Volume 1, Issue No. 2 - Revolt Magazine

revoltmagazine.org

Volume 1, Issue No. 2 - Revolt Magazine

m a g a z i n e

REVOLT is:

PUBLISHED BY:

Public Art Squad Project

PUBLISHER: Scotto Mycklebust, Artist

MANAGING EDITOR: Katie Cercone

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Scotto Mycklebust

ART & DESIGN: Joli Latini, Lauren Stec

ART PHOTOGRAPHER: Elisa de la Huerta

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Dan Callahan,

Linda Digusta, David Hales, Richard Wyndbourne

Kline, Richard Leslie, Rob Reed,

Suzanne Schultz, Matthew Schultz,

Lena Vazifdar

ADVERTISING CONTACT:

advertise@revoltmagazine.org

SUBMISSIONS:

submission@revoltmagazine.org

DONATIONS:

donation@revoltmagazine.org

CONTACT us:

REVOLT OFFICES:

West Chelsea Arts Building

526 West 26th Street, Suite 511

New York, New York 10001

212.242.1909

ON THE WEB:

www.revoltmagazine.org

info@revoltmagazine.org

ON FACEBOOK:

www.facebook.com/revoltmagazine

FOR EDITORIAL INQUIRIES:

editorial@revoltmagazine.org

JOIN OUR MAILING LIST:

subscribe@revoltmagazine.org

REVOLT

ARTISTS MUSEUM

www.revoltmagazine.org

Letter from the Publisher ...

I am very proud to announce the official release of

Revolt Magazine, Issue 2. Much has happened since

the premiere, and The Revolt staff has been hard at

work bringing you the latest news, humor, opinions

and fantasies at the juncture of Art and Social

Change.

In this volume you’ll find more on the latest

developments on the Occupy Wall Street front

including the Occupy Museum movement and

a selected poem from the official OWS Poetry

Anthology. We’ve expanded our Gallery View section,

which now boasts Rob Reed reviews of exhibitions

in four major Chelsea galleries in addition to

Dan Callahan’s new Cinema and Literary Review

sections.

We’re talking about Economy – Art & Economy (in

an exciting, unprecedented interview with Asher

IN THIS ISSUE:

volume 1 no. 2 • may/june 2012

Edelman), The Gift Economy (Richard Leslie’s

The Invisible Artist) and the Alternative Economy

(Pink Ghetto interview with Soho20 Director Jenn

Dierdorf).

Revolt Issue 2 brings you Gentrification Erotica,

thoughts about Urban Chic by new contributing

writer Lena Vazifdar and a sneak peak of a new

graphic novel by David Hales. We’ve expanded

our staff and our distribution so that Revolt

Magazine will now be available in Boston through a

partnership with Suzanne Schultz of Canvas FineArt.

So read away, read carefully and read critically. We’d

love to hear your thoughts about our content and as

always, urge you to help us keep creativity and free

speech thriving in and around New York City.

Scotto Mycklebust

6 The Gallery Review

12 Urban Chic

14 Art Attack, The Occupy Museum Movement

20 The Hip Hop Feminist Manifesta

22 Biennial Clap Back

25 The Literary View

26 Cinema Review

28 Biting The Hand That Feeds You

35 The Pink Ghetto

38 The Invisible Artist

40 The Revolt Takes Boston

42 Make it Graphic

46 Art and Economics

48 The OWS Poetry Anthology

54 Strawberry

58 Françoise Gilot

MISSION STATEMENT

Through a diverse array of journalistic styles - investigative, academic, interview,

opinion - and stunning visuals, REVOLT Magazine aims to ensure that art never loses

its profundity. We urge our readers to join our mission, generating positive social

change through creative production and informed cultural critique.

Copyright & Permissions Info: © copyright 2011 - 2012 Revolt Magazine. All Rights Reserved. For all

reprints, permissions and questions, please contact 212.242.1909 or by email: info@revoltmagazine.com.

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012 2

TM


Hôtel

AMERICANO

Chelsea New York

518 West 27 th Street, New York NY 10001

For booking

hotel-americano.com 212.216.0000


THE

R LIST

THIS LITTLE WORLD OF MINE

THIS LITTLE WORLD OF MINE

THIS LITTLE WORLD OF MINE, I'M GONNA LET IT SHINE,

LET IT SHINE EVERYWHERE I GO!

I LIVE IN MY OWN WORLD THAT I HAVE CREATED FOR MYSELF.

THEREFORE I'M NOT SURE IF I HAVE THE LIGHT OR THAT I AM THE LIGHT.

WHAT I CAN CONCRETELY SAY IS THAT THE WORLD I HAVE CREATED, I'M GONNA LET THAT SHINE....I

HAVE CONFIDENCE IN HUMANITY TO EMBRACE IT.......LINE BY LINE PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH PAGE BY

PAGE!!!!!!

THANKS AND GIVING

Thanksgiving means much more than a capitalist holiday for me!

Today I'm thankful for the native Americans

that had something to do with this holiday,

Before it became about black Friday

Thankful for the village that has raised me well...

and the giving part is not a duty or obligation but a recognition for HUMANITY.

SLIP BUT DON'T FALL

SOME SLIP WHILE OTHERS FALL EVEN WHEN THERE WERE A YIELD SIGN. SO SLIP BUT DON'T

FALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!GET UP BRUSH OFF, NOW U NOT THE SAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ORIGINAL VERBAGE TO YIELD

BY

THE CHARACTER, WAYNE YOUNG

Wayne Young

SOUND OFF : REVOLT

ON FACEBOOK... SEARCH TERMS: REVOLT

"... time to revolt. We need to straight-away reject the

whatsoever demand in the first hand to stop the greed take

toll of our lives."

"Revolt, as Albert Camus reminded us, is the only acceptable

definition of the moral life. Revolt, he wrote, is “a constant

confrontation between man and his obscurity. It is not

aspiration, for it is devoid of hope. That revolt is the certainty

of a crushing fate, without the resignation that ought to

accompany it.”

"petr cech hailed chelsea's champions league triumph as

'revolt' against their doubters followighispenality shootout

heroic"

ON TWITTER... SEARCH TERMS: REVOLT

RESULT: "Revolt for your children and your children's

children!"

"The desire to revolt against oppression is the highest desire

there is." - Tupac

"Haiti's was the first, and the only, successful slave revolt in

the history of the world. Happy Haitian Flag Day!"

"A civilization which leaves so large a number of its

participants unsatisfied and drives them into revolt has no

future – Sigmund Freud"

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

"1 percenters Clooney & Obama cause massive L.A. traffic

jam; 99 percenters revolt on Twitter==>"

"Nothing in this world is more beautiful than revolution, no

shopping spree, no cruise can match the sheer brilliance of

revolt."

"Rebel, fight, revolt, instigate, become!"

"When the rich revolt it's called a dialogue, when the poor

protest it's called treason."

"Europe is revolting against austerity"

"You can do whatever you want with your personal artistic

expressions, but with your public art, you must design revolt."

You want to revolt? Kick out Congress. In no uncertain terms,

tell them that we CAN and WILL elect officials that listen.

When the people are deadlocked against a government that

refuses to heed their call for fundamentals, they revolt. A

revolution is instinct

TOMORROW: Male synchronised swimmers revolt / An

eco-disco in your kitchen / Welsh scripted reality / teeth

whitening crackdown

4


THE

BY ROB REED

GALLERY

VIEW

TERRY WINTERS

Cricket Music, Tessellation Figures

& Notebook

February 4 - April 14, 2012

Matthew Marks Gallery

522 W 22 nd Street, 502 W 22 nd Street

The art of Terry Winters takes some time. His

recent show, “Cricket Music, Tessellation Figures

& Notebook,” hanging at two of Matthew Marks

Gallery’s locations on West 22 Street, presents two

separate and concurrent bodies of work - thirty small

intimacy and love for the facticity of paint itself, his

connectedness to the material make-up of his art.

While his preoccupations with scientifically-related

ideas may be an overriding compositional force in

his work, he also grants the oil and ground pigment

their own brief autonomies, able to attack any formal

structure with surprise. This pulsating restlessness

is built into the artist’s picture-making math.

Winters’ color pallet is saturated and energetic,

often relying on direct color complements (most

often red-and-green or blue-and-orange) to set

the octave of each piece. All the paintings in the

Cricket Music, 2010, oil on linen, 88 x 112 inches,

is deceptively simple in its form. Painted in blues

and purples with occasional sparks of orange, the

tessellation of four-sided patches spans most of the

canvas’ surface while receding in space at the sides

and top, making a pillow-like form. As the individual

patches float and the unifying constellation curves,

viewer perceptions of presence and absence oscillate

so intensely the effect is somewhat existential.

The network of shapes is fragile and precarious in

places. Smaller fragments in the middle and down

the left side are broken and un-joined, which poses

a question about the structure’s nature, whether it

is in a process of self-organizing or decomposing.

In the smaller exhibition space at 502 West 22

Street is a selection of the artist’s notebook collages

that bear no obvious relationship to the paintings.

Instead, they bear witness to the artist’s associative

intelligence and cognitive disinhibition, the

necessary conditions for creativity. Found imagery,

often digitally printed on regular-size sheets of

transparency paper, are overlapped and stapled at

the top to a solid off-white sheet of paper.

Notebook 188, 2003-2011, at 11.5 x 8 inches

(the same size as the rest of the works), overlaps

a photograph of the top half of a roller coaster loop

with a transparent blue rectangle containing a line

diagram plotting coordinates of some kind. The

bisected vertical ellipse echoes Robert Mangold’s

space-dividing methods, but that superficial

relationship isn’t what makes it interesting.

Movement through space in Notebook 188 is charted

graphically (literally in the graph), photographically

(in the roller coaster), and compositionally (in the

overall directional forces moving your eyes around

the page). This observation isn’t to decode the work

or suggest object lessons in space are in view; it is

© Terry Winters, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

only to suggest that the time spent absorbing these

show are structured in some fundamental way

collage works at 502 and eleven large paintings at

works will be paid back in full.

around a tessellation, or surface plane created

522. It’s not the size of the show that challenges the

by repeating geometric shapes such as those

viewer; it’s the seductive complexity.

HERNAN BAS

found in honeycombs or the black and white

The large, carefully and densely painted works offer

Occult Contemporary

pentagonal patterns of a soccer ball. In the artist’s

both quick and slow reads. They have an immediate

March 15 - April 21, 2012

current process, the tessellations are rhythms of

striking force through bold colors and dominant

Lehmann Maupin Gallery

parallelograms that appear somewhat like the

shapes, yet also honor more meditative looking as negative spaces made between the rope grids of 540 West 26 Street

the arranged visual elements begin to reveal their a net. Flat, curving, or spinning in circles, these “The safest road to Hell is a gradual one – the gentle

networked relationships and individual character. tessellation planes operate pictorially as both figure slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings,

This vibrant complexity is partly due to Winters’ and ground, creating dynamic surface tensions that

both open up and resist the viewer’s optical entry.

without milestones, without signposts.” –Screwtape

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012 6


ALBERT OEHLEN Untitled, 2009-2011. Oil and paper on canvas, 82 11/16 x 106 5/16 in.

© Albert Oehlen. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

This is the description of man’s spiritual descent the

mentor demon Screwtape gives his junior “tempter”

and disciple Wormwood in C.S. Lewis’ enlightening

novel “The Screwtape Letters.” Being a good devil

is hard work and mapping the terrain of human

temptation is central to it.

The paintings of Detroit-based artist Hernan Bas

in his solo exhibition “Occult Contemporary” at

Lehmann Maupin, explore such terrains with

exciting results. Danger is ever afoot in his largescale

landscapes –craggy cliffs, broken bridges, and

fallen trees. The works are sparsely populated with

a sole young man disconcertingly relaxed amongst

and within rocks and wooded thickets. On occasion

an ominous and threatening presence is seen, or at

least certainly felt: it’s just the Devil doing his nineto-five.

The title of the show is Bas’ wry riff on “Adult

Contemporary,” a musical genre that bears relations

in character similar to Screwtape’s hell-bound

trajectory –a “gentle slope, soft underfoot.” Also in

mind is the wave of superficial interest in the dark

arts (through movies such as Twilight) that is for Bas

not serious enough.

In A Satanist on a Tuesday (or, The Key Master),

2012, a mixed-media painting standing eight feet

tall by seven feet wide, Bas situates his young

protagonist in the middle of a creek that rushes past

a badly dilapidated (but judging from the chimney

smoke, inhabited) house, as rocks in the foreground

display scrawled color graffiti. These hieroglyphs

on stone perhaps reveal the content of our main

character’s mind, as he holds up a key that locks or

unlocks exactly what we are not sure.

The paintings are rich with haunting ambiguities

extending beyond their narrative content. Bas’ painthandling

ranges from energetic and broadly gestural

to obsessively detailed and naively clumsy, as large

chunks of his compositions scrape, bump, and

chafe against each other. His colors are intense and

Hernan Bas, A Satanist on a Tuesday (or, The Key Master), 2012

Acrylic, airbrush, silkscreen and block print on linen, 84 x 72 in.

Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York

at times garish, though always fitting, heightening a

sense of the unexpected, ratcheting up suspense.

At a time when abstract painting is so popular in New

York, Bas’ work demonstrates that viscous invention

and verve need not be reined in just for the sake of

depiction and storytelling. In fact, it would appear

that for this artist cryptic narratives, informed by

myth and folklore, are exactly what unleash all these

startling and memorable painterly events.

ALBERT OEHLEN

Albert Oehlen

March 3 - April 7, 2012

Gagosian Gallery

980 Madison Avenue

Standing in front of the paintings by Albert Oehlen

in his first exhibition with Gagosian Gallery, several

questions arise. The immediate questions are of the

artist’s intent. For example, what is it? The followup

questions are reflexive to art-making or painting

itself. How can representation and abstraction

work together, or painting fit with photography, or

hand-wrought mark-making be reconciled with

mechanical, computer graphics?

The ground on which the artist begins to paint is a

large canvas –six or seven feet high by seven or


ALBERT OEHLEN FM 53, 2008-2011.

© Albert Oehlen. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Photo by Lothar Schnepf

eight feet wide– partially covered with enlarged

commercial photographs that are cropped, cut,

and arranged in such a way that allows limited

recognition of their subjects. Signage text or

stenciled words –”power” was one– also appear

as substrates underneath the energetic application

of paint, which is labeled as oil, but acrylic or latex

might be there too.

