09 January 2012

Favorite Things 2011: Rob Halpern

Just a few of the things I loved during 2011:

Peter Linebaugh, commons talk @ the first Occupy Ypsilanti teach-in. A 14 minute quietly rousing rehearsal of Linebaugh’s Magna Carta Manifesto tuned with visceral urgency and humor. “Our labor has been stolen. Our wealth has been taken…Let’s go back to honey and to warmth!”

Chto Delat? (What Is to Be Done?) Between Tragedy and Farce @ SMART Project Space, Amsterdam. This expansive set of installations and films drawing on 7 years of work by the Petersburg based radical arts collective Chto Delat? transformed my sense of what a collective can do.

David Brazil, Economy (Little Red Leaves). David’s prolegomenon to an ontology of money is also an ethics, a semiology, and a politics. Crucial reading, foreshadowing the larger work to come.

Paul Thek, The Diver @ the Hammer Museum, L.A. Being at the Thek retrospective was probably the closest I came last year to being in a place of worship, or rather to feeling like I ought to be.

Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte. The only film I paid to see twice in the theater in quite a long time, another symptom of my spiritual hunger. All goat bells and wind and totally Pythagorean.

Pamela Lu, Ambient Parking Lot (Kenning Editions). I had been eagerly awaiting this novel for so long, and devoured it lovingly, and then began reading it again. Lu agnostically narrates the vicissitudes of art’s social function for our post-Cage, post-punk, post-ambient moment.

Thelonius Monk, Straight, No Chaser. Finally got around to seeing this documentary and it was like having my audition reawakened. I can’t get enough Monk now, and have been listening and re-listening to everything I can get my hands on, as if for the first time.

Diego Rivera, Detroit Industry fresco cycle @ Detroit Institute of Art. Mom and Dad’s visit to Michigan provided the occasion to be awed yet again.

M. NorbeSe Philip, Zong! Philip’s book length poem irrupts in a space otherwise voided, conditioning the possibility of a community where what would be shared is what is not here to be shared, our deepest meanings lost to both experience and sensation.

Jai Ravine's presentation @ SPT's Bay Area Asian-Pacific-Islander American Poets and the Avant-Garde event. This event introduced me to Jai Ravine’s projects and left me deeply moved and excited to read and then entwine (Tinfish). I’ll no doubt use Ravine’s multidisciplinary work in the class I’m about to begin teaching called Transgenre: Genre, Gender, Sex (A Queer Poetics).

Tyrone Williams’ talk on Wendy Kramer’s visual poetics at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. I’ve been loving Wendy’s work for years, and listening to Tyrone discussing her collage poems with his characteristic care and attention was pretty marvelous.

Taylor Brady, For I Know Not What I Did Last Summer (Trafficker Press), and Taylor’s reading @ Eastern Michigan University in November to an audience of 300+. How does one go about accounting for oneself in our affective debt economy? Taylor makes the argument for lyric, of course. I’m still cursing myself for having allowed my recorder’s batteries to fail before Taylor’s Q &A, which was an event in itself. Already anxious for the forthcoming In the Red. Soon please!

Matthew Stadler, Chloe Jarren's La Cucaracha (Publication Studios). This is Stadler’s “cover version” of John Le CarrĂ©’s A Murder of Quality. Faithful to Le Carre’s plot, character, and syntax, Stadler’s virtuosic page turner is all about the devastation of neo-liberalism as it manifests in Guanajato, Mexico. A great alternative to many current conceptual writing practices.

Anna Karina in Jean-Luc Godard's Made in U.S.A. What can I say?

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