Wednesday, July 15, 2015

reading diary/ECHO CHAMBER

dj spooky
on kehinde wiley
In the
process of reflection, the world that we see on his canvass transforms the way we think about old and
new, race, masculinity, and above all, the generous soul of an artist’s ability to provide a way of saying
simply: another world is possible.

“But now it’s burnt down, where are they going to live?…’
Watching the thatched cottage turn to ashes, Mao eventually said to himself: “Um, Really clean if the
earth has fallen to complete void and nothingness!” This was a line of poetry from the classic Dream of
the Red Chamber. But Mao was doing more than reciting poetry. This was an echo of the attraction to
destruction that he had alarmingly expressed as a young man. He continued: “This is called: ‘No
destruction, no construction.”

Nobleman, saint, prophet – Wiley’s subject matter places African Americans in a context that is almost
Surreal in the fact that essentially, no one has done the juxtaposition before. There are writers who
look for the primitive Black – Jean Genet, for example, or photographers who look for the socially
exotic, Robert Mapplethorpe – but the ideal of telling a story with recast characters – maybe Jean
Cocteau’s “Orpheus” might work for this one… Well, it’s something that painting really hasn’t engaged
too much. With one flourish, Wiley switches roles, and lets a whole different reading of portraiture

Think of the New World technique of instantiating Old Saints – any Santeria enthusiast can tell you, like
Yale University’s Robert Farris Thompson, that there’s a hidden city in each of the icons.
hahaha yes yes there is mm hm

Warhol’s Factory of the early 1960’s, we’re presented with an artist who has inherited what digital
media artist Brian Eno likes to say is “scenius” – instead of the old model of the artist cooped up in
their studio (the genius gambit) alone, we’re presented with an artist who functions as a kind of

from august wilson: 
“Oh, I don’t see color.” We
want you to see us. We are black and beautiful. We are not patrons of the linguistic environment that
had us as “unqualified, and violators of public regulations.” We are not a menace to society. We are not
ashamed. We have an honorable history in the world of men. We come from a long line of honorable
people with complex codes of ethnics and social discourse, people who devised myths and systems of
cosmology and systems of economics. We are not ashamed, and do not need you to be ashamed for us.

santeria aesthetics (although the kitsch is over-wrought) and hip-hop aesthetics 

Like Norman
Rockwell’s paintings they look better in reproduction than
in reality.

He is beginning to paint skin in ways you can’t
stop looking at.

In this series he is painting African men. 

Artists fleeing the city
Um yeah! I was just in Brooklyn, and had about half a dozen conversations about gentrification and also the potential for things to happen, in the same breath. Like I heard an optimism in the scene, that something was happening again, people doing things in smaller communities, but forming a tightness in those communities that these residents hadn't felt in some time. But also I heard a lot of these same sentiments, too. Only one person seriously considering leaving though (and these are artists working  in their 30s or above, so somewhat established, although by no means making an easy living).  

Daily Californian on Kehinde Wiley

In this series, it's marginalized Israeli men. 
Every portrait is encrypted
with biblical and folkloric metaphor; most frequent are
representations of Leviathan and regional animals like deer,
leopards and lions. A quote from the Old Testament encircles the
head of one model like a halo. While this is all magisterial and
superficially pleasing, the connection between allusion and model

remains fuzzy

Women are conspicuously absent in
Wiley’s work.

On art and Investment 
The specter of “art as investment” provokes the excitement that comes from
being able to pick out a clear villain: what could be a better example of the evils
of capitalism for art than the businessmen subordinating aesthetic virtue to the

icy logic of profit?

A recent Barclays survey finds that the very
rich still collect what it charmingly calls “treasure” for old-fashioned reasons:
status and amusement.

It’s just that the whole spectacle of
conspicuous aesthetic consumption is so frivolous, you can’t blame them if
sometimes they also like to be told that they are not just splurging, but

art history’s losers vastly outnumber its
winners, and the latter are almost impossible to predict.

Risky Busness: Xu Zhen 
art as business, provoke, controversy...

“It is conceptually witty, it is provocative, it deals with all kinds of things in a lighthearted way,” says Simon Groom,

uh huh
but wow this: “Artists like Ai Weiwei have a desire to not just create art but to
do things in Chinese contemporary society,” he says. Xu Zhen would seem to have a similar impulse. But, he adds, “I
can only express my ideas through my artworks.” When asked directly if he wants to make a political statement with
his art, he answers, “No, I cannot. I would disappear.”

The Chinese Art Explosion 

There are charges that Chinese collectors are using mainland
auction houses to boost prices and engage in widespread speculation, just as if they were trading in stocks or real
estate. Western collectors are also being accused of speculation, by artists who say they buy works cheap and then
sell them for ten times the original prices—and sometimes more.


