Sunday, June 20, 2010

e-terview with Candace Briceño

Candace Briceño is a Texas-based artist whose works beautifully juxtapose detail-oriented hand-stitching with emotive-biographic expressions through nature-inspired subject matter. Briceño has exhibited her work extensively in solo and group exhibitions in Texas and throughout the United States. She is currently working on a group show at the Mexi-Arte Museum and a solo exhibition at the Mexican American Cultural Center Museum in Austin, TX. Briceño's work is also being highlighted at a virtual art exhibition at the CUE Art Foundation.

1- When did you begin using cloth/felt constructions and elements on your work? When did you begin making organic/natural forms? What led you to both choices?

I started to using organic forms from the very beginning as an undergraduate student at The University of Texas but, at that time I was not clear on why I was choosing that type of imagery. For some reason I started to think it was my vehicle or my excuse to make art, where the ornate imagery was a subject but, not much more. However, this period of not knowing my own voice allowed me the opportunity to really explore materials and master my paint techniques. When I got into graduate school at School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) many of these unresolved questions about my subject matter started to confront me again in studio. Why I used the organic forms, why nature, why painting? The first semester was really challenging. I understood that I missed Texas landscapes and right before X-mas I packed up all my design books dealing with patterns and references to ornamental designs and put them away in boxes. I started to think of the reasons I was using another person's source material. If I was really looking at the Texas landscape then I needed to go back to Texas and do some serious drawings and sketches to use back in my studio. That was my light bulb moment, when I spent the next few weeks on my parent's ranch and saw my love for landscape and abstraction unite in my sketches. When I arrived back in Chicago I was clear what my subject matter was and why. I started to address the second concern of stepping out of my own painting department and into the unfamiliar fiber world and had to come to terms of releasing my title of strictly a "painter"; I understood that my training was in painting, but my voice was also with other materials.

I took a great class with Linda Dolack at SAIC in the fiber department in the spring of 2000. She led me into the fiber world but also allowed and encouraged me to use my painterly ways when exploring fiber. In that course I made my first fiber piece titled 500 plus. Those early fiber pieces were initially small sculpture models for drawings and paintings. Eventually they just evolved into a thing into and of themselves; every piece since then has been a collision of drawing, painting and fiber approaches. Not one medium is more important than the next; even if one (medium) is not visually present it is present in subtle ways within my work. Many of the work relies on materials that are being challenged to do something that is usually not present in that material's arena. For example, I use thread on canvas to "draw" parts of my composition in loose sketch format and use hand dyed felt to act as paint on my surfaces.

2- You have referred to some of your felt pieces as paintings, though some resemble more relief sculpture. could you expand a bit on that? Do you find helpful defining your work in terms of art genres (painting, sculpture, installation, etc) for your creative process, or is it more helpful to others looking at your work?

I refer to most of my work as drawings or paintings and it always seems to be clear to me what they are. Some of my work is punctured paper that has no pencil use at all. I still call that a "drawing" because it is derived from my strong drawing background and its been executed as I would draw with a pencil but, I use a needle to make the marks. Some of those marks have pressure points that make the holes larger which gives more light and some holes smaller that gives shadows so, it reads very much like a pencil line which makes me comfortable enough to work with a needle. In my series, "Invisible" I use only a single needle to puncture thousands of holes on the front and back of the paper to make up the finish piece. This technique both refers to my usual drawing methods but, also is very relatable to my sewing sculptures but, is lacking thread. The process is commenting on a lack of presence thus the title Invisible.

The "fiber work" is still being made from a painter's aesthetic and at times lacks the complete knowledge of a person who was trained solely in the fiber realm. I know I bend a lot of their rules and, with those challenges, address them in a more fun, child-like way, which gives a lot of energy to my work. The idea of not being trained strictly in the fiber world made me depend on my drawing and painting background and problem solve as I went along with each piece. I was not officially trained on how to use protein based dyes so I , again, relied on my painting background to add layers to a fabric to patina a material and give them some natural variations that I was aiming for in my dying process. As for having playful tones to my work I really try to challenge myself in each work and create problems that usually make the work go in a direction at times surprises myself and how I need to listen to what the work is trying to direct me in. I find this conversation that I have with myself in studio something that is essential to my work. Some of the grass island pieces I call sculpture, and only refer to their materials through the description of the piece in gallery/ catalogue labeling.

