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?"