The paint colors and overall palettes take their cue

from the printed material beneath. This is the most

apparent and strongest connection between the

found imagery and painted passages; it isn’t in the

joining of shapes or directional lines. (In the recent

past, such as in his 2009 show at Luhring Augustine,

found imagery and text dominated the compositions

while paint was just a smudgy interlocutor.)

Oehlen’s way with paint in this exhibition indulges

full-on the sweeps and fitful gestures of Abstract

Expressionism, recreating its egotism and urgency,

while also being devoid of the personal or emotional

necessities that gave those distinctive gestures

their meaning. Several works in the show feature

strokes created with the artist’s own fingers (he’s

done this in the past), as if to up the ante on what

counts as painterly authenticity, or perhaps mock

the possibility of authenticity itself.

Allowing the paint more license gives these works an

expansiveness. The areas where he chooses to rub,

scrub, and wipe are not dead spaces. They have an

air to them. The mixing of hues creates an activated

gray, which is different from, say, a deadpan Gerhard

Richter gray.

The artist describes himself as “post-nonfigurative”,

which seems more like art historical posturing

than explanation. There is no empirical evidence,

at least in this show, he is wrestling with pictorial

problems that would be unknown to a de Kooning or

Rauschenberg decades ago. What is to be relished

in is pure sensation.

Taken as pure sensation that hits the nervous

system without passing through the brain (as French

philosopher Gilles Deleuze might have put it),

these paintings are a real pleasure. The theoretical

rhetoric, and even the set of questions mentioned

above, can be set aside as gratuitous or post-hoc.

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

TOM BURR

deep wood drive

March 7 - April 26

Bortolami Gallery

420 W 20th Street

It is unlikely that conceptual artist and sculptor Tom

Burr intends much psychological comfort for the

viewers of his show “deep wood drive” at Bortolami

Gallery. Although the most seductive works in the

show are called “Cloud Paintings”, there is little

airiness in the artist’s mournful, self-interrogating,

minimalist aesthetic to keep one’s spirits light.

Instead, an aching tension fills the exhibition rooms

in a dull but palpable way.

The exhibition’s title refers to a location where the

artist was raised and experienced instances of

“trauma and ecstasy”. These unnamed events are

recalled and symbolically recast into the several

Courtesy of Bortolami Gallery and Tom Burr

large floor and wall pieces, all created this year.

Center stage is Baited Like Beasts (a moon viewing

platform): a steel cage roughly eight feet cubed, with

four window openings and no door, a tipped-over

chair and low-hanging, illuminated spherical lamp.

In the rear room is another free-standing piece also

connoting entrapment. An Orange Echo consists of

two sets of three velvet theater seats facing each

Courtesy of Bortolami Gallery and Tom Burr

other. Each trio of seats is encased in mirrors below,

to both sides, and in the back. By projecting one’s self

into this seating arrangement, a confusion between

subject and viewer is instantly created, or perhaps a

category of the egocentric predicament: no person

can view the world or access reality outside of their

own perceptions or mental representations.

More provocative are the “Cloud Paintings”, which

are not paintings at all, but braced wood panels six

feet square, covered with wool blankets that are

folded, pleated, and thoroughly pinned down with

black upholstery tacks. All but one of the blankets

are dark, either black or blue, with the folds eliciting

a sense of discomfort and sleepless nights as the

meticulous tacking-down induces an unnerving

sense of permanence.

This psychic tension is acute in Untitled Pink

Piece because the wool is not only more soft and

sensuous in hue, but the silk edge (a bed blanket’s

most pacifying feature) is exposed and runs down

the entire left side. The upholstery pins securing the

fabric to the wooden structure allude to the pricking

or piercing of skin and the metal feels violent and

foreign, like steel rivets puncturing through a pillow.

The smallest works in the show—less than two feet

square each—are similar in construction to the

Cloud Paintings, now using t-shirts or sweatshirts in

lieu of bed-size blankets. The compactness of these

works intensify the metaphor of being bound, one

with a sweatshirt folded and stapled upside down,

allowing a sleeve to hang freely as the other is fixed

flatly across the front like a straitjacket.

Burr takes the austerity of Minimalism and gives

it a haunting, personal meaning. He extracts and

projects his own psychological states onto his

materials and challenges viewers to do the same.

Rob Reed is a freelance writer based in

New York City. He may be contacted at

robreed.contact@gmail.com.

8


Gustave Courbet, L'Atelier du Peintre, 1855


Break dancers clad in neon Adidas garb that frequent the city’s subway

stops conjure up imagery from eighties movies and graffiti artists from

NYC’s burgeoning street art scene. Some would see it as cliché; I see

it as quintessentially New York City. Urban Chic is loosely related to

city dwellers who live in urban expanses like New York and within its confines,

create a style that screams urbanity. Screams Soho, or The Village, or Chelsea’s

swellling art scene. This urban chic style can be viewed throughout Manhattan’s

convoluted grid in various forms. The Adidas wearing street-kids are no

exception in hoodies and bold jewelry, break dancing throughout underground

subway platforms. Their style, though sometimes overdone, is urban in its most

original form—created for city dwellers with artists like M.I.A emulating their

street culture style. However, with such an indescript terminology like urban

chic, does it simply create a series of overdone clichés and meaningless hype?

BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK

A walk through West Chelsea and its once barren streets are livened with gallery

openings, art studios and expensive high rises surrounding the High Line,

which intersects the city. With hoards of visitors, it brings a fresh modernity

to an area that was once strictly warehouses, strip and nightclubs. The area

is gentrifying and with it's transformation it has brought a hip, artsy crowd of

urbanites swarming gallery openings donned in black Alexander Wang dresses

and Phillip Lim leather. For this New York crowd, black has remained the tried

and tested formula to style. The look is modern, simple and very New York art

scene. With slim, simple lines, layering, lots of neutral blacks and greys, these

artsy Manhattanites are the epicenter of this iconic New York look. Though

well dressed in its most simple form, there’s something that screams loss of

individuality in this typically chic look and the prototypical neutral toned art goer

becomes just another one of the same. Perhaps the term is just about being

urban and being chic, but falls short on originality. Black on black may not

necessarily scream individuality but it does scream New York. If anything it’s a

genre of style that hasn’t budged.

HIPSTER CITY

A walk through the maze of alleyways that make up the Lower East Side and

colorful hipsters clad in vintage lace-up boots, black jeans, Ray Ban Wayfarers

and the same leather jackets, are another outline of urban chicness. As they

linger on street corners sipping on overpriced lattes, shop the independent

boutiques for one of a kind wares, and brunch on $20 French toast at New

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

URBAN

CHIC

York’s coolest restaurants—the graffiti and dirty streets that were once just

simply that, keep the area in check. It’s not all just dive bars with affected

youth discussing the latest unknown band—the Lower East Side represents a

subsection of Manhattan that amalgamates the individuality of New York City

combined with the grittiness of its graffitied alleys. Yet similar to their all-black

wearing friends, there is a well-known hipster uniform. Ray Bans are necessary,

plaid flannel is still the go-to, skinny jeans are a must. Add a few colorful vintage

dresses, a 6 pack of PBRs and a bad attitude and you're golden. This running

joke is nothing short of old and tired and they catch a lot of slack, from just

about everyone. But there is something to be said about their style. Ultimately,

the hipster syndrome might just be a bunch of ludicrous hype affecting our

nation, but the truth is they actually often, if not begrudgingly so, do look cool

and urban.

NOT JUST NYC

BY LENA VAZIFDAR

New Yorkers portray style that is unparalleled to anywhere I’ve ever lived but

Tokyo’s urban chicness is on par to what New Yorker’s have to offer, in a way

that is quintessentially Japanese. Gorgeous women stroll through Harajuku

with perfectly coifed dos and high-fashion duds. Their men are clad in Commes

des Garcon and Y3 and sometimes represent a genre of asexuality with their

beautiful chiseled faces and long hair. The women are perpetually feminine and

soft. Tokyo, with its Japanese edge—the prints sometimes kimono-esque and

whimsical—has a feel of modernity and urban chicness that in a way sometimes

triumphs over New York. Though many women dress in similar garb and what

is thought to be unique and original is often overplayed, there is no denying

that their style is fashionable and unique in its own representation of Japan.

Though part westernized, there is also a distinctive part of their style that is

so essentially Japanese in dress and culture. It doesn’t seem to matter that

every 20-something girl has the same haircut or the same green army jacket,

the difference is they relish in the trend instead of pushing away from it like

many Westerners do in their quest for originality. Gritty London represents an

urban chic style that is very much it’s own. Quintessentially British, East London

hipsters wear plimsoles and tight jeans layered with Top Shop baggy jean shirts

and smoke hand-rolled cigarettes outside crowded pubs like it’s their job. Their

aesthetic often mirrors style icons, Alexa Chung ‘s classy tomboy looks and Amy

Winehouse’s rocker chic style that is just so … London. Both Tokyo and London

epitomize urban chicness in their own ways. Their style represents their own

cities, in all of its flawed perfection. They embody their own style that is a far cry

from Manhattan’s head to toe black and PBR swigging hipsters.

12


Photo by Elisa Garcia de la Huerta


ARTATTACK!

the occupy: museum movement

Art for the 99 Percent

Occupy demonstration outside the Armory Show, Photos by Scotto Mycklebust

The peaceful, tree lined street that leads up

to New York’s iconic Museum of Modern

Art (MoMA) was sheltered with blooming

cherry blossoms on a warm March evening.

Passersby strolled in to view modern art marvels

from the likes of Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo and

Alexander Calder. One step inside the sweeping

structure and the resonance of protestors droned

the quiet solitude of the museum setting.

Museums are not synonymous with protesting, but

as of late with the ricochet of the Occupy Wall Street

(OWS) movement, well-known New York museums

have seemingly become the hub for protestors who

are trying to create a more accessible art world that

is not controlled by the “1 %.”

OWS has had an intense ripple effect across America.

The leaderless movement without an official set of

demands echoed the enthusiastic days of protests

in the 1960s and 70s that seemed long dissipated

in an era of present day apathy. The OWS movement

has been the catalyst in sparking an overwhelming

passion in this generation, dispelling the ideology

and myth that the youth of America are grounded in

apathy, while connecting a nation together towards

an idealistic goal. Starting in September 2011, Lower

Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park became OWS’s homebase

transforming the area into a tent city. Social

and economic inequality, corruption, the influence

of corporations on the government, greed and

importantly, the overwhelming wealth and income

disparity between America's richest 1% and the rest

of the population were some of the issues at protest.

The Movement’s slogan of “we are the 99 %” is one

that was heard across the American landscape and

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

BY LENA VAZIFDAR

has now become household terminology. Some

individuals, much like myself and my peers, who are

unemployed, underemployed or underpaid despite

massive school loans and graduate degrees,

protested this wealth and income disparity that is

taking over America and its confounded elitism.

The Occupy Museums movement is founded on

many of the same goals as OWS and is a direct

result of it. Unlike OWS, Occupy Museums is mainly

a group of artists and equality believers fighting

for an equal playing field in the art world. Their

main target—museums. On March 30, a number of

groups from various organizations were at MoMA

to protest its affiliation with Sotheby’s. Occupy

Museums was one of the main organizers at the

event and were joined by Sotheby’s art handlers—

who are part of the Union, Teamsters Local 814—to

protest MoMA making millions at Sotheby’s during

the art handler lockout. Since August, stemming

from a disagreement over their union contract, the

high-end auction house has locked out unionized

art handlers from their jobs.

Similarly, Occupy Museums was present at the

Whitney Biennial’s opening reception on February

28 and called on the Whitney Museum of American

Art to also cut ties with Sotheby’s, which is one of

the Biennial’s sponsors.

ART FOR THE 99 PERCENT

The protests at MoMA and the Whitney Biennial

are one of many that Occupy Museums has been

organizing as of late, with their manifesto claiming:

“We occupy museums to reclaim space for

meaningful culture by and for the 99 %. We believe

that art and culture are the soul of the commons.

Art is not a luxury!”

The group’s beliefs are founded on the idea that

art should be accessible to everyone and that

museums are controlled by the 1 %. As artists – that

traditionally belong to the 99 %, they refuse to allow

themselves to be “tricked into accepting a corrupt

hierarchical system based on false scarcity and

propaganda concerning absurd elevation of one

individual genius over another human being for the

monetary gain of the elitist of elite.” The movement

is an ongoing protest that calls out corruption and

injustice in institutions of art and culture, namely

museums.

From the original OWS movement, Occupy Museums

was initiated with the help of artist Noah Fischer

whom the media has seemingly painted as their

unofficial leader. The group now has over a dozen

active members from different walks of the art

world.

Jolanta Gora-Wita, an artist and active member

of the group says, “The main goal is to stand in

solidarity to protest injustice to arts and culture.”

She continued, “We find that by doing those actions

we create a creative space for us and we open

pockets of space up to dialog with the public and

museum directors.”

With these goals in mind, they have protested a

number of large art events in New York, including

The Whitney Biennial and the Armory Show amongst

museums like MoMA and The New Museum.

Upcoming protests include the Frieze Art Fair.

14


Occupy demonstration at MoMA

Though supported by some artists outside the

group, they have, if not equally so, received criticism,

from within their own niche art world. Independent

Toronto-based artist and writer, Lorette C. Luzajic

says, “The Occupy Movement in general is woefully

misled by people who want a better world and

believe that dismantling capitalism or holding the

rich to account will solve the problems we have.”

With a noble outlook on art and what they want

transformed, the group is lacking in solutions to

what they are so passionately fighting for. Rather

than actual concrete resolutions they seem more

founded on ideas and dialogue, with hopes to

propel activism and education to the public. Even

with education and dialogue, the group has a way

to go when it comes to being clear about goals and

solutions. The message is unclear to the museums

they are protesting. At a past protest when MoMA

asked Fischer what his demands were, he didn’t

give an answer.

He says, “At the beginning it seemed like the stroke of

genius not to have demands. A lot of it was because

it was impossible to agree on them because of our

consensus process. Not having demands keeps

the space of the protest open and inclusive, rather

than narrowing it down to a particular struggle or

situation.”

