September 5th the Stoop Poetry Workshop begins @ A Gathering of the Tribes

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Friday September 5th, 2014!

on Gander.TV! 6-8pm

Prof Steve Cannon and Bob Holman will be workshopping. Take a gander at these geezers as they make poems out of air & give ‘em away for free.

Stoop Poetry Workshop @ A Gathering of the Tribes
w/ blind professor Steve Cannon & non-blind professor Bob Holman, Artistic Director of Bowery Poetry Club((The Stoop was the MFA (Make Fantastic Art) writing workshop of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe from 1991-5. Founded and led by Professor Steve Cannon and Bob Holman, it aimed to give a free space for new work for the poets who were making a name in the heady days when the Cafe just reopened and Slam, Hiphop and Multiculti all settled in at the Friday night slams. Roll Call went something like this: Paul Beatty, reg e gaines, Tracie Morris, Willie Perdomo, Dael Orlandersmith, Ed Morales, Ra, Edwin Torres, Dana Bryant, Mike Tyler. Tune in LIVE at this link: A GATHERING OF THE TRIBES – “The Stoop” Workshop With Steve Cannon & Bob Holman 9/5 6PM-8PM
http://www.gander.tv/event/gathering-tribes-stoop-workshop-steve-cannon-bob-holman-95-6pm-8pm

OR drop by live 745 E 6 St #1A, or phone in your poems 212-777-2038. Friday Sept 5th, 6-8pm.))

This will be ongoing! 4 wks. Starting Friday Sept 12, 6-8 pm
$200 prepaid, check/cash/money order/paypal (payable to A Gathering of the Tribes & tax-deductible)
Send all your poems to gatheringofthetribes@gmail.com with a letter introducing yourself. Workshop limited to six poets, so you’ll get lots of personal attention. This workshop will be broadcast live on Gander.TV so you’ll get plenty of public attention, too.

The Sleepers (Before the Deluge) by Jessica SLOTE

Jessica SLOTE

The Sleepers (Before the Deluge)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: Warm, Humid, Stormy Conditions Continue
http://www.nycareaweather.com  

(8:00 AM Tuesday EDT). As with yesterday, widespread cloud cover is expected to limit instability with CAPE of at least 1500 J/kg, although the region will be placed near the right entrance quadrant of an upper level jet streak, while an approaching 500 hPa jet streak will lead to 0-6km shear increasing to at least 40-45 knots in the western half of the area. …discrete thunderstorm cells may develop in the immediate NYC area and northern New Jersey towards 2-4pm this afternoon, some which may become strong or locally severe with strong wind gusts and downpours producing localized flash flooding.

Front Terrace of the Main Branch of the New York Public Library at 42nd Street, July 15—When you step outside the building, you have the impression of entering a murky fish tank—like a deep-sea diver wearing heavy equipment that weighs you down so you can walk along the bottom of the sea. It feels difficult to breathe. The air pressure must be low. The sky is low and grey melding with the color of the buildings, the street, and the stone portico. The scene includes individuals (not throngs) sitting at the various tables scattered on the library’s front plaza. At this moment, most are solitary figures engaged in solitary occupations: listening to music (presumably) on headphones, writing in a notebook, reading a book. There’s also a man videotaping the conversation of a couple, a stylish woman and well-dressed man, who are talking about something animatedly. In between takes, they slump. In fact, they are the most animated figures in the scene.

However, scattered among the animated or, shall we say, the conscious, are the unconscious, the sleepers. There are four of them and they anchor the scene. Slumped over, each in their own distinctive way, they have succumbed completely as it were to the appalling torpor of the day.

One is a young black man, perhaps about 20. He sits at a long table, his head in the crook of his arm— propped up on a black backpack, his face a beautiful mask: a sleeping Adonis. Big peach eyelids cover those eyes, and whatever they are seeing in his abandon. He wears a baseball cap, lid flipped up, with a C logo. He’s all in black, t-shirt, pants with cuffs rolled up, black socks with those sports slippers: Nike logo. He’s deep in slumber. Circling around him you get to the message on the back of his t-shirt: “I WAS THERE.”

A second sleeper has chosen a different pose. Flung out on his back, his face to the heavens, his head propped up on his elbow, he lies prostrate on a stone bench. He could be a model for a stone sarcophagus. One leg bent at the knee, pointing skyward, the other sprawled to the side. He sports electric blue reflector shades, which conceal the facts about his eyes sleeping and awake. Next moment, he sits up. Older guy, hard to say age, he’s white, short spiky hair of indiscriminate color like the day, he’s also dressed all in black. Now, turns out, he’s got a cup of coffee by his sarcophagus. He sips it, smokes a cigarette, returning to the world of the animate.

A third, woman, Asian, has collapsed onto a newspaper that lies on a small round café table. She’s also all in black (study for a painting, The Sleepers) (hoodie, pants, socks, and electric green sports shoes). Even though her hat covers part of her face, and there’s just one strand of black hair curving over her cheek, you can see that she is Asian. Beside her, adding a stroke of color, is the ubiquitous Victoria’s Secret pink-striped shopping bag. Face down, pressed against the newsprint, veiled to the observer’s eye by cap and hair, she’s punched out—for unknown reasons, for an unknown amount of time— on the time clock of the conscious.

There was another, a fourth, but I’ve forgotten her now. The four of them together, in their weighted sleep, tethered the scene like four buoys, floating on the surface, anchored by weights. Perhaps the entire portico would float up and drift away—in this torpid turpitude—but for the four sleepers, the unconscious ones among the barely conscious.

 

NYC July 2014

An Easy Guide To Being Politically Correct by Cynthia Andrews

AN EASY GUIDE TO BEING POLITICALLY CORRECT (“PC”)

             Sitting here in Greenpoint, Brooklyn where I grew up I realize that Thomas Wolfe  had it right, you “can’t go home again.”  It pains me to say that although Greenpoint has retained its beauty and grace, it has nonetheless been maligned with a scary (full-scale) gentrification which unfortunately, has besieged even the most humble of neighborhoods in this 21st century.  That is why it is extremely important  (nay vital!) to equip one’s self with a most careful “armor” in your defense against the elites (and, for that matter, anyone with a similar mentality).  I have therefore taken the liberty of supplying the reader with a “Ten Step Program” for getting you over the rough spots (especially with anyone under fifty), and here they are:

  1. Whether you’re right or wrong, always say you’re sorry,( and for God sake do it with an appropriately humble smile).

 

  1. If by chance you should accidentally bump into anyone blocking a doorway while standing trance-like gazing at a cellphone, or perhaps, standing trance-like in the middle of a sidewalk while gazing at a cellphone, refer to No. 1 of this list.  (In the end, you’ll have to apologize anyway).