3- A sense of place (specially Texas) is important for your work. How did your work change when you moved to Chicago from Austin, and later from Chicago back to Austin?

When I left for graduate school I did not have the idea that Texas really informed my work and I naively assumed I could use Chicago landscape as a substitute. My dad, as a young child, picked cotton and various other crop products with his family as day labors. As I grew up more of his stories would unravel; I began to understood his respect for the land and the importance of what it can provide, and how hard that type of labor was in the Texas summers. Finally, 11 years ago he and my mom bought their dream ranch, started to raise milk goats and have their own gardens to tend. Going back to their house always made me feel a sense of pride and affection that they both had for their land. How one can go into the city - or art school - and see the fast-paced life, how life passed you by each semester faster than the next; at times how one pushed the maximum of your body with stress, deadlines and lack of sleep. When I would return home things seemed slower. Watching the beauty of the sun shifting, grass changing colors within days, the soil in different counties changing drastically from red clay content to black tar, trees frying out in the sun and finally withering away, were all things that inspired my work.

Today I draw a lot of information and inspiration out of visiting counties in Texas and driving around with my camera and sketchbook, then bringing those back into studio. For some reason I think because of the history that my family has to Texas I feel a connection to the land here. It is through this exploration that I am able to understand my parents' and grandparents' ties here. When I moved to Chicago I was not clear that Texas landscape was so specific to me and my work and I finally understood that it was specific but, not specific enough for other people outside of Texas not to get the work.

4- This relationship to place, does it continue on the location you present your work? Do you consciously consider the space when creating works, or select work that best fits a space?

I mostly create work in studio and imagine a gallery or museum in my head where it might be seen but, it is never very specific. Some of the installation pieces have found a different life of their own in different locations and that is always interesting.

One of my installation pieces called Nothing was originally thought to be sprinkled on a large single wall to represent a random flowers that might appear in a wallpaper. This piece was originally shown at a now defunct gallery space in Austin, Texas called Volitant Gallery.

Later the work was shown at El Centro Community College's gallery and the piece started to climb up a narrow column and this redirected the flow of the work which made the work rethink itself.

5- One other element I find evident in your work is repetition; that, compounded with labor and obsession creates an interesting tension with the overall quietness of your work. How do the terms repetition, labor, and obsession conceptually fit with what you aim to achieve? Are they even a consideration?

I think my work has always dealt with intimate details and for some reason the repetition and labor that is put into the work is like a long conversation that I have with each piece. I enjoy the time I spend with each work even though its physically demanding. The more I say the more the piece seems to communicate back to me.
The moments when the labor becomes so overwhelming, with my fingers becoming raw from sewing and it reaches a physical level that becomes a challenge. Somewhere in between the uncomfortable and the end of each piece is where more challenges are thrown in the pot with "mini melt downs" as if I was running a marathon where its mentally and physically challenging beyond a comfortable stage. But, its in these uncomfortable moments that I see something else that I want to address in future work so, it always seems to give back to me in a rewarding way. I enjoy that time of problem-solving and changes that the work demands.

click here to visit Candace's site

Monday, June 7, 2010

e-terview with Kathryn Kramer

[originally posted on April 30, 2010 at]

While the format for this blog has its own default rigidity, in my exploration of this medium I have allowed for a variety of approaches to emerge, such as the travelogue, the gallery review, and the interview. The latter, in particular, has mainly, to this point, focused on artists. The subject for this month's e-terview is not an artist, but fittingly enough her interests and research speak of a similar approach to mine in this venture: wandering and wondering. Dr. Kathryn Kramer is an Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at State University of New York Cortland. In addition to having received awards for research and teaching, her writings have been published and presented in a variety of venues. In early 2008, on a chance encounter, Kramer came upon a flier I randomly placed at a conference table, with a call for submissions for an exhibition I was currating on contemporary flânerie. This led to a series of email exchanges that culminated in an essay written by her for the exhibition's catalogue, my presentation at her department's visiting artist series, and the spark for many interesting conversations and potential collaborative and/or corroborative situations between us. Below is the first steps down one road.

