Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
HaCkeD by MuhmadEmad
KurDish HaCk3rS WaS Here
FUCK ISIS !
Sunday, July 6th, 2014
The image above is of Henri Matisse’s La liseuse distraite (The Inattentive Reader), 1919, painted by the artist in a hotel in Nice. Bequeathed by Montague Shearman to Tate through the Contemporary Art Society in 1940, this painting is currently on display at Tate Liverpool as part of the museum’s DLA Piper Series: Constellations.
The text that follows is an excerpt of Marcelle Sauvageot’s Commentaire, 1933. Translated by Christine Schwartz Hartley and Anna Moschovakis from its original French to the English as a Commentary (A Tale), the novel, which was written just before the author’s passing at the age of 34, was published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2013.
I would talk to myself, but the austerity of the monologue wore me out sometimes; it is so much easier to have an accomplice who sympathizes, approves, listens; you gain in importance; the things you say become intangible, form a novelistic universe in which you assume a role. To what extent do you respect the absolute truth? Then these little novels are drained of their suffering; it settles, becomes an entity outside of the soul. From time to time, I needed this comfort. I stiffened to maintain my integrity; but, to assuage my suspicions, I thought by recounting my life I could relieve it of its anecdotal character: its arc would make itself visible to me. I needed a double.
Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Reaching the bookshelves wasn’t easy. Her sense of will returned only after a stretch of time having been lost in the universes of Stephen Hawking, which was itself preceded by a period submerged in the sound of slide-guitars. When Luz explained that, her situation, I pressed the rim of my coffee cup onto my lips. It was a reflex, to keep my jaw from dropping, to refrain from voicing any kind of expression. True, my eyelashes may have fanned from bewilderment, but I kept silent. Luz was serious. She said: To Hawking, I owe gaining a sense of perspective, to music, a regained pleasure for immaterial indulgence. She actually felt indebted, which, to me, at this day and age, that just meant being a common person. To her, it meant slipping out from solitude. She felt at a loss, and reparation lied in comprehension.
I hadn’t seen Luz since last autumn, when tree leaves were one of several things changing color and falling out around her. Seasons change, fortunately. We were at Finn’s today, sitting at its outdoor terrace, enjoying the shade of its Tupelo. It was late in the morning, and our table was surrounded by those of overly-caffeinated people, whose eyes seemed to open wider at every syllable pronounced in their chatter. In comparison to their agitation, our conversation developed in slow motion, with lengthy silences between lines that couldn’t just be filled with pithy insights or common interjections, for we didn’t need to pretend transitions. Not that ours was a special kind of conversation and the others’ a babble. It was in fact a typical talk at Finn’s, to the extent that, like the rest there, Luz and I had our share of adventures, and we were meeting to see where they took us—to talk about where we were, in general.
You may have actually been there, at that neighborhood café. You may know, then, that Luz had voiced a while back that she wanted to have no regrets; that, and to not regress along the way; to not repress nor assume a blank-slate in the process; that these were the personal goals she had set out to reach; that not knowing how to go about it, she recurred to literature; that I, from afar, accompanied her in the reading, partly out of empathy and partly because of experiencing spare, winter nights and long commutes. You may already know all what I am typing here, whether because you were eavesdropping on us this morning, or, quite simply, because you’ve experienced a similar situation to Luz’s. You may also know, then, that Luz and I were friends, even if I understood her far less than she understood me, even if I grasped regret far less than she.
Regret is an emotion masked with hypothetical inquiry. It can have the appearance of thought; worse, of thoughtfulness; of critical consciousness. It’s not. While its arrival may be prefaced by philosophy’s what ifs that spark an exploration of becoming, regret instead menaces with a state of being. It’s a puncturing un-exhaled breath. It tightens the heart. A trip on a time machine gone eerie, regret entangles past, present and future. It’s all times experienced indistinctly in a single instance, sensed in synchronicity. With such time constraint, distance breaks down. It perils reason. Regret is ingrained to broken illusions, even if it may seem founded on the potentiality of dreams. It’s life at once felt and unlived. It aches in one’s muscles. It affects, and far from caringly. This is how Luz experienced regret. How she described it. And it was not a feeling she was at ease with.