Movies, television, and news
organizations are strictly censored, but on the whole, the visual arts are not. 

“My sense is that wherever you have tremendous wealth creation, the collecting cycle goes through three phases,” he
says. “First, people collect their cultural patrimony, and then they collect their own contemporary art. I think the
final stage is when they gain a more globalized contemporary-art approach.”


Mike Kelley

Until now, few details have emerged about the manner and possible reasons for his death. Even
friends who knew him say they are still sifting for clues. He was depressed and drinking heavily, they
say, but was the source of his pain a recent heartbreak or something that stretched further back? He
was working furiously on several ambitious projects right up to the end, and some say he felt
enormous pressure to keep pace with his ideas and the art world's expectations of him. To a few, he
confided he was even struggling to keep faith in art itself, an existential crisis all its own for a man
who had always prized the pursuit of art above all else.

performance art was all about action: Vito Acconci rolling, naked, beneath a ramp in a gallery; Chris
Burden asking a friend to shoot his arm with a rifle. Kelley stood beside a houseplant and delivered
a frenetic 45-minute monologue about a man who was convinced that the plant was controlling his
thoughts. At the end, Kelley's character exacts revenge by ripping one of the plant's leaves. Several
members audibly gasped. "You couldn't see him perform without feeling invigorated and confused,"
says Oursler. "You realized you were caught up in a tide-pool of Freudian and Jungian misnomers
with a punk overtone to it all—he was chaos and utter brilliance."


The artist's work was carried out in
the bottega—the workroom—as opposed to the studiolo, a word that has the sense of a study, a room
for contemplation, which would be a separate space. Both were often housed in the same building.
Artists entered as apprentices, doing menial tasks until they proved themselves talented enough to

learn the art of their masters.

17th c northern Eur. The studio became a reflexive space,

19th c. mostly from Fr. en plein
air—literally "in open air."


to one of Koon's unpaid intern. Which really isn't bad: just think of it as the conetmporary parallel of an
apprenticeship in a Renaissance bottega.

reading diary/STRATEGIES

Things don’t exist ‘in themselves’, but only in their relations.

Polyphony literally means multiple voices.

The dialogical word is always in an intense relationship with another’s word, being addressed to a listener and anticipating a response. Because it is designed to produce a response, it has a combative quality (e.g. parody or polemic). It resists closure or unambiguous expression, and fails to produce a ‘whole’. It is a consciousness lived constantly on the borders of other consciousnesses.

dialogism characterises the entire social world. Authentic human life is an open-ended dialogue.

In many ways, the police are the epitome of monologism.

 a fundamental refusal of dialogue and creativity.

the author performs a particular syncretic expression of social heteroglossia. The originality is in the combination, not the elements.
The social and historical world is also characterised by heteroglossia and discursive struggle.

One undergoes ‘becoming’ or maturation by selectively assimilating others’ perspectives.

Epics and poetry create fatalistic and closed worlds, whereas novels create open worlds.

um. hm hm hm.  

anguages and cultures are always unfinished. Similarly, nothing is ever absolutely dead, since it is connected to everything else by the chain of meanings.

The emergence of dialogism at particular points produces cultural revolutions

A Bakhtinian utopia would be a space of abundance of dialogue, of coexistence of differences, of the absence of any overarching regulation of the free self-actualisation of different perspectives. It would be something like a permanent carnival.

In sociological terms, Bakhtin is closer to interactionist and poststructuralist approaches based on meaning and discourse than to Marxist approaches with their usual emphasis on economics.


A carnival is a moment when everything (except arguably violence) is permitted.

 It is a type of performance, but this performance is communal, with no boundary between performers and audience.

Life manifests itself not as isolated individuals but as a collective ancestral body.

 It lowers the spiritual and abstract to the material level. It thus recognises embodiment, in contrast with dominant traditions which flee from it.

‘second life’

Carnival contains a utopian promise for human emancipation through the free expression of thought and creativity. 

the idea of the grotesque. This style transgresses the boundaries between bodily life and the field of art, bringing bodily functions into the field of art.

Folk culture combats the fear created by cosmic terror.

destabilize everything, especially social structures, especially the market place.

Carnival in Bakhtin’s account is a kind of de-transcendence of the world, the replacement of the fixed order of language – held in place by a master-signifier or ‘trunk’ – with a free slippage of signifiers in a space of immanence. The contingency of being/becoming can be embraced as an ecstatic potential, but it can also figure in literature as a horrifying monstrosity, as in the works of HP Lovecraft, and more broadly in the horror genre.

A rhizomatic world such as carnival has its perspectives, frame, and patterns. It does not engender an existentialist ‘lightness of being’.

dialogue and immanence are actualised.

The carnivalesque style of activism emphasises the deconstruction of relations, including those between activists and police, to create an uncontrollable space.