Similar to OWS, the group has been the victim of

criticism because of their disjointed and unclear

position to what their demands are. Though it’s clear

that they are fighting for the 99 %, are museums

really the right target as members of the art world?

As a frequent museumgoer, art history fanatic and

daughter of an artist, museums have always been

an inspiration and escape for me. Though 25 dollars

may seem like a hefty fee to enter and undoubtedly

creates inaccessibility, I’m wholly willing to support

a place such as MoMA. If I can’t afford to go, their

once a week free days are always an option, creating

an accessible space for everyone. A part of me

believes that they are directing their anger towards

the wrong group of people. Wouldn’t focusing on

art galleries that are there for the sole purpose

of selling and purchasing art be a more poignant

statement? Though by protesting museums, the

group does create dialogue, which is fundamentally

important to any movement. The Sotheby’s protest

at MoMA is one that had a concrete goal that can

actually be realized. Their other protests, however,

are somewhat abstract and confusing. How can you

protest something without being able to actually

have concrete solutions to bring to the table?

Fischer notes that the recent MoMA protest with

the Teamsters is certainly an example of an action

where their group has actual demands in place.

He says, “That's a concrete demand that we can

hopefully win and will be the first of many wins.”

Despite criticisms, members passionately believe in

what it is they are protesting and think changes can

be made starting with the wealthy who financially

back these museums. “Big corporations and very

rich people have incredible influence to what’s in

the museum because they can give huge chunks of

money. That needs to be taken out of the equation,”

says Maria Byck, an Occupy Museum’s group

member.

Photo of Jim Costanzo, active member of Occupy Museums

Without these big corporations and rich people

who have influence on these museums, would

they even exist? Could taxpayer’s money really be


enough to support the likes of expansive spaces

like MoMA and The Whitney and if you took that

option away, would it be detrimental to the quality

of these museums? Others in the art world believe

that Occupy Museums is hypocritical and ironic with

some cutting at Fischer himself, in part because of

the expensive art he sells. Karen Archey, a New York

based art critic and curator, said on artinfo.com,

Noah Fischer, why create art that is tailor-made to

exist in a Chelsea gallery and sold to rich people? Is

YOUR art for everyone? I think not.”

Fischer believes however that it was his involvement

in the Chelsea gallery scene that was a catalyst for

his involvement in the movement. “I did my MFA in

Columbia in 2004 and got deeply into debt. The

market was booming so I had the idea to enter into

the public market and sell my work. My experiences

with the private market are not very impressive, but

I do have some experience none the less, and it has

actually informed my angle in the protest. ," he says.

"So through these experiences I’ve learned how

little power artists have in the private market and

how concentrated the economic and social power

is in a few galleries. I see my own experiences as

informative.”

COMMERCIALIZING ART

Though set up as a group, their beliefs are very

much individualistic and exemplify a mixture of

different viewpoints about how art should be looked

at and consumed. Byck has trouble with the idea

of commercializing art. She says, “I actually think

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

it’s problematic for it to be seen as a commercial

product. Art is a part of culture, a part of a history

of our ideas.”

Photo of Occupy Museum group member Jolanta Gora-Wita

Dissimilar to Byck, Gora-Wita stated that she

believes art is a source of income for many artists

and she believes they have the right to sell their

work and does not discredit artists for doing so.

Artists like Luzajic think that commercialization is a

necessary and important part of art and positive for

artists. “How on earth does de-commercialization

and de-individualizing of art help artists? Selling

more helps artists. Like it or not, the more people

buying twenty million dollar Van Goghs, the more

art for more museums, galleries, collectors and

associations,” she says. “Occupy Museums should

reassess their goals completely and come up with

alternative ways of promoting artists, outside of the

museum system, rather than dismantling.”

As a creative individual, the commercialization of

your craft is something that any professional has

to face in order to make a living. As a writer, it’s

something that I deal with all the time if I am writing

for anyone other than myself. My work gets edited

for mass appeal, I write about what people want to

read—there are occasions that I get to write about

what I want, when I want, but it’s not always the

case. I believe, the same goes for artists. Warhol is

a prime example of this commercialization and his

famous quote, “Making money is art and working is

art and good business is the best art,” hits to the

core of art as an income. Perhaps he has a point.

Other artists like Damien Hirst have been notoriously

criticized as being a sell-out and only creating for

mass appeal. Yet the reality is that he is successful.

He has created a business out of what he loves to

do. Isn’t that the ultimate goal for most creatives?

In an ideal world you could create whatever art you

wanted without thinking about the consumer, but

that’s not the reality of any craft. I don’t think it’s

about selling out, I think it’s about truly being able

to support yourself and making a living doing what

you love to do. In a sense the whole idea of buying

and consuming art is a luxury. Occupy Museum

doesn’t believe it should be, but when Noah Fischer,

or any other artist, sells at an expensive Chelsea art

gallery for thousands of dollars, it’s hard to believe

that he or anyone else would dispute that art, at

times, is absolutely a luxury item.

16


Photo, Ebi Kagbala, 2011


REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

occupy

MUSEUM

PHOTOS BY SCOTTO MYCKLEBUST


MUESUM


THE

Hoopty Hoop

Hip Hop Feminism:

MANIFESTA

BY KATIE CERCONE

Lesbian Gangsta Rap Crew "Zebra Baby" Photo by Elisa Garcia de la Huerta

We are Hip Hop Feminists. In line with

the principles of Black Feminism

as defined by the Combahee River

Collective, we recognized that race,

class and sex oppression are intertwined. 1 And we

love Hip Hop.

We are Hip Hop Feminists embracing the vitality of

race, gender, class, urbanism and youth culture as

critical lenses we use to make sense of the world

and change power relations. 2

We speak out against blaxploitation and we still love

Hip Hop. We believe it is the most poignant form of

popular culture the world has ever experienced. 3

We are Black but not all Black. We are women

but not all women. We have butts of all sizes.

We are committed to men and women working

together in partnership but not all straight. We

are Houstatlantavegas. We are the Weezies, the

Drizzies, the Biggies, Eazys, Snoops, 50s, 2Pacs.

We are the Beyonces, the Ivy Blues, the Missys,

the Trinas, the Ciaras, the Lil Kims, the Lauryns,

the Willows, the Narcissisters, the Zebra Babys, the

flygirls, the bgirls, the Homo-Hoppers, the Homo-

Thugs and the Hoez Wid Attitude. The Thuggles.

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

We are mack divas rollin wit posses fifteen bitches

deep. 4 We are the Whitney Houstons and Tina

Turners. We are the Blackanese Barbies. We are

the Sara Baartmans and the Josephine Bakers.

The Contemporary Goddesses and Chickenheads.

We are unsheltered Black girls around the world,

learning to navigate space as sexually and racially

marked subjects.

We are Hip Hop Feminists moving beyond a simple

critique of misogyny in Rap. We believe the misogyny

and homophobia of Hip Hop culture reflects our

collective anxiety about not being able to access the

fantasy of being a ‘real’ man, woman or whatever

else for which we are striving. 5

We connect the objectification and degradation of

Black women’s bodies within Hip Hop Culture to

their historical precedents. We are Sara Baartman,

the Khoisin woman renamed ‘Venus Hottentot’

whose body was exhibited freak-show style around

Britain by scientists interested in her large buttocks

and hypertrophy of the vagina due to tribal practices

of genital mutilation. We are her jarred genitalia,

put on public display at the Musee l’Homme in Paris

after her death and then stored in museum vaults for

twenty years while the French Government refused

to return her remains to Africa for a proper burial. 6

We are Josephine Baker, the African American

woman who joined a traveling circus at the age of

thirteen and became a millionaire shaking her ass

for paying white audiences of the mid twentieth

century. 7

We are Hip Hop Feminists because we believe

the animalistic and hypersexual ‘loose’ image of

the Black woman developed during the past two

centuries still exists as a trope in Hip Hop and is an

image which contributes to the exploitation, abuse,

and objectification of the Black female body. 8 We are

Hip Hop Feminists and we are more than groupies,

video-hoes or vixens, eye candy, chickenheads,

hood rats, apple bottoms, baby’s mamas and ill

nanas with dreams of acquiring money, men and

material objects. 9

We connect the work of Contemporary female

rappers to the women who sang the blues, when

music was central to the meaning of a culture of

resistance during slavery and encouraged forms of

social consciousness. 10 We are Hip Hop Feminists.

We use Hip Hop as bait. We use Hip Hop culture as

20


a teaching tool, one which can help young people

recognize their collective and individual stakes

in civic society as they dissect paradigms of race,

class and gender. 11 We rebuke the pimp-ho dogeat-bitch

game because we have daughters that are

telling us Rap ‘hurts.’ 12

We are Hip Hop Feminist because we too are

seduced by the lyrics, the images, the beat we bow

our heads to affirming its sacredness. Sometimes

we even want what they promise ‘all the keys and

security codes…the cheese.’ Because we were born

knowing that successfully negotiating male space

– male space that’s paid – reaps great rewards. 13

We know the real roots of Hip Hop and we are proud

of them. We know that Hip Hop was born in the Bronx

following New York City’s structural redevelopment

that literally bulldozed through vibrant ethnic

communities. Hip Hop is the response of a young,

creative, piss poor Black ‘underclass’ faced with

jobless fathers, skyrocketing imprisonment rates

for non-violent drug-related crimes, dwindling

educational options, no affordable housing or

healthcare.

We are the African Roots of Hip Hop. We celebrate

the utilitarian nature of African Art: of dance that

initiates adulthood, of a mask that channels spirit,

of a cloth pattern that conveys status, of a drum that

talks. 14 A drum signifying territory, and belonging;

a drum that calls the community to battle. We are

Call and Response. We are boasting, toasting,

and bragging. We are rappin’, rhymin’, beat boxin’,

battlin’, breakin’ and drawin’. We are 18th Century

slaves emerging from our ships with half-moons

and stars we carved into our scalp by broken soap

bottle. 15 The tom-tom laughs, the tom-tom cries. 16t

We are the undeniable appeal of the communicability

of Transatlantic cultural memory. We are the visual

production of Black bodies as shiny commodities at

once hypervisible and disappeared, the meaning of

America as a global brand, which shines bright but

remains shadowed by its history of race relations at

home and abroad. 17

We are Hip Hop Feminists and we believe Black

female roles in Hip Hop must be understood in light

of the political economies that inform their cultural

practices. 18 We believe that ‘bitches do[ing] what

they have to do to get paid’ may be its own form of

Feminism, although we recognize that these Pussy

Power platforms glamorize and glorify the hard

core sex, drugs and rough street life that, in reality,

accounts for black women’s comparatively higher

rate of AIDS-related deaths, imprisonment, ‘forced’

single parenthood and domestic violence. 19 We

connect the sexual objectification of Black female

bodies to the fact that in 2001, HIV was the number

one cause of death for African-American women

between the age of 25-34. 20

We are Baby Mamas but not only Baby Mamas. We

are Hip Hop Feminists and we engage in critical

discussion around the effect of public policies

on the lives of young Black women whose bodies

have come to be viewed as active sites for the

reproduction of black poverty and the projection

of national anxieties at the hands of both Black

men and conservative politicians. We are Hip Hop

feminists committed to deconstructing Baby Mama

as a singular trope employed to obscure the role of

the state in the undercutting of love relationships

and removal of Black fathers. 21

We are Hip Hop Feminists and we know that when

Martin Luther King Jr. gave his ‘I Have a Dream’

speech, more than 70% of all Black families were

headed by married couples and that in 2002 that

statistic had dropped to 48 percent. 22

We know our declarations may not always be met

with praise and love. We know that acknowledging

the rampant sexism in our community, for example,

means relinquishing the comforting illusion that

Black men and women are a unified front. 23

We are committed to shedding light on the way

in which Hip Hop influences and informs racial

stereotypes that perpetuate a neo-slave existence.

We are Hip Hop Feminists because we know that

Black music exists in a neo-colonial relationship

with the $12 billion music industry whereby Black

inner cities act as ‘raw cites of cultural production’

where conditions (low per capita income, high birth

rate, economic dependence on external markets,

labor as major export) resemble a third world country

and produce a ‘product’ – Hip Hop – that is sold

back to the ‘motherland’ (in the case of American

suburbs teeming with bored white youth). 24

And we still love Hip Hop, and we can still back

it up and dunk it. We still love Hip Hop because

we are Hip Hop Feminists and we know that no

one can ever ‘own’ Hip Hop. We are Hip Hop Feminists

because those reformed nigga thugs make our

nipples hard. 25 Because Black-on-Black-love is

the backbone of Hip Hop Feminism and just phat

dope mack bitches ridin’ love-on-love-on-love cuz we

got it like dat in generals.

We are Hip Hop Feminists speaking up

about an industry produced image of Black

ghetto life which serves to buttress the Prison

Industrial Complex, a contemporary ‘leviathan’ of

racial inequality maintained through a ferocious

combination of government law, private corporations,

police terrorism and racist cultural attitudes. 26

We are Hip Hop Feminists and we rebuke

the constant turn to ’ghetto blackness’ as a model

of ‘authenticity’ and hipness in rap music 27

limiting ‘blackness’ to ‘a primal connection

to sex and violence, a big penis and

relief from the onus of upward mobility.’ 28

We are Hip Hop Feminists speaking up about

how you’re more likely to die living in the

American ghetto than if you were fighting in Iraq,

the leading cause of death for Black men ages 15-

24 is black on Black homicide, 29 and that for too

many black men there is no trust, no community,

no family. 30

We are Hip Hop Feminists committed to countering

mainstream journalistic discourse that relies on a darky

spectacle hook linking Hip Hop with ‘pathological’ black

behaviors. A hard-core feminist talking with a hardened mack

about the political, spiritual and emotional

self-determination of Black people does not good

copy make. 31 We are Hip Hop Feminists because

communication has to be the ‘dope’ thing in Black

liberation struggle – like you and me talking culture this

way down home and revolutionary-like. 32

We are Hip Hop Feminists because we believe

Hip Hop is healing, and that men and women

have been conditioned to express themselves in

problematic ways. We know that A nigga forgets

feelings, recognizing, instead, that affects are

communicable, particularly the hardcore ones

of anger, rage, intense pleasure. 33 We know that

many – white, queer, Asian, Latino/a, straight,

male, female, you name it – have adopted the nigga

trope in performative, exciting and safe ways.

