whirred into life; the sound of working metal and mechanics drowned out the crows circling the treetops.
He took some of her hair into his hand. He lifted it from beside her temple. His
hand trembled. A patch of hair unhinged from her scalp and into his palm, but he did not tell her, and let it fall to the grass.
He felt ill. His stomach felt like the sea. She lifted her left hand and offered it to him,
and he took it into his. Their hands together were soft and worn, two sheets of line and bone, swollen knuckles and diaphanous skin.
In his free hand he held the razor and lowered it before her forehead. He drew it
close to her skin. In a single, slow stroke he pulled the razor from the front of her head to the back of her neck.
A sheath of gray collapsed toward the ground. It fell on his boot. She squeezed his
hand. The wind blew but he did not look up to see the leaves fall from their branches.
He heard her voice, and switched off the razor for a moment, leaning in close to her
These leaves, she said, they have to be cleaned up.
I know, he said.
Today, she said.
He was about to switch the razor back on.
I canâ€™t stand to look at them, she said.
She lowered her head.
His heart fluttered. Kissing her hand, biting his lip to steady its tremble, he
switched the razor back on.
DOUG PIERRE BAULOUS
I think expression is fatal, crucial, self-rewarding. I’m figuring out the past by working today – traveling behind 51
d things. I equate problems or loss of control with fragmentation â€“ hence collage, ripping, binding, sorting.
OPENING SPREaD: amate wreckage PAGE 55: medulla trouble PAGE 56: snow guilliotine OPPOSITE PAGE: khmer skate TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT: Who saw the brute? VESSELS Middle, LEft to right: pinning down penelope UNTITLED BOTTOM: boy and crossbones II PAGE 59: buenas historias PAGE 60: strands
by Edgar Oliver
This feeling from long ago came to mea feeling of old cars gone by down streets on nights long agoa boyâ€™s love for all that. LightSummer over everything. The flat river there below spreadout industries and pipes dominating the banks, the wasteland of the mouth unowned. All the food offered up in the cafeteriasbasked, stuffed pork chips and veal parmigina and corn sticks and fried okra and stuff like that irresistible to a young child. In a rooming house a man is confined, to a room with all his passions. Passions come. The room of myself is lost in some old rooming house. He would cast glances at himself always while moving through the cityin windows and cars and doorsnever enough time before the mirrornever enough time to fall into things carrying you away.
Photo by Andy LaChance
It was an affront to me that joy existed. Simple joy, to me, was a terrible affront. Oh love is in unknown places and times. Love is to comeas daylight and always is, and the unknown wakening of children. My dry hands, my dry hands are my hands this spring.
TROLL KILLERS by Erin SNYder
Nick put on the brakes, and his twelve-speed bike slid to a stop beside Arthur’s,
which was already parked, kick-stand down, on the black tar of the turnoff. White lines, faded and broken, framed four parking spaces, though no one ever stopped out here in the winter. Nick took his time climbing off his bike, kicking down the stand, and adjusting the strap on his gray pack. He stood facing the sea while the wind whipped at his hair. It was the warmest winter anyone could recall, at least according to every parent, teacher, and weatherman the boy had heard over the past month. But out here, so close to the water, it was plenty cold enough. Nick straightened his glasses and started towards his friend, towards Arthur, who he’d known since they were four.
Arthur was sitting on the curb, a wooden bat by his side, a pack, identical to Nick’s,
lying behind him. His coat was open, despite the cold—or perhaps because of it.
Nick gave a look back at the bikes. “Maybe we should, I don’t know, move ‘em
down. In case somebody comes by,” he said.
Arthur shrugged. “I’ve been coming down here for a week to feed this thing. No
one’s bothered me yet.”
“But, you know. In case,” Nick said. “What if my mom came by?”
“What if?” Arthur muttered. “What’s she going to do? Besides, no one comes by out
here. Not in the middle of winter. There’s maybe two cars an hour.” He stood up, dusted himself off, then picked up his bat and his pack. “If you want to dump your bike on the
photo courtsey of Simon Flamson
beach, then dump it. But mine’s gonna be fine up here.”
Nick nodded. “Let’s just go.”
“It’s a walk,” Arthur said. “You sure you’re up for this? I mean, I don’t want to take
you if you’re not really up for it.”
“I’m fine,” Nick said quickly. “And I brought what we talked about. I got it,” he
added, patting his pack like a drum.
Arthur smiled, turning to face the bay. He looked out across the water, at distant
ships and circling birds, at white-tipped waves and the gleam of the afternoon sun. The corner of his mouth twisted into a smile. “Then let’s get to it,” he said. “Let’s. Get it on.”
They hurried down the stone steps leading to the beach. In six months, you
wouldn’t be able to take three steps without walking on sunbathers or kicking over some kid’s sand castle. But in February, there was no one.
Thin veins of ice ran through the sand, cracking under the boys’ sneakers. An empty
plastic bag, caught under a piece of driftwood, flapped in the wind, as though it had somewhere to go or something to do. Nick kicked at the log to free it, and away it went, bouncing along the damp sand.
“Hey, Nick,” Arthur said, pointing to a clamshell with his bat.
“Huh?” Nick said, turning away from the grocery bag he’d just freed. He pushed on
the bridge of his glasses with his thumb than rubbed his nose. “Oh, oh sure.” He picked up the shell then wound up and pitched it overhand while Arthur swung away. “Strike one,” Nick yelled out, laughing, before looking for a second shell.
Arthur gripped the bat tight, then traced a base in front of him with the tip of his
shoe. “All right. I’m ready this time. I’m ready.”
The next shell sailed through the air, and Arthur swung the bat. There was a crack,
like lightning, and the clamshell shattered like glass on concrete. “Home run!” Arthur cackled, running on ahead, while Nick chased behind.
The two boys reached the rocks in less than ten minutes. The sand disappeared
beneath the rising island of smooth stone. They climbed up, lending each other a hand when needed, and ran along the surface. They leapt over cracks, darting as quietly as they
could: they were nearing their prey. To their left, yellow beach grass billowed like patches of molting hair; to their right, the sea continued its slow ebb, though neither boy knew or cared whether it was coming in or drifting out.
One instant they were running over the stone. The next, Arthur had stopped
abruptly, his hand at his side, blocking Nick’s path. Both boys crept together, slowly approaching a drop-off where the rocks fell away in a small cliff, no more than ten feet, ending at the sandy floor.