How did you become interested in the Flâneur as the subject for your research?

When I was in graduate school, I did some work on Manet’s Parisian street philosophers/ragpickers and in the process read Walter Benjamin’s Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism. That book was my entrée into flânerie beyond what everyone, including I, seems to just know about the practice “by osmosis,” so to speak. At that point, I made a mental note that I myself was a natural born flâneuse and moved on to my dissertation on Paul Klee. It was only about five years ago or so that I began to wonder if globalizing cities, particularly beyond the west, could function as new proving grounds for a flânerie revival: was flânerie Eurocentric, or could it go transnational, and if so, how? I chaired a panel on the subject of flânerie and globalization for the 2005 College Art Association conference in Atlanta, which addressed for me the question of flanerie’s contemporary relevance but still left a lot to be pondered regarding its viable internationalization. My current research took off from there.

2- You guest edited the most recent issue of the online journal Wagadu: Journal of Transnational Women's and Gender Studies. This special issue, “Today’s Global Flâneuse,” focuses on the flâneuse. How did that come about and more specifically, what have you included?

Check it out at It is inevitable to inquire whether or not the flâneuse has truly arrived on today’s world stage when beginning to reconsider flânerie’s current resonance. While scholarship has long moved away from flânerie's classical definition featuring a bourgeois, indolent male wandering around 19th-century industrializing Paris for the sake of modernity and art, it is still more inclined to insert the flâneuse into 19th-century Paris than to focus on the contemporary flâneuse, although there is a body of recent scholarship, mostly from the last two years or so and mostly coming out of France and Spain, that is finally focusing on the present. This tendency to get stuck in the past seems to be an occupational hazard when trying to tackle flanerie’s currency: Benjamin himself started it by basically re-living Baudelaire’s experience.

This casting for flânerie amidst the high modernism of the 19th century and then taking up semi-permanent residence there is a strange phenomenon and could be a research project in itself, but I wanted to focus on the possibilities of today’s flâneuse with my Wagadu guest editorship. To that end, I put out the call for what I have come to recognize as 21st century flânerie, which is a twining of sociology and aesthetics—ethnographic research practice that is art and vice versa—from feminine perspectives. I was expecting submissions of complex, experiential, and emotive documentations of the dynamics of today’s world cities, providing not only vivid evidence of cities in transformation but also representations of their urban imaginaries. Interestingly, the majority of the submissions reflected more of the interurban circuit created by 21st-century globalization rather than the world cities themselves, leading me to an unexpected conclusion that today’s flâneuse exists more as a global nomad, practicing a broader, more cosmopolitan form of flânerie than the strictly urban variety. Does that mean that cities are still relatively unavailable to the flâneuse, same as it ever was? Perhaps. I think I need a much broader sampling than what appears in Wagadu. So the research on the global flâneuse continues.

What I really like about this issue is that it is a hybrid volume—part ethnography, part memoirs, part artist’s illustrated book. Plus since it is an online journal, we were able to include time-based digital media in its HTML version: the importance of capturing the intrinsic mobility of flânerie with appropriate media cannot be overstated!

3- Your current research focuses on global art events. Could you describe what you have been working on and where this research has taken you? Does this relate to the flânerie in any way?

From 2007-2010, SUNY Cortland supported my research into the interurban circuit of burgeoning biennials and other art expos. My primary purpose was to travel to a variety of these art events over this period in order to explore their connection to the revival of cosmopolitanism, a notion that has experienced resuscitation in the 21st century very much along the lines of flânerie. In the course of my research, I also gathered examples of artists from all over the world who are engaged in the practice of flânerie.