And yet we also want to raise children, especially

young Black boys, who feel comfortable expressing

feelings and affects, especially love.

We are committed to Hip Hop as an expressive,

holistic, liberatory and extralinguistic mode of

multidirectional communication. We are our

vernacular, A language without a nation… a culture

whose condition is exile, wandering and resistance

to a dominant power. 34 We are Hip Hop Feminists

because Hip Hop satisfies our profound need to

have our territories acknowledged, recognized and

celebrated. 35

We are Hip Hop Feminists because we love

Hip Hop and we use Hip Hop to fight for social

change. We are Hip Hop Feminists and we

are brave enough to fuck with the grays. 36

*Hoopty Hoop Hip Hop Feminism: The Manifesta was originally

published online on the Native Shout Blog www.nativeshout.com/2012

1Sujatha Fernandes, Proven Presence, Home Girls Make Some Noise:

Hip Hop Feminism Anthology Gwendolyn D. Pough, Elaine Richardson,

Aisha Durham, Rachel Raimist, eds., 2007

2Michael Jeffries, The Name and Game of Hip Hop Feminism,

Home Girls ibid

3Jocelyn A. Wilson: Tip Drills, Strip Clubs and Representation in the

Media, Home Girls ibid

4Joan Morgan, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, 1999

5Paradigm of the queer rap group BQE, Eric Darnell Pritchard & Maria L.

Bibbs, Sista’ Outsider, Home Girls ibid

6Kaila Adia Story, Performing Venus – From Hottentot to Vixen,

Home Girls ibid

7Kaila Adia Story, ibid

8Alesha Dominek Washington, Not the Average Girl from the Videos,

Home Girls ibid

9Chyann L. Oliver, For Sepia “colored girls” who have considered self/

when hip hop is enuf, Home Girls ibid

10Angela Davis quoted in Heather Duerre Humann, Feminist and

Material Concerns, Home Girls ibid

11Michael Jeffries, ibid

12Dream Hampton quoted in Aisha Durham, That’s My World,

Home Girls ibid

13Eisa Nefertari Ulen: They’re Not Talking About Me, Home Girls ibid

14Eisa Nefertari Ulen, ibid

15Krista Thompson, A Sidelong Glance: The Practice of African

Diasporic Art History in the United States, Art Journal, California Art

Association, Fall 2011

16Langston Hughes, The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, 1926

17 Krista Thompson, ibid

18 Fatimah N. Muhammad, How to Not be 21st Century Venus Hottentots,

Home Girls ibid

19Fatimah N. Muhammad, ibid

20Kates and Leggoe (2005) sited in Kimala Price, Hip Hop Feminism at

the Political Crossroads, Home Girls ibid

21Brittney Cooper, The State as Patron of the Baby Mama Drama and

Other Ghetto Hustles, Home Girls ibid

22Joy Bennet Kinnon, The Shocking State of Black Marriages, Ebony,

2003

23Joan Morgan, ibid

24Norman Kelley, The Political Economy of Black Music, 1999

25 Joan Morgan, ibid

26M.K. Asante, Jr. It's Bigger Than Hip Hop: The Rise of the

Post-Hip-Hop Generation, 2008

27Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary

America, 1994

28John Leland Hip: The History, 2004

29Joan Morgan, Real Love, VIBE, 1996

30 Joan Morgan, ibid 4

31bell hooks, Gangsta Culture Sexism and Misogyny, Outlaw Culture,

1994

32bell hooks, bell hooks and Ice Cube in Dialogue, Outlaw Culture, 1994

33R.A.T. Judy, On the Question of Nigga Authenticity in That’s the Joint:

Hip Hop Studies Reader M.Forman and M.A. Neal, eds. 2004

34Russel A. Potter, Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip Hop and the Politics of

Post-Modernism, 1995

35Tricia Rose, ibid

36 Joan Morgan, ibid 4


BIENNIAL

clap back

BY KATIE CERCONE

Nomadic studios, mobile homesteads,

inner-city gentrification, corporate

underbellies, queer fashion abstraction

and Detroit nostalgiai dominated the

Whitney Biennial this year, not that corporate

bohemia is lawfully chic any longer. In fact, nobody

even went this year because they were too busy

standing in line in the rain to see sweaty hipsters aka

“Bruces” chugging PBR and throbbing to Tina Turner

en masse beside an Art-Star bedazzled mosaic of

floor to ceiling artworks. Jerry Saltz was spotted

at the door of 159 Bleeker during the Brucennial

opening begging a lowly blogger to help him get

in. It’s “The single most important art exhibition in

the history of the world. Ever,” says the anonymous

troop of MFA-clad free-schoolers comprising the

Bruce High Quality Foundation.

Meanwhile, a sly hacker faction of Arts & Labor,

a “working group” of Occupy Wall Street, is

helping the Whitney get its act together. Through

their construction of a fake webpage, the group

announced to the art world that the recent actions

of the seventy-sixth Biennial’s corporate sponsors

Sotheby’s and Deutsche Bank had led the museum

to give back the donated funds and revoke their

fiscal partnership: “Regretfully, the Whitney entered

into a sponsor agreement with Sotheby’s before the

auction house locked out forty-three of its unionized

art handlers once their contract expired in July

2011. Last year saw record-breaking sales with

profits over $100 million for Sotheby’s; the pay of

the CEO alone doubled to $6 million. Yet Sotheby’s

has sought to break organized labor by starving

their workers into submission—locked out of their

jobs and without wages since August, these workers

and their families lost their health care benefits at

the end of 2011.”

The page goes on to say that “The Museum

understands the importance of providing working

people—including artists who must work second

jobs to support their careers—with the livable wages

and healthcare for which the Sotheby’s art handlers

are fighting. Sotheby’s actions are a direct attack on

the Museum’s mission to support and collect the

work of living artists.”

Coinciding with the prank Arts & Labor published

a letter demanding the end of the biennial show

altogether. Amongst a general call for the leveling of

the playing field and the tearing down of institutions

built to maintain the wealth of the 1%, the letter

states:

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

The biennial perpetuates the myth that art functions

like other professional careers and that selection

and participation in the exhibition, for which artists

themselves are not compensated, will secure a

sustainable vocation. This fallacy encourages many

young artists to incur debt from which they will

never be free and supports a culture industry and

financial and cultural institutions that profit from

their labors and financial servitude.

Allan Kaprow once said, “The Hope is that Modern

museums will be converted into swimming pools

or night clubs” and yet, today it’s his work we see

monumentalized within their static space. It goes

without saying that none of the Arts & Labor group

artists were selected to be in the Biennial this year,

nor did any of the selected artists deny participation

due to political reasons. K8 Hardy, known for her

work with W.A.G.E. (Working Artists for a Greater

Economy) staged a queer fashion show and, well,

Mike Kelley committed suicide. Said the late artist

in 2009, who the curators have since dedicated the

Biennial to, “I chose to become an artist because

I wanted to be a failure. When I was young, if you

wanted to really ostracize yourself from society, you

became an artist.” ii Is suicide the ultimate failure? Is

failure the ultimate success?

It’s a confusing

time to have

so much raw

passion and

so much debt.

It’s a confusing time to have so much raw passion

and so much debt, when it seems like your options

are selling out or blacking out. If you can do both

before 27 you’re like the wet dream of the governing

elite. Rest assured, contradiction and hypocrisy

have always been the pump and flow of the avantgarde.

That said, the Brucennial opening seemed

like a better place for dranking and getting it in than

looking at art (I happened to miss it because I was

busy attempting to persuade another neo-Basquiat

to move to the ocean and put a baby in me, having

recently watched the late 90’s film Basquiat both

events appear to be supported more or less directly

by Schnabel money). SAME OLD SHIT.

The following night at the Whitney, looking at Latoya

Ruby Frasier’s photos of Braddock, Pennsylvania’s

emergency and health care free slums made me

feel guilty for even stepping foot in the Whitney, not

that I paid admission. It was enough to make me

want to scrub off my MFA and stop slumming for

laundered blue blood scrill. But let’s face it: no artist

in their right mind would reject a Biennial invitation

and no artist can survive in New York without a

healthy dose of megalomania and a warped overappreciation

of sex, money and power.

There must be other options – like that Lisa

Frankesque Pony Painting hung in the corner. Or

just moving to Detroit where it all goes down. Says

Leslie Thomas, former New Yorker and Detroit

native, “We had metal detectors in high school long

before they had them in Brooklyn. That’s why we’re

not impressed by this whole gangsta rap bullshit.

When Eazy E got on stage they shot at him. Niggas

was like wait wait wait. That’s why we’d rather hear

about titties and ass than guns.” iii Lucky for Biennial

curators and the rest of us, sex and death are

classic old wave arsenal. In times past, they have

even served as anti-institutional Bertolt Brechtianstyle

strategy.

Enter blood, chickens, and slaughtered babies.

Because we’re not the first or the last generation

of artists to give a hoot about our slavish position

amongst the 99%, we’re just one of the first with

unfettered high-speed Internet access.

Back in the sixties, on the tail winds of the Civil

Rights movement emerged the Art Workers Coalition

(A.W.C.) and several off-shoot organizations. A.W.C.

used sixties’ era tactics like the picket, protest,

petition, march and sit-in to pressure the city’s

museums – especially MOMA – into implementing

various reforms. They also advocated for women’s

and civil rights and the end of the Vietnam War. Out

of A.W.C. came a subgroup called Women Artists

and Revolution and the Guerilla Art Action Group

(G.A.A.G.). A small group of non-fixed members,

G.A.A.G. was a reaction to the A.W.C. and the

perceived ineffectiveness of its tactics. G.A.A.G.

offered their structure as a model anyone could

use. Adopting the Happening as a form of ritualistic

destruction devoid of the illusionism of theater,

G.A.A.G.’s main aim was to solicit a response, of any

kind, from the museums.

22


G.A.A.G.’s ‘Bloodbath’ staged at MOMA Nov 18,

1969 was their most iconic work. The group tore

each other’s clothes and squirted tubes of concealed

fake blood as they deposited pamphlets calling for

the immediate resignation of the Rockefellers from

the MOMA board due to their corporate interest in

the mass manufacturing of weapons for Vietnam.

In a parodic statement about the elevation of

Dada into the museums, two members of G.A.A.G.

snuck chickens into the grand opening of the Dada

exhibition at Moma and made a quick exit after

the animals pooped in the center of the show.

Explains art historian Caroline Wallace, G.A.A.G.’s

work highlighted the museum as a classic form

of oppression; not an enlightening or educating

experience but merely a diversion from the realities

of war and social crisis. iv

In some instances G.A.A.G. and A.W.C. joined

forces, one instance being a memorial held in front

of Picasso’s Guernica at the Met satirizing museum

curator’s treatment of artists. Eventually, in the

wake of Bloodbath, a meeting was called between

the museum trustees, curators and various artists

of both groups. Recalls G.A.A.G.’s cofounder Jon

Hendricks, the meeting resulted in the Artists’ Poster

Committee action, a joint project of the Art Workers

Coalition and the Museum of Modern Art to create

awareness around the My Lei massacre in Vietnam.

The poster content was inspired by a television

interview in which Mike Wallace questions soldiers

that had taken part in the massacre. Hendricks

recalls the televised dialogue:

“And you killed men?”

“Yes.”

“And women?”

“And women.”

“And babies?”

“And babies.”

“And babies” in Times font with a massacre image

from Life Magazine was the resulting poster, which

subsequently caused the MOMA board to renege

on the deal altogether, refusing to let the MOMA

name be included on it. Because the committee

had already found means to print 50,000 copies

of the poster for free and no one was getting paid

anyway, the Artists’ Poster Committee went ahead

and produced the print sans Moma with a new

stamp giving the history of the museum’s broken

agreement. v

Over forty years later, big players like the Whitney

and MOMA are still getting punk’d, but to what

effect? Where’s the beef? What are we willing to do

as artists and how much are we willing to sacrifice to

get there? Or have we already sacrificed too much?

The New York art world is the kind of joint that will

turn your poop to ribbons.

Don’t be the butt of the rich man’s riddle. The Whitney

will always be part of the corporate underbelly to

which artists turn to both scorn and beg. In fact, the

bloated waistline of the commercial black market

is protruding far out into the urban frontier causing

Marina Abramovic sightings in Bushwick as of late.

Are you content to let the rain tidy her celebrity heel

dust because the street sweepers rarely make it out

this far? What’s my advice as someone that’s never

participated in a Biennial of any stripe? Ground

yourself in the earth and worship the sky. Forgive

yourself and everyone else. Push the libido up into

the heart. Work for the greater good. Start small so

you can go hard when it counts. Give more than you

think you have to give.

This article was originally published online on the

Native Shout Blog www.nativeshout.com/ March

2012

i. Kate Levant’s installation was built of scavenged

materials from a burned down inner city Detroit

home and Mike Kelley’s “Mobile Homestead” is a

replica of his childhood home located in the Detroit

suburb of Westland.

ii. Mike Kelley, Interview Magazine, Glenn O’Brien,

2009

iii. Lesley Thomas, Confessions of a Super Groupie:

An Interview with Leslie Thomas in Bomb the

Suburbs, William Upski Wimsatt, 1994

iv. Caroline Wallace “Happenings As Institutional

Strategy” in Happenings: Transnation,

Transdisciplinary, panel at the CAA Conference

2012, Los Angeles

v. Jon Hendricks interviewed by Christina Linden,

Curatorial Fellow at the Center for Curatorial Studies,

Bard College March 24, 2010


Allegory With Cupid, Elisa Garcia de la Huerta, 2012


THE

LITERARY

VIEW

Consciousness Reborn as Book:

Susan Sontag's Second Journal, 1964-1980

BY DAN CALLAHAN

Reborn, the first volume of Susan Sontag’s

posthumously published journals, offered

new, albeit cryptic insights into the genesis

of her heavy-going artistic personality. That

first journal included fascinating scenes of Sontag’s

early immersion in 1940s lesbian bars, but when

she marries scholar Philip Rieff, the text of Reborn

abruptly cuts off personal reflection and buries itself

in lists and tormented justifications. This second

volume, with the awkward but appropriate title As

Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh, is much more

direct in its treatment of her life. These are her

heady years, the years when she became a famous

intellectual of the 1960s, the writer of “Notes on

Camp” and a dozen other influential essays.