 

  1. Agree with anyone and everyone on everything, especially politics. Without malice, have some hope and remember – California went bankrupt!

 

  1. Stay away from expensive cafes.

 

  1. I would again refer you to No. 1 of this list if you are first on line, but the cashier says you’re third.

 

  1. When asked if you need anything else in the way of additional work (for them), at all times and without hesitation -  JUST SAY NO!

 

  1. When dealing with people who do not really have to work unless they want to, always have enough money when you’re buying a bagel.  That last two cents you left in your other wallet might prove a disasterous “domino effect” to the long line behind you. (They’ll be checking their pockets for hours!)

 

  1. Never ever have a glass of wine in any social gathering whatsoever, lest you be assaulted by that guy who’s had ten and shouts in your face, “Alcoholic!”  just for the hell of it!

 

  1. Always give them their own way and never let them see you sweat. In the end, they might even think you’re one of them!!

 

  1. NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT. (Worth repeating).

It has been suggested that the Baby Boomers have contributed greatly to this desecration of American ideals and the decay of our culture. While their motto of “Dress for Success” gave them millions in the end and proved to be the key to the “American Dream,” it had also proven to keep their kids in Michael Kors and Ivy League schools.  While it is true there is great power in money, I now look around my hometown with a church on every corner and realize with a great sense of relief, that at least once a week I can have a good 30 to 40 minutes of complete and indefensible and unadulterated peace while everybody (who’s Anybody!)  is nursing a hangover.

 

 

 

Article on Ferguson via the New Republic

You can’t really understand Ferguson—the now-famous St. Louis suburb with a long history of white people sometimes maliciously, sometimes not, imposing their will on black people’s lives—unless you understand Kinloch.

Kinloch, the oldest black town in Missouri, is now essentially a ghost town, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, it thrived for nearly a century after its founding in the 1890s. Back then, restrictive housing covenants prohibited the direct sale of property to blacks, so a white real estate firm purchased parcels of land, marked them up over 100 percent, and resold them to blacks.” One advertisement noted, “The good colored people of South Kinloch Park have built themselves a little city of which they have a right to be proud. More than a hundred homes, three churches and a splendid public school have been built in a few years.”

The turn of the century was a heady time for the bustling little town. The Wright Brothers visited Kinloch Airfield in one of their earliest tours, and the airfield hosted an event at which Theodore Roosevelt took the maiden presidential airplane flight, which lasted approximately three minutes. Kinloch Airfield was home to the first control tower, the first aerial photo, and the first airmail shipped by a young pilot named Charles Lindbergh. A streetcar line ran through Ferguson, helping Kinloch residents travel to jobs throughout the region, and perhaps more importantly, exposing many whites to Kinloch as they passed through. Despite the region’s decidedly Southern folkways and segregated housing arrangements, blacks and whites rode the streetcars as equals. Kinloch itself was also notable for its relative enlightenment; despite school segregation, it became the first Missouri community to elect a black man to its school board.

All that began to change in 1938. A second black man sought election to the school board in the district which had a narrow black majority—whites inhabited the north and blacks the south—and whites responded by attempting to split the school district. It failed: 415 blacks in the south voted unanimously against the effort, while 215 whites in the north all supported it. So to get around the small problem of losing democratically, whites in the northern half of Kinloch immediately formed a new municipality called Berkeley, and a rare Missouri effort at integrated governance ended. Kinloch continued to thrive for the next several decades as a small nearly all-black town of churches, shops, community centers, and tidy homes.

In the 1980s, the airport—long since been renamed Lambert International Airport—began snatching up property to build an additional runway. From 1990 to 2000, Kinloch shed over 80 percent of its population, and as the community fabric frayed, it was increasingly plagued by crime and disorder.

Construction on airport expansion, which cost well over a billion dollars and involved 550 companies, began in 2001. Unfortunately, two other things happened that year: American Airlines bought TWA, and 9/11. Which means that the airport is dramatically underutilized now; a senior airport official told me Lambert could easily handle twice the traffic it currently gets.

Meanwhile, many of the residents displaced by this wasteful construction project have ended up in Ferguson—specifically, in Canfield Green, the apartment complex on whose grounds Michael Brown tragically die

You can’t really understand Ferguson unless you understand J.D. Shelley. He was a middle-class black man from north St. Louis who in 1945 bought a home in a neighborhood just a few minutes east of Ferguson, unaware of the restrictive covenant that barred its sale to “people of the Negro or Asian Race.” Alas, this move inflamed Louis Kraemer, who lived ten blocks away and was well aware of the covenant. Kraemer was temporarily vindicated when the Missouri Supreme court backed his lawsuit to enforce the covenant, but the United States Supreme Court overturned the Missouri ruling and forbade the state from enforcing such private agreements. In the wake of the Shelley v. Kraemer decision, blacks began to move out of crowded north St. Louis City, where many had been packed into high-rise projects such as the infamous Pruitt-Igoe, to north St. Louis County.

This exodus created massive tension between increasingly black suburban electorates and white leaders whose stranglehold on municipal political power was total. The North County white power structure’s supplying of jobs in public safety departments, and of lucrative construction and service contracts, to white allies cemented their status as political and economic elites—and the status of blacks as disempowered outsiders.