Nick and Arthur ducked low, crawling to keep out of view, until they were close
enough to peer over. Even before his eyes saw it, Nick could hear the thing, lunging back and forth and tearing at something. Arthur waved him on, and he peeked over the edge for a look.
At the troll.
It was smaller than Nick had expected, shorter than either boy. Nick found himself
conflicted. Part of him was relieved it wasn’t monstrous, and part was disappointed in its modest stature. Hunched over, it held the wing of a gull, at least three days gone, gnawing at the bones like a starving dog. It’s skin was a pale gray, almost matching the sand in color. It wasn’t moving much, though when it did, it lurched around, as though deformed and confused. Nick wondered if all trolls moved like this or if there was something wrong with this one. It didn’t really matter, but he wondered nonetheless.
Arthur pulled Nick back, and both boys sat on the ground and opened their
packs. Arthur drew out the contents of his; a plastic freezer bag, sealed tight. Inside was a raw fish, viscid and shining. Arthur wrinkled his nose while he peeled open the seal and squeezed out the fish, which he tossed over the edge, before wiping his hands against his pants.
The boys heard the fish land, followed by a shuffling sound and a noise like a hog
sniffing. Nick pulled off his eyeglasses, folded them, and placed them in their black case. He them in the front pocket of his pack. From the open top, he removed a hatchet, ten inches long, which he had taken from his father’s shed. He turned it, trying to reflect the sunlight, but stopped after a few seconds. Arthur was holding his baseball bat and looking him in the eye.
The boys nodded to each other and crawled on their stomachs back to the edge,
where they watched the troll tear into the fish. After a moment, the creature stopped eating and began coughing. It sniffed the fish again, then threw it away, spitting, shaking, and retching. Arthur silently mouthed the words, “Rat poison.”
By this time, the boys were already climbing down the rock.
The troll saw them when they reached the sand, no longer creeping or trying to stay
quiet. It slouched towards its cave, wincing in pain and gripping at its stomach. Arthur charged forward, swinging his bat wildly, yelling a battle cry. Startled, the troll jumped back, avoiding the boy’s swing by dropping to the ground and fleeing on all fours.
But Nick was ready, hatchet in hand, arching it down at the troll. His hand was
steady, his will didn’t waver. He might have split the creature’s head open then and there if it weren’t so quick. The troll leapt to the side, avoiding the child’s swing, and looked ready to attack.
Arthur had caught up with it, though. With the same force that had blown apart
the clamshell, he brought his bat into the creature’s side. The troll howled in pain, clawing and swiping now at the bat and its wielder. It scurried forward toward Arthur, who now retreated backwards, heading for the sea. “Nicky!” he cried. “It’s after me!”
Nick was already on his way. He brought the hatchet down on the creature’s back,
and this time he connected. Blood splattered from the cut, landing on the rock, the sand, and Nick’s coat. The troll yelped out, more afraid than angry, and tried to turn, but Nick struck it again, this time in the leg.
“Now!” Nick yelled, as Arthur turned, slashing with the bat like it was a samurai’s
sword. He caught it in the jaw, not as hard as he probably intended, but hard enough to daze the creature.
“Kill it,” he said to Nick, who held his hatchet, trying to find a place to strike. He
couldn’t get at the creature’s neck, since it was shielding itself with its arms.
The boys circled, disoriented from the adrenaline and the cold, but excited from
the battle, the adventure of it all. Then the troll leapt, claws swiping and teeth glaring. The boys screamed and jumped back. The creature’s claws cut into Nick’s pant leg. Specks of blood dotted the cloth.
“Jesus!” Arthur yelled. “Are you--”
“I’m fine,” Nick said, swinging his hatchet at the troll. He hit, but at an angle, so the
blade struck flat without breaking the skin. Meanwhile, the troll, trying to take advantage of the boys’ confusion, started for its cave, where perhaps it would be safe.
“No ya don’t,” Arthur said, dropping his bat and leaping at the creature. He latched
onto its leg, pulling it back. The troll fell flat on its stomach, still clawing the ground in a frantic attempt to reach shelter.
Nick’s hatchet cut into its back again, and the creature squealed in pain. “You stupid
idiot,” Nick said, wheezing. “Don’t you get it?” He pinned it beneath his foot to keep it from getting away. He chopped like he was cutting into wood. “You’d only suffer. I’m just. I’m going to end....”
Arthur let go of the troll’s leg and crawled back on the sand. He watched while
Nick hacked at the creature over and over, until it stopped moving. Then watched his friend of eight years roll it over and bring the ax down hard onto its neck.
The head didn’t come off. The hatchet’s blade wasn’t large enough for that, nor was Nick
strong enough. But the blow was plenty to end the fight, to claim the kill. The creature’s body quivered for a few seconds then went still. Nick pulled the weapon free, then sat on the ground, exhausted. He touched his leg, where the troll had cut him, and looked at the blood. He kicked sand at the creature’s body, which smelt like rotting fish. He looked at the creature’s blood, as though he was angry it was the same color as his own.
“It’s like... it didn’t even know it was a monster,” Arthur said, zipping his jacket up. “It just, it
kept trying to--”
“It’s cool,” Nick said, calmly. “It’s dead now. Hey. Do you think we should take the head? No
one’s going to believe us otherwise. No one thinks they even exist.”
“No,” Arthur said quickly. “It’s better if it’s secret. You know, for everyone’s sake. Besides, it
smells like, like I don’t know. Like a dead rat or something.”
“I guess,” Nick said, before bringing his hatchet down into the sand. It stuck out, balancing
there for a moment, before toppling over from its own weight. Nick crawled into the troll’s cave.
“What are you doing?” Arthur called out.
“Want to see if there’s anything... anything in here,” Nick cried back. “You know, any skeletons
from victims or something.”
“What do you see?” Arthur asked, his voice cracking a bit. He was cold now, ready to go home,
though he didn’t admit it.
“Nothing,” Nick said back. “Just dead fish and... birds. God it stinks in here!”
“It wasn’t that big,” Arthur said quietly. “I guess it only ate fish and stuff.”
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” Arthur responded, before asking, “Hey, does it have any, like treasure? I think... I
think these things collect it, you know?”
Nick came out of the tiny cave, wiping the sand from his clothes. “Just... just this,” he said,
holding up a small handful of ivory shells and sea glass, which sparkled like diamonds and rubies. “Do you want anything? A souvenir?”
“Nah,” Arthur said. “I’m... I’m good.” His smile was less than halfhearted.
“I’m keeping this,” Nick said holding up a piece of round, green glass. He put it in his pocket,
before walking to the edge of the water. “You sure you don’t want anything?”
