23 January 2013


Silvia Federici's Bay Area lectures and her new book Revolution Point Zero

Silvia's book, Caliban and the Witch, which I first heard of at a Nonsite Collective meeting, reframes the utter insanity and failure of the nuclear family (for the woman, that is) within a historical story of primitive capitalist accumulation. It made so much sense to me (upon having a child) that the transformation of world into resource ran concurrent with the subjugation of woman into the same. It's one of those connective frameworks that hovers experimentally around one's mind, then suddenly appears as a book, complexly argued. When she spoke in San Francisco this past Fall, Silvia asserted a strong and searing series of connections between the daily life of reproductive work and global financial mechanisms. Reproductive work here is every act involved in the reproduction of the self, i.e. everyday life—and that is what has been enclosed and financialized. Revolution at Point Zero collects her "Wages for Housework" essays from the 7'0s with newer works concerning globalization. Secretly, I am feeling or thinking that what's coming will be more like getting back to something, that it will come by necessity, in a cascade, that it may appear as dissolution, but will uncover connection. The depth of the connections in Federici's work sound out this potential.             

Claire Fontaine

I knew French collective Claire Fontaine more for its concept (art collective as fake art star) and its writing than its art production. I was told (incorrectly) that one of its artists had authored the Theory of the Young-Girl, a text which held me in its problematic thrall during early 2011, and since have been told that that same artist did author Tiqqun's Sonogram of a Potential, an account of the current potential of feminism (highly influenced by the writings Silvia Federici helped to produce in Italy in the 70's). The collective reworks the readymade and appropriative practices against privatization and state repression. At their lecture at the California College of the Arts this past Fall, I liked everything about the artist representing the collective, who I now know was Fulvia Carnevale, but I think I liked it best when, after a complex lecture on the history of the readymade, she responded to curator Jens Hoffmann, who had just chastised her for presenting too complex a paper, with bemused incredulity—then backed her annoyance with a complex institutional critique. It's weird that it seemed punk for a woman to defend herself with a casual flick of dignity, it should seem normal.

Nights later, I arrived with my three year old to Claire Fontaine's smaller, in-gallery talk at the Wattis, and during the question/answer period, asked about the collective's writing practice—I wanted to talk to Fulvia about everything, anything. When she was answering my question to a hushed and attentive audience of 25 people, my child turned to face me directly and began to loudly demand, “SNACK! SNACK!” As I had not come prepared with a snack, I backed awkwardly out of the gallery. So when, nights later, I found myself running across Market Street at night with a stroller to Green Arcade Bookstore to catch what was left of a Franco Berardi lecture, I ran smack into Fulvia at the back of the crowd straining to calm her 10 month old, I thought, “yes.” I thought, “this makes sense because we are living it, we are reading it and we are writing it.” I thought, “I'll have my girl show her boy her light up halloween necklace, perhaps that will help.” And together, we calmed and amused our children for the rest of the lecture. This is what intellectuals who are also writers, who are also artists do, this is what intellectuals do. They raise people.  

I'll Drown My Book

Why do women write experimentally? Because the law is not on their side. In the introduction to Sexual Difference, or Don't Believe You Have Rights, a document from the Milan Woman's Bookstore Collective in 1970's Italy, entrustment is chosen to describe the relationship between women which is not exactly fostering, but more of passing along of energy or power, one that happens between men all the time, that drives patriarchal culture with its underlaying homosociality. Entrustment is a female mediation of the world; it happens between the pages of this book.

Jackqueline Frost at the BAM Re@ds series

David Brazil and Suzanne Stein were invited to curate a series of younger writers for a Berkeley Art Museum Friday night series in a little project room off to the side of the lobby where you can take a book and leave a book. It is a diminutive space and very alive; the spirit of the space invites permission. Jackqueline, who is one of my favorite writers in the area, opened the series. When her complex and lovely reading concluded, her friend joined her and they positioned themselves behind a mixer and circuit board. With ethereal phrases sung and looped, turning pages of books mic'ed and looped, a lightbulb crushed inside a garbage can—they raised the spirit of 4AD, they reminded me of Magik Markers, they paid back the hours of boring boy noise shows I've sat through, they produced what art often gestures towards but does not have the courage to produce: catharsis.

Iduna: an opera in one act

Kari Edwards' book was post-posthumously arranged into an opera and presented at Artist Access Television’s tiny, roughhewn space on Valencia Street. I walked late into the thickness of a gentle cacophony of voices, and took my seat in one of the crooked rows. Nearly everybody I know in the Bay Area was simultaneously reading a different line of text. I do not believe Cageian avant garde listening practices are sufficient for our current political moment—I've been told to listen quite enough, thanks. But here was an insistent collective intoning. But here was variation, overlap, confusion, swimming language. The artist was gone and so was the piece. I kept wishing to be able to hear the sound from above.  Everybody's face looked beautiful, and my synesthesia returned. If revolution happens through resonance, here was a sweet, swirling try.

Dance party after Ariana and Ronaldo reading

John Coletti had this weird squat-like style of dancing that I am sure has a name and that Lauren Shufran also knew how to do. The piano shook. There had been a fight and also a declaration of love. My conversation with Olive began intellectually and ended in giggling. I'm sure all this could have only happened within an arena paced by Ariana's work and bookended with Ronaldo's. My work lately aims less at counter-sense and more at an ascension to the sensory, an amplification of sense, of the senses: I believe that requires more dance parties.        

The Alphabet Effect by Robert K. Logan and The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance by Franco Berardi

There are parts of each of these books that are hokey, untenable, exaggerated or irresponsible. Both however, get me a step or so closer in a set of questions I've had over the past several years about writing versus image—about abstraction and its casualties—about the representation (or absence) versus presence. Lately, I just want to raise something up, to transgress against secondariness, to actually make the object. 

“Every time a word is read, a match between a visual sign and a spoken sound is made. Matching forms the basis of rationality or logic ” (L).

“The alphabet by separating the sound, meaning and appearance of a word separated the eye from the rest of the senses, especially the ear” (L.)

“Neoliberal ideology pretends to be a liberating force that emancipates capital from state regulation, but it in fact submits production and social life to the most ferocious regulation, the mathematization of language” (B).

If both books fail for being overbearing or overreaching, the myriad of quotable lines are what's valuable about both—little nodes of highly enriched thought, and at least their failures are predictable.

RGB Colorspace Atlas by Tauba Auerbach

Tauba's work is always linked with language somehow. Here is my absolute favorite as of yet (every color  imaginable is represented therein)—

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