Thursday, January 28, 2010

Commoning part II (@ Harriet)


"How to bring bodies together? How to recognize conditions of possibility in the way we are already together? While it is essential to use the spaces we have to create events in which people can be in common, the preservation of our ability to common is absolutely essential too. What would live art had been without the struggles of Civil Rights activists in the 60s and 70s. The development of live art, I would argue, would not have occurred the way it did without the inspiration of Civil Rights actions, and the sharing of resources between artists and activists. Another art work featured in the 09 Performa biennial was Anne Collod’s “replay” of Anna Halprin’s Parades and Changes. This beautiful historical reconstruction of Halprin’s original performance reminded me of another work by Halprin, in many ways far more radical. City Dance, by Halprin, features continuous dance performances throughout San Francisco and other cities. The idea of the piece, anticipating the strategies of the Critical Mass bicyclists and other contemporary activists, organizes dancers in such a way that their performances will be continuous in public spaces without violating laws of public assembly (thus obviating the need for permits). Artists and poets increasingly need to work with lawyers to challenge laws of gathering, land use, and public speech in order to draw attention to the erosion of Civil Rights in the US and elsewhere, if not to teach about the law, which for too many citizens is above their comprehension rather than part of their popular imagination. How to teach the law through live art? How to demonstrate within the limits of the law and push the law when necessary? While the evental nature of all assembly is important and the gathering of bodies key, so is a framing of events dynamics through questions and problems of the law."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Commoning preview (@ Harriet)


"This weekend I will be presenting with Rob Halpern and Robert Kocik at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Counsel about the histories and futures of commoning. The title of our presentation is “How Things Hold Together And How The Way In Which We’re Currently Going About Things As A Society Is Not How Things Hold Together” and is subtitled “a practical discussion about common interest, the economy, and the social production of artwork.” Rob’s talk, “The Promise of Use-Value: Art at the Limits of Social Practice,” or “Recovering Use from Exchange: New Enclosures / New Commons,” will make special reference to artist Amy Balkin’s works Public Domain and Public Smog, which grapple with the expropriation of land and atmosphere. Robert will present a brief history of the commons, and introduce “an impartial (neither capitalist nor socialist) economic commons based on reciprocal ‘due’ and re-portioning of our collective wealth.” For my own part, I hope to talk about some different aesthetic practices and spaces in terms of ways future commons might be modeled. Approaching the talk, I am keeping in mind the various ways that poets/artists share resources, how they exchange with one another, and how they demonstrate against models of community/economy which they wish to critique/wither."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Review of Rachel Zolf's Neighbour Procedure in PPNL

The latest Poetry Project Newsletter features reviews by Stan Mir (on Michael Gizzi), Jill Magi (on M. Nourbse Philip's Zong!), and Laura Hinton (on Emma Bee Bernstein's and Nona Willis Aronowitz's Girldrive). Haryette Mullen is interviewed by Barbara Henning, and I have a review of Rachel Zolf's Neighbour Procedure, forthcoming from Coach House.

For a PDF of the issue click here.

It is of course those invested with power who are ultimately “grieveable,” thus also capable of being symbolized within cultural-historical narratives. In the first section of Neighbour Procedure, “Shoot & Weep,” Zolf foregrounds disparities between the political and cultural status of Palestinians and their Israeli counterparts. In the case of Palestinians, it is their names that are being forgotten, unrecognized by the greater part of the world. Likewise, Palestinians risk losing their sense of shared history and identity with Arab Jews with whom their names are often confused as Ammiel Alcalay’s seminal work on historical confluences between Jews and Arabs in the Levantine brilliantly shows. Yet, as Zolf and [Judith] Butler also realize, grieveability—a politics of grieveability—forms conditions of possibility for transforming the politically and culturally incommensurable. From a shared sense of vulnerability, and from the recognition that loss forms a virtual ground for being numerous, some hope that understanding may eventually prevail persists. This shared sense of vulnerability and loss forms what Zolf calls, citing Butler, a “tenuous we.”
--from "Aporia and Progress: Rachel Zolf’s Neighbour Procedure"

Catherine Sullivan Essay in 100 Video Artists

I have a brief essay (about 500 words) on Catherine Sullivan's work in this anthology about contemporary video art:

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Commoning: How Things Hold Together And How The Way In Which We're Currently Going About Things As A Society Is Not How Things Hold Together

—a practical discussion about common interest, the economy, and the social production of artwork, with Rob Halpern, Thom Donovan and Robert Kocik

January 24th 2010 - 2pm to 5pm

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
125 Maiden Lane, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10038
(bring a photo ID)


RSVP required - space very limited: call 718 450 1356 or

Rob Halpern will talk on “The Promise of Use-Value: Art at the Limits of Social Practice," or "Recovering Use from Exchange: New Enclosures / New Commons,” with special reference to the work of artist Amy Balkin (This is the Public Domain and Public Smog).