Arthur shook his head, while Nick stepped forward and threw the dead troll’s possessions as
far as he could into the sea, just to watch them hit the waves.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ERIN SNYDER 22: How did you get started writing? ERIN SYNDER: Growing up, I had a large interest in fantasy. My father [was] a lifelong Tolkien
fan. The idea of creating fantasy stories appealed to me most as a teenager. Before I started seriously writing fiction, I’d already told dozens of stories through D&D and other role-playing games. I love the sense of exploration that comes with putting a new world together, and the satisfaction of mapping out the impossible or absurd.
22: What role does mythology play in your work? ES: As strange as it might sound, I use mythology to ground my writing. Fantasy without myth drifts into incoherence. I find that mythology gives fiction some resonance, makes it more memorable.
22: Often in your work, humankind is the enemy and humanity the savior. Talk a little about this dynamic.
ES: I think that’s a great synopsis of For Love of Children, however, the reverse could be said for
Facsimile : the villain is humanity divorced from the human. It is a dynamic I enjoy playing with. Both science fiction and fantasy lend themselves to explore the boundaries of what it means to be human and humane.
22: Who are your favorite literary or comic heroes? ES: Uh oh, you asked me about heroes. In literature I tend to find villains far more dynamic than the
good guys (even when I’m rooting for the heroes). When you dig past the surface, most heroes pretty much fit into one of a few archetypes. I guess I prefer the ones who deviate, for example, Molly Grue, Schmendrick, and Prince Liir from The Last Unicorn. In comics, Barbara Gordon is my favorite superhero. I like supporting characters who are in the shadows of legends more than I like the legends themselves.
22: In your most recent book, Facsimile, there is a push and pull against the boundaries of technology and private life. How have social networking sites like Facebook influenced your work?
ES: Facebook, Google, and Apple all helped inspire the technology in Facsimile. The irony is I
actually think very highly of all three companies. Sure, there are privacy concerns around Facebook, but they pale beside the awesome potential it has to connect people. I estimate there are close to fifty people I’m in touch with through Facebook who I’d otherwise have no idea whether or not they were alive. Throw in email, and you can triple that number. The real dangers with technology are much more subtle.
The effect that the Internet is having on journalism, for example, is terrifying: the number of outlets performing actual investigative reporting is dropping quickly.
22: Do you feel your stories are moralistic? ES: With few exceptions, I don’t think my fiction is moralistic, though I try my best not to write
immorally. I find morals in fiction to be problematic. Most people who are going to read one of my stories already agree with me on most ethical or political issues. You won’t find a lot of conservatives reading fantasy or science fiction, and the ones that do aren’t likely to change their ways because of a story.
22: What are you working on now? ES: I have a third novel completed that I need to edit one of these days. Recently I’ve been writing more short fiction and I’m planning on putting out some compilations soon.
JEFF BURNS, WHEN HISTORY ATTACKS There is a lot of power in context. Using this sixty or seventy-year-old propaganda footage in a modern venue creates layers. You can line up a lot of themes, but the real strength is the voice.
OPENING SPREAD: PHOTO BY ANDY LACHANCE TOP : MASHUP: WHERE CREDIT IS DUE (2009) ORIGINAL FOOTAGE: WORKING DOLLARS (1957) RIGHT: MASHUP:WHERE CREDIT IS DUE (2009) ORIGINAL FOOTAGE: Point of Return (1965) BOTTOM: Collage by Jeff Burns
The 22 Magazine: How did When History Attacks begin? Jeff Burns: I made a film collage about war-related post-traumatic stress, called The Odyssey.
A friend of mine, David Schneider, had been helping me with the project. When I started cutting around with oil propaganda, we found ourselves looking at a sort of platform or genre. He and Steve Paul really helped with the momentum, and I found myself with three films.
22: What the goal of the project? JB: The basic purpose of [the project ] is to use the growing cynicism in this country to educate
people. Americans have been facing the exact same energy and financial crises since our founding, at relatively consistent intervals. If I can make that sink in, we could break ourselves out of some of these circular problems.
22: Why do you find mashup techniques effective? JB: There is a lot of power in context. Using this sixty or seventy-year-old propaganda footage in a
modern venue creates layers. You can line up a lot of themes, but the real strength is the voice. The voices of these films invoke feelings of authority, and cynicism. Apply that to education, where we try to fight children’s cynical and skeptical impressions, and instead of telling them what to think, we show them how to review facts and history to make a pragmatic opinion.
22: What topics will WHA take on next? JB: I would really like to try healthcare or agriculture, but workers rights, immigration, and educa-
tion seem just as pressing. Honestly, there isn’t a problem today we haven’t had before.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH WHERE CREDIT IS DUE.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH WATER.
JOHN JENNISON "I think you put a little bit of yourself into everything you do creatively. With that said, the themes I tackle are always closely related to my life. My life is what I know better then anything in the world and it is way better in 2D."
THE 22 MAGAZINE: When did you first become interested in comics? JOHN JENNISON: I first became interested in comics at the age of ten. Growing up, I hated reading
and my Grandmother would do whatever she could to get me to read. One afternoon we were at a flea market. She used to have tables with all her old girlfriends. They would sit around and gab, and I would roam through all the junk. At one of her friend’s booths, I found the first issue of the Robin miniseries. We are talking 1990. It featured Tim Drake—not the original Robin, but the Robin of my childhood. Anyway, it was at that moment I was hooked. Crazy colors, boys in tights beating up bad guys, amazing illustrations: what was not to like?
22: Who are some of your favorite illustrators? JJ: There are so many amazing illustrators, but if I were to make a list, it would start with George Perez.
That man can have over a hundred super heroes on a page and each of them looks different, each will show its personality, each commands a presence that not a lot of artists can capture. Then there is James Jean, not strictly a comic book artist, but his work on the covers for Vertigo’s Fables blew my mind. If you have never seen his work, pick up a copy of Project Recess—it will blow your mind. Another is a writer/illustrator Craig Thompson. His book Blanks changed the way I looked at comics. It was this book that made me realize that comics could thrive as a narrative that didn’t involve super heroes. It was a simple love story with complex religious undertones that just caught my attention. I think it is something like four hundred pages; I read it twice in a day.
