Saturday, December 31, 2011

In Actu

--for Daria Fain, composed 11/2011

So expressed was a lung inside your throat
The way it microphoned the world

Like blood cleansed, leavened into dirt
The holocausts inside us, the heat on the air

No metaphors here but things seen
See us for what we are, we sing, we sing

Into the microphone called throat
Called air, another blue song

You put into a horizon note,
Splits where your dress was a difference

Where your hands splay the air
There is an animal poise

Called verse notwithstanding
Actual amplification,

Notwithstanding the world
Illuminated until it disappears.

Who will the living be
In robes of white terrycloth
And ribs like wings
Billow when breath
Is obscenely material?

Captioned like our angel names
Don’t become truly like
Our names until we’ve been
Will you be
In this robe with me

Will you be in this skin with me
Flawed, not a metaphor for things seen?
What will we be in talking, in walking?
What will we be in pointing?
The extent to which a world is formed.

Revenants, Remains

--for Rob Halpern, composed 8/2011

The history of this movement
Like soldiers on spec
Don’t know they are dead
Fucked by a global content

No one wants, abjected in-
sight of things, eyes that would
Make a difference if not for
Disaster’s sense, I feel it in

My veins this blood being spilt
Far away, while violent mourning
Transfigures our present
Coverts thanatos to eros

Almost becomes a public
I could kiss because it can’t
Come back this broken
Revenant moment

Only silence comes back
What it touches we call
A demilitarized music
Who sings a blocked world?

A Thousand Levels

Like sites write
‘Me’ little micro

-cosm this body renders
A thousand levels, boundaries

Where toxins structure us
Is ‘holy’?, of milk

Winds steady in this
Breast remembrance

Through daylight the rap
Song of our lives and life

Escapes, no allegory,
No metaphor, just allergy

Just conviviality in lyric
Rhythm samples my heart

Thresholds where earth dreams
Mind into cognizance

Awake to this scented
Word called “cell,” called

“Pathogen,” a book
We will be buried in.

--composed 8/2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

CA Conrad's 2011 Sexiest Poem Award

I couldn't be any more pleased than to share this year's "Sexiest Poem of the Year" prize with Samantha Giles, awarded annually by CA Conrad. Thank you, Conrad! "2011 was an impossible year for keeping up with the amazing poetry being published. To those studying the dead 'masters,' oh how will you ever catch up to the present?" You took the words right out of my mouth!

Live interview with Catherine Sullivan (Project for an Archive of the Future Anterior)

A few weeks ago I interviewed the artist Catherine Sullivan for the video archive I curate with Sreshta Rit Premnath, Project for an Archive of the Future Anterior. Here is the video of Sullivan presenting clips from her work, followed by the interview and Q&A with audience.

5 Questions for Contemporary Practice with Sreshta Rit Premnath

The latest 5 Questions for Contemporary Practice is with Sreshta Rit Premnath.

"2. Do you feel there is a need for the work that you are doing given the larger field of visual art and the ways that aesthetic practices may be able to shape public space, civic responsibility, and political action? Why or why not?

No, I do not feel that there is a need for the work I do. Rather, to restate myself, I feel the need to do my work. If I respond to an external need, then it is the result of internalizing it, and once it is internalized it is felt as an impulse rather than a need. Although my sense of civic responsibility and my political motivations are reflected in my artwork, I do not see my artwork as a means of political action. Politics as a means of social change is fully grounded in the ontic register. It requires an ethical clarity and a contingent certainty. However, to apply Wittgenstein’s words on philosophy to art, “Lack of clarity in [art] is tormenting. It is felt as shameful. We feel: we do not know our way about where we should know our way about. And nevertheless it isn’t so. We can get along very well without… knowing our way about here.”