Zapatista tactics are often carnivalesque - the paper airplanes that is the zapatista air force, for example, and even the wooden guns and the masks (making visible by using masks that make apparent the invisibility of the Maya people in the real political imaginary), and the dissolution of self and other, audience and performer, todos somos Marcos. 

recreate spaces where alternatives can proliferate.

reading diary/WRITING-AS

thetic experience is pre-discursive corporeal development she


macleod essay 

an artist who is in pursuit of further art research will not have produced an argument and drawn conclusions so much as provided a provocation to produce more art, contingent to the changed conditions s/he has effected through the phd

critical reflection and critical reflexivity, we deploy the latter as an encompassing term which registers the way in which the phds cited here turn back to engage critically both with their own purposes and institutional contexts. This is partly due to those purposes of art research which refuse the convention of a written thesis, also the shifting of the central focus of research from sources external to it, to the art, which then becomes the enquiry, itself.

methodologies, for instance, are not subject to theory but have to be found within the research art practice
I love this, this unpacks so many things I've been thinking as I've finished the first full draft of the written thesis and am starting to devote more time and attention to the art. In particular, how to present that work when it is both documentation and also holds the potential to perform as well, and I'm finding that it performs something that is outside of the written thesis, and doesn't lend itself to writing at all. 


Within both Geist and Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry by Barrett and Bolt (2007), there is a proposition that methods appropriate to the research practice of the arts are ‘immanent’, that is, not fixed, not predictive, but arising through and from the research itself. in other words, research ‘for’ art is particular to its author, its contexts and the capacity to reflexively unsettle.
journals: The Journal of Writing and Creative Practice

Art and Research: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods

look at susan melrose: 

susan melrose has also written several papers on performativity, and in ‘entertaining other options: restating theory in the age of practice as research’, she outlines the ‘multi-planed and multi-faceted schematics of writing and performance’ (melrose 2002). she also endorses the particularity of what she calls ‘insider knowledges’ which lead to ‘performance theory-and-practice’. in other words, this is a conjoining of what we might call tacit knowledge and intellectual achievement. notable in this essay is its analysis of a ‘crisis’ in writing which arises from the ‘diverse sites of semiotic engagement of the performer, choreographer and spectator, etc.’ This has been very little recognized in the literature on research in the arts and it arises out of paying attention to the event of theatrical performance. melrose makes clear that we need ‘a professional, writing-productive context and economy’.
Yes. and what has been written about the nature of the documentation of performance is still very basic. The concepts behind the documentation are complex, but the modes of presentation are still very simple, and to me, entirely unfulfilling. We need a documentation of performance that is, like performance, immanent. 

on  prices still in progress phd:
if phds are to substantiate claims for the production of more challenging art, then they will need arenas in which to be shown and some of them will be outside the existing gallery system because the most exacting phds do change the contexts within which they are produced. if we want to see interesting developments within our emerging research cultures, in other words, we must foster what artists are and have already produced as research.


authors in Geist on method, point out clearly that art as research is also art as art, that there is a particular rhetoric which does not mean that art is subject to the rules of linguistic formulation, but that it is a kind of ‘rhetoric in action’ (Weckman 2008).
feminist interior: This is a study which looks at and produces ‘creative passages into the self’ (zia 2001). its thesis is formulated through excerpts from the artist’s journal, her diary, exegeses specifically on current feminist theory, play scripts, albums and paintings. Together they provide what the author calls a genealogy of the feminine. it is highly literary, poetic and almost constructs its own set of enacted literary and artistic myths. it deploys both writing and art works as generative sources to realize the self as ‘a complex becoming between the numinous and the ordinary’ (zia 2001: 3). The artist proposes a poetic zone where the numinous is said to enter into the ordinary as a particular space, place and moment of becoming more truly ‘a self’.
like key published sources we have already mentioned, notably Barrett and Bolt (2007), we propose the method is in the research and changes as new ideas are encountered.
paRip uk networking website
367Fine art is of its essence an open and speculative discipline within which artists apply multi-sourced methods and bricolage-like approaches to their research enquiries. it might be useful finally, to remind ourselves that this is in no way new or radical, in that this is precisely what artists have always done.
again this ties into the impulse to foster what artists have produced, and are producing. yes.  


 as shottenkirk (2007) proposes, we need not worry overly about the concept of new knowledge; by taking artist researchers on, we have done so on the understanding that they will provide new knowledge, however, whether we accept that they have given us new knowledge or insight into our worlds (institutional or otherwise), remains subject to the politics of our environments and possibly whether we have been able to retain open minds.
 excellent, excellent, excellent. 