4- What do you plan on doing with this current research? (book, journal, presentations, conference, exhibition, etc)

A couple of essays are in various stages of completion. As soon as I visit the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, I am going to complete an essay focusing on Shanghai’s reinvention of itself as a global city in part through its recent biennials and especially through its upcoming world’s fair. I would like to expand the Wagadu edition into an edited book about the feminine filtration of the urban (I am always on the lookout for those who would like to contribute). In terms of the flâneur/flâneuse artists that I am collecting, I would like to—in a Benjaminian gesture—channel Baudelaire and write a description of their practices (so, they would be both Mr. and Ms. “G’s”!!) a la “The Painter of Modern Life” essay. See, it has happened to me, too: the eternal return to the 19th century!

e-terview with Joseph Ravens

[originally posted on March, 21, 2010 at]

there are many words I could use to describe Joseph Ravens, an artist and a human being of many facets. his work, and his work ethics, as well as his joi de vivre, are truly inspiring, a rare combination of committed integrity with heart-felt lightness. his technology-enhanced performances have been shown and toured around the world. his credentials are too extensive and intense to list, to say the least (please visit his site for more information, at the end of this entry). we recently had the opportunity to spend some time together in Chicago; what follows is a series of questions exchange a few weeks after that. in his own words.

your art practice combines elements of performance art, theater and dance, sprinkled with technology. how would you best describe what you do?

This is an interesting question because I often have to describe what I do . Unlike other mediums and disciplines, telling someone you’re a performance artist is usually followed by puzzled looks and a bunch of questions. I have several answers based on my cursory assessment of that person's artistic knowledge. Funny, I’m sometimes wrong and totally talk down to people, describing my work in simplistic terms and then they say, ‘oh, you mean you’re a performance artist, like Abramović or Barney or something…’, and I feel like a fool. Actually, your question uses similar language that I use to describe myself. I love the phrase, ‘sprinkled with technology’ – can I steal that from you? It’s very accurate. Historically, performance art has been difficult to define. Frankly, it’s one of the allures – the limitless unrestrained nature of the medium. I happen to have a theater and dance background so those elements and skill-sets are certainly a part of my performances. But I prefer to identify myself as a visual artist because I apply visual art aesthetics to time-based creations. The structures and narratives present in theater and dance I find problematic and limiting. I really do straddle disciplines and sometimes one artistic genre is better suited as a vehicle for my thoughts or ideas. I present in galleries, theaters, dance spaces, and non-traditional environments.

The semantics surrounding performance art are really interesting – the medium is so enigmatic. Performance (without the ‘art’) is being used the most (I think) in the United States. Live Art is used a lot in England. Art Actions, Art Performance, Behavioral Art…there are so many terms used to define the practice. Performance is becoming very popular again. A lot of sculptors and painters and artists from established mediums are making performances or performance is part of their process. Also galleries and Biennales are encorporating performance. Perhaps one of the reasons Performance is becoming popular again is that Roselee Goldberg (along with Marina Abromović) started the (somewhat elitist) Performa Biennale in New York. As we all know, though, boundaries between artistic disciplines are becoming fewer and far between – and not only in visual art. Hybrid, multimedia, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary, however you want to put it – the parameters are more elastic now than they have ever been. I’m getting off the topic. In reply to your original question: When my aunt asks me what I do I tell her I’m an actor, director, or playwright. When the average person off the street asks me what I do I say I’m an artist. When an artist asks me what I do I say that my work is a hybrid of visual art, dance, and theater.

'AIR POCKET(S)' by Joseph Ravens
Postsovkhoz4 International Symposium: MOKS, Mooste, Estonia 2004

which particular piece of yours would you say exemplifies your practice?

As is the case with most artists, my practice is constantly changing and evolving. I also have a short attention span and an adventurous spirit, so I am constantly interested in fresh approaches or perspectives. I think I’m particularly diverse – sometimes writing plays and other times making dances or fiber-based installations. But I would have to say my performance, RAVENOUS, is most characteristic of my style. I made this piece as my MFA thesis at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). When I moved to Chicago I changed my name to Ravens without really considering the bird or what it represented. The word ‘ravens’ is actually part of my original longer Germanic surname - I shortened it for ease and memorability. When I did start researching the Raven – especially the role of the bird in various mythologies – I found we had a lot in common. So the work came from a really personal place. It also incorporated a lot of ideas and skills that I acquired as a student at SAIC. It was something of a re-birth and it embodied a lot of the aesthetics that I continue to embrace: sculptural movement, large scale fiber-based installation, poetic text, abstract narrative, clean minimalist style, illusion, seduction, and even a ‘sprinkling of technology’.

Joseph Ravens in ‘Ravenous’

is there one particular sequence or process you employ in your creative endeavors? what are the usual steps between conception and implementation?