However, every human being is a political being and how we act in the world is the embodiment of our politics. Although in this sense all our actions in the world are political, they are in most cases not particularly good politics or effective politics. While we could expand the word art to include politics or conversely expand the notion of politics to talk about its aesthetics, I find the two categories to function in different modalities within my practice. When the political enters my artwork it becomes the ontic ground for various formal procedures as well as the concrete ground for philosophical speculation.

There are crucial political imperatives grounded in the ethical urgency of what ought to be done that cannot be effectively dealt with in my art practice. However, I don’t think this makes my artwork less important, rather it reveals that there are multiple modes of discourse and some are more effective in “shaping public space, civic responsibility, and political action” than others."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where it proceeds to the rupture

--after some phrases from Brian Holmes

Is ‘experimental’ where it proceeds to the rupture

of the cultural model, lights were struck
and bitter coffee served, interrupted

every half hour for feedback how to share
an experience that produced

such profound changes in one’s self?
Art making, an ambiguous expression

of personal and collective desires
A glance or tear, a media intervention,

the modulation of affect in the face of that threat

Seattle happened here then was foreclosed
What’s the use of aesthetics if you don’t have eyes to see?

They drank the bitter coffee, interrupted the projections to bear witness
The affective modulations that won’t be represented

without eyes to see them with

Who drank out of empathy the affective modulation
Of our ambiguous desires, neither personal nor collective,

Yet political all of them before any of this was subjective
Or in a white cube

Because these tears turn to ______ no one will see

Things you heard, you are trying to remember them hard
No one will know the things you heard

When what we remain are powers

Post-expectant, the heart at work,
what should we name its book, lovingly?

Messianic aspect of a place from which to begin,
actual birds drenched, withdrawn from post-expectant

springtimes somewhere else there are worlds,
somewhere other than ______

Which like William James’ polyhedral turns
thousands of miles above our infancy, blue and rarefied

Subtle like a conversation, the world does not
actually begin, it begins and ends suspended

by friendship, by enmity announcing the proximity
of end times, where it proceeds to the rupture of the cultural model

Friday, December 23, 2011


The cray ‘s'mas lights
All come greet me

Cape Cod all come what
Beacons X-mas taps

Thee out when
Light is about returning

Not just birthing
“It is a cold world”

The cab driver says
While I tip him, “have

A good life if
I don’t see you again”

His repartee is
Good natured

But rehearsed, nights
On Cape Cod in the winter

Some places are pitch-
Black the highway

Like the sea undulates
They are foreclosing,

He tells me, on all the
Houses the greedy

Got greedier
The wicked wickeder

This year you can’t
Convince me after 40 years

Of this shit that it can’t
Get worse but I swear

I love the Cape
Without people

David Graeber’s Debt
Is on the kitchen table

Of my parents’ house
I haven’t read it

Yet it has the seduction
Already of something

One should read to feel
They are part of their

Generation, this poem
Is for all my friends

December 22nd,
2011 I don’t want

Any of you to die,
I want us to live

The best we can,
Let the (living) dead

Consume themselves
I believe

In interruptions,
Not endings.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Hole "Feedback" section excerpts

My "first book," The Hole, just dropped at SPD.

But it is really not my book. Or it is only nominally "my book." Because I was so very fortunate to be able to include many incredible contributions from others, solicited responses to an earlier version of the book. And these responses issue from a spirit of collaboration and community endeavor and friendship, which I consider to be the condition of the book's making, from start to finish.

Here are some excerpts:

25 hedge fund managers
are worth 658,000 teachers.
This is just minutes before
totality occurred.
--Andrew Levy

What comes out is an idiolect. When one has an intimate (perhaps ‘intrinsic’) relationship to language the first thing that becomes apparent is our inseparability. It’s not even a paradox. Particularly when the dominant language is hegemonic or oppressive, we need to break from the connectivity and open into the one subsistence we are. We recognize each other because we share recognition (and because “our suffering is beyond conceptualization”). The initial state of language (which, like eternity, if it is not ‘now’, it is not) is first-person-plural. We need a science of the first person plural and it’s only fair that the first discussions for such a science would be ‘lyric’. The Hole. The hoax being accomplished against us (well-described in Thom’s manuscript) is happening by means of language. We need a hole dug as big as the world. It really is the original story: to salvage the world with that with which we screw it up.
--Robert Kocik