Chapter 3: 

arguing for art research in the institutional setting, that it doesn't need to be protected from 'academism' that the academy is where 
60 the cultural past meets current
practice, and the future is prepared; questions
are asked that have no answers yet

epistemologically speaking, it makes sense to include artist-researchers in the academy because we are finding the non-discursive methods other fields are flirting with (specifically i'm thinking of cultural geography, Tim Ingold and non-representational methodologies) 

Chapter 6:
boundary work, determining what differentiates art from non-art, or other disciplines, a problem in a post-structural age innit
but here, he means artistic research, on the boundary between the art world and the academy 

133 It is true that what art is is not determined by artists alone, but is
‘defined’ in the ‘art world’ (to follow Danto and Howard Becker), in the
‘field of cultural production’ (to follow Pierre Bourdieu), in the ‘network
of actors’ (to follow Bruno Latour).

137 What we now need is a metaphysics of art,
after its fall.

and 138 Metaphysics of art – after its fall, after the end of art, after postmodernism
– means an understanding of art as a critical reflective practice,
encompassing non-conceptual content, which sets our aesthetic,
intellectual, and moral life into motion. It also means an understanding
of artistic research as the practice of that fundamentally unfinished
critical reflection.

reading diary/SUBJECTIVITY



I have named matrixial borderspace the psychic sphere which is trans-subjective on a 
sub-subjective partial level. A mental matr
ixial encounter-event transgresses individual 
psychic boundaries even if and when its awareness arises in the field of the separate 
individual subject, and it evades communication even if and when it operates inside 
intersubjective relational field. Subjectivity here is a transgressive encounter between ‘I’ 
(as partial-subject) and uncognized yet intima
te ‘non-I’ (as partial-
subject or partial-
object). Co-poietic transformational potentiality evolves along aesthetic and ethical 
unconscious paths: strings and threads, an
d produces a particular kind of knowledge. 
Unconscious transmission and reattunement 
as well as resonant copoietic knowledge 
don’t depend on verbal communication, inte
ntional organization or inter-subjective 
relationships. Aesthetical and ethical proces
ses are impregnated by matrixial copoiesis. 
In aesthetical working-through the artist tr
ansforms time and space of an encounter-
event into matrixial screen and gaze, and offers the other via com-passionate hospitality 
an occasion for fascinance.

704  Each psyche is a continuity of the
psyche of the other in the matrixial borderspace.

to become artistic or generate healing, the 
aesthetical transgression of individual borderlines (that occurs in any case with or without our awareness or intention) calls for the awakening of a specific ethical attention and erotic extension: an artistic generosity.

706-707 wit(h)nessing, witnessing while sharing in the distribution and reabsorption of traces of the event and participating in trans-subjective transmission via unconscious strings and threads.

708  Freeing the potentiality of an other while being 
transformed by it too is a kind of love – an ethical co-birthing in beauty. 

Compassionate Eros 
and sexual libido are different psychic instances...
By compassionate Eros a non-aggressive thanatos is revealed. Not death, but the
non-life as the not yet emerged, the not yet becoming alive, is accessed and intended.

710 The artist in the matrixial dimension is wit(h)ness in com-passionate 

The viewer is challenged by the artwork to join a 
specific anonymous intimacy. The potential embracing of the memory of oblivion can’t 
be ‘just’ aesthetic. Someone must join in. 

What is captured and is given form to at the end of such a 
trajectory is what was waiting to be born and to receive almost-impossible articulation, 
in a body-psyche-time-space of suspension-anticipation that you can only ‘view’ or 
glimpse by joining in.

page 1

 fascinance compassion and awe

 To be a subject without turning the other and the Cosmos into the object–that is the question.

com–passion - felt before birth 

3, 'on the same level at which the Freudian Unheimlich– the anxiety of homely strangeness–is "located," primary compassion links the non-strangeness-in-anonymous-intimacy of the other and the Cosmos to the subject. It trembles a string of com-passion.' 
again, I love her writing, but I hate it when I try to decipher it, it seems like when I look at it both from further away and more up close at the same time, that it starts to speak. The writing performs on the body as much as on the mind, and if I let the mind spend too much time trying to puzzle it all out, the body gets restless, and if I let it work through my eyes, it becomes something like pleasure, the pleasure of the text, just like that. 
transubject and transject
a web, a string, a series of threads that link everything, this is where art speaks from, this is what i respond to when art speaks to me, i speak back through the thread
com-passion, 4 'offer a resistance to the objectifying paranoid self'. 