22: When did you start drawing your own comics? JJ: As a kid I was always drawing little three-panel comics that were not very good. I didn’t have the atten-
tion span to create a beginning, middle, and end. The first comic book I created was during a summer class I took at the University of Southern Maine. I believe the class was called “Illuminated Autobiography.” You had to combine words and pictures to tell stories from your life. As comic books and graphic novels have influenced most of my life, I figured what better way to tell my story? For my final project we had to produce a long format book that tied in all of the smaller books we had created over the course of the session. At the time I was also in a gallery practicum class that was taught by this awful professor who, from what it seemed, had never really shown work in a gallery. We butted heads, and even though I was worked my ass off, he still tried to give me a shitty grade. I used myself as the main character for the first comic, creating a Superhero persona, Clay. Clay was a gay superhero who fought the evil Professor Mean, a crazed photography professor who gained super powers after falling into a vat of photo chemicals.
22: Many of your themes reflect issues in your own life. Can you talk a little about those themes, and how
comics help you to explore, and maybe even resolve some of those issues?
JJ: I think you put a little bit of yourself into everything you do creatively. With that said, the themes I
tackle are always closely related to my life. My life is what I know better then anything in the world, and it is
way better in 2D. The victors get to write history. I’m just getting a head start on mine.
22: Who is your favorite comic book character? JJ: I feel I relate to the human heroes who work and strive to better themselves. I was never really a huge
fan of the crazy-powered heroes. I really think Robin had the biggest impact on me as a child. What kid wouldn’t want to be Robin? You’re the only person (other then Alfred) that Batman lets into his life. You get to go on all these crazy adventures. Plus, there was just something about that costume that really did it for me.
22: Who is your least favorite? JJ: Wolverine. He was always way too powerful. [It] was just like, “Eh, you can’t kill me, ‘cause no matter what, my healing factor will fix me.” He has this bad-ass persona, but if nothing can kill you, then what’s the point?
22: If you could have any superpower what would it be? JJ: I think I would just take being rich like Bruce Wayne.
Then I could live the hipster lifestyle I was born for. Maybe I’d get a utility belt and fight some crime on the side.
22: Talk a little about your current work, and possible future
JJ: I have this obsession with creatures from the deep. Eightarmed beasts that just want to show the world a little love. I’m doing a series of illustrations, but when the right story strikes me, I’ll create the ultimate octopus saga.
JOSEBA ESKUBI JOSEBA ESKUBI 85 85
I try to transform the image into a network of qualities and tensions. Any form can be transformed into anothe
er and change its meaning. 86
22: Where are you from? JE: I was born in Bilbao, Spain, and I currently reside there too. 22: When did you start painting or drawing? JE: Iâ€™ve always loved making images, drawings, paintings. Images that never end and make you con-
22: What are you currently working on? JE: I am teaching at the Faculty of Fine Arts in the Basque Country. Some of my works have been
recently published by the Australian magazine, Dust & Dessert (issue no. 3), and Mental Shoes (issue no. 18).
22: How did you start making the work of the Hartzazu and Mauri series? JE: I try to transform the image into a network of qualities and tensions. Any form can be trans-
formed into another and change its meaning. These works began as a kind of gymnastic exercise before the bigger painting but, they have a strong presence. My work process is fairly intuitive, allowing the material to build a structure that might suggest different things.
22: Would you consider your work collage, painting, or both? JE: I basically consider my work like a painting that expands its qualities to other territories. I try to make sure that pictorial material always appears in the foreground. Something like an organic landscape where the masses are constantly changing.
22: Which artists inspire your work? JE: Francisco de Goya, Salvador DalĂ, Philip Guston, Luis Candaudap, etc. 22: Any thoughts about collage and appropriation in art? JE: The appropriation may be in many ways, sometimes obvious and sometimes as simple iconic reference. The collage can make clearer the relationship between the external information and its manipulation, like a conversation between the acquired image, and your own visual field.
all images from hartzazu and mauri series, courtesy of the artist
TOP: Named for Walt Whitman RIGHT: NAMED FOR LUCY PARSONS BOTTOM: NAMED FOR BENJAMIN DREW
TOP: YP MIDDLE LEFT: Named for Oscar Neebe (STUDIO VIEW) MIDDLE RIGHT: Named for Benjamin Drew (STUDIO VIEW) BOTTOM LEFT: NAMED FOR LUCY PARSONS BOTTOM RIGHT: NAMED FOR LUCY PARSONSw
The 22 Magazine: Where did you grow up and how did you first start painting? Kate Javens: After a childhood of traveling, my family settled in Pennsylvania. I always drew. My career as a painter was cinched after my first visit to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum in Philadelphia. It felt like home.
22: You’ve talked about choosing your “named for” animals based on the physical elements, as well as their historical stories and moral acts. Why do you feel animals represent these figures more accurately than regular human portraits?
KJ: Animal subjects are a perfect source for symbolic reference. Historically, they have their own associations (of weight, strength, grace, cunning, etc.), but they’re still strange enough visually to be pliable as subjects. This “otherness” makes them forgiving of the liberties an artist can take with them. I typically use American and common animals and to portray them as the exotic, mysterious creatures they still are.
22: What is it about the animal or the animal-human hybrid that compels you, particularly in Father Ram?
KJ: Father Ram is the only hybrid that I’ve made, and I did so simply because I couldn’t think of a better way to describe this person or state of the person’s life. I made the series to honor my father, and the head is his. My father was a young pilot in Vietnam during the worst of it. I wanted to make an image that acknowledged both the strength of youth as well as the vulnerabilities of that power. I drew on Frank O’Hara’s poem, “The Hunter”, for its rich examination of this concept.
22: In your book, the essay by Margaret Skove mentions the idea of remembering the past through reinterpretation of history. Do you believe the only constant of history is change?
KJ: I do believe history is constantly changing, not in events, but in the interpretation of events and their significance in our consciousness. How does a culture shape its knowledge of itself? It is a mysterious process.
22: Does the role of “naming” these creatures preserve both these animals and their histories? Something like classification? Or more like a memorial act?
KJ: I like the idea of classification. At its core, my act of naming is an effort to honor; to repeat the names of some of the people who have defined what we are at our best. It’s surprising how obscure these names are. It has made me curious about the mechanisms of fame, what it means to repeat a name and the small but cumulative power of that action. I also like the idea of a name existing in a symbolic object -- an object that is bought and sold, the name said and owned. When art is commodified this concept becomes particularly interesting as it presses a relationship between the altruistic and
22: Many of your animals seem to be depicted in the moment of transformation from life to death, sort of vaporous and ethereal something like a spirit, but still incredibly strong-willed. Does this has to do with your ideas of motion with animals? Do you feel there is a transitory aspect in your animals?