Thom Donovan’s The Hole is a protest song, an unmuffled cry. His caring is a direct response to the glaring irony of ablest-fatalism. “How are you I’m tortured.” Pain is the body’s form of protest. Pain sends messengers to the site of trauma in order for healing to occur. No recourse or healing until pain is felt (especially so in fucked-up scenarios—no acknowledgement of suffering: sociopathy as societal norm). […] The Hole turbulently narrates and embodies localized and social pain as it endeavors to exit out of the critique of what remains.
--Brenda Iijima

[…] being at the joint of flex. More than. Once with you at poetry's I mean Poetry's admission of guilt for having been.
--CA Conrad

Skin so thin with armor
Past and future are only distensions (Augustine)
but being immune to time creates
a metrical need
what prosody can sustain
--Eleni Stecopoulos

this poem and a few maybe with it […] must be read in streets, in public gatherings, pubs and cafés, on t.v. […] it's up to us to bring words to those to whom they belong
--Etel Adnan

what of ourselves we put in
the possible

remains of democracy
Athenian re-imagining

a once that never was
--Jane Sprague

The words invite that gift of night. We move in tandem at times, we who say no, the aversive, a kindred ally, the stubborn immobility, silent potent, an obstinate night’s nothing, whose no unites, disrobes, finds flesh, interrogates the state, of language, of making, and of war, unmakes and disarticulates night’s night, all that everyone has worked for, forces, to which we say no, the subjects who say no, made visible in your ongoing engagement within space.
--Jocelyn Saidenberg

Within the measures of Thom’s project, disaster can’t be seen, nor can it be experienced, and yet disaster hails the lyric subject into social being, commanding the ear, while enjoining the poem to bear witness to that which can’t be witnessed. The disaster can be thought of here as a kind of event: like a hole shot thru perception and around which feeling struggles to hear itself as thought, or a void where a social situation’s structuring antagonisms concentrate invisibly. This triangulation with the eventful disaster threatens to render the poem impossible, but what makes Thom’s writing critical is the way it refuses the convenient alibi that the poem’s disastrous impossibility is a fateful condition of language itself (as Blanchot might think). The poem rather risks its impossibility on social catastrophes where it is unbearably implicated.
--Rob Halpern

Forgotten common
poetry should
understand blankness
radical ‘experiment’
the social
those earth-bound
prisons effervesce
and erode
encrusted capital
--Stephen Collis

upload a text into a virtual community of intellectual propriety. Elsewhere—not “here”—is confusion. E-volition as a peculiar instantiation of cultural labor apes evolution, expels, from a deflated coterie, product by-product toward a putative public.
--Tyrone Williams

What wind blows through me
Oh that it might carry me

Not I, Not I
But an us

In peril, fatherless and worn
In danger, because I have given everything up
--Dorothea Lasky

I also started to think a lot about scandal in relation to your writing, & draw up some warp & woof in my mind between the word 'scandal' & 'disaster', words just so electrified in this moment, & 'scandal' you know, it has this air of sexiness about it, it implies a secret carnality somewhere out of sight, & I think you[r] book enacts that heat, that sort of starvation, against & through the actual processes of depravation that order the figures of our despair; ecological disaster, political aporia, the half-heartedness that meets them, the bodies & speech both effaced & replenished in prosodic attention, The Hole became for me something scandalous, a rumor (like Rob's Rumored Place), something repellent & absorbing that's transmitted through the glamour of our being together, like the world as it is the dirty non-secret we keep passing off to one another […]
--Dana Ward

Friday, December 09, 2011

So we were the police...