 

And you can’t really understand Ferguson unless you understand Bellerive, a small community of a few hundred people separated from Ferguson by Highway 170. It was once the site of Bellerive Country Club, the region’s most affluent club, home to the 1992 PGA Championship and future host of the hundreth PGA Championship in 2018. In 1957—as black migration to St. Louis began in earnest—Bellerive Country Club decided to move to the posh West St. Louis County suburb of Town and Country, home to multi-million dollar homes and gleaming corporate office parks. But the subdivision that originally surrounded the club remains a leafy enclave of affluence with a median family income around 100 thousand. Its residents today pride themselves on their enlightened progressivism; after all, they stayed and suffered as property values eroded while others moved west and accumulated great wealth in the land underneath them. Regardless, their presence is a daily reminder to their poorer neighbors of the stark divides that so many politicians promised to close, and so many invisible forces seem to buttress. It is a reminder of the privilege that so many whites enjoy while they are pulled over by cops, fined, arrested, and imprisoned at astronomical rates, crippling their ability to enter the region’s economic mainstream.

 

My own understanding of what’s happening in Ferguson, though, comes not so much through history as through experience accumulated during my childhood and my years campaigning in north St. Louis City. My understanding, if it may generously be called that, was hard-earned—mostly from my many unintentional mistakes.

North St. Louis is struggling. It’s about 95 percent black, and unemployment among men in their twenties approaches 50 percent in many neighborhoods. It’s a community fighting to regain its lost glory, the days when black doctors, lawyers, teachers, principals, and morticians lived among the laborers and housekeepers, in larger homes but in close proximity. This area was approximately 60 percent of the state senate district I represented from 2006-2009.

The Annie Malone Parade was Missouri’s largest, attended by approximately a quarter million African-Americans from throughout the region. During my first campaign, in 2004, I arrived to find myself badly unprepared. Candidates for alderman, seeking to serve 12,000 people instead of the 750,000 I aspired to represent, had far more impressive operations than I did. They had fleets of SUVs or pickup trucks with pulsing sound systems and oversized banners, their flat beds overflowing with supporters. My entourage consisted of two sixty-year-old volunteers. We raised a small, tattered campaign banner, but we had no stickers, no car, no megaphone. Also, I was in the only white person in sight, and my paltry cheering section didn’t exactly suggest a groundswell of grassroots support. It was an advance man’s nightmare.

Desperately seeking a way to avoid embarrassment, I approached a group of kids tossing a basketball around. “Yo, lemme borrow that ball for an hour,” I said. “I’ll give you five bucks.”

Silence.

“Ten bucks,” I said.

“Bet,” said one of the kids. He tossed me the ball in exchange for a $10 bill. Dressed in a blue shirt and tie, I started dribbling the ball as the parade began.

Some context: My dad dreamed that I’d play in the NBA. That he was 5’6” and my mom 5’2” did not deter him. Starting when I was about nine, he would take me to gyms or playgrounds in dilapidated parts of the city where dusk heralded the sounds of gunfire, and tell my mom that he took me to play golf. By my senior year of high school, I became a pretty good point guard and, at 5’3”, was the only white starter on a team of mostly inner-city kids bused out via a special inter-district program. My senior year, we were ranked number one in the region, and my teammates became my closest friends. Basketball was my lingua franca, my bridge to their world, and I decided to major in Black Studies in college.

About a mile into the parade, a teenager hollered at me, ribbing me about my ball handling skills. “Yo white-bread, you ain’t got no handles. You ain’t shit.”

“Wanna come out here and see?” I asked.

He jogged out of the crowd and crouched in a defensive position. I quickly dribbled the ball through my legs, behind my back in the opposite direction, feigned a forward movement, rocked back on my heels and performed a crossover dribble that left him lunging in the wrong direction. The crowd howled. Kids of all ages started streaming out from the crowd to play “one-on-one” with me. By the end of the parade, there were dozens of kids jogging along with me, dribbling balls. My dress shirt was soaked through with sweat, but it was worth it.

Weeks later, I was out shaking hands in a busy shopping district, when a young black woman approached me. “You’re Jeff Smith, right?”

“I am. Great to meet you. What’s your name? Appreciate your support!”

“Oh, I’m not supporting you,” she said tartly. “In fact, I plan to spend every day between now and Election Day telling everyone I know not to vote for you.”

“Can I ask why?”

“Because you think I’m a monkey.”

I was perplexed. “What are you talking about?”

“Yeah, you think we’re just a bunch of stupid monkeys who will vote for you because you dribble a basketball fancy in our parades. Yeah, I saw you. It was the most insulting, offensive thing I’ve ever seen a politician do.”

I flashed back to that day. I’d been so caught up in the cheering I never even considered how others might have perceived me.

“But—it was a parade!” I told the woman. “I couldn’t give a speech! I was just trying to communicate in the only way I knew how, in the moment…”

“Well, I got the message. And you need to hear my message: I couldn’t care less who wins, as long as you lose.”

This week, that sentiment seems to describe the feelings of many of those massed in Ferguson. They want white St. Louis to quit it with the knee-jerk paternalism and actually hear their message. They want white St. Louis to finally make an effort to grapple with its shameful racial history, a history in which a complex alchemy of private decisions and public policies conspired to leave north St. Louis County divided by race and class. They want to win some agency of their own lives instead of being at the mercy of forces that have so often let them down—or actively impeded them.

But will white St. Louis listen?

 

 

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119106/ferguson-missouris-complicated-history-poverty-and-racial-tension

“Here and Elsewhere” by Molly Oringer

Molly Oringer

Review, “Here and Elsewhere”

The New Museum 7/16/14-9/28/14

Given a tendency to categorize the contemporary Arab world as monolith, thoughtfully curating an immense exhibition of over forty-five artists without inserting a determinist perspective is a formidable challenge. The region’s recent events—not to be recounted here yet the subject of widespread speculation and curiosity—are ever-present in the multitude of frameworks employed to portray, explore, and understand the Middle East. Often reflections of past events, an image’s location in a museum conjures a sense of mortality: the viewer sees the piece of art as a relic rather than continually resonant. Rather than succumbing to a precious retrospection of the Arab world’s recent uprisings as valiant shortcomings, “Here and Elsewhere,” organized by curator Massimiliano Gioni and encompassing the entire five floors the New Museum, ambles in terms of subject matter and medium, unhindered by subject-specific curation.Taking its name from a 1976 film by Jean-Luc Goddard and Anne-Marie Miéville, whose intentions to serve as a pro-Palestinian essay but expands to explore the consciousness and conducts of political representation, “Here and Elsewhere” consists of a myriad of artists differing widely in mediums but united loosely through their connection to the Arab world and, in some cases, its diaspora, and their varied and intersecting portrayals of Arab identities, places, and representations.

