May 20, 2013
I just bought and subsequently immediately returned a camera bag that could carry my camera and all three lenses partly because the bag was way too big but mostly because I thought: “I don’t need or deserve this.” I’ve sold five photos since graduating from school in 2008; if I could justify it as a business expense maybe but I’m not sure I could really call myself a working artist. Even my output has nosedived since my mother’s death, hence the dearth of posts here. I’m trying to decide whether or not to raise money for a trip back to the antique mall to just photograph the shit out of the place, but that’s maybe $400 if you include gas, tolls, and two nights in a motel, and who am I going to sell these photos to?
My other options, heading to the mideast simulation in Germany this November and taking a lot of photos down the west coast during a book tour are financially out of reach even if I got the ok to do either. And my performance/site-specific piece project is a total bust since I can’t find people to help out and the cop stuff didn’t really turn out either and I feel weird about asking again.
So I’m down to the minimum of trying to do two or three photo series a year with a minimum of cost, and so far that means portraits of bicyclists , portraits of bears (the gay kind not the real kind), and this antique mall. And learning to paint. Some bicyclists coming up but this isn’t stuff I imagine anyone would be clamoring to see. Part of the problem is that I’m basically a documentary photographer but most documentary photographers work at jobs that enable them to do such, while I am a shlub in Milwaukee with a mid-range camera and no operating money. I’m not complaining, because I am spending money on other things I want to do (like swimming lessons) but I wonder how much money I should invest in something that’s gradually transforming from a professional practice into a hobby. Images soon.
May 6, 2013
So I’m busy enough having a balanced life now that I don’t just spend eight hours a day every day writing and making art, pushing me into the realm of normal people who work on a few major projects per year, both art and writing. Writing-wise I need to finish and revise a novel by the end of the year and I have some short essays I want to write about recent experiences like leather festivals, horrible contemporary art museums, bear parties, getting mistaken for a soldier, and trying to have a conversation with someone who’s really stoned (I got asked if I “partake” but I declined.)
More shots from the antique mall, which is going to be one of three major art projects this year; the other is a portrait series of a large cycling team run out of a bicycle store located in a city near Milwaukee and the final one is the cluster of performance projects.
May 2, 2013
So I finally have a new body of work that isn’t text art or masculinity-related. On a road trip with a friend we went to the Maumee, OH Antique Mall which was stunning in its obsessive collection/display urgency so of course it made for great images. These are just “rough cuts” because I want to work more on each individual image but this should give you an idea of what the place was like. And it’s nice to do work that’s “purely photographic” because I’m not concerned with anything other than sociology and with making great images–no big performances, no elaborate setups, no painstaking flatbed scans, just photos. Which is nice for a change.
April 23, 2013
I really need to get back to doing this kind of thing, it’s just that all of the work I’ve been doing lately is not postable, and by not postable I mean “adult shenanigans” and a lot of work went into them but they’re targeted at a very specific audience, not just anyone who randomly wanders in here. I did have myself arrested on Sunday, which I guess is the most normal set of photos I’ve shot recently, and I’ll post some of those once I have the chance to sort them. For now, here’s one, plus some fun facts:
1) The backseats of cop cars are really cramped. 2) Handcuffs will leave marks on your wrists for hours if you’ve been sitting in the back of a cop car for even a short while. 3) The state of Wisconsin no longer allows those height level bars in mugshots because they were ruled discriminatory. 4) Getting patted down is a lot more gentle than you would think, though maybe it was just me. 5) Next time I persuade some cops to arrest me I’m wearing a hat because my baldness looks like it radiates light, practically. 6) Cops will lean you over when cuffing and uncuffing you because when you lean your arms naturally spread, making things easier to reach, plus it puts you off balance in case you try to make a run for it.
March 26, 2013
So, two things:
1) I’ve added Chutney Challenged to my blogroll and strongly encourage you to check it out if you’re at all interested in South Asian food and the art and labor that goes into it. It’s my friend Angela’s blog, and Angela knows what she’s doing when it comes to this stuff, so read her blog for a bit and you too will be able to whip up some channa masala in the approximately 16 hours it takes to make it. (Easy but long soak/cook time.)
2) There’s been a dearth of photos here lately, not that I haven’t been shooting, but that a lot of that shooting has been of an adult kind of nature I would never post here, not because there’s nudity or anything but because you would still probably gasp. I also did a whole project with a giant dirty mattress I’ll start working on soon, and I’m getting arrested tomorrow again so I’ll have images from that, but for now head over to Chutney Challenged and stay tuned for more Next Big Thing interviews, including mine.
March 20, 2013
Continuing in my series of excellent writer friends’ interviews.
What is the title of your book?