Rob Halpern is the author of several books of poetry, including Rumored Place (Krupskaya 2004) and Disaster Suites (Palm Press 2009). With Taylor Brady he also co-authored the book length poem Snow Sensitive Skin (Atticus / Finch 2007). Currently, he’s co-editing the poems of the late Frances Jaffer together with Kathleen Fraser, and translating the early essays of Georges Perec, the second of which, “Commitment or the Crisis of Language,” recently appeared in the Review of Contemporary Fiction together with an essay of his own on Perec. An active participant in the Nonsite Collective, Rob lives and works in San Francisco.

Thom Donovan will bring up art and poetry in relation to resistance to expropriation and the building and promotion of commoning. He will offer practical proposals about how commons can be upkept, promoted, and created. Some matters to be discussed: the use of art contexts for sociopolitical strategy, teaching towards a commons, commons and personal conduct, and commons and affect. Some artists and poets to be discussed: Fred Moten, Cory Arcangel, Anna Halprin, Nonsite Collective, "Maintenance Art”.

Robert Kocik will describe the economy as an enclosed commons. (An enclosure is a system in which we are not living as equitably, as committed to common good, as would allow our greater happiness). He will present a brief history of the commons, and introduce an impartial (neither capitalist nor socialist) economic commons based on reciprocal ‘due’ and re-portioning of our collective wealth.

Robert Kocik is a poet, essayist, architect and social planner living in Booklyn. Works currently underway include: The Prosodic Body (a new field of research based on prosody), The Phoneme Choir, The Prosody Building (if realized, this would be the only building in the United States designed and built exclusively for poets and poetry), and the planning of a public exhibition covering the history of the Commons.

This will be an open discussion of indeterminate length with the speakers speaking alternately and together with plenty of space for participation by all. Food and drink will be on hand. This event opens the 6—month Lower Manhattan Cultural Council residency granted to Daria Fain and Robert Kock for the purpose of further developing their work on The Commons and the Prosody Building. The Prosodic Body is an area of research begun by choreographer, Daria Fain and architect/poet, Robert Kocik. This research explores language as a vibratory medium that interrelates art, health, and social change.

This event is possible through SWING SPACE, a space grant program of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Outside the copulas (Usufruct)

-after Fred Moten

Of which they are legion
And the mind telling them
And the face which is blank

With disaster
Of which the horn tells us
The way it fit within the rhyme

Scheme that is not dreaming
Of dollars and discovery
Read plundering
And the mind saying
And the mind arrested is verse

Versus them "orer" any
Notion of 'us'
Wouldn't tell the b side
The b flat to be
Outside the copulas of others' suffering

How to sing this
Without submergence
Lyric wants to say

Like a bubble brimming
In the shipwreck of our axioms
Propose this going down
With the
Ship crushing

Of which 'one' is common
We are a wreck in common
The dead one holds in common
Live dead sounds of the dead

Commonly they discourse
Through horn through the rap
Possessing what they do not grasp
Proper names what won't
Return as property.

SEGUE introduction for Fred Moten (@ Harriet)


"How to build a commons—a space that is for all and not just a few? How to build a commons out of the wreckages of modernity (most of all the North Atlantic Slave Trade) and the atrocious and quashed manifestations of communism in the 20th century? How, in terms of African-American diaspora, to admit common property when the bodies of Black folks were once the possession (and, in countless ways, still are the possession) of others? How do art and poetry presence this aporia? How can a commons be built out of this aporia? To what extent is commons a matter of unbuilding—dismantling administered worlds?"

Friday, January 15, 2010

Love and Criticism (@ Harriet)


"In terms of ‘negative criticism’ (so called), I rarely see the use of it. If it is to dismiss a work of literature/art as unvaluable/irrelevant, don’t we already do this by not attending it, or by not investing our desires and passions in it? It is so much work just to understand poetry/art (for works of art and poetry to become legible to one’s self) I have never understood why people would want to waste their energy on what does not interest them (what, that is, they do not love or desire). This problem goes back to Robert Duncan’s The H.D. Book where Duncan reiterates that the poet “goes where they are loved.” I think there is a lot of wisdom in this mantra of Duncan’s, and in the ways Duncan practiced criticism and scholarship besides his poetry."


come hear the NPP (New Philadelphia Poets) strut their stuff tomorrow following SEGUE series at the Bowery Poetry Club.