5. The presubjective transjects and transubjects are, to begin with, felt-known with-in a
m/Othernal female corporeality. [A matrixial-feminine as transitive aerial was not articulated in
psychoanalysis and in philosophy even where pregnancy and birth were addressed. It is not the Levinasian
femininity that is sacrificial, and it is not a femininity that participates in the masculine-feminine relations of
opposition or in the phallic structure (like in the early Lacan), and it is not a femininity that is actualized in
fragmentation to a thousand splinters in an anti-Oedipal manner (the Deleuzo-Guattarian femininity), and it
is neither a lack nor a surplus to the phallic arena (like in the late Lacan and in Levinas) - even if it also this.
Let's work this out starting anew from Plato's Diotima, from the Biblical Tamar, Ruth and Hagar, for the
male and female figures of Marguerite Duras in Lol V. Stein and in Hiroshima Mon Amour. Let's work this
out from the light in the paintings of late Monet, the late Max Ernst, and Leonardo da Vinci].

This is terribly exciting stuff. 

7. To see is not only to give up the armed eye (Lacan) but also to fragilize
re-spect re-spicere - to look back at without shaming. 
shaming being the action of bleeding someone in public. 
rethinking subjectivity in the light of the matrixial sphere. 

what is emoved? from involved? or removed? 

10. Beauty, then, is about being born from
and with and not about looking for, or desiring an already beautiful object. Beauty
desires you when you self-relinquish yourself to the process.

11 it would be precise and evocative to think of artworking in terms of
inspiration between transjects rather than in terms of effects and influences

metramorphosis ? was ist das?

look at Lacan on hearing and seeing again and look at what she says about sound and image, she is carrying this forward, too, out of Lacan and out of D&G's regimes...
14 'Art is an aesthetics-in-practice that produces theory.' 

17 Entering an
artwork by self-fragilization would allow for experience as initiation, turning it by this
very entrance into an occasion for a transferential encounter-event. Thanatos arises in the
matrixial borderspace when com-passion meets with a phallic split and primary
compassion meets with either abandonment or over-engulfing and devouring environment
in a traumatic  and not in a phantasmatic  Real.

19 You can't have it both ways: resistance is a working for, not against:
a re-working for trust, again and again. Virtu(re)al openness depends on this re-working,
re-trusting, re-specting. Resistance reaches an ethical level when com-passion becomes a
perspective - a value.

26 Fascinum relates to the arresting power of the phallic objet
a, and fascinance relates to the continual borderlinking and differentiating of a matrixial
link a.

28 The matrixial Eros works through transmissions within each
linkage found in compassionate overtures. You receive and
absorb traces of the Other and the Cosmos within yourself
and you transmit them.

"divine" spiritual
feminine aspects: Shechina,
Hessed, Rakhamim and

30 Kherem is an expression
of the death-drive. In rekhem
life begins; it is therefore an
expression of nonsexual Eros. I
suggest we understand Shechina
as a revelation of the Eros of
co/in-habit(u)ating in neighbourhood
at the level of the spirit.


from otto rank, mother seen in myth as helping animal, role of mother reduced to that (like the birds in ashputtle, that were in earlier versions the ghost of the dead mother buried in the wall). copulating or nourishing, but she proposes, begetting. 
the hero gives birth to him-self, and the mother has to disappear for this to happen. 
note the father in Oedipus has to be killed, the mother is a sexual object. 
so hero-artist-genius depends on this (lacan's lack, objet petit a, castration anxiety) the dissolution of the mother in order to give birth to male narcissism, so she proposes a new story altogether. 
otherwise, women can be artists only if they are Yewa initiates (pre-pubescent or post-menopausal) 
psychoanalytic tradition is phallic-only, and she proposes other things within that sphere--nonlife, not-yet-life; a 'certain hybridization' between eros&thanatos(73).
the gaze, which comes from the lack, leaves a phallic ghost on all three realms: S I R and the ruling principle of these realms, because of this construction, is that principle of subject-object, so she is proposing a kind of radical subjectivity/objectivity. based not in the phallus but in the womb, and she goes to length to defend this, because it's dangerous territory, but if we ascribe to her feminist critical principle from the beginning, then it doesn't need defending, it is apparent, and already has a place at the table. or maybe rather it is the table that we have been waiting to eat at. 
it's already in us, in our language, the language of the womb is a shared language of subjectivity. 
her notion of the Voice, to counter the Gaze, not L's voice, voice of god, that thing that is always about to speak, but the Voice that is both interior and exterior, emerges in a matrixial shared zone (81) 
the gordian knot (r, i, s) for her becomes trans-subjective. it's not separate, it is connected. 
Connecting Lacan's concept of Woman to Levinas (Other).  
woman as weaver, in Lacan, but as she proposes it, reconceives these orders inside the womb, and this weaving reminds me of penelope, it reminds me of Oshun (most dangerous when she is weaving because she is planning spells, and the weaving sometimes is the spell), and other iterations of weaving in feminist body art (examples? do i have examples? janine antoni, casey jenkins, i know there are many more)...
wit(h)ness to the weaving. 