Oh gosh. I often joke about starting a company called “Cart-Before-the-Horse Productions”. For the past 10 years or so I’ve felt that my process is backwards. When applying for festivals or grants I manifest ideas – often thoroughly researching and developing the ideas but never implementing them. If and when the opportunity presents itself, I then bring that Idea into being. I have a love/hate relationship to the idea of artist as inventor – a mad scientist toying with his creations in a studio cluttered with materials. I want to be that kind of artist, but it’s really not possible or realistic. I have a general idea and then I usually schedule a fairly short and organized production period – often the month before the exhibition. When I do create a work, though, I really think about it becoming part of a repertoire – a body of work that I can mount and re-mount. I also think about how it travels, since travel is a vital part of my practice. I’m very practical. I think about impact and portability. I think a lot about how I can make something large out of something that is small, lightweight, and easy to carry. That’s what drew me to inflatable objects. When I do create solo works, the video camera is essential to the process. I set up the camera and use the remote to record myself. Then I create or choreograph and view the tape at regular intervals to tweak and shape the work. I hunger for feedback, especially as a solo artist, but it’s a luxury I rarely have the pleasure of.

Joseph Ravens in ‘Is My Liver Showing?’ at Midway Studios, Boston, MA

how much, or how little do your life experiences permeate your art practice? if your body is the medium, what message does this body engender?

Sex and seduction, materialism and vanity are ever present concerns for me as a hyper-aware, hyper-sensitive gay man navigating an agist, beauty-obsessed culture. I think by body and the exposure of my body stem from this place. On a more aesthetic level, and in a dancerly sort of way, I simply find beauty in the human form. I’m very interested in anatomical details. In my most recent work, Kattywampus, I choreographed an entire section for my shoulderblades. Whenever I present this piece I try to drop body fat so that my ribs and shoulderblades are more obvious. I really see my body as the material – as the sculpture. I pay a lot of attention to negative space – the air between my limbs, etc. I am very influenced by Butoh – a Japanese artform that embraces a certain physical intensity. My bald head and physical presence is also meant to be something mannequin like, neutral – I like to present myself as something otherworldly – something decidedly ‘other’ while still allowing the viewer access to my internal struggle. In that way, my presence in performance is usually not me as the artist–creator, but, rather, a persona. But this isn’t often the case. I have text-based autobiographical pieces (a lá Holly Houghes) that I rarely perform. I have been focused on working internationally and, in an attempt to create work that is globally universal, my images and ideas have become sort of hyper or meta…less specific or personal. So my life experiences don’t frequently make their way directly into my work and text is seldomly used anymore. I am not interested in any sort of politics or overt message in my work. I aim for something more poetic, lyrical, and abstract.

Joseph Ravens in ‘Rigamarole’ (a version of ‘Kattywampus’)
Open Festival, Beijing, China 2009

what project are you currently touring? what future projects do you have in the works?

I’m touring 'Security System' and 'Kattywampus'. I often collaborate with Marianne Kim and we are developing two new works – a new inflatable performance installation series that will deal with urban navagation, and the second in a series of ‘rooms’ inspired by the Japanese video game, Katamari. ‘Room One’ was the bedroom and the next room will be the dining room.

I have two personal projects that I haven’t really started but they are rattling around in my skull. I’m very interested in queens – royal women. I’d like to write some monologues or make some videos with transgender male-to-female performers embodying famous queens throughout history. They, of course, would be abstract and idiosyncratic. Perhaps I’m the various queens. I’m curious about keeping it sort of period in style and look but present the videos like a vlog – within an obviously anachronistic technology framework.

I’m also interested in starting a vlog about my inherent ‘wantitis’ - the affliction of always wanting to spend money on something new. An obvious comment on materialism and consumerism, I’m really looking at this habit and how to overcome it – all in front of the public eye.

Marianne Kim and Joseph Ravens in ‘Room One’ at Arizona State University 2008

click here to visit Joseph Ravens' website

click here to see some recent work

e-terview with Leon Johnson

[originally posted on February 27, 2010 at]

A new direction for this blog that I aim to pursue is what I am calling "e-terviews", or interviews conducted via email exchanges with artists pursuing new or alternative art practices. This first one features the artist Leon Johnson, whom I curated into an exhibition in March 2009 at the Oakland University Art Gallery titled Contemporary Flânerie: Reconfiguring Cities. We presented his video FAUST/FAUSTUS in Deptford, the culmination of a decade-long exploration that poetically merged disparate narratives on life and/as pilgrimage.

