Complete Abstraction

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"The destruction of this motor-car and its occupants seemed, in turn, to sanction the sexual penetration of Vaughn's body; both were conceptualized acts abstracted from all feeling, carrying any ideas or emotions with which we cared to freight them." 

–"Crash: A Novel". J.G. Ballard. 1973.

Old Times Square vs. New Times Square

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"The old Times Square and Forty-second Street was an entertainment area catering largely to the working classes who lived in the city. The middle class and/or tourists were invited to come along and watch or participate if that, indeed, was their thing. The New Times Square is envisioned as predominantly a middle-class area for entertainment, to which the working classes are welcome to come along, observe, and take part in, if they can pay and are willing to blend in."

–Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (Sexual Cultures). Samuel Delaney. 


Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Shade has always been subversive. It has roots in slave culture, in the development of what Johnson calls the techniques that evolved to allow African-Americans a measure of assertiveness despite being in constant physical and psychological peril. “The threat of being beaten or mutilated was always there if you were to look at a slave master directly in his eye, or if you were to sass, so African-Americans developed these covert ways of communication, which, over time, have morphed into the traditional ways that they interact with one another,” he says. It makes sense, then, that the concept of shade was refined by some of the most marginalized people in American society: gay men, and, later, straight women of color, each of whom had to find socially acceptable ways to communicate humor and aggression. As the writer Tameka Bradley Hobbs explained in an article on the website For Harriet, the practice is “the bitter residue of a people who have mastered the art of dismissing and humiliating others with humor and sarcasm after having been degraded for years ourselves” ...

Shade is currently having another moment, in no small part because of the ascendancy of the African-American vernacular in both popular culture and digital media ... 

... It would be a shame if shade, like other African-American art forms that have been taken up by mainstream culture, became diluted, its meaning encompassing any and every insult and attempt at one-upmanship. But maybe that’s inevitable. “It’s absolutely in line with the tradition of American culture realizing that black people have figured something out,” Jones says, with just a hint of, yeah, shade."

–The Underground Art of the Insult


Grasping the politics of your own invisibility

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"... those artists who self-consciously choose to work on the outer margins of the mainstream art world for reasons of social, economic, and political critique. In a sense, these artists have learned to embrace their own structural redundancy, they have chosen to be “dark matter.” By grasping the politics of their own invisibility and marginalization they inevitably challenge the formation of normative artistic values. Here “politics” must be understood as the imaginative exploration of ideas, the pleasure of communication, the exchange of education, and the construction of fantasy, all within a radically defined social-artist practice."

–Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture. Gregory Sholette. 2011.

Take power back by using your invisibility in the art ecosystem to your advantage. 

Navigators of Risk: Artists

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Out of necessity, artists are expert at juggling intermittent bouts of barely profitable creative work with more numerous and routine jobs in construction, standardized graphic design, and other service industries. Artists not only incessantly retrain themselves to satisfy novel working conditions, they establish complex social networks made up of other, semi-employed artists, as well as family members, friends, and on occasion, the patron. These networks circulate material support, as well as a great deal of intangible, informational assistance in the form of opportunities for auditions, exhibitions, publications, technical solutions, even gossip. Supplementing this precarious existence is the occasional monetary gift from a parent or a foundation grant or residency … 

As French Sociologist Pierre-Michel Menger points out, artists as an occupational group tend to be “younger than the general workforce, better educated, and concentrated in a few metropolitan areas." …

Menger insists that studying artists’ careers is useful insofar as it illuminates “how individuals learn to manage the risks of their trade.” In the case of artists this involves the continuous transfer of risk downwards into a “highly flexible and disintegrated organizational setting.” All of which leads the sociologist to depict a Lilliputian version of neoliberalism in which artists operate within a continuous state of oversupply disequilibrium. And yet despite this inherent precariousness and the built-in “income penalty” the market charges for becoming an artist, the number of people claiming that title is on the rise."

–Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture. Gregory Sholette. 2011.

Creativity in Enterprise Culture

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"As peculiar as the cultural economy of fine art may be, there is no getting around the fact that an increasing number of individuals are choosing to become artists. This is all the more striking given the past 30 years in which a form of deregulated capitalism has dominated the global economy transforming increasing segments of the population into an under- or simply un-employed surplus population that exceeds even the necessary “reserve army of labor” essential to the functioning of capital. So why has art, an inherently precarious activity in the best of times, actually flourished during this process of competitive global austerity? Needless to say, the answer appears to lie not strictly within the art establishment, but is instead part of a broader change in the status of culture within the neoliberal economy of the past 30 years. For one thing, enterprise culture requires a kind of enforced creativity that is imposed on all forms of labor. Workers, whose livelihoods have been made increasingly precarious by the collapse of the traditional social welfare state, are expected to be forever ready to retrain themselves at their own expense (or their own debt), to labor continuously even when at home or on vacation, and finally, they are expected to be constantly creative, to think like an artist: “outside the box.” Such universal demand for imagination and innovation inevitably places added value on forms of “creativity” previously dismissed as informal or non-professional."

–Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture. Gregory Sholette. 2011.

Lydia Lunch: Pro Pleasure

Added on by Vivian Wong.

CLN: You're pro pleasure. You've said for decades that pleasure is the ultimate rebellion. Where do you think we are with pleasure today?

Lydia Lunch: As a full blown hedonist I would say we need a hell of a lot more of it. Pleasure is the first thing they steal from us when they try to kill off our individuality. We need to get back to intimate experiences and intimate relationships instead of gluttonizing on the latest technological commodity. Reclaiming your pleasure and capacity for it brings power back into yourself - it fills the void made ever more expansive by America's lust for death and blood. And the soul numbing distractions of the latest consumer devices.

CLN: What would you say to the average technological glutton?

LL: Stop buying crap! They've bred you to be nothing but a consumer. Get back to basics. Real experience. Not false knowledge. Technology has reduced your vision from being able to focus on the big picture to zoning in to an image smaller than a playing card.

–Legendary No Wave Performer Lydia Lunch Returns to New York with So Real It Hurts at the Howl! Happening Gallery, May 8 to June 5

Lydia Lunch is back in New York for a little bit. 

Uninterrupted Time

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Try this: Watch “The Breakfast Club,” think about how much you have to do this week and then consider the last time you spent eight uninterrupted hours with a stranger and emerged the better for it? Maybe it’s by definition a rare occurrence. Or it only happens when we are young and open to it. Or it happens against our will, like when we’re stranded at an airport. Or maybe uninterrupted time in another’s presence, even for the young, the willing or the stranded feels as anachronistic in 2015 as Principal Vernon’s sharkskin suit."

–There’s nothing to do when you’re locked in a vacancy: “The Breakfast Club” and the luxurious intimacy of uninterrupted time

David Wojnarowicz On Keeping Journals

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"Keeping some form of journal is important for both the practice of writing and the slow articulation of thoughts. You grow so much over a period of time in writing things down, you don’t have to necessarily keep a daily journal, it can be composed of ideas, plans, future projects, emotions, things on the mind, places to visit for the purpose of photography, what in certain photographs excites you (when you get into this it becomes very helpful for learning how to articulate your senses and also creates a definition of what you are trying to do or what inspires you and from there more ideas spring), what mannerisms or qualities people have that you respond to, why this kind of light as opposed to that kind of light is more appealing. Continually define for yourself what you sense."

–October 17, 1978. "In the Shadow of the American Dream: The Diaries of David Wojnarowicz."

Inspired by David Wojnarowicz's journals (In the Shadow of the American Dream, The Waterfront Journals, Close to the Knives, etc.) and Derek Jarman's journal "Modern Nature", I have been using the diary to not only reconstruct my past but to also trace the development of my aesthetic interests (what attracts me to certain artists and movements, how to integrate my diverse and disparate artistic interests, why do I gravitate toward certain types of narratives, etc.).

A Necessary Tax

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"So let me set the record straight, for future writers: Kim Gordon is not tough to interview. I have interviewed difficult subjects – people who are outright hostile to being questioned, or become angry if you ask them something they feel is outside the interview’s purview. (Incidentally, no-one warned me about these writers, who are men.) True, Gordon is obviously an introvert who takes no pleasure in doing publicity, accepting the extroversion of her job only as a necessary tax on being an artist. But she is all the things that make working with someone enjoyable: kind, polite, funny and very, very smart. Reticent as she is when talking about her own life and motivations, she opens up when the subject shifts to art – a far preferable state of affairs to the reverse."

–Another Aspect: Kim Gordon Interviewed

Happy Birthday Kim Gordon.

The Creative State

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, and create— so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating."

–Pearl S. Buck

A big part of this sensitivity is about energy conservation. I think that's why a lot of creative people I know avoid other human beings like the plague. 

New York Mythology

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"DRIVING DOWN the West Side Highway, I still get the same thrill I did when I first drove over the bridge into Manhattan in 1980. I don’t think I’ll ever lose that feeling ...

In 1980 New York was near bankruptcy, with garbage strikes every month, it seemed, and a crumbling, weedy infrastructure ... 

