Sunday, February 27, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
I should add this was my first reading/talk since my mom's death in October. And so it meant a lot to me to have folks in the room--my friends--who really embraced the afternoon, welcoming me with such warmth as we arrived.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Given how far away I am, I would have had a difficult time getting out there even if. Because I've been hoping for the time/money to fly to MI anyhow: simply, I miss my dad a lot and would really like to see him.
I'm just thrilled the symposium happened. I remember Petra announcing it during my last visit to the Bay, during our Nonsite commons discussion. And I wait enthusiastically for the post-symposium reflections to start flowing. A couple have already emerged on the web. Some wonderful photos taken by Thom are up at Wild Horses of Fire. Many are of Brenda Iijima's dance/movement workshop/performance, the same event Bhanu Kapil dreams from, and writes about, over on her blog. The combo of photos and dream journal piece by Kapil give me a small sense of how f-ing amazing Brenda's piece was/is. Darn.
So, if you have some reflections on the weekend that you don't plan on putting anyplace like your blog or in a journal, just comments, notes, or what-have-you, I'd love to hear them. Live vicariously thru you. So feel free to post here or email backchannel. Here's to hoping the symposium occurs next year!
Monday, February 21, 2011
Lara's work was also amazingly refreshing: deeply performative and procedural, Durback following up on her WONDERFUL Zine Chapbook, played a recording of her poetic, truncated, funny and also horrifying experiences with a personal history with clothing, the politics and economics of what and how we wear, and this was underlayed by livve short thought-bursts, one after the other, each testifying to one of those thought-but-not-said-publicly moments--read by Durback from a stack of blue post-its, each of which she stuck to all manner of surfaces in the room, after and as she read from them. So the ephemeral, the honest, the political, and the found, all intermingle here in a way that's arrestingly direct and narrative. Sort of a no bullshit get off our asses and do kind of beauty to the performative work that I loved, and that complimented Elrick's work so conspicuously.
This work and mine--a sort of love letter to The Book of Frank and a sort of note to CA Conrad of thanks for existing (my notes towards my essay-review on Frank) can be found in David Brazil & Sara Larsen's latest issue Try Magazine. So many thanks to David for putting the issue together, which also features some awesome work from Cedar Sigo, David Buuck & Juliana Spahr, Stephanie Young (on Weiner's The Fast !!!!), Jason Morris, Dana Ward, and several others. And my apologies to David for falling ill the night Elizabeth Williamson and I were to have dinner with him.
Was also great to see old friends and meet new folks. Great, for instance, to see fellow Black Radish Books author Carrie Hunter, whose fantastic procedural-lyrical The Incompossible is coming out soon through the press. Was so good to see Tanya Hollis, who carted E and I around all night in the rain!
The next afternoon Laura, Lara and I met up with other Nonsite Collective participants for a discussion about Nonsite's collaboration and residency with SF Camerawork, "Common/Use." (See Nonsite Collective dot org or the archives here for a description of the 4-month residency bringing writers and photographers together to explore and intervene in the privatization of our public spaces and commons-forming practices.) This was, I think, a really generative discussion that first caught the three of us up to speed on what the collaboration has been doing as of late and what it's planning (a documentary/investigative poetry-photography walk being planned by Ariel Goldberg and an exploration-intervention of the Sit/Lie Ordinance recently passed in SF led by Tonya Hollis and others -- both sound incredibly necessary and mutually complimentary). From getting caught up to speed we all discussed the productive challenges the residency has posed: how Nonsite, a self-organizing pedagogical collective, tran-slocal and non-hierarchical, imminently collapsible and in many was a come-as-you-are nonsite in itself, how can we now produce work that interfaces more directly with activist communities, the public, and do so in relation to deadlines, to the hyper-visual problematics of the photographic artistic? That doesn't problematically frame or archive, i.e., use or appropriate, living communities who are involved in reclaiming public space? The productive problems of forming a commons curriculum and "installation" in the gallery -- that tension between atopia and installation, commoning and commodity, aesthetics and the archival/curatorial -- was discussed, with core questions such as how we as collectively "starburst" (to quote Laura Elrick) can be most salubrious, and most helpful towards particular communities organized to maximize the visibility of their production--activists, unionists on the picket line, for example--ended up taking on a central conversational role.
All of this occurred within the gallery itself, and as folks came and went, arrived to see our work and to see some of the other fantastic collaborations, such as Dodie Bellamy's, on display as part of the larger Camerawork show "As Yet Untitled," it was clear that our meeting doubled as itself an installation. And has in the past in more active/self-reflective ways, with Jen Benka and others sitting down with the public at the common table and asking visitors to write down their thoughts in relation to specific questions, as well towards developing "common terms" lined along one wall as headers ("private," "use," "boundary" e.g.) - the participants then sticking their notecard responses to the wall under the corresponding header.