Leon Johnson is an artist of many media (video, performance, print press, theater installation, and painting come to mind), working on projects that combine research and multilateral practices that are simultaneously intriguing, disturbing, and beautiful. Originally from South Africa, Leon has shown throughout North America and Europe. In addition to keeping an intense exhibition schedule, Leon is also an Associate Professor of Intermedia, at the University of Maine, and faculty at Transart Institute, Berlin. In the Fall 2010 Leon Johnson will be moving to Detroit to chair the Fine Arts Department at the College for Creative Studies.

1. For the ones unfamiliar with the large oeuvre of your work, could you please delineate a general sense of the strategies and conceptual underpinnings/concerns for your art?

I feel a need to keep at arms-length the supposed historical or contemporary demands on creative practice, and rather commit to inclusive, very porous strategies - the intertwining of trends, debates, and practices in popular culture, the humanities, sciences, politics, and the worlds of commerce and communications. A favorite proposal around this idea comes from Homi Bhabha, looking at creative engagement where the power is "not in its transcendent reach but in its translational capacity: in the possibility of moving between media, materials, and genres, each time both marking and remaking the material borders of difference."

This translational potential just feels like a healthy way to proceed. It is particularly useful in subverting my occasional impulse to settle for creative mimicry, or pastiche. Or at least to be as conscious as possible of all the skeletons that collectively rattle in our maze of closets, every time we settle for those “place-holder” solutions. One such project is DUAL SITE: A Psycho-Geographic Dinner Theater. DUAL SITE is a collaboration that mobilizes the works of artists, urban growers, gleaners, farmers, wine makers, bakers and chefs, metal-smiths, artisans, chefs, designers, youth groups, actors and food producers from diverse backgrounds into a robust company of inventors, really. The project is one part dinner theater, one part economic catalyst, and one part community building, with its goal to be a new model for cultural production both within and beyond the traditional bounds of the arts. DUAL SITE takes inspiration from the book Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens In Wartime, written by New York native Kenneth Helphand. This important survey of wartime gardens speaks to the power of human and ecological resilience to cultivate communities through collective making. “Defiant Gardens suggests that planting, cultivating, contemplating in the garden, planning for life, for beauty, for order, is war’s opposite and thereby not just escape but a potent act of resistance”.

The performance features actors in acts of reclamation and recollection: Paris, 1850, excerpts from the Journals of the Goncourt Brothers – Russia, 1929, two men seek answers in a doll store, just under the heel of Stalinist annihilation, adapted from a short play by A.A. Amal’rik – Warsaw, 1944, the last two gardeners, in the last Jewish garden in the Ghetto. Each night, between sequences, a three-course dinner is served to the members of the audience in custom produced porcelain bowls from our nomadic kitchen.

2. Collaboration, which is regaining more prominence/visibility in recent times, plays an important role in your practice. Could you please expand on your interest in it, or the/a catalyst moment that pointed your practice towards collaboration?

Well, I think the real question is how does collaboration develop new forms of community and practice, no? And how they are accompanied by new vocabularies and methodologies. How do we develop collaborative communities across groups that have seemingly nothing in common? That, to me, is critical. My current models are always seeking to situate collaborations around conviviality and food – in history, in memory, in contemporary ecologies - so simply put, convivial engagement is my preferred modus operandi. Yes, hermetic research and contemplation is needed, but the power, and thrill, of a vibrant, diverse dinner-table can rarely be topped as a space of potential.

And, as a model for collaborative engagement I keep on returning to that convivial-vortex - inspired at an early age, perhaps 14, by Allan Kaprow and by the work of Fluxus, and its founding agitators Alison Knowles, Geoff Hendricks, Emmett Williams, George Brecht, Robert Filliou, George Maciunas, Yoko Ono and others. And our kitchen table at home as a child, made very active, very political, and very pleasurable by my Mother.