In its subtle disavowal of the totalities plaguing analyses of the Arab world—geographic generalizations and heavy exotification, to name a few—Here and Elsewhere does not insist on either overt political provocations or personal narratives. Instead, each artist’s work speaks in its own tenor, allowing for exploration from the mundane to the elaborate. Resulting is an expansion of the Arab world to encompass its porous diaspora, malleable borders, and numerous interactions with permeable identities. Musings on the fate of the Arab world—and, too, how to best cope with its past and present—are left to the devise of each artist, and remain unanswered on the scale of the exhibition as a whole.

The visitor becomes present in the exhibition immediately upon entering the lobby of the museum; it is not simply a viewing but an act of participation. Designed by the GCC “delegation” composed of nine artists, including some residing in London and New York, have transformed the space into a simulacrum of what one might imagine to be an Abu Dhabi hotel, complete with portraits of the delegation members in the style of Gulf royalty hanging above the main desk. The installation asks the visitor, encompassed in a physical representation, to consider connections between grandiose architectural and artistic state projects—in this case, Gulf political power and the construction of capitalist-nationalist symbols and their role as internationally broadcasted representations of the region. As in the posh hotels of Dubai, those responsible for, rather than an image of, the life of these symbolic spaces are absent: foreign laborers, domestic workers, and non-national residents remain deliberately invisible. By contrast, South Asian workers capture their own images by cell phone in artist Ahmed Mater’s videos, which turn to the stark juxtaposition of such symbols of Gulf nations and their often ignored underbellies: a portion of his film “Leaves Fall in All Seasons” shows a worker clinging to an enormous, gold-encrusted crescent as it is hoisted by cranes to the top of a minaret.  The Arab world is thus rendered, whether explicitly or not, as inclusive of those who make its representations possible, as anonymous as they often are.

The concept of an expandable Arab world is furthered in Bouchra Khalili’s video installation, in which each screen maps a journey taken by migrants, many whose sojourns originate in South Asia and Africa, as they traverse clandestinely to Europe. The viewer is shown only the narrator’s hand as they outline their travels on a map, including harsh layovers and mistreatment in parts of the Middle East ranging from the UAE to Morocco. The subjects of Khalili’s videos narrate the ways in which the geography of the Arab world seeps into the lived realities of those seeking refuge and work in other parts of the world, placing it in the scope of greater transnationalism and migration.

The theme of polished nationalism is revisited in Wafa Hourani’s sculptural interpretation of a futuristic refugee camp entitled Qalandia 2087 Sprawling at eye-level, the viewer is invited to walk amongst labyrinthine, dollhouse-like models. Situated adjacent to the largest Israeli checkpoint dividing Jerusalem from Ramallah, the current refugee camp sits near the site of the former Qalandia airport—closed by Israeli forces—and is surrounded by the Israeli separation wall. Hourani’s sculpture does not seem to assume any de-occupation of Palestine: the wall, rather than absent, is replaced by a mirrored, disco-ball façade. Though spaces for socializing and commerce abound in the model, it is unclear if the futuristic take on the landscape is a whimsical dream for a Palestinian future or a critique of the polished, glitzy attempts by the heavy presence of international NGOs and a defunct Palestinian government to normalize the occupation. Rather than abandoning the camp for a return to their villages and cities, the residents of Qalandia 2087 are left with cars lining spiffed-up streets and neon satellites stemming from concrete rooftops. Hourani leaves undecided whether the museumification of a distant Palestine is rendered alive through its futuristic additions or deemed dead through its permanence and glitter.

“Here and Elsewhere” stretches the viewer’s concept of the confines of the Arab world both geographically and temporally, reaching into both the archives and the future in its inquiries. Running until September 28th, it provides visitors with ample opportunity to consider the region as composed of active, layered social and political multitudes.

Colaterales=Collateral by Dinapiera Di Donata reviewed by Lourdes Vazquez

Colaterales=Collateral by Dinapiera Di Donato. NY: Akashic, 2013.

IBSN: 9781617751912. Winner of the Paz Prize for Poetry.

Translation by Ricardo Alberto Maldonado.

 

Reviewed by Lourdes Vázquez

The residue. What was left after the battle with the body, with the soul. All seasoned with an intimate knowledge of the distant. With good reason these poems are surrounded with medieval walls and dunes, where we are hanging “on the greenest branches” while listening to the diverse voices of old Spain, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. All embedded in our great poetic tradition. The narrator is a light sleep erudite, with so much knowledge that she is willing to share with us the secrets of Medieval Castillian voices as well as Jewish and Moorish Spain. This philosopher breathes history and transforms it into poetry without mirrors or tricks, with the tranquility of the water that floats “back and recedes in time”. We are just sitting on a flying carpet seduced by the charm of the stories and fairy tales, while Scheherazade is enlisting our curls to your hair “oh black girl”, “Desiccated wound”; without noticing that Angelico, the blessed, is waiting in the shadows to scalp the threadlike strands. For a second it came to my mind William Carlos Williams when it binds a thread among the pregnant women of his practice in the poem “Woman”, “Oh Black Persian Cat…” We are also skillfully inserted as speakers in paintings, scrolls, and pictures as “a glorious lion” dancing the dance of don’t ever forget me, without sentimentalism or offenses. Close by are those less fortunate locked up in tidy monasteries describing pieces of the sick body “I would give you my third eye / my kidneys ill filter you out” or writing about ill spirits, seduced soldiers, letters of love in ruins, which is what causes you to feel when you are facing this deep beautiful poetry.