Dewey: life lived aesthetically, what Bürger locates as the a-g mission of infusing life with the redemptive power of art. For Dewey, it's tied to democracy itself, lived aesthetic experience, lived from inside a body. active not passive, not something removed, like in Kant (inherently contemplative and spectatorial) 
with Hannah Arendt's notion of homo faber, human as political performer, this takes on more apparency in performance.  

Then Richard Schusterman's notions of the body (somasthetics) tied to philosophy, exercises to get back into the body, yes, yes yes. 'essential to aesthetic experience is pre-discursive corporeal development.' (57) heal the gap between mind and body uh huh
rap and hip-hop examples of this embodiment and of course all the stuff amelia jones writes about. body art. pollockian performative (roots in diogenes of sinope, hows that?) 
schneeman responding in part to duchamp, shigeko kubota's 'vagina painting' (response kinda to jackson's dance) and rachel lachowitz' 'red not blue' to yves klein's blue painting and boadwee's 'purple squirt' all of these take Kant's ideas of elevated art and put the work in the realm of the material body, horizonal not vertical structures of being-with.  
fully opposed to the elevating
sublimation of the raw body, and explicitly hostile to conventional stan-
dards of heteronormativity. Those who watched these performances or their
video records were thrust into the world of the
— formlessness —
and base materiality celebrated by Georges Bataille, rather than the realm of
art as cultivation of the senses and elevation of the se
'explicitly hostile to conventional standards of heteronormativity' 'thrust into the world of the informe'  of Bataille (60) 
and then there come the Viennese Actionists - erase the boundaries between interior and exterior - but of course here it's pain and not pleasure. gina pane etc.  
Marcuse - repressive desublimation - apparent liberation producing its opposite. 
like Nitsch is celebrated and Mendieta is ignored in these discussions (?) 
transgressive. life breaks through into art. that is precisely the point of transgressing. it opens up. it creates fissures where more gets through, where the break, the gap, gets wider. 
this art, like democracy, is immanent, always becoming. 
Claude Lefort and Jean-Luc Nancy, at the center of political realm there is a lack, a void. this art reveals that. 

Worst participatory experience

These are great and they remind me of why I hate theatre that has audience participation, I really hate it.  thinking about the other readings in that context, it seems to me that it does revolve around the idea of subjectivity, and the phallic order that keeps things in a subject-object relation. The stories in this article are hilarious (I like O Lan, and the story about her is great) but point out the main issue, I think: that the participation is based on a very limited idea of what an audience is allowed to do. in effect, they are an object with a very small range of possibilities, so they would of course go outside of that range.  even the last story, the german political theatre, proscribes what choices are set before an audience based on a limited economy. and it's not based in any kind of real relation. we the audience, are the woman in Lacan's 'there is no sexual relationship.' 

Friday, February 13, 2015

november-february: where have i been?

I didn't realize that I hadn't posted in so long, this is such a helpful place to put things, and so much has happened in a month, and this hasn't been updated in four months, and well, well, well, I am sorry I have been out of touch here.  Not for lack of things to talk about, perhaps it was because there was too much happening, too much to talk about; there were performances going on all over and some of them relating to my thesis, and then there was the getting ready for the residency, and then there was the after, and it's too much to talk about all of it, so this will just be the most recent important things with hopes that the blanks will be easy enough to fill in.

First off, I couldn't be in better company, advisors and colleagues and inspirational teachers and collaborators, and I feel tremendously supported in this.  It's the beginning of the final stretch, and the final stretch is really not a short stretch at all but rather a marathon, or even series of marathons.  In a year's time I plan to defend at the Viva, and that means writing two and a half chapters, and the revisions, and creating the artworks that will come from the research (and demonstrate the research, or perform the research, or some combination of verbs and prepositions that have the nouns 'art' and 'research'), etc.  So.  At this moment, post-residency, I am focused on these two things, writing the thesis and beginning the art works, and the residency helped me to focus on these two things in rather splendid ways.

I want to mention here that in the past month, there have also been some rather intense ceremonies, that that is certainly informing my current frame of mind; there is a kind of dreaminess which is pleasant, along with some exhaustion, which is not very pleasant, but necessarily a part of the working in the spirit world.  In New York City, I spent a few days with my musician friend, god brother, soul brother, interviewing him for my thesis, and gathering things for a certain Kongo spell, and this meant going all over the city, from the site belonging to the indigenous peoples who sold Manhattan to the pilgrims (up past 200th street) down to New York Harbour, a very intense and sometimes spooky couple of days.  And last week my godfather was here, to do the thesis interviews, and also to do the Eleke ceremony for my new goddaughter, and that was another three days of intensive ceremonial work, and at the end of all of that, my fingers hurt from making beaded necklaces, and I am very glad I am vegetarian and so sorry about what happens to chickens.