These days, when I’m in New York, I wonder, What’s this place all about, really? The answer is consumption and moneymaking. Wall Street drives the whole country, with the fashion industry as the icing. Everything people call fabulous or amazing lasts for about ten minutes before the culture moves on to the next thing. Creative ideas and personal ambition are no longer mutually exclusive. A friend recently described the work of an artist we both know as “corporate,” and it wasn’t a compliment. The Museum of Modern Art is like a giant midtown gift store.

New York City today is a city on steroids. It now feels more like a cartoon than anything real. But New York has never been ideal, and people have always complained sourly about the changing face of the city, the loss of authenticity."

–Girl in a Band: A Memoir. Kim Gordon. 

New York City has always been a kind of self made purgatory. But today, New York is a limbo of the worst kind. It's a financial black hole where you make just enough to get by but never thrive. The fact is 1970s/1980s downtown New York was one of the city's last true bohemias. 

When contemporary artists cross over

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"For Muir, the key consideration is the fearlessness the right artist can bring to cinema: 'This is the route, we should remember, that gave us not only the first black director to win the best film Oscar, but also the first woman to win an Oscar. Kathryn Bigelow, who won in 2009 for The Hurt Locker, was a painter and conceptual artist before she made Strange Days and Point Break with Keanu Reeves. She was one of the first artists to cross over into narrative film. Both these artists have pushed things in film because that is what artists do.'"

"Muir also has a claim to have predicted the influence of video artists on the film industry. In an article for Arena in the 1990s he suggested some stars of the art world might go on to make the big films of the future. 'At least I don't need to eat my hat on that one,' he said."

–Steve McQueen paves way for artists to break the boundaries

#Shelfie: The Cinema of Transgression

Added on by Vivian Wong.

" … transgression is not simply about breaking/crossing established or created limits, and letting us view what we can not normally see, of allowing the viewer or the filmmaker a transcendent access to disguised, hidden, and unknown areas of human existence." 

"Transgression is seductive and infinitely encapsulating; to show transgression automatically marks the individual as transgressive or non-limited, and it also marks as transgressive the means through which it can be shown. Transgression seems to belong to the oppressed, the outsider, the unknown or unseen part of our psyches, forbidden knowledge and desire."

–Essay "The Transgressive Aesthetic" by Stephanie Watson. "Deathtripping: The Cinema of Transgression" by Jack Sargent. 

By the time I got to art school in the east village, the "east village art scene" was long over. But the cinema of transgression along with other underground filmmakers such as Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Stan Vanderbeek, and the Kuchar Brothers were a constant backdrop in our art/film education. 

I am still incredibly invested in the experimental / transgressive / outsider status and it's something that I hope to inject into everything that I do.

Public and Private: Distance Between Bodies

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"I've always been interested in how we relate to each other and the distance between bodies. In this film, a lot of the scenes are about the social awkwardness and the silence when we don't know what to do. I wanted to create an understanding for the social pressure the husband's character feels. With the other couple staring at him from across the table, has has to meet expectations placed upon him as a man. That makes him into a liar …

In a way, it's an essential scene. The film was inspired by a couple of friends of mine who had a similar experience -- of the man not doing what's expected of him. There were a couple of instances where the woman brought up the conflict in public to make it a really awkward social moment. It's something I've witnessed first hand. I think all of us have been in those moments; when intimate, private moments are made public. The scene highlights one of the goals of the film. One of the goals was to create one of the most spectacular avalanche scenes in film history. Another goal was to raise the percentage of divorce in society. I hope this scene helps me do that."

–'Force Majeure' Director Shares the Scene He Hopes Will Lead to More Divorces

I've been a busy worker bee

Added on by Vivian Wong.

Drosscapes: Ruins of Memory

Added on by Vivian Wong.

"That nothing lasts forever is perhaps our favorite thing to forget. And forgetting is the ruin of memory, its collapse, decay, shattering, and eventual fading away into nothingness. We don’t quite recognize how resilient cities are, how they arise over and over again from their own ruins, resurrected, reincarnated, though every Rome and London is such a resurrection, or reinvention … Ruins are evidence not only that cities can be destroyed but that they survive their own destruction, are resurrected again and again.

Ruins stand as reminders. Memory is always incomplete, always imperfect, always falling into ruin; but the ruins themselves, like other traces, are treasures: our links to what came before, our guide to situating ourselves in a landscape of time. To erase the ruins is to erase the visible public triggers of memory; a city without ruins and traces of age is like a mind without memories. Such erasure is the foundation of the amnesiac landscape that is the United States." 

–Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics. Rebecca Solnit. 2006. Essay "The Ruins of Memory".