Regret had been a new sentiment percolating in her life, since her break-up last summer. Maybe regret had presented itself before. If so, Luz was probably as oblivious to it as she was insensible to the events that led to her separation. Acknowledging all this was complicated. Unburdening from regret was even more trying. Sure, Luz had a religious upbringing; catechism had insisted in the value of forgiving. Yet none of its lessons had dealt with regret; if there had been any sessions of such kind, these were clearly unmemorable. And sure, Luz had been privately coursed on identifying life’s turning points and missed opportunities, as well as in recognizing the significance of forgetting, the heft of shame, and the dexterity of pleasure, whether this was at church confessionals, psychoanalyst couches, or bourgeoisie cafés. But little did those exchanges address how to actually deal with that dreadful sentiment that is regret.
I asked her: What about guilt? Luz had thought about it, and didn’t hesitate in sharing her conclusions, which were tentative, she assured me. This is where she stood on the topic thus far: While guilt and regret are both culturally relative emotions, and can feel similarly, their source and course differ. Guilt is rooted in the temporal terms of morality; regret is implicated in the spatial notions of subjectivity. Guilt is perceived to be seeded by an external force; regret seems to be concocted by an internal mechanism. Whereby guilt is imposed, socially instituted, regret is contrived, self-constitutive. In any case, the fact is that she noticed the symptoms of regret, not of guilt, and it was simply nauseating.
Perhaps someone else has a more hopeful take on regret. Maybe you. Luz clearly didn’t, in spite of being generally optimistic. This ostensible attitude of hers isn’t transpiring between these lines, I gather, less so with that word choice: spite. I even notice a twinge in my fingertips at typing this word, all of them. Regardless of that, or precisely because of it, I’ve found how regret has been productive. It’s a sentiment much played out as the crux or floating signifier of sorts in a slew of novels, films, political discourse, you name it. Have also found how it’s been generative. It’s regret, again, what those various forms of narrative could instill; what would seem to be elicited at their experience. In these musings, I’ve wondered if regret is in itself an intended predicament of the culture industry. Have even made up a pop-theory of such complot. I shared it with Luz. She was unamused. As true as that could be, holding accountable an industry to such a feeling only displaced the problem, distracted her from the life-course she wanted to take.
Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Back in early September, during the installation period of the 9a Bienal do Mercosul | Porto Alegre in Brazil, several of us working on the project occasionally took a break and met at the terrace of the cultural center Usina do Gasometro to experience the sunset. Up until that point, a period of cold, rainy days had overextended its stay, but Southern winds had taken mercy on us for a little over a week, blowing away clouds far into the Atlantic and leaving bare the skies over Porto Alegre’s river, lake, or estuary whatever called Guaíba. Whenever weather permitted, during the following nine weeks of the exhibition period we continued frequenting that terrace to observe the sun apparently sink into the Guaíba, and with that, to welcome the depths of a day arise with the dimmer light that’s night. That landscape. How much time it occupied my mind; the minds of others, too.
Once a month, from May to November, we had taken a boat that docked at the Usina and navigated into the Guaíba for a voyage of about 12 kilometers—coincidently, a similar distance between troposphere and atmosphere, and also the extent of thread used in Jason Dodge’s textile sculptures included in the exhibition—until reaching a little rocky island locally known as Ilha do Presídio. Our vessel did not exactly have the engine of a speedboat, so it took us over an hour to get to the island, another or more to get back. We had time, though, and good company. With a geological history dating back millions of years, this now-abandoned, former prison-island for political detainees was one of the venues of the Bienal, whilst not as host to the exhibition. That minute remain of continental split was the conceptual anchor and physical site of Island Sessions, a discussion and publication initiative of the Bienal that directly involved more than one hundred participants.