So we were the police a sign of dissensus
Decry force little anthems we tell ourselves
Little voices we were bright curve
Of the object we were when we learned

To frame no one labor caved for no one
Because equality rests on process no politics
Without poetics says you Plato was wrong
About a lot of things get over your philosophy

This is an interruption of philosophy
For ethics or simply the way things should work
When we don’t how we get down like that
In the early streets in the swarming streets

Abandoned by the national discourse
Sunset of that discourse this is dawn
At least police if you won’t come to our side
Spray your own eyes out so you might see.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Matt Mullican's Bulletin Boards (at SFMOMA blog)

Here is a little piece I wrote about Matt Mullican's bulletin boards, for SFMOMA blog. Thanks to Suzanne Stein for inviting me to contribute!

The photographs gathered and pinned here project a time in the future when we will seem even more strange to ourselves. Like a time capsule, hieroglyphs, artifacts — not just cosmology, but the future conditional tense of a speculative anthropology. The “self” or “I” or “That Person” or “Mullican” acting, at different points, as both the object and the subject of a cottage anthropological project.

Live Interview with Catherine Sullivan (The Project for an Archive of the Future Anterior)

The Project for an Archive of the Future Anterior

Interview with Catherine Sullivan

Friday, December 9th, 6:30 - 8:30pm

CUE Art Foundation
511 West 25th Street
New York, New York 10001

The evening will begin with a presentation by Chicago-based artist Catherine Sullivan, who will show excerpts from her video works and documentation of her performances. Following the artist’s presentation, she will be interviewed by Thom Donovan and Sreshta Rit Premnath of the Project for an Archive of the Future Anterior.

About Catherine Sullivan:

Catherine Sullivan's works engage a variety of media - theater, film, video, photography, writing and sculpture. She has produced several performances and theater works wherein the performers are often coping with written texts, stylistic economies, reenactments of historic performances, gestural and choreographic regimes, and conceptual orthodoxies. The works address a broad spectrum of historical reference and often involve multiple collaborators including composer Sean Griffin. Her work is often staged and shot on sets for unrelated productions and in settings that project social function beyond the mise en scène Sullivan builds within them. What emerges from the numerous layers of collaboration and reference is an anxious and unresolved political and social sensibility.

Sullivan received a CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts (2004) and a Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) Fellowship (2004–05). She has had major exhibitions at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2007); Tate Modern, London (2005); Vienna Secession, Austria (2005); Kunsthalle Zurich (2005); Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford (2003); UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2002); and the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago (2002). She has participated in the Prague Biennial (2005), the Whitney Biennial (2004), and the Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (2003).

About The Project for an Archive of the Future Anterior:

The tense of the future anterior (French: Future auxiliary verb + past participle) is one of potentiality. Within any given present, it images "what will have been" before an event actually comes to pass. To return to the moments of bifurcation is an objective of the Archive of the Future Anterior. An archive which wishes to serve less as a time-capsule than a provisional index of loss or misplaced futures; where future has not yet become past and multiple futures remain compossible within a single present.

Initiated by Thom Donovan and Sreshta Rit Premnath this project is a video archive of interviews in which artists, writers, scientists and colleagues from various disciplines discuss their work in relation to this future conditional tense. The interviews will present futures which never came to pass, but may still hold the potential to be realized in the present. We hope that by producing an archive of futures which have yet to come to pass we may be able to alter the course of the future, as well as change the way we narrate and remember the past. Putting artists, writers, historians, scientists and other culture workers in
dialogue with each other will be a crucial aspect of this project, inasmuch as we believe that in our present epoch fields of knowledge should communicate and synthesize to both recall and imagine a future we would want to create.

Through our collaboration, we also wish to destabilize the simple dichotomies of personal and social, interior and exterior, memory and history by triggering the future anterior tense wherein the stimulation of memory produces action, and imagination produces possible worlds of experience. Participants will likewise be encouraged to draw upon their somatic experiences as catalysts for potential futures. To what extent can our bodily memory (muscle memory, genetic code, anamnesis) germinate possible futures?