Now.  Onto more specific thesis-related things.  Yesterday I had a Skype session with Laura and Debbie, and it was heartening, and made me feel very relieved (not quite the right word, but the feeling of meeting old friends and having a great meal, it was like that).

I understand that there will come a point where I am bored to death with myself and the subject of this work, but at the moment I am as excited as ever.  Here's what we discussed in random notes that you will not understand until you have been initiated into these mysteries (but right now reading this will speak to your secret soul and bring you seven years of remarkably varied luck):

Shamanic work, like psychoanalytic, has the same issues of Transference.
NY residency, two competing voices, the Director and the Rehearsal Director.  I need to theoretically position my position, and, it seems, with Jake directing the 5th Monsters of the Sea (called Kiki, a gay farce, at Arizona State), I am giving over directorship, almost entirely, really, and this suggests that for the Viva, the performance/presentation, I would focus on my role as Rehearsal Director.

The presentations are provocative (that word comes up a lot), and would be more provocative, and fulfilling (as presentations, as research, as art works) if I answer questions.
There's a skill to answering questions, and I need the training, so, consider summer residency in Berlin a rehearsal public Viva.
15-20" presentation - make it tight.
           To give me more control, learn to answer within the parameters of my research.
           also, set the groundwork (for summer and in final) so that all the chaos is intentional.
Marcus Coates - look at his chaos, and also questions of authenticity, along with that thing, that thing he does where the completely lunatic merges with a kind of aesthetic finesse, and something very elemental and true starts to emerge....

1 page aide-mémoire - like a recipe, for Jake

Look at theoretical fiction, as a frame for methodology chapter - Borges and Jodorowsky, yes, but also, Chris Kraus - Aliens and Anorexia, I love dick (on order from my library), Kathy Acker, Masha Tupitsyn (I just looked at her tumblr,, and this is oh this, this is something, I was just thinking of doing something very much like this, really something very like this yes this yes yes yes)
   Marquis de Sade - Philosophy of the Boudoir, there is a tradition for treatises buried in fiction

Debbie, talked of this Puncturing of Otherness
Trance and every day life
where I don't valorize notion of trance
a strategy that seeks to allow the 'other' to emerge and transmit, but not framed in 'otherness'
   lacan & lukumí - emerge as coexisting
'How do we find the language for these practices?'
(visual and written)
a central question

--side note, already this is emerging here, since the residency, conversations with debbie and then with monika, i am not sure why exactly but i am becoming really rather obsessed with text, taking tutorials and buying books on typography, also bought motion software for final cut pro and am taking tutorials on how to make text move, and all of this seems very important for what i want the final work to be.  i know the final work will be much like the videos i've shown, but bringing back the multiple personas, and also making the text that is there much more essential to the experience of watching these videos.  like, if i am going to be live, speaking my narrative dog stories over an actor on video, where their face is covered with moving text, everything needs to connect--my words need to interrupt at the right exact time, and their words need to play with the text that scrolls or moves, i am looking at artists who work with text, like jenny holzer and alejandro cesarco, and start to see what it is i am trying to do here...i know this is somehow connected to an idea i have, where i want to make art about making performances, and that is either intimately connected to all of this or entirely a tangent....but, before i close the side note, a question: why does it seem to me like hit steyerl and pipilotti rist are playing with image the way the text based artists are playing with text, and why does it feel like it comes from the same artistic mud bog?

next: in 2 weeks, send next draft of methodologies chapter, but give yourself a few extra days to also send a revised structure of the work (i think this will also have to include a structure for the work on the video pieces i am wanting to construct, so i can have the map laid out very very clearly for my self) - so that deadline will be march 1st
--and after submitting that, immediately start to draft the next chapter

start to draft a rationale for why the viva performance needs to be in a basement (if that is indeed what is finally decided)
and don't forget to start to unpack some of the metaphorical juice of the basement (underground, subterranean, hidden, ignored, etc.) - from psychoanalysis, especially....

There is more to say, of course, but not enough hours in the day to say it all.
It is nice to be writing here again, and nice to see you here again.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

And some photos (this update is coming together in pieces, instead of the reverse)

First, this is a Lumia, made by Thomas Wilfred in, I think the 1940s.
There aren't many of these around, but the guy who is directing my show in 
Seattle collects them.  He and his uncle have the biggest collection in the world.  
It's better than tv.  It's slightly psychotropic.
But you can't tell that here, this is a still photo.  It moves, the light reacts with these spinning metal 
plates inside, they spin and make very groovy images, really like a lava lamp except
it feels somehow more, uh, what's the word, more complex.

This is a production photo of 'I Never Betrayed the Revolution,' my play in Seattle 
that is going to preview tonight (in a couple of hours).
I wrote the play 24 years ago, half my life nearly, so it is bizarre to see it come
to life like this.