New Philadelphia Poets to NYC: A Redemptive Strike: Reckoning The Decade

At the beginning of the century, we found ourselves in a dark wood. The past ten years saw the collapse of the Twin Towers, the marriage of religious fundamentalism and global politics, and the rise of digital communities. With this in mind, The New Philadelphia Poets launch a redemptive strike on the past decade. Join us for a reconsideration of this yet unnamed era.

Bowery Poetry Club (308 Bowery)
Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010
6:00 pm, $6.00

Featuring: Gregory Bem, Sarah Heady, Debrah Morkun, Patrick Lucy, Angel Hogan, Matthew Landis, Carlos Soto Román, and Jamie Townsend.

Celebrate with Nightboat 4 amazing books!

You're invited to the

Nightboat Books Winter Release Party
on Friday, January 22, 2010, from 6:30-8:30pm
at Metro Pictures Gallery, 519 West 24th Street, New York City

Brief readings by authors, editors, and contributors.

Free and Open to All

Help us celebrate these new titles:

Century of Clouds by Bruce Boone, with a preface by Rob Halpern

In the Function of External Circumstances by Edwin Torres

Tiresias: The Collected Poems of Leland Hickman, edited by Stephen Motika. Preface by Dennis Phillips; Afterword by Bill Mohr. (Published with Otis Books/Seismicity Editions.)

eco language reader, edited by Brenda Iijima, featuring essays by
Karen Leona Anderson, Jack Collom, Tina Darragh, Marcella Durand, Laura Elrick, Peter Larkin, Jill Magi, Tracie Morris, Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands, Julie Patton, Jed Rasula, Evelyn Reilly, Leslie Scalapino, James Sherry, Jonathan Skinner & Tyrone Williams. (Published with Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

For Haiti

Disaster's the national pastime
Shame's the natural course
Of hegemony sovereignty equals
Its weight in force

Disaster knows no limit
Limited only by the eyes
That see it not the decibels
Charged by their screaming

Rubble sees in retrospect
From the distance of their failed
Infrastructure from the distance
Of dispossession a kind of curse

Of progress what dispenses
With the ego society no force
Of nature accomplished this
Because we've gone global.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SEGUE series presents Mónica de la Torre & Fred Moten

Saturday, January 16, 2010
4:00pm - 6:00pm
The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery
New York, NY

Mónica de la Torre is the author of the poetry books Talk Shows, Acúfenos, and Public Do-main. She is co-author of the artist book Appendices, Illustrations & Notes. She is a translator and senior editor at BOMB Magazine and a 2009 NYFA fellow in poetry.

Fred Moten’s most recent books are Hughson’s Tavern and the forthcoming B Jenkins. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

American Longing and James Dean in Last Meadow (@ Harriet)


"The word that kept runnning through my head throughout Last Meadow was “cinematicalness.” There is a feeling for the cinema, and almost everything about Last Meadow evokes this feeling. Another extraordinary technique that Gutierrez used was an interlocution between himself and the other two dancers in which he would say their lines with/over them, timing this “voice over” precisely. Reciting a scene from Elia Kazan’s East of Eden in which Dean (as Cal) is about to leave his house and Julie Harris (as Abra) adjusts his tie, the scene is first played between Hallaby (as Harris playing Abra) and Boullé (as Dean playing Cal). It is played again with Gutierrez saying their lines over them in the Fender amp, and for a third time with Boullé absented from the scene, looking at herself in the mirror as Dean playing Cal."

SEGUE intro for Adam Pendleton (@ Harriet)


"That Pendleton’s recent solo-exhibition “EL T D K” pays tribute to Amiri Baraka’s 1964 poem “Black Dada Nihilismus” seems a perfectly logical step in Pendleton’s practice. Listening to Baraka read his poem tonight repeatedly at PennSound, from a 1964 reading at the Asilomar Negro Writers Conference in Pacific Grove, California, I could hear in Baraka’s reading echoes of the ambivalence that Pendleton himself brings to the performance of his work—an ever-shifting blend of irony and sincerity, affirmation and negation, caveat and invitation. Through his identification with a white, European avant garde movement—Dada—Baraka gives voice to a genealogy of violent struggle against a society of white masters. Given the content of Pendleton’s exhibition—a set of paintings with only phonemes painted on them, a long row of boxy lithographs reproducing widely known photo-documents from canonical 60s and 70s art performances, and a Sol LeWitt-like installation of black cubes entitled “Black Dada”—like Baraka before him Pendleton would seem to recover a white-identified art tradition for Black and Gay liberation struggles while calling into question the perceived reduction such reappropriative gestures can perform."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Withdrawals (II)