Fall 2014 Workshops at the Poetry Project

FALL 2014 WORKSHOPS AT THE POETRY PROJECT

REGISTER ONLINE AT POETRYPROJECT.ORG

MOVEMENT AS POETRY: A WORKSHOP ON THE SOMATIC AND DIS/ABILITY – JENNIFER BARTLETT
Tuesday, 7-9 pm: 10 sessions begin September 30, Abrons Art Center

Every poet has a body which they write through and with. In this workshop we will focus on how individual impairment and the somatic experience affect poetics. We will read, discuss, and write poems based on the work of Robert Duncan, Larry Eigner, Robert Grenier, Norma Cole, CA Conrad, Bernadette Mayer, and Ellen McGrath Smith. Everyone will get a free copy of Beauty is a Verb; The New Poetry of Disability.

Jennifer Bartlett is author of Derivative of the Moving Image and (a) lullaby without any music. She is co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. Individual poems are forthcoming in Aufgabe and Poetry. She is the biographer of Larry Eigner.

BEST BIRTHDAY EVER! : experiments with time, or, how to have more fun being a living poet in the
digital age – DIA FELIX
Thursday, 7-9 pm: 10 sessions begin October 9, Abrons Art Center

Dia Felix is a writer and filmmaker who’s screened films at independent festivals (Frameline, Outfest, San Francisco Film Festival), and performed literary work a lot too (Segue Series, Radar, Dixon Place). She is the author of the novel Nochita

PERFORM! – NICOLE PEYRAFITTE
Saturday, 2-4 pm: 10 sessions begin October 4, Dixon Place

Learn to trust & stretch your performance skills. Bring out your poetry with more confidence & ease. Prepare & enhance your readings. Never fear the podium again. Explore, experiment, practice & take your performative skills to new heights. Connect with your voice as the instrument it is. Through breathing techniques, voice warm-up, light stretches learn to develop & expand your creative & delivery powers.

Bring your own writing &/or poetry you like to read /perform.

Nicole Peyrafitte is a pluridisciplinary artist. Her latest project, “Bi- Valve: Vulvic Space / Vulvic Knowledge,” was published by StockportFlats. more info: www.nicolepeyrafitte.com.

Kathleen White @ Momenta Art

"Wings, (1994 - 2000)," Kathleen White’s Givenchys, oil paint, plinth.

Warm pastel tones unpretentiously pinned to the white walls of Momenta Art inaugurated a mood as precise as the rigorously level blue line which the artist Kathleen White had all but continuously drawn along each. Picture an exploded diagram of a Zen rock garden translated once again into three-dimensional space—that same aura of contemplative stillness pervaded (A) Rake's Progess, where the veteran New York-based White found a way to make her highly immersive, yet conceptually-motivated practice mingle with the monochromatic hues of pastel on paper, with the lingering instrumentality of a rake suspended from string, with a pair of worn shoes situated on a pedestal near your feet.

Kathleen White/Rafael Sánchez "Rake & Plumb ( #1 )," 2014, rake (wood, metal, rust ), plumb (finished steel), string, dimensions variable.

Her pastels were not works of abstraction, but studies in presence, complemented by three installation pieces, a video montage of Ms White's pigments in the snow (made in collaboration with her husband, Rafael Sánchez, in 2009) and a sound piece that served to weave the entire show together. The show’s centerpiece, “Rake & Plumb ( #1 )”—also made in collaboration with Sánchez—was a well-used rake and a steal plumb diaphanously hung by a fiber of string from the ceiling. The frailty of this design demonstrated a decided preference for the aural over the visual—a preference rendered pervasive by the sonic aspect of the show: the staccato clacking of typewriter keys, paced like the traveling of feet across a forested surface.

Delving the conditions of meaning, of expression, the exhibition as a whole was poetry of the highest order; it articulated an actual environment shot through with enough holes or points of ambiguity that visitors could constructively engage their own meaning, discovering their own subjectivity in the process by which they explored the interlocking of the works on exhibit.

Kathleen White/Rafael Sánchez "(A) Rake's Progress," installation shot.

(A) Rake’s Progress created the semblance of narrative, without actually delivering one: a very praiseworthy achievement. Especially when considering the heavy-handedness of other literary artists who showed in NYC lately—Christopher Wool at the Guggenheim comes to mind, along with lesser shows—White’s and Sanchez’s work spatially presenced that which makes suggestiveness possible without depending on the overt use or denial of expressionist techniques. Moments of expressivity were subtle. The blue line drawn around the gallery walls at about eye level was broken in places, like Morse code, perhaps mimetic of the typewriter’s broken rhythms; and the pastel works pinned to the line felt gestural. Everything worked to echo the continuousness of time as it closes around the habits of a single life, making the modestly-sized gallery feel mysteriously spacious, an expansive atmosphere bathed in quiet transparency.

Kathleen White: April 26th, 1960 -- September 2, 2014

Jeff Grunthaner

Reflections Of Northern Brazil: The World Cup 2014

Reflections Of Northern Brazil: The World Cup 2014 by Lucas Reckhaus

 photo

 

The airplane is packed with Mexicans. Oversized Sombreros, eagle feathers and

wrestling masks stick out above of the seats of the plane.

Beneath, vast fields of grass and sugarcane have given way to a deep green forest.

We’re on our way to Natal—the city of  nativity—and one of the most northern

host cities of the World Cup. Getting this far already involved a missed flight out

of Newark—resulting in our missing luggage—a miraculous dash to JFK onto another

plane, and a layover in Sao Paolo before three more hours to Natal.

 

As the plane touches down, the Mexicans erupt like an Aztec volcano: a spontaneous

symphony of drumming, singing, screaming and clapping, all in perfect harmony. A

tear wells up in my eye…I’ve made it.

 

Our missing luggage turns out to be a blessing in disguise.  The uncle who picks us up

is driving a car the size of a shoe-box; not remotely big enough to fit the two giant

suitcases, filled with tools, wheel-chair parts, clothes and presents, brought along by

Tony, plus the giant suitcase of his daughter Camilla, and my own bag.

 

The air is hot, the sun bright, the earth red, the smell is sweet. We leave the airport

along an unfinished highway—cobblestones along the edges are missing, grass and trees are yet

to be planted, unpaved earthen roadways branch off every so often—it was ‘finished’ only three

days ago.  After the tournament, few expect it to be completed.

 

Natal is almost an hour away we’re told. There is a functioning international

 

airport right next to the city, but that was closed down in favor of building the new

terminal at which we arrived, far out in the middle of the jungle. Word on the street

is someone with political connections owned the land and made a hefty profit.