KJ: I’m an open-form painter, more comfortable depicting a gesture than a still scene. When I work from a dead specimen, I try to manipulate the form into life. I’m not interested in making the creatures appear alive, but in representing life. There’s a difference. It’s this contest between the dead and my manipulated gesture that leaves the image in a curious straddle.
22: You use the following lines of William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence” to assign students. “Every Night & every Morn Some to Misery are Born. Every Morn & Every Night Some are Born to sweet delight. Some are Born to sweet delight, Some are Born to Endless Night..” Why do you assign this poem, and what is the meaning in your interpretation?
KJ: To have a [dead] animal in our studio, to examine, manipulate, arrange for whatever highminded purpose we think is worth it, is deeply affecting. I never want a student to lose that gravity. It would be a gross frivolity. A hundred and thirty-two lines of “The Auguries of Innocence” is the least we can do.
THE NAMED FOR SERIES Artist Kate Javens chooses names of historical figures, relying on the bestial or delicate qualities of her animals to maintain the legacy of civil rights leaders. Below are some of the names chosen.
Martha Ballard: Eighteenth century midwife and writer. Oscar Neebe: Anarchist, labor activist, and defendant in the Haymarket bombing trial. Albert PaRsons: Abolitionist, leader of the Socialist Labor Party, and defendant in the Haymarket bombing trial.
Andrew Furuseth: Founder of the American Seamen’s Union and Secretary of the Sailor’s Union of the Pacific from its inception in 1880s. Furuseth spent nineteen years lobbying congress to pass the American Seamen’s Act.
Learned Hand: Judge of the U.S. District Court for New York’s Southern District (1909-1924) and of the Federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals (1924-1961). Often called the “tenth justice of the Supreme Court,” Hand was regarded as one of the finest jurists in American history.
WALT WHITMAN: American poet, journalist, and humanist.
FATHER RAm , 2006
LUCY PARSONS (1853-1942) Born in 1853 in Texas, Parsons was born of African, American Indian, and Mexican American heritage. Little information is known of her early life. She used several surnames until she married Albert Parsons in 1870. After her husband was executed in the Haymarket Affair, she continued her life-long commitment advocating for the poor. Her speeches were so threatening to authorities that she was often arrested before she reached the podium. The Chicago police described her as â€œmore dangerous than a thousand rioters.â€?
BENJAMIN DREW (1812-1903) A Boston abolitionist, Drew traveled to Upper Canada in the 1850s to transcribe the stories of runaway American slaves. In 1856 he published The Refugee: Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada Related by Themselves. Containing scores of interviews (many that recount horrific abuse), the book documents simple tales of journeys to freedom.
DERRICK BELL (1930-) Former Weld Professor of Law at Harvard, Bell is the author of Race, Racism, and American Law, Faces at the Bottom of the Well, And We are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice, as well as other other published lectures and articles on race and law. Javens met Bell at the MacDowell Colony in 1998. Bell is the sole contemporary in the series.
99 AMA, 2007
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22: You talk about amorphous shapes in your work and how one shape can take on different sym-
bolic meanings. Why do you choose to keep your depictions somewhat mysterious, and how does this add to the narrative of your life and work?
Katherine Mann: My process of painting wouldn’t work if I wasn’t working with abstract
forms. The paintings do not tell a linear narrative, instead, they create an environment that is partially dependent on the viewer’s interpretation.
22: A few months back you completed a residency at Triangle Artists Workshop in Brooklyn. Was
this your first experience working in New York?
KM: Yes. I’m currently based in Washington, D.C., and in Baltimore, so this was my first studio
experience in New York. The residency was amazing. Combine thirty or so artists, an old design firm office space, food, and housing, and you get a crucible for making art. I would recommend the Triangle workshop to any emerging artist as a chance to meet others in your field and focus on your practice, even if for only two weeks
22: Your work is very active. It almost seems like your a record of your physical movement. Is the act of painting, and of the movements you make, a large part of your work?
KM: Part of my process is physical and another part is extremely designed, not bodily at all. I begin
each piece by pouring ink, water, graphite, or watered down acrylics onto paper as it rests on the floor of my studio. Because of the size of my works, this can be a very physical experience. The stains that are created as the water evaporates record my own action of throwing water down and the chance operations of evaporation and gravity. I then use the ensuing stains as a skeleton for the composition that make up the rest of the piece, coaxing from it the development of decorative forms: braids of hair, details of Beijing opera costuming, lattice—work, sequined patterns. Although founded in adornment, these elements are repeated until they too appear organic, even cancerous, as they highlight and suffocate the underlying ink—stained foundation.
22 : You have a history of living in several foreign and domestic locations. Has this experience changed or shaped your artistic perspective in any way?
KM: My father is a foreign service officer, so I grew up in China, Taiwan, Korea, Israel, and the
U.S. I still have never lived in one place longer than four years at a time, and I think this fragmented, gypsy-like way of living has certainly influenced my work. The pieces are very much about how, even if characters and elements may appear incongruous, they might still have a relationship. I wouldn’t be interested in this if it were not for my biography. I’m also half Asian American. Someone once told me my work, with the combination of the spontaneous ink stain foundation and the subsequent decorative, minute elements layered on top, was a visualization of my identity as Hapa, wherein the ink referred to Abstract Expressionism and the Western tradition, and the decorative elements were all drawn from Chinese patterning. It’s not exactly as simple as that (the decorative elements are drawn from a variety traditions), but I think both traditions certainly exist in my work. In high school, I was trained in the Sumi ink “Guo Hua” style by tutors. [It is] a style that still pervades my work. I want my pieces to be non-linear narratives, landscapes made up of all of smaller relationships that the
viewer can move through by stepping close to the piece. This way of creating is very tied to traditional Chinese landscape painting—no one focal point, no perspective. Instead, a series of small elements layered over one another.
Does this idea of being perceived as different based on illusions, rather than the truth, tie into your idea of creating work that suggests, but does not define, elements?
KM: It’s not as didactic as creating illusions rather than truths. Honestly, creating characters that
seemed ambiguous was more important in my older works. The new pieces are more about taking elements that are easily recognized—bows, baubles, floral motifs—and repeating them until they appear monstrous. In older pieces, I wasn’t thinking so much about the decorative as I was about the simple act of creating characters to play with in subsequent paintings. In some ways, I guess, I’m still doing the same thing. In older works, I would create a character that could appear to one viewer as a cratered moon and another as a cellular object. Now I create characters that appear from far away as
FABULOUS ATLAS, 2008
103 ROMANce, 2008
pods or bulbous piles of junk, but upon closer inspection are created out of drawn flowers and ribbons. Either way, I’m interested in creating elements that can be viewed in at least two different ways.