The book begins provocatively: “The right hand=the

hand that is aggressive, the hand that masturbates.

Therefore, to prefer the left hand!...To romanticize

it, to sentimentalize it!” Throughout most of this

journal, Sontag bemoans her own neediness as a

lover: “Self respect. It would make me lovable. And

it’s the secret of good sex,” she writes. Her failed love

affair with playwright María Irene Fornés and a later

lover called Carlotta, a duchess and former heroin

addict, take up a good deal of space here, and they

are not so much Proustian as they are the expectedly

tortured musings of a closeted lesbian of the 1960s

who is in psychoanalysis. The surprise in this second

journal is how much Sontag’s mother meant to her,

and how she agonized over this relationship. In all

other books and articles on Sontag up to this point,

Sontag’s mother has always been minimized as

unimportant, a trite woman whom Sontag sought to

distance herself from, but this journal describes her

as a deeply negative force who determined much of

her daughter’s later behavior.

Since Sontag’s death in 2004, there has been a

flurry of small books and articles about her, everyone

weighing in and, in most cases, taking some kind

of revenge on her. Many of the male writers of her

time have written rather blunt catalogues of her

utterances at various parties through the years,

as if each glimpse of her was both a terror and a

(grudging) privilege. But the most interesting postmortem

by far, and the most deadly, has been Sigrid

Nunez’s slender 2011 memoir, Sempre Susan,

where she describes living with Sontag’s son David

Rieff and Sontag herself in the late seventies.

Nunez’s book strives to be fair, up to a point, but

she layers her narrative with cumulative insults and

insensitivities from Sontag and then lets loose on

her by the end with a mini-avalanche of described

bad behavior. Sempre Susan leaves you with the

residue of Nunez’s quiet anger and disappointment.

Thankfully, these two Sontag journals (with a third

on the way) bring us inside her head and provide

some context for the arrogant way she sometimes

acted in public. Underneath her gruffness, she

was often scared and self-loathing, but she worked

through these issues for her magisterial writing, and

even resorted to a reliable amphetamine, Dexamyl,

while working on her best essays of the ‘60s and

‘70s.

Only really dedicated Sontag-philes will be interested

in the pages on her lovers and her mother, but there

is much else of interest here, especially a dismaying

little snatch of dialogue between symbiotic writers

Paul and Jane Bowles where they discuss their

respective lovers in the most insulting of terms.

Throughout the journal, Sontag is attracted and

repelled by homosexuality, in herself and in her

friends. Writing about Greta Garbo, she says that as

a girl she wanted to be her, and then she wanted to

bed her: “The sequence of my homosexuality?” she

wonders. She also wonders if only W. H. Auden was

able to “transcend” his homosexuality through his

“spirituality.” She seems tickled but slightly horrified

when her film critic friend Elliott Stein, in the mid-

1960s, explains that a beautiful naked boy is more

beautiful when plastic clips are attached to his skin.

And by the time she gets to the late seventies, she’s

repulsed by the newly hyper-masculine gay male

culture and its ties to S/M, even though her own

lesbian love crises seem forever tied to emotional

masochism. But as with so many subjects, she

circles homosexuality until she hits it directly on the

head as “a kind of maximalism.”

Sontag’s supposed lack of humor, in life and in her

work, became legendary, but there’s a surprising

amount of dark humor in this second journal; she’s

able to refer to her speaking engagements for her

book Illness as Metaphor as “my cancer minstrel

show,” and she’s amusingly bewildered by the

prolific Joyce Carol Oates. She knew exactly what

her problems were as a writer; there is no criticism

you can make of Sontag that she doesn’t make

herself. She calls her writing “too architectural, too

discursive,” and calls out her 1960s trip to Hanoi as

“a piece of political theatre.”

Sontag was so deeply involved in and responsive

to Samuel Beckett and other literary modernists

that she internalized their last-stop-on-this-train

despair until she could not write fiction with any

ease or fluency, and in this journal, she knows it. As

Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh exposes her

vulnerabilities, but it also shows the liveliness of her

critical mind at work. She demolishes the bourgeois

concept of “common sense,” and she is capable,

sometimes, of a first-class aphorism like “A miracle

is just an accident, with fancy trappings.” Sontag

wonders, at one point, if she is keeping this journal

so that someone who loves her can read it later

and understand her better. She was thinking of one

person, a lover, but she also shyly had her eye on us,

her posthumous lovers, her readers, and for us this

book is a feast, a confession, a pledge, a scourge,

and, at its best, an example.


THE

CINEMA

VIEW

CASTA DIVA:

Werner Schroeter at The Museum of Modern Art

BY DAN CALLAHAN

═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═

During May and June, The Museum of Modern Art

is presenting a near-complete retrospective of the

films of Werner Schroeter, the most underground

and perhaps the most influential of all the German

New Wave directors of the 1970s. Though he is still

largely unknown to film audiences in America, he

had a profound effect on certain artists in Europe,

especially his German compatriots Wim Wenders,

Hans-Jürgen Syberberg and Werner Herzog

(Schroeter staged the opera sequences in Herzog’s

Fitzcarraldo {1982}).

In 1977, fellow German New Waver Rainer Werner

Fassbinder wrote about Schroeter’s status as “constrained,

repressed, and at the same time ruthlessly

exploited. His films received the quite useful ‘underground’

pedigree, which rendered them in a flash

as beautiful, but nonetheless exotic plants, ones

so far away which blossom in such a strange manner

that one in the end could not really deal with

them.” Fassbinder posited that Syberberg’s career,

in particular, was essentially a rip-off of Schroeter’s

work, but then he himself grabbed a project away

from Schroeter, a film version of Jean Genet’s Querelle

(1982), and he used many of the tropes of

Schroeter’s style in that movie, which turned out to

be his last.

At the age of five, Schroeter declared that he wanted

to be a film director, and when he was 13, he heard

Maria Callas sing on the radio, which engendered

a lifelong obsession with that diva and other operatic

examples. At 19, he worked as a male prostitute

and went to film school for only a few weeks

before starting to make his own highly idiosyncratic

movies. He died in 2010, and he has held his posi-

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

tion as a film director whose work has been little

seen and little discussed even though it radically

influenced many of the better-known artists working

around him. That may begin to change with this

MoMa retrospective, but surely his lush visuals and

his sometimes-obscure concerns are too defiantly

marginal, too rich, too unsettlingly eclectic to ever

admit him into any respectable pantheon. I’ve seen

some of his many shorts, most of them on YouTube,

including his poetically edited 8mm 1968 portrait

collage of his idol Callas, plus snippets of many of

his other films, and one whole feature, The Death

of Maria Malibran (1971), which stars Andy Warhol

superstar Candy Darling.

The Death of Maria Malibran is based loosely (very

loosely!) on the life and early death of the great

nineteenth century opera star Malibran, who is said

to have essentially sung herself to death by the age

of 28. Schroeter sets up profoundly luscious juxtapositions

of faces, usually two women side by side,

as opera and sometimes pop music plays on the

soundtrack. Some of the compositions suggest Renaissance

paintings, while others uncannily recreate

the look of films from the 1920s and 30s; we

see 1920s “vamps” in heavy make-up and then Darling,

with her flawlessly ‘30s look of platinum hair

and penciled eyebrows, posing in 1930s-like drawing

rooms shot in grey, pearly light. In the film’s most

startling sequence, Darling is done up in cocoa-light

blackface and sings “St. Louis Woman” in the exact,

slightly whining tones of Billie Holiday, and she gets

away with it due to her sheer intensity and her status

as another beautiful outcast, paying tribute to a

legend.

In Maria Malibran, Schroeter mixes tones and styles

wildly, and there’s a disconnect between his overwhelmingly

sophisticated and learned compositional

sense and the (deliberate?) amateurishness of

his jerky camera movements, yet the images themselves

exert such a hypnotic quality that it’s easy to

get lost in them without thoughts of what they might

mean. Maria Malibran also features Schroeter’s favorite

filmic muse, a staring lady named Magdalena

Montezuma, who would go on to star in most of his

movies, notably as the mother in his homoerotic

The Rose King (1986). After Montezuma’s death,

Schroeter found another muse in the adventurous

Isabelle Huppert, who starred in three of Schroeter’s

films, including Two (2002), where she played twin

sisters. Schroeter also worked extensively in the theater

and in opera, and in 2008, when he was honored

by the Venice Film Festival, he called his own

The Death of Maria Malibran “a work of genius.”

Perhaps he’s right, though it might be a genius that

only speaks to a select few, like French philosopher

Michel Foucault, who wrote that, “what Schroeter

does with a face, a cheekbone, the lips, the expression

of the eyes...is a multiplying and burgeoning of

the body, an exultation.”

26


WAITING FOR WHIT:

damsels in distress

BY DAN CALLAHAN

═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═

Whit Stillman made three very unusual films in

the 1990s: Metropolitan (1990), an insider’s stylized

look at upper crust young people, Barcelona

(1994), a deceptively small, rigorously worked-out

rumination on love and friendship, and The Last

Days of Disco (1998), an analysis of early 1980s

club mores which cost a fair amount and wasn’t a financial

success. Stillman was inactive in movies for

fourteen years until Tiny Furniture (2010) wunderkind

Lena Dunham provided some crucial contacts

and encouragement so that he could make a new

film, Damsels in Distress, which stars the erstwhile

queen of the mid-aughts micro-budget mumblecore

movement, Greta Gerwig. After years of watching

Gerwig mutter the most brain-deadening chatter in

Joe Swanberg joints, it’s a truly restorative tonic to

see her wrap both her charm and her wits around

Stillman’s delightfully articulate verbal propriety.

Looking again at Metropolitan and Barcelona, it

seems a real shame to me that Stillman was unable

to make a steady stream of small moral comedies

in the manner of French auteur Eric Rohmer (Stillman

spent a good part of those lost fourteen years

in France), for his is a sensibility unlike any other

in American or world cinema. He is conservative, to

a degree, and his characters often espouse ideas

that seem to come from the 1950s, when being “ordinary”

was thought of as a natural inclination and

goal, yet in many ways there’s something wild about

Stillman, something almost freakish in the intellectual

dexterity of his characters. Metropolitan is very

much a freak film, unlike any other, and in the first

ten or so minutes, it takes a radical adjustment to

get used to the way his people talk in cool, precise,

yet often digressive full sentences. This dialogue

demands a specific kind of playing, and an actor

can solve the Stillman dialogue puzzle by hitting all

of the ideas with great urgency, which is what Stillman

muse Chris Eigeman did in the director’s first

three movies. Eigeman had a way of getting overly

wrought up over the pettiest points of etiquette, and

the effect was often ticklishly unpredictable. Gerwig

in Damsels takes the opposite approach, playing

her quietly domineering, often misguided but

good-hearted college girl Violet on a dreamy, almost

deadpan note of semi-demented serenity.

In a crucial piece of information that has not been

noted much in reviews so far, we learn that Violet as

a small girl had obsessive-compulsive tendencies;

she would set herself tasks to accomplish, and if

she did not accomplish them correctly, she felt that

there would be consequences. Her imperious friend

Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) imparts the fact that

Violet used to run her finger over her forehead a

certain number of times without ever touching her

hairline or eyebrows; she felt that if she touched her

hairline or eyebrows her parents would die. And the

thing is, Rose relates, Violet’s parents did both die,

CINEMA

VIEW

not long after this game Violet used to play. Violet’s

name, we learn from Rose, isn’t even really Violet.

She has invented a persona, and she wants to try to

help people on campus; she has very specific ideas

about the proper ways of doing things, and these

ideas make up both the form and the content of the

film. The Stillman dialogue itself is entirely self-sufficient,

as a group sound, as a series of questionable

ideas, as wings to lift us out of our seats.

This is a very funny movie, and in some ways a dirty

movie, in the old Ernst Lubitsch sense of innuendoes

standing in for outright sex talk. But it is also

a movie about the ways we seek to ameliorate sadness

and aloneness. Violet wants to start an international

dance craze, The Sambola, and Damsels in

Distress ends with instructions on how to perform

this dance, which looks neither complicated nor

easy. Stillman uses dance to end his film because

he is seeking, in this fourth movie, to offer us a kind

of utopia, the utopia of Jacques Demy, of Josef Von

Sternberg, of Astaire and Rogers. It’s a cheering

goal, and Damsels in Distress is a cheering movie,

as off-kilter as a girl wearing a large and unexpected

hat, as ironic and winningly dry as Irene Dunne

touching the tip of her tongue to her palette.


HANDFEEDS

THE

THAT

YOU

As part of a series of public forums taking

place January-September at Artists Space

in Soho, on Monday January 9th I attended

W.A.G.E.: Feeling the Shape of the Arts

Economy. Billed as a “Think Tank Coalition/Agenda

Formation/Alliance Building Marathon” the event

was organized by W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the

Greater Economy) and included a presentation by

artist economist Hans Abbing, audience Q&A, soup

social and open forum for alliance formation.

Hans Abbing (born Utrecht, 1946) is a visual artist,

economist, and Professor Emeritus in Art Sociology.

Much of his presentation came out of his book Why

Are Artists Poor (University of Amsterdam Press,

2002). At the outset, Abbing’s presentation seemed

to be a series of outdated statistics we all want to

disbelieve – a sort of hodgepodge of collective

thoughts about the art world that reinforce

problematic stereotypes and conditioned ways of

thinking. Bullet points like: Artist Parents are higher

educated. Artists are usually single and evade taxes.

40-60% of artists’ incomes are below the poverty

line. Artists come from wealth and privilege. Artists

prefer working in the studio to consumption. When

artists with second jobs begin to earn more income

than they need to live on they cut down on hours

worked. For artists the economic goal is to maximize

autonomy. Artists are reckless with money. Artists

deny the economy. Galleries go out of their way to

deny and/or evade the appearance of commerce.

Artists are individuals on a path of existential

self-actualization. Unionizing is associated with

mediocre skill.

At surface level, Hans Abbing’s ethos seemed to

be in direct opposition to the mission of W.A.G.E.