 

The towns we pass through are covered in yellow, blue and green. It is the first day

of the tournament and Brazil plays in one hour. Everyone is on their way to watch

the game. Three people packed on a motorcycle (barefoot) with a Brazilian flag

flying behind them pass us. We grace them with a loud honk!

 

Watching the game at at our host’s place, you can feel the excitement in the air.

Every touch of is met with groans and shouts from the neighborhood, watching in the

street. When Brazil scores, explosions sound.

 

Natal is changing. It is obvious as soon as you drive into the heart of town. The

center is filled with residential high rises, and our hosts are quick to point out one

of Brazil’s largest malls. Yet the city is not particularly compact, most people live in single

storey homes, protected by walls mounted with broken glass.

 

The stadium is dubbed “Las Dunas” for the famous orange-yellow-red dunes that

surround the city, and lead down to the sea. At night, when lit up, its resembles a

glowing sea-shell. Our game is a dud, neither the Greeks or Japanese can create any

kind of rhythm in their game. The Japanese fan block is great though, inhaling and

exhaling in a single breath with every move of their team, drumming non-stop.

 

Outside the stadium security is average. There are fan activities, and a Coca-Cola

sponsored charity event where poor children are sent a kind of party/care bag

signed by you, the privileged attendee… a pittance of a gift compared to the 11 billion in spending the

government chose to lavish on the tournament, instead of hospitals and education.

And then there is the rain, every day a monsoon for several hours. After two

straight days in the apartment we jump ship on an overnight bus to Maceio.

I’m sitting next to a boy of 12, he’s traveling alone to see his father. I’m impressed.

We talk through my broken Portu-Spanish about American popular culture, what video games are cool, TV

shows, etc. It’s the usual big names, though I struggle to understand his pronunciation at times. Outside the

bus passes through an endless landscape of small towns and houses along the road. Every so often people

gather together at a lone gas station or late night bar.  Our own bus stops in time to watch the second half of England

against Italy in the Amazonian city of Manaus, the “Rumble in the Jungle.”

The Entire bus floods into the rest-stop, everyones eyes immediately scanning for the TV.  For half an hour the place is

filled with people doing their best to watch, eat, and drink, all at the same time.  The score is tied 1-1, but low and behold,

the Italians prove more cunning than the English and score.  In the World Cup, history provides the guide to future success

and failure.  English fans know this better than any.  As we leave, I can see the waiters’ pace slowing back down to their

usual late night norm.

We reach Maceio around six in the morning.  My little friend says his father will pick him up,

but he doesn’t have a number for him. He is surprisingly calm. We leave him with a “best of luck” wish.

Maceio is the chosen home of the Ghanaian soccer team. Their hotel is next to

our building. The beachfront is lined with posters welcoming them as guests. I’m

impressed by the location. After the tournament however, it comes out that their

football association had been cutting costs, and that the team was unhappy with

the accommodations, oh well.

 

The best part of the beach is the reef. At low tide small boats will sail you out to the

shallow water teeming with fish. The full bar and grill with swimming waiters is the

kind of genius that only exists outside of America. The interior of the city is mostly lower middle class,

but it has all the amenities one would expect. Still, the action is down by the water.

The Festival Sao Juan is taking place. There is a competition in which dance teams

from all over the north perform. The story boils down to that of a shot-gun style

wedding between a bride and groom, capped by the appearance of the bandit.

The men carry toy guns, the women knives. The costumes and choreography are

exquisite. After each show, at least one dancer falls unconscious. Medics quickly assist them.

We order kebabs. The old women promptly takes them off the serving stick…last

year someone was stabbed and now they can only be presented that way.

 

Our bus ride back has a layover in Recife. At four in the morning, the bus stop is a

grim place. Its hot, flies circle the people at the one open bar. Stray cats roam in

plain sight. The entire second floor is closed off and looks like its been that way

for years. The exterior of the building is covered in soot. Later I read an account

of the child prostitution going on nearby, and how allegedly taxi drivers have been

advertising to tourists they pick up at the bus station….

After a brief return to Natal we navigate our way back to the wayward airport in the

jungle outside the city, and catch a flight to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil’s first capital,

and the African heart of the country.

Salvador lies on a bay. The old city is divided into two parts, high and low. A great

white elevator connects the two areas, and is one of the celebrated landmarks of the

city. In reality, the city is not divided between high and low, so much as rich and

poor, with a middle class navigating the world between the two.  The “Arena Fonte Nova” sits in the intersection of these three worlds, with favela’s looking down into the colossium on two sides, while a park and the city’s new elevated subway grace the other two.  Illegal venders selling beer and water line the ramparts leading to the arena for a half-mile.  Fans move in to the stadium as if sucked in along veins leading to a pulsing heart.  The Fonte Nova becomes dubbed the “The Stadium of Goals.”

In the tourist center, colonial buildings stun with their beauty, and sadden by their

abject state. Often only the façade is still standing. Centuries of dirt, graffiti, and

neglect are evidence of the longstanding disinterest of the government in maintaining

the historical past of the city. Yet new buildings have faired no better. The business part of town looks

apocalyptic at night. Not a light on, no one walking the streets, not a store open.

The buildings equally dirty. We are parking our car there en route to the barrio alto

for another carnival festival. As we look for a spot, people jump out at us to “assist,”

and “guard” our car. A common occupation in Brazil, but here the competition is

particularly fierce.

 

In the old part of town, high up on the hill overlooking the bay, the scene changes.

We emerge into a square packed with people dancing. Beer and Caipirinas flow

along the five hundred year-old cobblestones, music is booming out from a giant

stage, while in the center of the packed crowd, an island of vendors are selling food

and drinks. We stick together in a tight pack lest we be separated.

A street leads down-hill from the main square to an open area.   Another music stage is set up.

I’m told this was once the place where slaves were publicly punished.  Now it’s the scene of a dance.

photo 6

Jeff Koons reviewed by Beth Morgan

Jeff Koons and the Re-weird Function

 

This relationship between play and sexuality is referenced all through the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney, sometimes cheerfully and sometimes with inflections of the ominous. Koons’s series The New is an example of a happy appearance of this theme.