What is the relationship with the materials you use, particularly paper and the action of cutting paper?
KM: I only work on paper because I’m still exploring the chemistry of paint on paper. How can I
harness the buckling of paper when it’s wet? How does it respond to water and paint, ink, graphite, dirt, the razor blade? As long as my process is centered on the action of water -- based mediums, I’ll continue using paper. I love it for its breathable nature -- how it expands and contracts and buckles as I paint on it and cut into it.
TOP: Filigree , 2008 RIGHT: Filigree Series part 2: Chimerism, 2009 OPPOSITE PAGE: TOP: Filigree Series, 2009 BOTTOM LEFT: REFLECTING, 2008 BOTTOM RIGHT: DETAIL FROM UNTITLED, 2008
108 MERE BAUBLES OF GLASS, 2009
Phone Mom is an insiderâ€™s look at the life and struggles of graduate student, Diane, who works as a â€œphone mom known about the disembodied voices that help them maintain a sense of intimacy. From toddlers to newborns,
mâ€? to pay her bills. Throughout America, millions of babies are treated like decorative objects, but very little is phone moms are the unsung and sometimes abused heroes of our nationâ€™s youth. 110
22: Where did you go to school, grow up, etc? ME: I grew up in Northern Virginia on the social borderline between creepy D.C. political/military/
government people and redneck trailer trash. I went to film school at Boston University, where most students were very bright, egoless, and art-film focused... except me.
22: Why did you decide to study film? ME: I’ve wanted to make films since I was young. I think my dad got me a Super 8 camera when I
was eight. I made shows and short films for my high school TV station. I was always writing screenplays and watching movies. For a brief time, I wanted to make comic books, but I think seeing Terry Gilliam’s Brazil in the sixth grade sorta buried that dream.
22: Who are your major influences? ME: Besides Gilliam, I love Jim Jarmusch, Whit Stillman, Wes Anderson, David Gordon Green,
Barry Levinson, Albert Brooks, Joe Dante, John Landis, Ray Harryhausen, Kurosawa, the Coens, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. My childhood hero was Orson Welles, which means I am doomed to become a three hundred pound wine spokesman.
22: What is Eskimo Hill and who is involved? ME: Eskimo Hill Pictures is basically any film that me and my friend Seth Zwiebel partner-up on.
We’ve been working together since college, and his amazing acuity with cameras and computers really compliments my general insanity. Seth forces me to be much more of a perfectionist. We spent years making this epic sci-fi short on a shoestring budget with tons of CGI, but learned that you really need that extra polish if anyone is gonna take your effects film seriously. Since then the focus has been more short comedies and some animations.
22: How did you come up with the idea for Phone Mom? ME: I got the idea driving home one day. Came home, wrote it, laughed, then put it in a file and
forgot about it. Four years later, I met an exciting and talented actress who needed a vehicle. I remembered the Phone Mom script and set it up for her. We were a week from shooting and the actress became irritatingly unprofessional, so I fired her, and hired Katie Hartman instead. Katie was a dream to work with; she brought a lot of ideas of her own, and she plays the ukulele! The whole idea, which she understood, was to play everything as straight as possible. Even the way it’s shot and cut is meant to evoke all those vainglorious documentaries that take themselves way too seriously.
22: What are your upcoming projects? 111
ME: Me and Seth are currently tinkering with a fairly complicated animated opening for a web series; we also just finished work in Boston on a childrenâ€™s show pilot for former Sesame Street producer Natasha Lance Rogoff. My main focus right now is a feature script Iâ€™m writing with a brilliant standup comedian named Julia Lundy, which we hope to make next year.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH PHONE MOM.
(Touverakois) All my life I wanted to create something because it is a vital need. I started making music (bass, percussion, electronic) at fifteen. I manufactured African percussion instruments at eighteen, and since then I have never stopped experimenting in all subjects and matters that interest me: photo, video, animation or painting. Reflux is an example of the reverse process of an experimental painting. I made a series of acrylic paintings on a potterâ€™s wheel with my friend, C. Peguinho, and this capture shows the result of a mixture of different densities. Itâ€™s just the mechanism of a colored fluid where you can see what you want. The audio track is a Buddhist liturgical chant in reverse mode.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH REFLUX.
a short story by Samantha Kostmayer Sulaiman
Taa’ is the 16th letter in the Arabic alphabet.
It was an aimless walk. Ambling nowhere in particular, as people only do who are
either woefully underemployed or who eagerly want to cultivate the mission of the missionless. We fit both categories, and then some. Distraction was a calling, a freelance job. On this walk that lovers take without direction, a strange light shone from an even stranger opening. For people who have no deadlines to meet, no children to pick up, and no curfews to obey, strange lights certainly beckon.
The shine emerged from an orb, a not-quite-discernible shape but something
vaguely spherical. I, being the curious one, the more missionless, the adventurer, took his hand and with my usual urgency, invited him to enter the glare. The contours of the space demanded that we enter on all fours, that we crawl into this narrow portal with heads bowed and shoulders hunched. But this was not like the dark and narrow tunnels used by the Vietcong to foil the Americans. Nor was it anything like the shafts entered by filthy miners desperately hoping to scoop a day’s wage from the earth’s core. It was a beacon. A lure with the promise of delight. It was a luminous, albeit tiny, opening to an oversized and apparently abandoned Taa’.
Neither of us, not even he for whom the Taa’ was an old and helpful friend, sus-
pected that people lived inside the belly of the letter. We never imagined that the oval itself could hold a life, perhaps richer and more complex than the many many lives it helped to describe over the years of literary and poetic usage. But whoever was brave enough, or mad enough, or wise enough, to set up living quarters in the barrel of the most emphatic of Arabic letters, seemed, by the time we got there, to have disappeared. What people had left behind in this bright and abandoned egg was the most exquisite chandelier. It was not the chandelier itself that was so magnificent, but the light that shone from it. The roof of the
Taaâ€™ was the day sky filled with the night stars, and the dazzle was intoxicating. We could stand just beneath the enormous fixture and be reminded of nowhere else in the world. Perhaps we were just mesmerized by the unrivaled majesty of being inside a letter of the alphabet. There was nothing in the space but us and the shifting crystals of light. Our presence alone filled the space with a thousand questions, fantasies and illuminations. Trapped now inside this glowing Taaâ€™ was the infinite possibility that if people could create resplendent spaces in the very interior of the alphabet, there was nothing they couldnâ€™t do.