He seemed too white, too male and too prone to

generalization to appeal to what I understand as a

radical collective founded by prominent figures of

the LGBT community. Formed in 2008 by artists

K8 Hardy, A.L. Steiner, and A.K. Burns, W.A.G.E

advocates for a working wage for artists and curators

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

Images courtesy W.A.G.E. www.wageforwork.com

Artists Working

for a Greater Arts

Economy BY KATIE CERCONE

working within the art market in the aftermath of

the post-culture wars turn to allocating government

arts grants to institutions rather than individuals.

W.A.G.E. is a collective for the mandating that

artists be compensated for their work as ‘cultural

producers’ within arts institutions.

The catalyst for the evening was W.A.G.E.’s newly

formed partnership with Artists Space, expressed

as a cooperative series of public symposia about

payment practices in the arts open to artists,

activists, curators, grant makers, administrators,

economists, sociologists and the general public. Over

the course of nine months symposia, the criterion for

W.A.G.E. Certification will be collectively developed.

W.A.G.E. Certification, the collective’s latest

initiative recognizes and ‘certifies’ organizations

that voluntarily adhere to a best practices model

and pay artist fees in relation to the conditions

under which artists are involved in their programs.

Artists Space will become the first organization to

receive Institutional W.A.G.E. Certification at the

conclusion of the partnership in September 2012

if found compliant. W.A.G.E. will provide printed

and downloadable resources for artists including a

fee schedule template, best practices model, and

sample contracts once W.A.G.E. Certification has

gone into effect.

When grappling with the economic framework

proposed by Hans Abbing, the premier guest

speaker of W.A.G.E./Artists Space joint symposia,

it’s important to recognize how Abbing’s having

hailed from a small European country in which

artists receive government subsidies similar to what

we call welfare in the United States informs his work.

In fact, he’s against the subsidies and sees them

as a barrier for the collectivizing of artists around

demanding a living wage for their work. This is

where Abbing’s insight throws a fork in the utopian,

radically theoretical and unwieldy philosophies of

the quotidian arts event – the interjection of cold

hard economic facts. Yes, these ‘facts’ are based

on statistics that generalize and draw over arching

28


Images courtesy W.A.G.E. www.wageforwork.com

conclusions, some of which may be shaped by

cultural views and biases.

That said, what I ultimately gleaned from Abbing’s

analyses was that it’s not just the art institutions

that are our enemies (in fact, as W.A.G.E. will tell you,

they’re not). Artists are their own enemies because

we still somewhat or wholeheartedly subscribe

to the Modernist notion of singular genius. We

continuously reinvent a grammar that enforces our

peerlessness, meanwhile maintaining the abject

poverty of our peer group. It’s no surprise W.A.G.E.,

which began as a consciousness raising group, has

nearly four years after its inception only begun to

develop a working language to describe an economy

in which artists get paper.

Here I am a young, motivated, smart, talented free

spirit prone to magical thinking and risk taking,

over $100,000 in educational debt plus my credit

cards, sailing away on some dystopian dream of

my exponential feminist post-capitalist fame and

fortune. At W.A.G.E.’s prompt, I recalled my first

exhibition at a non-profit gallery for which I received

an artist fee. At the time, I was shocked and honored

to receive over a thousand dollars, what I basically

misconstrued as ‘passive income,’ for work I would

have done for free!! Needless to say, I had to take

off time at my day job, hire help, transport my art,

curate the show, write the press release as well as

organize and lead an educational workshop. Years

later, having received my MFA, my lingo suggests I

am large and in charge while my behavior indicates

that I’d still jump off a cliff, poison my hamster

and choke my best friend to show my work for no

payment. Especially, when I’m asked to increasingly

prestigious venues. I don’t have health insurance,

and although I’ll spare you the precancerous details,

when you start nearing thirty it actually matters. As

W.A.G.E. founding member K8 Hardy expressed in

her 2008 consecutive speech at Creative Time’s

Democracy Now:

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE GLAMOR OF

BEING AN ARTIST IN THIS CITY. The glamour of

not being able to eat well. The glamour of not

being able to go to the museums. The glamour

of not even being able to make the work you

want to make because you can’t afford it. The

glamour of not being able to go to the doctor.

The glamour of not being able to get your teeth

cleaned. The glamour of moving every year

or two further and further away from the city.

The glamour of not having a home. The glamour

of being made to feel idiotic when you ask to

be paid. The glamour of not being able to get a

well paid part time job. The glamour of needing

surgery you can’t afford. The glamour of having

a landlord who won’t turn on the heat in the

winter. The glamour of sleeping in your coat

and hat. The glamour of spending your last

dollar every month. I FEEL LIKE A PROSTITUTE

WORKING IN THIS CITY, I REALLY DO.

And a clown.

My landlord doesn’t turn on the heater until Christmas

rolls around, over 2 months after the legal date.

I have a terminal degree in my field which makes

me a professional. With the professionalization of

the artist must come a living wage for all artists,

period. And yet not only do institution’s not account

for the labor of artists in their budget structure, as

expressed in a recent issue of The Guardian by Art

Group’s Kit Friend, “Right now the first criterion for

participation in the arts is an ability to work for free.”

Headed “The creative industries need to focus on

talent rather than free labor”, the article discusses

the extended period of unpaid work up ahead for

graduates of the arts working in any career related

capacity.

And yet as Abbing’s presentation emphasized,

artists have a historically self-sabotaging, fickle

relationship to money hinging on the appeal of the

artist identity as anti-capitalist and bohemian. In

Abbing’s terms, some degree of commerce is good

and necessary (Wild West behavior, ala “Fuck y’all

I’m the next Julian Schnabel!!” or, perhaps, “Fuck

y’all I’ll live in a basement and eat lentils all year

long…and then make everyone in my life miserable

because of it!!”) behavior is bad. Refusal to work for

ridiculously low incomes is a less egocentric model

in which as individuals we serve the whole; we serve

the future well being of artists. What’s the downside?

Less money for the Schnabels. Less money for me,

the next Schnabel. As Abbing reminds us: If artists

successfully earn higher wages, the value of art

decreases. That’s economics.

After Abbing’s lecture and a break for soup, the group

reconvened for a roundtable discussion with prominent

professionals working on both sides of the fence.


23rd Street Subway - 3/18/12 3:06 pm, Scotto Mycklebust, 2012


Photo courtesy of Katerina Llanes

Over the courses of several hours, we drudged

through the art economy’s proverbial sewage. Is

the W.A.G.E. Certification a form of contemporary

unionizing? How can we change the fact that 1% of

Arts Institutions control 80% of the resources? Can

we use Canada as a model, a country in which artist

fees are mandated? Can we look to musicians,

who have historically been ahead of visual artists

in terms of demanding payment via royalties? How

can W.A.G.E. enter institutions to provide sensitivity

trainings for board members? How do we ensure

that ‘exposure’ no longer be the common currency

by which artists are compensated? How do we

reach young artists and raise consciousness so

there won’t always be an excess of privileged-poor

creatives whose freedom and naivete causes them

to beg to work for free?

Artists aren’t the only folks playing hardball with

their liver. W.A.G.E.’s website, the backdrop of which

is splattered with metallic tins of metaphorical pie

empty but for one seductive slice, suggests that

artists are just another weary faction of the 99%

of Americans suffering from overwork, compulsory

consumption, major debt and no access to

healthcare. So why limit the work of W.A.G.E. to

leveraging a piddly symbolic sum? In an interview

in ARTFORUM conducted by Creative Time’s chief

curator Nato Thompson, W.A.G.E. maintains that

though they applaud the broader agendas of some

of their predecessors like the Art Workers Coalition,

whose radical 1970’s agenda included pressuring

the city’s museums into more inclusive practices as

well as labor issues, protesting Vietnam and racial

inequality – W.A.G.E. is leveraging a battle with one

focused goal.

And although it may be slow, the group is making

progress. Leading up to their recent partnership

with Artists Space, W.A.G.E. was successfully able to

obtain artists' fees for the Free exhibition at the New

Museum curated by Lauren Cornell in late 2010.

States the group in ARTFORUM, “The commercial

art market operates through speculation, and

nonprofits should exist as a parallel system that can

provide income that’s not afforded by speculation,

but in general they don’t.” Although the New

Museum did not submit to W.A.G.E.’s demand that

the exhibition budget be made public, after the

group obtained their artists' fees there was a notice

posted at the entrance of the show stating that the

exhibition was ‘W.A.G.E. Certified,’ a precursor of

their current initiative.

We’ve always known as artists that there is a lot in

this world that needs fixing, and that art may not

be the remedy. It may be even the case that we

thrive on the cycle of guilt we perpetuate against

ourselves for choosing to engage in work that has

largely ‘symbolic’ rather than real time political,

social and economic consequences. But why on top

of that should we undervalue our contributions so

much we’re shooting ourselves and all of our artist

peers in the foot?

Through September 2012, the forums at Artists

Space will continue to look at a range of approaches

to organizing art workers around alternate economic

models. To a large degree W.A.G.E.’s success thus

far is based on the successful collection of data

through the W.A.G.E. survey they conducted asking

artists to report details of the payment practices

of non-profit art institutions they have worked with.

Now at the next level of negotiations, W.A.G.E.

needs you and I in their coalition building. Check out

the W.A.G.E. and Artists Space websites for a list of

upcoming meetings.

http://www.wageforwork.com/index.html

http://artistsspace.org/aspace/programs/w-a-g-e-workingartists-and-the-greater-economy/

This article was originally published online on the Native Shout

Blog www.nativeshout.com/ 2012


Zebra Bag , 2012


Photo by Elisa Garcia de la Huerta, Jenn Dierdorf of SOHO20 Gallery

INTERVIEW WITH JENN DIERDORF of SOHO20 GALLERY

This Spring REVOLT editor Katie Cercone

interviewed Jenn Dierdorf, the 34-year-old

Director of Soho20, a Chelsea-based artist-run

gallery that supports women in the arts.

KC: Jenn, can you talk a bit about the History

of Soho20 and the general state of the gallery

before you became director in 2008?

JD: Soho20 was founded in 1973 by twenty

women in the Soho arts district. There was

a big d.i.y. scene during that time, artists -

especially women artists - wanting to take

things into their own hands in terms of

exhibiting and setting up parameters for their

work. The neighborhood of Soho was perfect

because it was a focal point in the art world,

essentially the gallery has always been where

PINK

GHETTO

the action is, where the art community is

thriving. SOHO20 moved to Chelsea in the

early 2000’s. We represent more than forty

artists and have helped more than 200 women

have their first New York City solo exhibition.

KC: How much does membership cost?

JD: There are different levels of membership

one being national affiliate for $1000/

year, which affords one group show per year

and representation by the gallery. Regular

membership gives artists a solo exhibition and

a group exhibition and ranges from $130-290/

month. Many people take issue with paying for

exhibition space, however our goal here is to

provide a comprehensive learning experience

that empowers artists to have the professional

or alternative art

economy? BY KATIE CERCONE

abilities to execute their exhibition as well as

navigate the art world.

KC: What are some of the changes you’ve

made since you’ve been Director?

JD: Well, I’ve been at the gallery going on

five years. When I first came to the gallery I

was concerned about the organization being

viewed as a vanity gallery.

We had no programming or outreach to

support our mission and I wanted to change

that. I felt that when we started working

towards supporting our own goals other

aspects would fall into place, such as

broadening our audience and recognition from

the larger art community. Now we have an

annual performance art series, Savoir-Faire,


PINK GHETTO

continued...

now in its fourth year. The series features

emerging women performance artists and

works with them to create new work. We also

have a Studio Residency program which grants

3-months of free studio space to men and

women artists living in the NYC area. That

program is also being developed and for 2013

will include studio visits from local critics and

writers for recipients. In addition to programs

that I create at the gallery members are also

encouraged to use the gallery for their own

interests. One of our members Diane Churchill

started a panel series on International

Women’s Issues, which includes issues like

sex trafficking, child soldiers and violence

against women. Things that are happening in

the U.S. and abroad. We invite guest speakers

and in some cases pair an expert in one field

with an artist exploring similar ideas. The

series continues but the topics change a bit

each season. Last year we were doing more

stuff about 1970’s Feminism and currently

we’re working with contemporary artists in

New York City. Each event contains art and

feminism in various degrees, whether it’s

political, cultural, mythological, and so on.

KC: Can you talk a bit about the Residency

Program?

JD: Our residency program is not open to

members because they jury it. It’s open to men

and women, typically emerging artists that are

living in or around New York City. The program

awards 1 artist three months of free studio

space and includes representation on our

website, a printed postcard featuring the artist

and multiple open studio events. This program

has been going on since 2009 and we’ve had

7 residents so far. It’s kind of a green program.

That’s actually what has been really fun about

my job here - Soho20 has the longevity and

the lineage of being a substantial 40-year-old

organization. There’s a lot of history behind it

and incredible stories about Louise Bourgeois

coming into the gallery when it was on

Broadway. It’s also still very green and there’s

a lot of leeway to create new programs and try

out new ideas, a lot of experimentation goes

on here.

KC: How do you pay the rent?

JD: Most of our expenses are paid for by the

members’ monthly dues. We are a 501 (c) 3

organization and are eligible for other types

of funding. My next big goal is to hire a grant

writer so we can start getting some of these

programs funded. We also seek donations

from public and private donors. Originally

members’ dues covered all the operational

costs and I think that’s one of the reasons why

during the most recent recession the gallery

wasn’t affected that much. We don’t rely on

sales, although we do sell things.

KC: Does the gallery take a commission?

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

JD: The artist gets 80% and the Director gets

20%, but that doesn’t go to the operational

costs of the gallery. In 2009 the gallery

relocated from 25 th street to 27 th street and

expanded our offices and exhibition space.

This was during the height of the recession,

not many arts organizations were doing that.

That move corresponded to the development

of our programs. We had more space which

allowed us to offer more to the artists we

serve. That expansion does of course have

expenses, and those programs need money.

We are seeking funding for them and working

daily to keep them going. The artists we work

with and the feedback we’re getting is that

they are valuable and helpful and create new

opportunities.

KC: I know you are also an artist, what was

that transition like for you, becoming a

gallery director at such a young age… can you

demystify your role a bit?