The series includes several sculptures made from brand new appliances in various interactions with fluorescent lights. A toaster rests vertically against a bulb as if drawn to it. Vacuum cleaners are stacked in Plexiglas boxes, illuminated by horizontal bulbs. In this context, upright, perky, and bathed in hygienic light, the vacuum cleaners look almost cute. Koons frequently plays around with marketing concepts, and this series stresses the please-please-take-me-home aspect of products in a store window. Some of the appliances are reclined over the horizontal light-bulbs as if on a tanning bed. The whole thing looks humanoid, but cartoonish instead of uncanny. The section label for The New series quotes Koons saying, about his thought process during the creation of the series, “Vacuum cleaners to me were anthropomorphic . . . They had this sexual reference, having orifices and a sucking power, and their shapes can be both masculine and feminine.”  Koons used the word “virginal” to describe the light inside the boxes, and it’s an important word. The shade of the light is remarkable. It’s so clean. It would feel completely different were the light yellow instead of white. The boxes seem like a joyful riff on a more sordid scenario involving a glass-partition, something like a peep-show booth in a back room. On the other hand, Koons’ series Banality has very different undercurrents. This series does engage with the uncanny and the eerie, better than any other series in the retrospective.

There’s a piece in Banality called Bear and Policeman, which depicts a man in a police uniform embraced by a wide-eyed bear. The bear holds the policeman’s police whistle in his paw, as if about to blow it. There is nothing explicitly sexual about the situation except the generally sexual feeling to it. And the bear’s eyes are awfully wide. The same is true of Naked, a polychrome sculpture of two naked children holding a flower from which emerges a phallic-looking stamen. This time the erotic message is less difficult to decode. Each of the figures depicts some sort of childlike scenario with subtle sexual overtones. The famous piece Michael Jackson and Bubbles is a rendering in kitschy porcelain of Michael Jackson holding his pet monkey, Bubbles. Michael Jackson is practically shorthand for ‘childlike with subtle sexual overtones.’

Every series in the Koons retrospective at the Whitney has its own brand of sensuality. What’s great about this series in particular is that it recreates the shadowy feeling of that time during childhood where the presence of sex in adult lives can be felt, but not quite understood. In which the weight and importance of sex are influential in a way that a child can sense without knowing the specifics. The figures of Banality seem so strong because they re-weird the world by mimicking things we think we know, and perverting them slightly. The kitschy, fakey-fake forms recall an amusement park, or even a Chuck. E. Cheese. It made me remember the time, when I was eight-years-old, that a friend showed me her anatomically correct baby doll. It was incredibly realistic, indistinguishable from a real baby in every way (including miniature male genitals) except for its lack of movement. This was a different kind of thrill than I got with normal toys. Because I didn’t completely understand anatomy at the time, the doll had a creepy, dissonant appeal that was terrifying at the same time that it was fascinating.

Celebration is not Koons’s most recent series but it’s certainly the most compelling of those at the Whitney right now. A massive sculpture, Play-doh, dominates the center of the room. It depicts a huge, ten-foot-tall stack of Play-doh. The texture and shape of the Play-doh (some of the blobs retaining a shape that suggests it has just been taken out of the canister), is crafted to scale so convincingly that in a photograph, it might be mistaken for the conventional size.

The famous Balloon Dog (Yellow) is also a part of this series. It’s an enjoyable irony that the dog weighs a literal ton. The piece took six years to realize since Koons wanted the illusion of hyper-realistic near-weightlessness, taking into account even the knotted joints where the rubber of the balloon animal twists.

Air and circulation of air are thematic, sensual aspects of structures such as Balloon Dog (Yellow), the vacuum cleaner sculptures of The New, and a handful of pieces in the Popeye series. These include Seal Walrus (Chairs) and Seal Walrus (Trashcans). In these pieces, pool-toy inflatables intertwine impossibly with plastic folding chairs (price stickers still attached) or metal garbage cans. It takes a good minute of inspecting the inflatables to realize that they are in fact made of polychromed aluminum, not inflated plastic. The inflatables absorb the chairs/trash cans in the same way that a hologram might, but are still plausible enough in texture and detail to be taken for the genuine article. It completely changes the feeling towards the work once you understand that these aren’t purchased items, like Duchamp’s readymades, but constructed readymades, with meaningful deviations that distinguish them from the real thing. Like some of the smaller balloon animal pieces, including the 1986 work Rabbit, the sensation of looking at the pieces changes with the realization that they’re not filled with air.

Other less interesting pieces, such as Lifeboat and Aqualung from the Equilibrium series, also play with the idea of the paradoxically heavy inflatable. These pieces are constructed from bronze and are more abstractly than visually engaging (the idea being that any life-vest or life-boat made from bronze would sink rather than save you).

More disappointing was Made In Heaven, an infamous series that features several photographs of the artist in graphic sexual positions with Italian personality and porn star Ilona Staller, his wife at the time. The visual extravagance of the makeup and butterfly graphics are attractive, but without the 1990s context in which these works were conceived, and unaccompanied by some of the other, racier photographs in the series, they aren’t as legible or engaging as expected. I kept looking around for the dirtier pictures and found a poodle sculpture instead. I can’t complain though because the poodle was great.

A notable common feature of every single piece in the retrospective is the ostentatious perfection of the artwork. There is frequent mention in object labels of the fantastic amount of people involved, years spent in construction, rare processes used, and obscure scientists consulted in order to execute the marvel upon which you now gaze. Apparently, the collage prints in the Easyfun-Ethereal series were actually made using computers. Heavens.

But perfection in Jeff Koons’ work isn’t just a side-effect of a driven person attempting to produce the most excellent work possible. It’s a concept explored and glorified and sometimes inverted. There’s one particular piece I didn’t notice at first, because it’s one of the least colorful works and even though eight feet tall, seems small compared to the mammoth works around it.  Gorilla, which was cast from a miniature toy souvenir of a gorilla, is conceptually my favorite piece. Like so many of the other sculptures, Gorilla has the nicely confusing effect of enlarging an object while preserving all of its attributes. The toy itself was nothing special, a mass-produced piece of plastic with the seams of the mold visible. The toy may not have been marvelous but Gorilla is, because it retains all of the original toy’s flaws, including the seams of the mold. It’s the sloppiness of the shape, exaggerated by scale, that makes this piece so compelling. Koons takes the un-special qualities of the toy and renders them momentous. He converts the imperfect into the perfect, in the same way that Play-doh is so good because the structure seems spontaneous, even if it’s anything but.

