Friday, January 24, 2020


This afternoon Renee and I and a couple others walked through the excellent David Wojnarowicz: Photography & Film: 1978-1992 at the Belkin. After two years of 1970s-set exhibitions, I cannot think of a better artist to kick in (kick out?) the 1980s than David Wojnarowicz.

The billboard outside the gallery is from Wojnarowicz's Arthur Rimbaud in New York (1978-1979) series, where the artist encouraged friends to pose throughout the city wearing a mask made from the 1946 New Directions Press cover portrait of Rimbaud's Illuminations. Later, while reflecting on this series, I recalled another mask project, this one by Kevin Killian (camera, friends) and Raymond Pettibon (mask).

For Kevin (and Raymond's) Tagged series (2013-2019), mostly male friends were given a cut-out section from a discarded Pettibon drawing and asked to place it over their corresponding regions. Below is a portrait of the writer Jason R. Jimenez:

Thursday, January 23, 2020

"Language is legislation, speech is code"

A paragraph (writing) by Roland Bartes for his inaugural lecture (speech) as the Chair of Literary Semiology at the Collège de France on January 7, 1977:

"Language is legislation, speech is code. We do not see the power which is in speech because we forget that all speech is classification, and all classifications are oppressive: ordo means both distribution and commination. Jakobson has shown that a speech-system is defined less by what it permits us to say than by what it compels us to say. In French (I shall take obvious examples) I am obliged to choose between masculine and feminine, for the neuter and the dual are forbidden me. Further, I must indicate my relation to the other person by resorting to either tu or vous; social or affective suspension is denied me. Thus, by its very structure my language implies an inevitable relation of alienation. To speak, and, with even greater reason, to utter a discourse is not, as is too often repeated, to communicate; it is to be subjugate: the whole language is a generalized rection."

Monday, January 20, 2020


We're moving here because we want to be here.

I'm here because I'm forced to be here.

I'm here because our people have always been here.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Michèle Bernstein's All the King’s Horses (1960) + Henri-Georges Clouzot's Infer (1964-)

“What do you do, exactly? I have no idea.”

“I reify,” he answered.

“It’s a serious job,” I added.

“Yes, it is,” he said.

“I see,” Carol observed with admiration. “Serious work, with big books and a big table cluttered with papers.”

“No,” said Gilles. “I walk. Mostly I walk.”

Saturday, January 18, 2020

"... a purely philanthropic matter ..."

In February 1943, two French battleships and their crews visit New York City. Simone Weil and her parents arrived six months earlier, with Simone leaving for London in November, to work with the Free French.

According to du Plessix Gray, Simone Weil "loathed the idea of coming to the United States. " In a letter to her brother André, Weil writes:

"[Americans'] hospitality is a purely philanthropic matter, and it is repugnant to me to be the object of philanthropy. It is more flattering ... to be the object of persecution." (182)

Friday, January 17, 2020

A Poem by Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

blessing the boats

  (at St. Mary's)
may the tide 
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back     may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Thursday, January 16, 2020

On Jeanne d'Arc

"Becher notes that Simone's anxieties about conforming with absolute precision to the teachings of the Church were part of the very authoritative, conservative streak in her thinking. She considered Joan of Arc outrageous, and thought it perfectly right that she had been persecuted -- where would we be if all young girls with strong opinions started imposing there political views? 'I'm amazed that any of them are allowed to do that,' she opined. She had a similar reaction when Becher reported that his sister, the nun, felt she could talk to Christ 'as to a friend.' 'I'm amazed that any of them are allowed to do that,' she said again, suggesting that his sister might have an overwrought imagination." (178)