It is easy not to sing
The face withdrawn from smoke
Different than a soundtrack
Which never was of us

Expressing this limit that face
Makes signals in the air
Only that face understands
Because it can't stop remembering

The total catastrophe that was the line
Or the face wishing this
Wishes invisibly
In a language of these days

We became crossed-out
You burned your photographs
To remember home
A kind of body torn apart

A kind of body shared

A kind of body no one shares.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


-for Adrian Piper

Wishing the mind
To touch anything
But this combat

Combatting, that is,
To touch you
And touching

Only dark, a room
Full of dark
All voices eyes

All I be hushed
Sensed so striken
As of in silence blowing

Whereupon the woman
You are the man
The skin sheds us

She singles herself out
Pointing out the lack of
Forms in her self-apprehension

A failure to withdraw from
Them because every
thing is in relation.

Friday, January 08, 2010

SEGUE series presents Judith Goldman and Adam Pendleton

Saturday, January 9, 2010
4:00pm - 7:00pm
Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery
New York, NY

Judith Goldman is the author of Vocoder, DeathStar/Rico-chet, and “The Dispossessions.” She co-edits War and Peace with Leslie Scalapino and teaches in the arts humanities core and in creative writing at the University of Chicago.

Adam Pendleton lives in upstate New York. His multi-disciplinary art has been widely exhibited internationally. Recent biennials and exhibitions include The Generational: Younger than Jesus (New York); Object, the Undeniable Success of Operations (Amsterdam); and Manifesto Marathon (London).

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Michael Haneke: Filmmaker of Bad Faith (@ Harriet)

Here goes something I posted to Harriet blog tonight, regarding Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon:

"His films do not condescend as a von Trier or Bergman film do, but rather make one identify with the bad faith of its characters. How he does this is through the craft of a great storyteller and cinematographer. The flip-side of Haneke’s bad faith is a tenuous redemption Haneke proffers through his most humiliated characters. In The White Ribbon these characters—angels of mercy—are the pastor’s young son, who comes to his father bearing the gift of a caged bird after the pastor’s bird has been brutally executed, and in another scene bargains with his father to keep a pet frog. It is also the baron’s wife, who explains to her husband why she is leaving him: because the town over which he lords is filled with malice, and threatens the well-being of their son and the happiness of their marriage."

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Santiago Sierra: Radical Cruelty and Second Reflection

I just posted my 2nd post at Poetry Foundation's Harriet blog, regarding "radical cruelty and second reflection" in the work of Santiago Sierra:

"The poems that I write (and much poetry that I find attractive) is nourished by a devotion to intermedia, and a desire to understand images by using the poem as a means of processing. In general, I am interested in these uses of the poem: the poem as intuitive plastic, as pedagogical tool, as preposterously critical, as (presencing of) second reflection. Perhaps, as Charles Bernstein suggests in his collaboration with Richard Tuttle Reading Red, one can write a poem that acts not merely ekphrastically (outside or about the image), but that somehow speaks with or from the position of the art work.* What, a la Wittgenstein, would the image say if it could speak?"

"For however long you will hide"

For however long you will hide
In those happy hour boxes making
Dissymmetry your living labor
Aporia a social process

Their faces give me the back
Living to be punished/published
Identity's wet dream
Pours polyethylene over
The place where difference would otherwise sing
Our alibis.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Damn the Caesars round-up

I'm thrilled to be included here among such esteemed company in Rich Owens' 2009 round-up.

Poesis as Ecological Remediation

"C. Part Three: Earth Maintenance

Everyday, containers of the following kinds of refuse will be delivered to the Museum:

-the contents of one sanitation truck;

-a container of polluted air;

-a container of polluted Hudson River;

-a container of ravaged land.

Once at the exhibition, each container will be serviced:

purified, de-polluted, rehabilitated, recycled, and conserved by various technical (and / or pseudo-technical) procedures either by myself or scientists.

These servicing procedures are repeated throughout the duration of the exhibition."
--from Mierle Ukeles' Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969

Friday, January 01, 2010

"To become worthy..."*

"Either ethics makes no sense at all, or this is what it means and has nothing else to say: not to be unworthy of what happens to us . . . Nothing more can be said and no more has ever been said: to become worthy of what happens to us, and thus to will and release the event . . . and to become the offspring of one's events and not of one's actions."

*from Gilles Deleuze's The Logic of Sense quoted in Robert Dewhurst's "The
CA Conrad's 
" (unpublished)