Perhaps it had been done before, he mused. Maybe people were doing it all over
the world and we were just too slow, backward, or blind. I had my doubts, but they were slowly eroding in this luminosity. Was this the very first letter to open itself and offer refuge, not just for expressing the mind, but also for expressing the body? A harbor for the mental, the material, and the metaphysical?
We, as a species, as those who claim to master language, had been pitifully lim-
ited in our understanding of the many sanctuaries letters could provide. We foolishly and shortsightedly relied on the alphabet to compose letters of regret, poems of praise, tallies of rights and wrongs. But we failed completely to see them as more than tools in our quest for understanding, our desire for expression. We failed to seek solace in their very recesses and divine from these magical spaces something altogether more mysterious and majestic than words themselves. After soaking up the delicious glow, and marveling at our unprecedented luck, we continued on our journey and found ourselves relying again on letters to rhapsodize about our experience. This walk, like most walks, desperately needed words; just to describe it, just to doubt it, just to invent it.
I always feel lucky to continue to play and write music with my best friend. It makes touring a lot of fun. We ha 119
We have different strengths and weaknesses, so we balance each other out well.
ave different musical personalities in some ways though, and itâ€™s been enriching to explore the ways they interact. 120
The 22 Magazine: Where did you grow up and how did you first start playing music? GEREMY SCHULicK: I was born near Lexington, Massachusetts and my family moved to Brattleboro, VT when I was five. I do feel a certain kindship here in NYC though, since my parents and several generations of family from both sides grew up here. My parents listened to a lot of music, but for a while I didn’t think very much of it. At one point, when I was ten or eleven, my dad tried to get me to take guitar lessons, but I wasn’t really interested. At fourteen I started just spontaneously wanting to pick up my dad’s acoustic guitar and play open strings on it really loudly. For their own sanity my parents got me a chord book. I started lessons shortly thereafter. My cousin had also started playing at that time and seeing how much he enjoyed it rubbed off on me. My uncle was also a gigging musician at the time and played in rock bands, which I thought was unfathomably cool.
BRETT PARNELL: I was born in North Carolina, and lived in a tiny little town called Philadelphus. It was just my family and me with no one else around us for a mile in every direction. My first attempt at music came in the form of a drum set when I was eleven. At that time, I believed Rikki Rockett to be the single coolest person on Earth, and I had to do everything I could to be like him. The one major snag in this plan was that I was the worst drummer in the history of time. My parents still like to embarrass me by pulling out the video of my brother Dave and I receiving the drums and the guitar on Christmas morning and trying to play. By the end of the day the drums had been relocated to my dad’s shop where Dave and I started making music videos despite the fact that we sounded like something was dying. I didn’t pick up the guitar until two years later. I tried to play something, and failed miserably at least four or five times. I’ve played almost every day since.
22: How did the duo meet? BP: We met in grad school, and became really fast friends. We started playing together in class, and I believe that everyone in the entire guitar studio had been assigned [a partner] except for the two of us. One day we realized that we both loved these two [Enrique] Granados pieces that are often done on two guitars. We ended up playing them together and formed a group for the class. Our very first performance at the end of the semester went really well, and we decided to continue playing together at school. Once we graduated, we made the decision to make Threefifty Duo our primary focus. I already lived in NYC while I was in school, and Geremy moved down after graduation.
22: What are some of your recent shows? BP: Well, this fall we went to the UK for the first time. It was a great experience for us because we played mostly pubs and rock clubs while we were there. People weren’t as used to hearing classical music, but we were still met very enthusiastically.
22: What is it about the guitar that appeals to you as an insturment ?
GS: I think a lot of professional musicians will say that we don’t really choose our instruments; our instruments choose us. What I can articulate about the guitar is that it’s an extremely versatile instrument, and one could argue that it was the driving force behind the emergence of rock and folk music, which is what I grew up listening to. Then when I discovered that you could play classical guitar, I think that really appealed to me because I have always been a very detail-oriented, meticulous person. Soon after I started playing classical guitar, I saw that it was a great way to really learn the ins and outs of the instrument [and of music in general].
BP: I think that I eventually started playing guitar because my older brother played, and I wanted to do everything that he did. It was when he was learning the opening riff to “Crazy Train” that I was totally sold. I have to agree with Geremy that the versatility of the guitar is one of the most amazing things about it. You can get so many different sounds out of it depending on how you play.
22: Who are your musical inspirations? GS: My first “guitar hero,” was Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. I think what struck me most about him was that, with his lead lines he crafted grooves, textures, and, above all, beautiful melodies that you could really sing along to. I find some of his guitar lines to be catchier than many vocal melodies I’d heard. Even early on in my playing, I got the sense that a lot of lead guitar players just spent their time getting really good at doodling around scale patterns, so their solos would sound impressive, but there wasn’t as much that was memorable or moving about it to me. Don’t get me wrong though, I can appreciate a masterful pentatonic solo just as much as anyone; Angus Young is certainly a force to be reckoned with. I think my number one musical inspiration is Bach. No matter how much I analyze his music, there’s always something unfathomable and spiritual about it that I can’t understand, even when I understand the nuts and bolts behind his composing. This is a very distinct sensation I get with Bach, and I don’t get it with any other music no matter how much I love it. He creates something that is truly beyond the notes on the page. What fascinates me is that I often feel like there is something very complex in addition to something very simple going on at the same time. Whenever I get bogged down with my own music, or really with anything for that matter, I play some Bach. He’s like my “reset” button.
BP: I have to agree with Geremy when it comes to Bach; I won’t even attempt to explain how amazing I think his music is. Another huge influence is Ben Verdery, our teacher from Yale. He challenged us to really listen to what we were doing, and he always pushed us even harder than we pushed ourselves. For a similar reason, I would have to say Dominic Frasca who was the producer of our second album. He made me reevaluate the way I thought about music, writing, and performing. I like to think that I pull inspiration from a wide variety of music. A few things that I have been into recently are The National and Steve Reich. I feel like The National is a really smart rock band that isn’t trying to sound intellectual. They create textures and subtle arrangements in their tunes, but it is all used to serve the music. As for Steve Reich, I saw a performance of “Music for 18 Musicians” a couple of years
ago. There is something about it that is both grand and understated at the same time.
22: If you could play with any musician who would it be? GS: Well, as you might gather from my response to your earlier question, it’d be J.S. Bach. I suppose if it had to be living musicians, I would play with Radiohead.