This is a still from the media for 'Hotel Athena,'
part IV of Monsters of the Sea.
We closed this last weekend, the house was always full, we never had enough room,
but everyone who came got cake.  There were some interesting things that came up in regards to the
trance (mentioned in the previous blog).  I'm doing interviews with the performers soon,
in a week or two, and I suspect I'll find out more.
Some of the performers didn't feel like they went into an altered state at all,
others had very intense experiences.  
I like it that the method does not work for everyone.
I am thinking about possession and trance in terms of embodiment and representation.
Not just because those terms all look good in art proposals (I'm not sure if they still
do, I hope there are other words that are hot by now).
But because I am thinking of trance as a metaphor for performance in general, 
inhabiting a role, being inhabited by something else.
The idea of ghosting, doubles, and absence.
Herbert Blau and Peggy Phelan are my favorite theorists this month.

Oh, also, romeo&juliet/VOID will go up in two weeks.  No photo yet, but those are coming, I'm told.
I saw a run-through last night, and it is stunning.
Although I kept ritual out of it (I took out the stage directions),
it didn't stay like that.
A very astute dramaturg, who spent part of her childhood in Central Africa, and has a Bantu middle name, was onto me from the start, and started researching Yoruba culture and cosmology when 
rehearsals started.
So.  The production team has been working with African concepts, particularly West & Central African-derived ritual, and are playing with mirrors quite a bit.
The design team for this is amazing, live degrading video and sound, and many other things
too complicated for here, at least right now.

I have to go see a preview.
This has been a fun month and I am exhausted but no longer tired.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Not yet an update

This is too soon for an update, it hasn't been a month yet, the last show (#4 of 5) closed last night. And there are some things that are churning around that I have been thinking but not writing so this is just that little first bit of writing.  Some new things happened.
First. After one of the shows last weekend (the first weekend), YYYYY had just come back from doing some work in Sedona, a workshop on fire medicine, archaic Egyptian techniques that I won't get into (I don't know and can't know most of it, and don't want to talk for her), after the show she wanted to hide in the back room while we were meeting and chatting with the audience, and she found that, in her post show meditation (after performing a part that has a very sensual and earthy fire dance, channeling Oshun dancing for Shango), she couldn't move, there were spirits all around her and she could not move for about half an hour.  I saw have been seeing am still seeing spirits all over the house, it's been cleaned with copal and sage and murphys oil soap haha, but it's still a very busy place.  These actors have been channeling a lot of things.YYYYY says that this experience could be partly from the work in the show and partly from Sedona and I'm not sure if it makes much of a difference? I need to explain. 
Second, XXXXXX, one of the actors more susceptible to altered states, came over early. In a panic. On Thursday night.  Things were opening and she was seeing ghosts and her spirit wolf following her everywhere, could not control it and needed help. I cleaned her and gave her some things to do (to be mentioned in the sorcerers notebook (this is methodology)' and YYYYY worked with her on some energy balance things, all went well, and her performance was remarkable, powerful and tearful and magic.
There are influxes of these spiritual things intertwining with the work I'm writing about, and it's not pure Lukumi or Bantu and this is a methodological problem because, even though those traditions are based in callaloo, mixing cultural forms and appropriating whatever works, these are not reliable nor repeatable results.  The data is getting confused.  But only if.  Only if I'm still making this as a method that other actors can use, to be repeated in other situations.
A few weeks ago I met with my ex-wife, who runs a phd program here in performance of the Americas, and I was telling her about my work, and how it might apply in the fields she knows of, and in talking I realized that there is a problem, in that it's not useful for others because they would have to have a resident santero in the acting company, otherwise my methods of spell and trance are not transferable, or rather, if the methods are transferable, then the cultural specificity of the methods are irrelevant, and any new age or earth religion would suffice. This puts it into that sphere where sloppy and generic ideas of a spirit world can be the basis for anyone wanting to repeat this, and there are plenty of performance works out there that use a watered-down and easily accessible set of spiritual principles in order to make work that is universal and ultimately banal. 
However. I trust my instincts as well as the advice of my supervisors and see that the pieces really and truly are all there, so it's a question of putting the puzzle pieces in a certain order to see what the pattern says, what I'm trying to tell myself.  And I see that this is, in effect, a shift in focus toward the ones this work is for.
I suspect that it is related to building a useful metaphor for performance, where actors channel characters in the way that mediums channel the dead, and framing the methodology to suggest that in my experiments I am finding that this metaphor is not only true, but that there is really very little difference. 
And that what I am constructing, then, is not a method for reproducing my work, but instead, constructing a theory of performance.  One that confirms what Herbert Blau, Lorca, and Phelan have been considering and theorizing, that art making is made by ghosts, and we are shells for ghosts to inhabit in order to make things in the material world, and these things talk to both worlds, the living and the dead, when they are enacted and embodied.