JD: My background is in studio work and I

never thought that I would be this involved

in arts administration. When I moved to New

York after graduating in 2008 I was connected

to Soho20 through a professor of mine who

was a member. I interviewed with no less

than 8 women to get the position. The thing

I was drawn to and what I think I thrive at

most is the program development because it

has a creative element and gets me working

with artists. I like to talk to artists about their

ideas and get into concepts and practices. If

anything I think that my experience as an artist

has really helped support the administrative

work that I do because I know everything about

the technical side of things. It gives me insight

into what our artists are doing and allows me

to be more helpful to them.

KC: What is the demographic as well as the

spirit of Soho20’s current membership?

Being that the gallery started as a renegade

project during a very sort of utopian time for

women in the arts, how far have we come so

to speak?

JD: The demographic is pretty diverse! We

work with artists from 25 to 75 years old.

We represent artists from all of the world of

different races, backgrounds, interests and

art practices. In terms of the past thirty years

I really have to pick up bits and pieces from

members who have been here a long time or

rely on my own romantic notions about what

that must have been like. There must have

been a tremendous amount of energy and

enthusiasm going into starting a business like

that. Recently, we’ve finally started appealing

to a younger audience which was a goal of

mine because I always imagined that the

gallery would act as a catalyst for an artist,

ideally they would one day leave the gallery

and go on to have an amazing art career.

KC: You mean at a commercial gallery?

JD: Whatever their ambitions and goals may

be. There are artists we represent and all

they want in the world is to be picked up

by a commercial gallery and others who

want support for public projects, or to be in

museums. It’s interesting because we can

accommodate a range of pursuits and people

can be part of the gallery for all sorts of

different reasons. The common thread being

that they are all interested in sharing their

work with an audience.

KC: Was consensus based decision-making

part of the original mission statement?

JD: I’ve sort of made up my own rules because

really when I came here the current gallery

director was acting more as a kind of gallery

sitter. Originally the members sat for the

gallery. I feel like there’s pros and cons to

that because in a sense they have more of an

investment in the gallery when they have to

be here and talk to visitors and on the other

it’s more professional and more consistent to

have a director or someone that’s managing

and overseeing a little bit of everything. At

first I did ask for more permission. I just came

up with wild ideas like… let’s try this! I think

people didn’t know what to think and were

maybe excited with my enthusiasm so they

just let me try stuff. There weren’t rules to

accommodate what I was doing because no

one had done it before. I wasn’t turning the art

world on its head or anything, I just saw room

for improvement and tried to get it going.

KC: I enjoyed the Feminist mash-up you did

with Kat Griefen the former director of A.I.R.,

a gallery that has a similar model to Soho20;

can you talk about your work together?

JD: Soho20 and A.I.R. have almost the exact

same model and Kat Griefen was a huge help

when I came here just in terms of showing me

the ropes and offering support. She recently

invited me to be a coordinator for The Feminist

Art Project (TFAP) along with art historian

Kathleen Wentrack. The three of us are the

current New York chapter coordinators of

TFAP. The “mash-ups” are nice because it puts

all the right people in a room together and

gets them talking. Our last meeting included

gallery owner Jessica Porter and Kickstarter

art director Stephanie Pereira. Artists and art

professionals are invited to share their projects

and hopefully find support to keep things

going. It’s exciting!

KC: So if membership is only open to women,

is the residency open to men?

JD: It is. Also, we hold an annual juried show,

which is also open to men and women. I guess

the idea behind opening up some programs is

36


ecause the gallery’s purpose is neither to be

exclusive to men nor to isolate women. Having

men participate with the gallery is important

and allows us to foster relationships with

likeminded people. The residency being open

to men and women was an idea that everyone

agreed with for the reason that we want to

be accessible and have men be part of the

gallery. Unfortunately we have not yet

had any men participate, although several

have been finalists. The very first time that

we held interviews for the residency we had a

male finalist whose work was incredibly strong.

And yet it’s not always about whose work is

Photo by Elisa Garcia de la Huerta, Jenn Dierdorf of SOHO20 Gallery

the best or the strongest or who has the most

sparkling exhibition record. It has to do with

who can we help the most, who would benefit

the most. It’s always a group decision. Another

time we did select a male resident but he was

unable to do it having been offered another

residency. Basically our record doesn’t show

that we’ve ever had a male resident but we

are trying. The other thing is 90% of these

decisions are made from looking at someone’s

work. Same with gallery membership, the

work is the first thing that decisions are based

on, and all other material is supplementary.

Unless an artist is making work that is

extremely autobiographical, not much is known

about the artist at the time of the jurying.

KC: In terms of this notion of the collective…

how does that actually play out at Soho20 in

terms of interactions between members? Do

they come to one another’s shows? Do you all

meet regularly?

JD: Yes! Of course it varies, but especially

the NYC members are incredible! As part

of their contract they take on a “job” at the

gallery, which ranges from committee work,

fundraising, jurying to accounting and web

design. Many of these artists work full time

jobs and still find the time and energy to assist

the gallery AND make art! They bring a lot

of energy and enthusiasm to the gallery. We

also have monthly meetings where members

discuss operational issues and also vote

on new applicants for membership. And

of course, each month we have opening

receptions, artist talks, panel discussions, etc.

and members do come out and support each

other. There are different levels of interaction

and some participate more than others. The

important thing is that there is incredible

potential here, I am working to build a gallery

that encourages creative thinking and self

empowerment in order to create change.

KC: Who writes the press release?

JD: The artist can write it if they want to or have

someone else write it. I write a lot of them.

It’s sort of open but all of that stuff is filtered

through me for consistency. I typically format

the press releases, assist with design and edit

press materials. Making sure everything holds

together and looks good is my job.

KC: Do you ever show artists that are not

Soho20 members?

JD: Yes. If the schedule permits we sometimes

rent space to women artists, though their work

must be approved by our executive board. We

do have our annual juried show which is open

to all men and women artists and is juried by

a well-known curator in NYC. We have worked

with Kate Gilmore, Phong Bui, Dean Daderko

and Chakia Booker to name a few. There are

people who participated in a juried show three

years ago that will stop in just to say hi or chat.

We’ve had people fly from Europe or across

the U.S. to see their work in the juried show.

It’s nice to see how important an exhibition

opportunity can be to someone.

We try to keep our application fees low, usually

$35, and offer perks to make it worth it for the

artists that are selected. We don’t take for

granted that these applications are sometimes

a difficult expense for artists. Being a nonprofit

organization we are always balancing our

search for funding with supporting our mission

statement. In the 90s and earlier the juried

show was a huge income generator which

helped to fund a significant portion of the

gallery’s expenses. Juried show applications

could draw upwards of $30,000 back then,

and now even commercial galleries offer open

calls with application fees. Nowadays there

is no shortage of places willing to take artist’s

money.

KC: I agree. I started to feel like it was a big

scam preying on young artists who are very

poor and very much dreamers. You know

you’ll have these commercial galleries that do

these juried shows all the time.

JD: It’s an interesting new development

that I kind of saw happen. I blame it on the

recession, how you’d start to see commercial

galleries doing things that were usually

reserved for non-profits. I’m just like - you

can’t do that that’s for us to do we’re the

ones that need the money! It’s an interesting

development to see how badly they need

the money too. I’ve seen open calls where

three galleries might partner together and do

something where you can pay to have them

look at your work and they’ll pick one artist for

representation. People will go bananas for that

kind of stuff. On occasion there will be more

interesting things to occur because of lack of

money. I enjoy seeing changes that develop

out of necessity. The move of galleries out

of Chelsea and into the Lower East Side for

example is great. It spreads out the “center”

of the art world a bit and mixes galleries

with neighborhoods and commerce. And the

spaces in the LES are much different than the

cavernous warehouse galleries in Chelsea.

KC: How optimistic are you, do you think it’s a

good time to be a women artist?

JD: (Chuckle) Sure I think it is! If you’re asking

about the politics involved than I think yes,

people are paying more attention to art and

social change in areas of race, politics, gender

etc. Perhaps the fact that SOHO20 still exists,

still needs to exist, can be an eye opener

to some about the under-representation of

women in the art world. Like many issues, this

too has this way of silently being embedded

in our culture so that it may be unnoticed or

worse, benign. Women have always advanced

in affecting change through subversive means

and art is very conducive to working that way.

This may seem in opposition to my role as the

director of a Feminist gallery but I feel like it’s

too disruptive to do things in outright protest. I

very much support the Occupy movement and

find great value in solidarity and the resources

that the movement has created, though the

action of change is subtle. It’s about choices

and support and community. But there are

a lot of interesting things happening – the

first performance art exhibition by Marina

Abramovic at MoMA, critics and writers being

more vocal about women artists, commercial

art galleries that specifically support women

artists – and there are many more examples of

this kind of momentum.

KC: Hell yea.


the

ARTIST

Under Cover with “See Me Tell Me”

BY RICHARD LESLIE

Ephemeral encounters with small

curious objects gifted to the world. The

spark of a moment that unfolds all

too briefly, then the smile and maybe

a single syllable utterance: the ineffable and

inexpressible brought to you by the will-to-form

and re-form in the midst of the urban hustle.

Free! Or maybe not. Is there a free gift?

The French sociologist-anthropologist Marcel

Mauss (1872-1950)—he who influenced the

Surrealists via George Bataille, and the Paris

Situationists—seems to be the first to study

gifts and in turn gifted us with his book "The

Gift" (1923). Ironically he concluded there

was no such thing as a gift if you meant

(with apologies to "Dire Straits" and "Rush")

"something for nothing and the gift for free".

Mauss concluded that the societies that used

a 'gift economy" built up gift-debts and the

interactions developed over time while waiting

for you to return the gift was the way social

connections were established. Restated, a gift

carries a required reciprocity, the reciprocal

demands of return. But this is not so bad

when you compare it to a capitalist system

that alienates the object from its maker and

even from its owner when money is used, i.e. a

commodity culture where the exchange value

replaces the older ritual value. Gift economies

then are one way to overcome alienation with a

different (albeit required) social network while

at the same time preserving a special, even

magical, understanding of an object.

"See Me Tell Me" (SMTM) remains anonymous,

like a capitalist removed from the fray or

the pre-capitalist guild worker, but with the

antithetical move of offering works free with

the reciprocity required by Mauss’s schema

now optional. Whether you locate one of the

small gifts by accident as you drift through

the urban labyrinth or wait for the location to

be posted on the SMTM blog site, the social

connection is merely a request, like a note

in a bottle adrift, and the reciprocal move

is merely an utterance. No gifting police will

knock or even locate or, in some way, care.

It’s you who has to choose to care or not care,

either way without burden, merely delight.

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

invisible

In one sense this is a magical crux. Magic is

what is not understood. It is the irrational, as

understood in comparison to some system of

normalcy that has not yet sufficiently expanded

to incorporate the interruptions. The door to

the irrational has always been one of the major

tools of the avant-garde.

See Me Tell Me Shifts: 36 Views of the ruins of Zuccotti

Now the "anonymous" identity of the giverartist

is bound up with the object loaned/

given rather than depersonalized because

you owe them nothing and you paid nothing.

This flies in the face of the logic of a system

that has taught us that we must ask a price in

order to force other people to care; something

given for free is framed as valueless. Here I

have to stop and ask, a bit like the Dadaists

on the nature of a rationality that leads to

insane conduct, where then is the perversion

located? And formed by which standard of

existence? Are we even capable of such reformings?

I don’t think there’s an answer yet.

Social relations established along the lines

of social art and systems have not been in

play and of duration or sufficient strength to

know the consequences or options. We are,

thankfully and literally, feeling our way(s). One

certainty; these are not options provided by

the commercial art market no matter how

skilled the manipulators. (Yo, Damien, are

you listening?) But neither does it exclude

other street artists that have developed

their own private community networks which

now function in public relation to us, and/

or refused incorporation into commodityexchange

value. Despite the differences

SMTM’s project is closest in spirit to the Graf

culture.

SMTM’s property is BOTH private and public/

social. You now "own" it but you did not pay for

it and have a choice, are encouraged, to regift

in two different ways. In a recent exhibition in

New Jersey SMTM mounted magnetic, blinking

boxes and miniature shift dresses on the

wall and asked everyone to take two (with an

optional donation to the not-for-profit), one to

keep and one to give away, to regift. At other

times there have been similar encouragements

written on the works themselves. Give this to

someone else; do not own it, as it is merely

a moment that is precious. Secondly, you

are requested, not required, to regift the

anonymous creator by commenting on the

SMTM blog. It is your choice to dispel the

so-called gift-debt, which places our social

relations outside of the requirement inscribed

by Mauss, And even if the “gift” is not

acknowledged it exists through the knowing via

the comments of those who have voluntarily

commented and by your own sly smile at

having found "sumptin fer nuthin," your own(ed)

little precious; simultaneously unique and

private while owned by many others in a public

discourse.

It is said the classic difference between a oneway

broadcast communication system (e.g.,

tweeting) and a social system or network is the

concept of having a truly acknowledged friend;

a two-way street. If you tweet (broadcast) and

have followers you do not have friends, are

not social…or so the theory goes. By classic

understanding the brief exclamations of

“found it” or “whoa” posted on the SMTM

38


log is NOT a social network. Or is it? Therein

lay one of the problems of this new form of

urban (note I do NOT say "public") art: indirect

communication is accepted as a true interactive

social act in a time when data/information is the

coin. Critical theorists bemoan this as another

form of alienation. You’ve heard it all before, the

embodied humanist argument. Sitting in front of a

screen communicating is not a social interaction.

However, those raised within the screen cult

system accept it as "natural"—one of the fourletter

words Marxist theorists have warned of for

years— and for whom it is social networking.

For them what is natural is the acceptance of

the fragment rather than an attempt to reach

beyond it, preferring to stay within it and to gift

the condition of SMTM’s part-objects with being

human. As with the archive, once understood to

be a totalizing affair, we now understand that

what is natural within capitalism is fragmentary

and rather than resist in traditional avant-gardist

ways, we nestle down into its soft and warm

contradictory folds. In that sense social urban

art has always failed by accepting exactly what

cultural critics have warned is the damaging part

of the modernist and more schizophrenic postmodernist

conditions—cultural fragmentation. But

the supposed failure in such tactic may well be

the magnificent trope, much like the rhizomics of

OWS.

Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that the

much celebrated French Situationist International

came to the conclusion that no art work could

escape the cultural absorption of capitalism, thus

the only solution, after throwing the art object

makers out of their Republic, was not to make

objects but to locate situations and turn them.