BP: Geremy Schulick...or Johnny Greenwood. 22: Is the experience playing New York different from playing anywhere else? GS: Yes, I would say so. New York is such an overwhelmingly huge, multifaceted music scene unto itself that it’s hard to take it all in. It’s really a big melting-pot of music, and it’s very progressive, much like its culture. So the genre-mixing mentality that’s very much a part of our own music is very popular here. You see all sorts of bands combining styles in so many different ways. Because of that, I think that people don’t generally regard our music as terribly unusual here. A lot of audiences we’ve played for outside of NYC, however, have thought our music more novel because, generally speaking, I think most other music scenes regard genres as being more fixed.
22: Tell me about the experience of playing in a duo and what it gives or takes from your personal experience of music.
GS: I always feel lucky to continue to play and write music with my best friend. It also makes touring a lot of fun. I’d say that we have pretty similar musical tastes and tendencies on the whole, and it’s great to have someone else to feed off of like that. You each make each other more confident in your own ideas. We also have different musical personalities in some ways though, and it’s been enriching to explore the ways they interact. We have different strengths and weaknesses, so I think we balance each other out well. It’s certainly made me much better as a musician, because there are some things about music that you simply can’t practice by yourself.
BP: It is fun and fulfilling at the same time. We manage to not take ourselves too seriously, but are very serious at the same time. In terms of my playing, I feel like it has given me a new set of ears. Things really click when I am playing my part well and I am also listening intently to everything that Geremy is doing. I also appreciate the fact that Geremy won’t let me get away with anything. If the playing is not up to par, or if I am writing something that isn’t working, he will tell me. I like that. It makes me always work a little bit harder.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH “VICTORY DRILL” VIDEO.
Art is like a pressure valve for me: once my head gets too full, I have to let out all the wild thoughts. Itâ€™s like open beautiful chaosâ€”much like nature. 124
ning the gate to let a pen full of acrobatic, rabid children roam about the countryside creating mayhem and
OPENING SPREAD: “ILLUMINANT” (Efterklang) Top Row, LEFT TO RIGHT: “Holding My Hand” (Minster Hill) “WoodSong” (I MAKE A RISING) “Holding My Hand” (Minster Hill) Bottom Row, LEFT TO RIGHT: “WEIRD FISHES” (RADIOHEAD) “ILLUMINANT” (Efterklang) “GIG” (BRIAN GOSS) “WEIRD FISHES” (RADIOHEAD) “Blood And Thunder” (Matthias Sturm)
12 LEFT: “Marianas Trench” (August Burns Red) RIGHT, TOP: “Gig” (Brian Goss) “Gig” (Brian Goss) MIDDLE: “ILLUMINANT” (Efterklang) “ILLUMINANT” (Efterklang) BOTTOM: “Marianas Trench” (August Burns Red)
THE 22 MAGAZINE: Where did you grow up and what lead you to pursue art and filmmaking? Tobias STRETCH: I grew up in the hills of northern Appalachia, northeastern Pennsylvania. I’m
not sure if it was a choice that led me to art, but I feel like the world in my head had to be made real, otherwise I’d go mad. Art is like a pressure valve for me: once my head gets too full, I have to let out all the wild thoughts. It’s like opening the gate to let a pen full of acrobatic, rabid children roam about the countryside creating mayhem and beautiful chaos—much like nature.
22: You describe your work, using the words of Antonin Artaud as “a cinema which is studded with
dreams.” Are many of your works dream-inspired?
TS: Most of my dreams are more like nightmares, and I usually wake up shaken by all the weirdness.
No movie can really approximate crazy dreams, although many an artist/filmmaker will try. I think the best thing to do is to be true to the tone of your dreams, not so much what actually happens in them. I think cinema, although limited to its 2D rectangular canvas, can at least capture the feelings had in a dream. I think someday we will be able to upload the data of our dreams and visions into the brain implants of others over a network. Hopefully, all the joy and horror in my head can be relived by others via a simple download!
22: Many of your costumes seem to have an aesthetic that is based on repetition on and pattern.
What is the natural versus urban dynamic in your work?
TS: Nature is repetition and pattern in many ways, and so are aspects of urban design. Living in a
city for the last ten years has introduced me to a whole other kind of surrounding, mostly artificial, that is starting to infiltrate my work. I like the bright colors displayed by many insects and birds in the rainforests and elsewhere, but I also like the bright colors worn by people in different cultures. I try to work with every kind of texture, pattern, and color I can. My newer works will hopefully be even more different. I have a nine-foot tall puppet in the video I am working on now, and it will travel through the countryside into the city over the course of the video. I am also working with life-sized humanoid puppets.
22: Do you think the nature of stop-motion helps to add to the surreality and other worldliness of
TS: Stop-motion is really making an awesome comeback in ways that I saw coming at least five years
ago. I think it is here to stay, if only because it can get artists out of their fat-ass harvesting office chairs and away from computer screens. Anything is possible with stop-motion and I aim to prove this.
22: Are there any characters you’ve created that disturb you? TS: They don’t disturb me; real life disturbs the spirit much more. 130
22: Who is the character you feel is most successful? TS: None of my puppets are very successful; they have terrible work habits. We are all very poor
here in my little apartment, but a couple of them do buy lottery tickets from time to time, so fingers crossed.
22: In other interviews, you mention a history of family psychosis. How has this influenced your
work as an artist?
TS: Well, let’s just say I have been witness to far too much mental illness. Suffering of the mental
kind is probably the most overlooked and misunderstood [of illnesses]. My dream is to be able to help folks who suffer with mental illness. Whenever I see a schizophrenic or bipolar person pass me on the streets, I shiver through my soul. Were it not for my art, I would most certainly be out there with them. I am grateful for every day that I am alive in a safe, quiet home.
22: What is the relationship to animals in your work? TS: Animals are in us all, for we are animals. Some day, through genetic reconstruction, we will
bring back the woolly mammoth and the brontosaurus, so we can ride on them like Fred Flintstone. It will be possible to create creatures like a “peguinostrich” or a “foxopotamus” in labs through genetic hybridization, or perhaps even create part man, part whatever kind of animal you choose. I’d love to become part lion or coyote through genetic engineering.
22: What are your future projects? TS: More music videos, for the near term at least. When I get my script done, I plan to do an epic/ fantasy/stop-motion feature in the magical, transcendent tradition of films like The Wizard Of Oz.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH “IN THE SUMMER.” 131
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