3. The employment of multiple layers of meaning (borrowed from literature, cinema, history, etc) and manifestations in your work (video, site-specific performance, librettos) seems to be a reoccurring thread. How to did you arrive at such methodology?

We need new vocabularies, and expanding strategies for reclamation, excavation, recovery, and rapprochement. A worthy problem demands worthy research to engender outcomes worth celebrating. [Of course “worth” is a shifting value-system, but one we must negotiate in context. Over, and over again.] This process must challenge us to negotiate the next set of emerging problems.

A project that exemplifies this is the 15 minute video I produced in 2003, FAUST FAUSTUS IN DEPTFORD, after a decade of development as a monologue, a duet, then a performance with a company of 12, including, eventually, composers, glass artists, silver and goldsmiths, singers – touring the UK in six English Heritage sites – and finally… a 15-miute video! The project interweaves documentation of live performance and psycho-geographical drift, triangulating through remora and remembrance the unmapped distances between the Faust legend, Christopher Marlowe's murder in Deptford in 1593, and Oscar Wilde's vandalized tomb in Paris.

The main current of the travelogue-video begins as Marlowe’s 16thC Faustus and Goethe’s 19thC Faust meet to wander points of location and of loss. Faust and Faustus emerge from under the Thames, drifting from the river to nearby Maryon Park, the exact site where Antonioni filmed the scene of the crime at the center of Blow Up, a scene and site in sympathetic riddle to the journey Faust and Faustus are making. Faust and Faustus then “drift” to Paris, to perform an "intervention" at the site of Oscar Wilde's tomb in Pere LaChaise cemetery, a simple pilgrimage to repair for a silver moment the dismembered Sphinx that hovers atop Wilde's tomb.

In this act of re-membering, Faust and Faustus pay their last respects, honoring the generative in resistance to scandal and ruin. From Paris, the two are able to make their final trip to Deptford, to visit the site of Marlowe's murder and burial ground, another riddled loss of a poet both decadent and brave, another prophet of "this new world." And from the graveyard they find their way along a blighted urban path in Deptford to the polluted banks of the river Thames, where, in fading light, the travelogue documents a final drift of chance discovery – a rusted message, a final memory of unmappable love, and the appearance in blue twilight of a miserable guide to the next or the last destination.

4. Site is another important aspect for your works. Was the complexity of Detroit as an urban and cultural space a contributing factor on your decision to relocate here?

Yes, certainly. The palimpsest that is Detroit is powerfully compelling for me – beyond all the supposed “posts” – post-capitalist, post-American, post-industrial, etc. It is a landscape as rich as any – including the entire length of the Thames River!

My move here follows an enchantment with an ongoing journey that began with embarkation from the southern-most tip of Africa, via San Francisco, New York, Iowa, Oregon, Maine, and onto Detroit. Layers, and layers of reclamation and potential, no?

5. What projects/directions do you foresee exploring here?

One is working on collaborations with SPURSE in Detroit. SPURSE is a creative consulting service catalyzing issues into actions. Through research, design, making, exhibitions, events, teaching and publication, they engage many scales and systems, and explore the entangled emergent complexities of the human and nonhuman, organic and non-organic. To articulate problems worth having and worlds worth making, our curiosity must ask the question: How are we not merely in the world, but of the world?

It all starts with dinner. Lets begin there, and with dates, locations and times. I do a pretty good Green Thai Curry, and have experience setting up field-kitchens. Can somebody help slip-cast 200 porcelain bowls?

Last word goes to Homi:

"The world is both our earthly inheritance, and a cultural and ethical horizon. We reach out to it, in the best way we know, when we protect and propagate the right to narrate and the duty to listen. And that social 'relation' - to relate, to narrate, to connect -becomes our juris-diction and our juris –dictio, quite literally, the place from where we speak. No name is yours until you speak it; somebody returns your call and suddenly, the circuit of signs, gestures, and gesticulations is established and you enter the territory of the right to narrate. You are part of a dialogue that may not, at first, be heard or heralded—you may be ignored—but your person-hood, your shared life, your telling, cannot be denied. In another's country that is also your own, your person divides, and in following the forked path you encounter yourself in a double movement... once as stranger, and then as a friend."

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