What genre does the book fall under?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
A single poem; a seed poem, if you will. That poem was primarily inspired by Lonnie Johnson singing “Haunted House Blues” and “Memories of You” in his vaguely androgynous nasal tenor, alone except for his guitar and a very remote (so it sounds like) collaborator.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My father, who taught me to read. Further, or more specifically, my own recollected experience of grief—my father died in 2004—and how that grief expressed itself in dreams, dream-like states, a pervasive sense of temporal dislocation, shocking recurrences, an incommensurability of time to actual experience whose only analog was to be located in dreams. Thinking further then about grief’s perverse creative energies, the power grief has to figurate and desolate simultaneously, grief’s sway over the real and the imaginary and any comforting divide that introduces a not-easy-for-artists-to-admit-but-actually-often-necessary separation between the two.
After having written 12 or 14 of these short-ish lyrics that seemed to be plugged in to this grief-dreams complex, I then began to think about how these initial pieces established a common set of materials for further elaboration. I then began to think about the book itself as a kind of haunted house (see: Lonnie Johnson above), each poem as a room in said house, visited and revisited in the course of a “live” haunting. Hence the “shaped” appearance of the poems in final manuscript and the deployment of the titles (doorways in and out of the poems) throughout. From there—I mean, by association from ingress / egress—considerations began to spin around how idiomatic expressions offer containers for experiences otherwise uncontainable, also how idiomatic expressions necessarily narrativize, and thus impel towards closure, experiences otherwise ongoingly endless (emotionally), and from there to the whole idea of the lyric as an inherently haunted form: haunted by its own patterning of mere entities, if you will. The Habiliments is thus an invitation to readers to haunt a haunting, and, in multiplying that experience, to cancel it out perhaps… if cancellation be a form of transcendence… and I suspect that, with respect to the blot of emotions streaked through grief (anger, despair, panic, but also that undertone of affectlessness or overwhelming anhedonia in it all) well, it might.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The first 12 to 14 poems were written in about a 3 month long “burst” in early 2011. I spent much of the rest of that year and the first half of 2012 at work on other projects, occasionally taking the time to generate another dream or two. This peripatesis became a gallop last summer, however, as changes in my professional life freed up more time to dedicate to writing. And The Habiliments had been increasingly nagging at me. The vast majority of book was composed from August through December of 2012, during which time I also figured out the sequence of the poems and the structure of the book itself which, as noted, is as constitutive of The Habiliments‘ meaning as any image, line, or other apparently poetic element.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie adaptation?
These poems transpire between an “I” and a “you,” but destabilization of persona and address are something of a concern or subject of interrogation throughout. Perhaps multiple actors would have to fill each role, as in Haynes’ I’m Not There? But the actors would not be recognizably “the same” character. Or the costume wold remain constant, not the physiognomy. Actors I would definitely want: Jacques Tati; Brigitte Helm; Lee Kang-sheng; John Cazale; Gwen Welles; all the extras from Bela Tarr’s Damnation. Other characters appear (i.e., at the grocery store), but maybe they are more in the vein of cameos? Walk-ons?
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
The vocabulary and sounds you hear herein may be alive, if at least in their desperation, but the meaning says, again and again, “dead, dead, dead.”
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
If a poem is both a topography and a song, I am the karaoke version of a poet, and I hold a theodolite instead of a microphone.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The Habiliments has not yet been selected for publication, although individual poems have appeared in the journals The Bakery, Ghost Proposal, Sway Press, Vinyl Poetry, and Word Riot. Inquiries regarding the manuscript are welcome.
Writers I am tagging.
Laura Vena, Tyler Flynn Dorholt, Anne-Marie Kinney.
March 12, 2013
Part 1 of 6 in the Next Big Thing interview series I was tagged in; mine is coming soon but the slow-footedness is a delicate thing.
1) What is the working title of your next book?
No title yet. Something where the untrue, poetic bits take stabs at a more personal, readerly truth.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
There was a This American Life about a school where the high school dance went on despite all odds: a shooting, the constant threat of death and intimidation. Something about mortal peril as the background for the frivolous and profound crises of adolescence struck a chord–>a true apocalypse amid the perceived.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
It’s either poetry packaged as fiction or fiction packaged as poetry.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
The cast of Boy Meets World, heavily made-up to match their former selves.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Still taking shape: no one ever dies, because it’s more like getting tagged and you have to wait the game out on the sidelines, heckling and cheering, and you are mostly irrelevant.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Hard to say: impossible to pronounce.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
At this point, if you subtract the time I started from the time I finish: an infinite amount of time.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Donald Barthalme’s stories, The first story in David Foster Wallace’s “Oblivion”, The benign and ominous safety manual tucked behind the price lists for snacks on an aeroplane, Harry Potter, Jesus’s Son
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Are you even listening?
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
All of their most private thoughts, which they haven’t even articulated to themselves, are contained in this book. While reading, they will strain their neck from nodding and sputtering and grinning with recognition, as if the sheer exactitude of re-presentation earns them a small slice of immortality. “How could I not live forever, if I am known so kindly and thoroughly?”