I’ve made a video to introduce you to the Ilha do Presídio and to Island Sessions. Clearly, the video is homemade, like this blog, so don’t expect being blown away by it, although the Ilha could and would have done so to some of us who visited. It’s just a brief video-clip to show you the place, to tell of the initiative. Its soundtrack includes an instrumental piece and a song created by Mario Garcia Torres for the Bienal. Most importantly: here you can see impressions, as well as read inflections, perceptions and reflections—essays, short stories, anecdotes—authored by participants of Island Sessions. (On the left column, click on a date/session, which is a chapter of sorts, each with individual contributors.) For a geological and cultural history of the island, refer to the essay by Eduardo Bueno; for a conceptual approach to the island, read instead a piece by Sarah Demeuse; for writings in prison or imprisonment and writing, consult an image/text work by Angie Keefer; for either a recipe or a timeline on censorship, go to the contributions by Luiza Proença; and so on.
Anyhow, it was good to be there: chilling on the Usina’s terrace at sundown; navigating the Guaíba; visiting its Ilha; spending time in Porto Alegre; being involved in the project. Indeed, the Bienal has now closed. After that fact, and, eventually, after a voyage in the high seas of the Pacific visiting remote islands and experiencing sunsets from places afar, this time around witnessing sunrises, too, I am finally back home contemplating other scenarios. Now, here, more so than memories of the Bienal, there are a number of questions that keep emerging. Among these, a nagging one: What is will? More amply: How does such a thing, a palpable sensibility of sorts, a force from a wholly unbeknownst source, shape language in the visual arts, create conditions for its expression?
Saturday, June 29th, 2013
It was no doubt a phenomenon, a new, strange case of the believe-or-not-kind. At the very least, it was definitely an anomaly. And so, day after day, new people arrived to the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre to experience it. These were artists and scientists, meteorologists and even seismologists, cloud busters, tornado chasers and other climate experts and aficionados. A new type of social summit had formed in the bays of the Guaiba, the site of the group’s camping and deliberations. The reason for their gathering was to observe a rare cumulus in the sky above. It was a cloud, but oddly motionless. The Cloud didn’t move naturally with the changing weather, nor was it slightly provoked by artificial wind-machines. The Cloud was simply there, anchored to the atmosphere. And it was slowly growing, getting puffier as the weeks went by.
Theories of The Cloud’s appearance varied. Some claimed it was actually Laputa, stranded because of some magnetic revolution happening in that floating island. Seismologists and writers had concocted that theory, noting that the grounds of Porto Alegre were shaking even with in the absence of fault-lines, and arguing that fiction had previously predicted other happenings, even geographies. Some others considered The Cloud a UFO in camouflage. No later did this theory circulate when welcome receptions for extraterrestrial aliens were thoughtfully organized. The newly settled campers felt the strange forces of The Cloud, saying they levitated like cumuli; the locals, for their part, felt more and more attracted to each other. Everyone was happily floating. A new language was created in The Cloud’s honor, a new typeface, too; they called it Porto Alegre.
As it happens, much before The Cloud appeared in the sky, the Fundação Bienal de Artes Visuais do Mercosul had secured air-rights over the Guaiba in preparation for the 9a Bienal do Mercosul | Porto Alegre. To their luck, this meant The Cloud could be technically included in their upcoming exhibition. The Biennial organizers thus gathered in the bay, inviting locals and campers to a rain dance in celebration of this peculiar inclusion. No cloudbursts came about. But the assiduous organizers didn’t stop there, importing a rainmaking machine invented by Juan Baigorri in 1938—considered lost for years, much like the Meson de Fierro meteorite, sought once by Baigorri. Then, The Cloud reacted. It poured.
Published in conjunction to the 9a Bienal do Mercosul| Porto Alegre, The Cloud is a book that gathers texts by Jules Verne, Vilem Flusser, Bruno Latour, Maria Lind, Monica Hoff, Walter de Maria, and Abraham Cruzvillegas, among others. The English edition of The Cloud was released yesterday in a sundown picnic—with overcast skies, and eventually some rain showers—at Fort Greene Park in New York City. The Portuguese edition of this book, A nuvem, as well as its Spanish edition, La nube, have or will be realsed between May and July 2013 in the cities of Porto Alegre, Recife, Sao Paulo, Pelotas, San Francisco, Mexico City, and Amsterdam. All language editions are published in print and as e-books, and have been designed by Project Projects, New York. More information at: www.bienalmercosul.art.br.
Pictured above: The Cloud in Fort Greene Park. Photo by Sarah Demeuse.