The relationship that Koons’ work has with perfection might best be synthesized in a quote from a recent profile of Jeff Koons in Vanity Fair. He’s discussing the Made in Heaven series, with its exaggerated pornographic scenarios and poster-ready poses. Speaking about one of the more graphic prints, he says, “What I really like about it are the pimple’s on Ilona’s ass.” It’s all self-consciously artificial, but no matter what, he makes sure the texture is right.

While walking through the charismatic pieces at the retrospective, it’s worth keeping in mind that this year Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for 58.4 million, the highest price ever paid for work by a living artist. Koons engages with marketing concepts in a very real way, not just intellectually. His work doesn’t mock capitalism so much as dance with it. His search for aesthetic perfection is so exhibitionistic and so obsessed that it verges on fetish. The massive, revenue-producing machine that is Jeff Koons, who has over 100 people working for him and produces fewer than 20 pieces annually, recalls certain other companies obsessed with form, like Apple. The difference between the two probably has a lot to do with temperature. The word for Koons’ work isn’t accessible, it’s more like “welcoming.” Just as I was drawn to Gorilla, there’s sure to be something at the Whitney for everybody.

Koons is not an excluding or cold artist, he’s a supernatural intersection between big and small, playful and colossal. The reason he’s special is because it’s so rare to see un-serious things done so seriously. Like products in a display case, his work wants to be liked and wants to arouse. In this sense, Jeff Koons is a gifted salesman.

 

Momenta Art presents Kathleen White

Kathleen White

(A) Rake’s Progress curated by Rafael Sánchez

August 8-31, 2014

Opening reception:

Friday, August 8, 6-8pm

Sound Texts: Sunday, August 31, 7pm readings performed by Jim Fletcher, Joey Gabriel, Rafael Sánchez, Kate Valk, Kathleen White

 Momenta Art is pleased to present an installation of the work of Kathleen White.

The exhibition, (A) Rake’s Progress, is comprised of the complete polymorphichrome drawings produced by Ms. White outdoors in the summer of 2009. The cycle of pastels on paper, a progression numbering 71 works, were created in remembrance of Ms. White’s late brother Chris White.

Chris’s suicide of 2007 was unreconcilable. Gripped by the shadow of loss, I spent a year studying the colors in my Ludlow Street courtyard —the wild garden was transformed from a derelict garbage heap by Rafael and myself. Knowing also that the garden would soon be lost to the high rents plaguing our city -as “the lost decade”, “the fear decade”, “the greed decade” turned 9 -this physical exploration of color through its endless grinding, its proliferating combinations and intense contact onto the page is at once a stance of grace and defiance against the all the world’s insults.

The “glut” of information which prevails over the pursuit of knowledge and feeling in modern times is of particular distress to Ms. White who often utilizes the phrase, “Get out of the way, hobo!” to refer to the state of our present culture’s pervasive, implosive, subtly celebrated, corrosion of empathy. As in the artist’s earlier installations over the past three decades this presentation is in keeping with Ms. White’s practice of creating spaces of reverence, connection and love.

The choice of the pastels was made during a conversation with Mr. Sánchez, “I want this to be an installation of color and sound.” The two artists who have collaborated on numerous acclaimed projects looked to this body of work that has lain dormant for five years. The inclination toward sound comes from a more recent body of work by Ms. White, Sound Texts, which will be represented by the recorded sounds of her instrument of choice during their production: the typewriter.

This “allusion soundtracking” of one group of work with another is an intentional experiment in creating a conversation that might not otherwise exist but through its performance in time and space. The bodies of work are thus considered as characters or beings unto themselves …bodies that are allowed to engage as in a play. The gesture is also intended as a commingling of aspects through pure intention in their simplest forms: “Here …these colors and these sounds.” The Sound Texts will be performed on site by readers on the last day of the show, Sunday August 31.

The show’s title, (A) Rake’s Progress is a multilayered reference to the 1732-33 series of paintings by William Hogarth, (considered to be one of the first storyboards in western art history). The inclusion of an actual rake within the installation refers to the garden where the polymorphichrome drawings were created and thus also serving as a readymade reversal on Hogarth’s tale, signifying the passage of time.

A twist on the rake as not only the individual lost in their desires is also suggested, offering the possibility of the rake as a symbol of the world itself that proceeds in an escalating progression of squandered morals.

(Text written by Rafael Sánchez / edited by Momenta Art)

Solo exhibitions of note by Kathleen White include The Spark Between L and D (Straight Line Studios, 1987); Spirits of Manhattan (Apex Art, 1997), Devotion (Participant Inc, 2004); Palettes (Charlois, Rotterdam, 2010); Her 1993 Hair Suitcase was also included in Familiar Feelings, on the Boston Group, Centro Callego de Arte Contemoranéa, Santiago de Compostela, Spain in 2010.

Kathleen White studied painting at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She has created sets for Bolshoi Ballet, prepared costumes and participated with NYC performance legends including The Lady Bunny, Flloyd, David Dalrymple and has appeared as a subject in iconic photographs by Nan Goldin, David Armstrong and Linda Simpson. In recent years she has performed and collaborated with Rafael Sánchez on numerous projects including Double-Bill (Art in General, 2010); Somewhat Portable Dolmen (The Street Files, El Museo del Barrio, 2011); alLuPiNiT, the new york city environ mental magazine (Millennium Magazines, MoMA, 2012). The two artists have operated their (set up the) Table Project (break it down) an outdoor bookstand at 579 Hudson Street, NYC since 2004.

Ms. White is a 2014 Pollock-Krasner Grant recipient. Kathleen White (A) Rake’s Progress at Momenta Art marks the artist’s first Solo Exhibition in New York in a decade.