My sincere thanks toTanya again, to David Buuck, Taylor Brady, Rob Halpern, and several others who invited us to participate in this meeting/discussion. I came away feeling overwhelmed by how much the Collective has managed to do, how many productive experiments have been, or will be, tried. One question that came up was where Nonsite was as a collective now, more generally, now with so many new participants, with such activity lately, etc. A great question that I don't have any particular answer for other than the above and the below re-post of a note I wrote about Nonsite last year. Due to the localism of any on-site art installation, which this is to some degree, I did come away with some concern about the worries folks had about having to "produce" "visible results," whether, for example, that felt sense of pressure would temporarily unhinge the very careful considerations that I witnessed right then and there, and have been a part of the last couple years--the carefully considered commitment to trans-local, cross-disciplinary radical pedagogy, for lack of a better set of terms, where we have always produced a great deal, but have done so as radical, non-recapitulating compliment to established forms of art and protest (aesthetics), forms/movements/groups that are already afoot and in need of our help and that we are thus already involved in. That is, Nonsite, for me, among several other things, has been a no-place of imminent critique, or a place of counter-boundary and interrogation of already established discourses that we, as individuals, are already a part of (to support established forms, under convivial conditions, means to critique them too). The work I've been a part of so far has been a deeply-thought set of reflections, or have felt anyway like reflective and aesthetically-driven curricular explorations unearthing further possibilities, such that I slow down, interrogate my own preconceived notions, activities, and commitments, temporarily suspending all of those discursively, in order to deepen some of those notions, activities, and commitments, and to torque or even let go of others. I feel like that is still very alive here, and that the residency applies pressure to us in this regard in ways that are, again, generative. So I also think we need not worry whether we produce too little--as Chris Daniels mentioned there, he's been so radically changed and astonished by the production that Nonsite has generated and is laden with use-value for him, that change in him being maybe not easily visible, but extant.
Speaking of whom, before I re-post my thoughts regarding Nonsite (how I've worked with and come to participate in Nonsite), I must say that one of the highlights of my visit was spending the afternoon with Chris, talking over a bite about his work on a new chapbook press, one that is currently working on some more beautiful poems by David Brazil and others. Really great to see him--as always. And as always I left the Bay wanting somehow to teleport back and forth, wishing the DOD would just sell that technology to a corporate giant already.... From the blog last year:
Sunday, February 13, 2011
From the SPT website. Many thanks to Samantha Giles and SPT for the invite. Very much looking forward to reading with two fantastic poets. Hope to see you there!
At the Borders: Wolach, Elrick and Durback
Monday, February 7, 2011
Urgent Solidarity: Prisoner Activist Facing Violent Retaliation
Support Shawn Whatley! Stop all retaliations against Georgia prison strike activists!
In the aftermath of the historic prison strike in Georgia, inmate activists are facing systematic violence and repression. On December 9, inmates across six Georgia prisons staged a week-long strike to demand an end to endemic human rights abuses, arbitrary violence, slave-like labor conditions, profiteering and corruption, inadequate food and medical care, among other abuses. On January 12, 2011 inmate activist Shawn Whatley was handcuffed by prison guards as his cell was searched for a contraband cell phone. When he briefly spoke to his mother, Shawn reported he had been put in solitary confinement and was severely beaten, suffering broken bones and facial injuries. He was then transferred from Telfair State Prison to Ware State Prison. At least 37 other inmates were already missing and transferred to other prisons, Shawn reported. Shawn explained that he was targeted, in part, for his communications with outside support groups, which included an extensive interview with SocialistAlternative.org recorded shortly before his beating. This physical brutality and retaliation by the Georgia State Department of Corrections is their response to the historic prisoner strike last month, which they characterized as a “riot.” However, despite provocations, the strike was a completely non-violent mass civil disobedience. Prisoners simply stayed in their cells, refusing to participate in the regular routine of forced labor.
Urgent Action Needed!
We must demand justice for Shawn Whatley and other Georgia State prisoners who are being targeted and brutalized for exposing their inhumane conditions and standing up for their most basic human rights. Please immediately make phone calls and send emails and/or letters to Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens, as well as Georgia’s new Governor Nathan Deal (contact info listed below), demanding “Hands off Shawn Whatley.” Also, help spread the word by re-posting this solidarity appeal on blogs, emails lists, social media, etc. If you are part of an organization, send letters and make calls in the name of your group. Please send copies of protest letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, contact Socialist Alternative at (206) 526-7185or email@example.com.
SAMPLE Protest Letter:
To: Georgia Corrections Commissioner Brain Owen Georgia Governor Nathan Deal
I want to express my concern and my condemnation for the brutal attack by Telfair state prison guards on January 12, 2011 on Georgia State prisoner Shawn Whatley.
It has become clear that this incident is just one among numerous unjust and retaliatory acts of violence by the Georgia State Corrections authorities against inmates in response to their just and historic strike for basic human rights.
I urge an immediate end to violence and retaliations against prisoners who participated in the strike. Until there is a clear public acknowledgement of unjust abuses already made and a commitment to end them, I commit to spread the word and take action against the injustice in your prisons.
The violence and abuse by the Georgia state penal system will not be hidden from family, friends, people of conscience, or social justice activists. We are demanding an immediate end to the persecution of Shawn Whatley, and for those responsible to be brought to justice. We demand the same for allGeorgia State prisoners who have been brutalized for standing up for the most basic human rights.
The world is watching you!
Register Your Protest to:
Brian Owens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections
Call: 478-992-5258 (This is the number for Owens’ administrative assistant Peggy Chapman. Urge her to give him the message.)
Call: 478-992-5367 (This is the Office of the Ombudsman, which is the official channel for raising concerns over prisoner treatment)
Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia
Send the Governor a letter online by clicking here.