It's not that resistance was futile but rather it was

temporary and temporal. Welcome to the turning

tactic central to gifting!

And yet perhaps the most attractive aspect

of SMTM’s work is the return—the gifting—of

the most traditional aspects of art, now made

radical due to the historical context of what has

away from art; delight, magic, creative

diversity and originality, community—ritual value

overturning exchange value. Why is this then at

the margins? What then is use-value and where

is it located? Perhaps in the subject matter of

SMTM:

monsters and saints, summer shift dresses,

miniature folding books that open, your picture,

Van Gogh’s chair, free Ai Wei Wei, numbers,

letters, artists' birthdays, Joseph Cornell, phases

of the moon, Fluxus, yesterday’s news, February

snowstorms, Walker Evans, windmills, parasols,

the five senses, Paris, blue skies, beaches not

visited, monarch butterflies not seen, London,

Yayoi Kusama, tiny blinking flashes of LED colors

in the darkness of the night, small sparkling

pieces of miniature and passing worlds…

Richard Leslie

copyright, the author

www.seemetellme.blogspot.com

See Me Tell Me Shifts: Forty-second series: Subway Tokens


REVOLT takes

BOSTON

artSEEN

COLUMN

BY SUZANNE SCHULTZ

Nobody reads anymore because

everyone is a writer, a pearl

dropped on me that I can’t

stop pondering. We are living

in a world where self expression is at an

all time high. Blogging, posting tweeting

etc. We all vhave something to say and

now the forum in which to say it.

Never in history have we had so many

people painting professionally, mill

buildings that a century ago housed

industry are now full of artists.

What is art exactly? Marshall McCluhan

philosopher of media theory said “art

is whatever you can get away with.” So

what do we want to say and what do

we want to get away with, and how do

we deal with the struggles we have as

artists in the new world we live in.

Art Salons have been replaced with

first Fridays and the artist patron

relationship is almost non existent for

most artists. It is a relationship that is

not only necessary for the artist but

benefits the patron in so many ways

and could be a relationship that lasts for

decades. The word Patron could easily

be replaced as investor for the young

and hip collectors but I’m thinking the

term patron has more value.

So, as artists how do we get our voices

heard above the rest?

I will address the struggles, triumphs,

and share ideas in future columns.

Suzanne Schultz is founder/CEO of Canvas

Fine arts in Boston, and co-host of BNNS

ITS ALL ABOUT ARTS

suzanne@canvasfinearts.com

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

GALLERY 601

"Guajeros: A document of Central American Trash Pickers"

- A new exhibition by Peter Baryshnikov BY MATTHEW SCHULTZ

Photo by Peter Baryshnikov

APeter Baryshnikov’s latest collection of

photographs, Guajeros, confronts viewers

with an intimate and surprising look at a

both vital and forgotten group of people,

the trash-pickers of Central America.

In Central American nations such as Mexico,

Guatemala and El Salvador, recyclable materials are

harvested by trash-pickers, or guajeros, and sold to

private businesses, which re-sell these materials to

China, where they become the products we use and

depend upon in the United States and around the

world.

Baryshnikov spent five months volunteering with

Long Way Home, an NGO utilizing alternative

materials for the construction of “quality homes and

schools.” His latest work displays an overlooked

Central American landscape, strewn with trash,

looking alternatively primordial and post-apocalyptic.

Baryshnokov’s photographs, however, emphasize

individuals.

In his Artist Statement, Baryshnikov describes the

origin and role of guajero communities. “When

coffee prices dropped in the 1960’s many farmers…

flocked to the cities to find work…. No matter

how few jobs, however, there was and always will

be trash which can be collected and sold for an

average income of five dollars a day. In observing

the poverty and struggle of these individuals, one is

forced to confront a dark truth; we are all enablers

of an increasingly exploitative globalized economy.”

Despite this, however, his aim is not to accuse, nor is

it solely political. Rather the work is about the people;

people who “live harder lives than [Baryshnikov had]

ever witnessed” and the “extraordinary resilience”

he saw in them. Still, he hopes his work will inspire

viewers to become involved with organizations such

as Long Way Home or Safe Passage, an NGO which

brings resources and education to children and

families living in poverty around the Guatemala City

Garbage dump.

The photographs can be seen at Gallery 601 at

126 Boylston St in Boston. 10% of proceeds go to

Safe Passages, providing support for impoverished

children and families in Guatemala. Opening

Reception is from 5-7pm on May 18th. 2012.

40


MsBehavior

APRIL 5 - JUNE 28

AMY FELDMAN

POLLY SHINDLER

AMANDA VALDEZ

curated by Jordana Zeldin

“Incontrovertible proof that an exhibition needn’t be

big to have a lasting impact. Don’t miss this one.”

- Doug McClermont’s Top Ten New York Shows,

Saatchi Online Magazine

“The ArtBridge Drawing Room is an amazing little

project room in Chelsea, the size of a coat closet

but with a program with the energy of an art barn”

- David Cohen, artcritical.com

The ArtBridge Drawing Room

526 W. 26th Street 502a, New York, NY

www.drawingroomgallery.org

917-720-5742

ArtBridge and The ArtBridge Drawing Room names are property of ArtBridge Installations, LLC. Copyright © 2012. All Rights Reserved.


Make it

GRAPHIC

A sneak peak at Double Trouble, the new graphic novel

by author and artist David Hales

Double Trouble, a graphic novel by artist

and author David Hales, is a developing

graphic novel full of mystery and intrigue.

According to Hales, the tale is a "real

life story about Mr. Fish, a New York art dealer and

artist, who is receiving anonymous phone calls from

a mysterious woman. He is also being mercilessly

sued by a dubious corporation for reasons that defy

understanding. Why is Fish being legally tortured

and who is behind it? Why is he being “stalked” by

an alluring riddle of a woman?" These questions

remain to be answered, but in the mean time Revolt

is proud to provide a sneak peek of chapter one,

"The Phone Call". More information is available on

Hales' website: http://dhauthor.wordpress.com/.

The website also provides free access to the first

five chapters, which are summarized below. Check

back on Hales' site for more chapters to come!

Original drawings courtesy of David Hales

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

CHAPTER SYNOPSIS OF DOUBLE TROUBLE

CHAPTER 1: The Phone Call. Fish receives his

first mysterious phone call from an alluring woman

who will not reveal her true identity, or her purpose

for calling.

CHAPTER 2: The Lawsuit. Fish meets with his

lawyer to discuss his legal dilemma, a lawsuit that

seems to have no purpose other than to torture

him. The perplexed lawyer warns Fish not to become

infatuated with the good looking attorney that is

prosecuting him.

CHAPTER 3: The Pool Game. Fish plays pool

with a friend who advises him to forget about the

mysterious phone caller who haunts his thoughts.

He tries to get Fish interested in meeting a couple

of girls at the pool hall who seem eager to get met.

CHAPTER 4: Eye of the Storm. A probably hung-over

and distracted Mr. Fish dodges the advances of a

flirtatious waitress, only to bump into his hot new

neighbor outside in a rain storm. She almost seems

to have been waiting for him…Why?

CHAPTER 5: The Movie. A bored Mr. Fish goes to

see a silent film at an indie theater (a renovated

women’s prison). The strange film, which he watches

with (almost) no one else in the audience, disturbs

him. He returns home to find a mysterious package

at his door. Then the phone rings, but no one is

there. Is Fish losing it? What was in the package?

Was he being followed?

42


REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

Photo courtesy of Davis Hales, David Hales's Studio, 2012

44


ART$

Economics

and

The Occupations of Asher Edelman

BY LINDA DIGUSTA

Photo by Ethan Hill

Asher Edelman can be described as standing,

prominently, between 2 worlds. His Wall

Street career, beginning in the 1960’s, in

investment banking, money management

and derivatives trading not only brought

renown but enabled him to build significant

collections of contemporary and Modern art

as well as antiquities. In the same year, 1988,

that he famously taught a course at Columbia

called “Corporate Raiding – the Art of War,”

(based upon the ancient Chinese military

treatise by Sun Tzu), Edelman relocated to

Switzerland and founded the FAE Musée d’Art

Contemporain in Pully, where he presented

the first major European retrospectives of

artists including Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel

Basquiat, and Robert Mapplethorpe.

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

Currently in New York City, Edelman’s projects

include Edelman Arts, which deals in Old

Master through Post-War art in addition to

representing contemporary artists, the art

finance company ArtAssure Ltd., and the

website AsherEdelman.com, where he writes

about both finance and art from his unique

depth of experience, enthusiasm and insight,

which he also shared in conversation.

His first acquisitions, Asher told us, “Were art

books at Metropolitan Museum when I was

12, then some student work when I was 17. My

first painting, I was 19 or 20, was from a fellow

student whose name was, and is, Bill Tinker.”

Most recently, he added to his collection “A

painting by Nabil Nahas who in my opinion is

one of the 2 most interesting abstract painters

developing a new slant on abstraction today.

(Doug Argue is the other.)” What motivated his

purchases then vs. now? “The motivation is

the same, it’s a kind of drive that I really can’t

define.”

If he were to teach a class for artists about the

economic realties of the business, Edelman

told us, “I would certainly teach them how to

get a public market for their work.” With the

caveat, “This is talking money not art." He

continued, “Making sure to the extent that

they can that there are successful auction

records of their works. I would want them to be

46


certain that their work was original, referential

perhaps but still original, and suggest that they

in their persona develop something original.

I would focus on the commitment of a dealer

not only to sell but to place it properly with

collectors who will show and care about the

art, to obtain museum representation, and to

share with other dealers and not prevent the

art from circulating.”

In a twist on what we usually can expect

from the high-end art market and media, he

emphasizes that “It troubles me to talk about

art this way, it’s hard for me to mix actual

art and economic realities. My brain is very

divided. I am a collector and I adore art… when

I am dealing with one I try to divorce my brain

from the other.”

But Asher Edelman defies typecasting in any

role. Ubiquitously identified with Wall Street, in

his writings he weighs in positively on Occupy

Wall Street.

“I am optimistic for the economic and social

outlook for the United States! During the next

four or five years we will, once again, shift into

gear. “Occupy Wall Street” will come to be

thought of as “Save the Nation(s).” 1

“I think in the short term it has focused Obama

on his need to at least appear that he is

interested in the common man," he told us.

“He gave that impression in his 1 st run -- I was

a very serious supporter. During his tenure in

office he has evidenced much less concern

for the common man, much more interest

in having arrived in the establishment and a

seeming wish to remain there. He has ignored

many of his promises including those related

to preserving what we think of as democracy in

this country.

“Occupy Wall Street and other grassroots

groups will certainly influence how he runs

for office. They will also influence those

Republicans who have longed for the right

once again to be moderate Republicans. It is

likely that a vote may become more important

than a dollar to those running for office… I

believe we are seeing the beginnings of an

important economic and sociopolitical change

in America.”

Does this mean that Asher Edelman is no

longer a committed capitalist?

“The Occupy Wall Street crowd sees this

as a problem with capitalism. I believe that

they are correct in their target, but wrong

in their diagnosis. This is not a problem of

capitalism since Wall Street is a practitioner

of monetarism. A real capitalist system works

through real intermediation creating positive

opportunities for productive enterprises…” 2

“In a capitalist society, recoveries from

recession and depression can only be brought

about through a combination of fiscal and

monetary stimulation,” he explained. Fiscal

refers to government spending, for example on

projects such as schools or roads, to spur the

economy, monetary stimulation works through

control of interest rates. “It is not a problem

of capitalism that retards the recovery of the

system, it is the focus on monetary stimulation

and the lack of interest in fiscal stimulation

that will continue to deter a recovery. Both are

needed in times of stress.”

In other words, to build metaphorical bridges

our economy and society need in order to

recover, rather than tear down the existing

system, we should well, build bridges.

And what about the impact of the protest

movement on art… is the street the new salon?

“Maybe,” Edelman said, “It certainly was in the

60’s, in the 70’s, and to a very small extent

has been when addressing the torture [of

prisoners] issue in 2000’s. Whether the artists

are going to focus on social issues at this time,

when abstraction is such a strong movement

again, is doubtful.”

“The art world appears to be lost in the

funhouse, and the fun is losing its fizz,” reads

the press release for his recent exhibition at

Edelman Arts, “Abstraction: What is Real.”

It describe a “current shock-worn, étonnéby

numbers climate…” Anyone who has

attended a high-profile auction and watched

the numbers on the bid board next to the

mute object of the moment’s desire soar to

the stratosphere can testify to how it stuns the

senses and sensibilities of most mere mortals.

And in that climate “Abstract art takes us

totally by surprise.”

Elaborating, he explained that so many of

the works sold at these stunning prices,

“Warhol, Damien Hirst, Richter… are kind

of manufactured… Nothing is wrong with

manufactured art, but those who are really into

in art, as opposed to having what their friends

have, what some sharp dealer sold the group,

or what some museum curator was influenced

to buy, are going to have art that is above all

original in its execution and idea. This once

again includes abstraction, especially where

the artist is progressing the art of abstraction.”

When asked if abstraction was on its way

to the kind of dominance it attained in (and

brought to) America in the mid-20 th Century,

where it was embraced to the point that

many considered earlier American art to be

“provincial,” 3 Edelman stated firmly that

from his historical perspective, the public

popularity of the movement had little to do

with that attitude. “Americans at that time did

not grow up with the iconography necessary

to understand art before abstraction. It had

everything to do with the fact that they could

come to art, look at an image, and they did

not have to bring anything with them to enjoy

the image… sometimes you did not need

iconography or knowledge to look.”

The same does not apply today. “Now that we

have had 60-70 years of abstraction being

a force, it has its own iconography, its own

references, becoming complex in the way we

think of Modern (1906-45). There are quite

a few very good players, I only show some of

them, who have found ways to change the

face of abstraction, to be original again in

the world of abstraction, which is not easy.

If connoisseurs tended to be the winners in

an immediate way, then abstract art would

dominate again,” he concluded, but as far as

the public is concerned, “It is only in the long

term that we will understand the importance

of this present generation of abstract artists.”

“Abstraction: What is Real” was conceived

as “a very specific show, the idea was to put

together abstract work that has no reference

to any figurative or representational art… I just

wanted to do a ‘purified’ exhibition.” It also

features several generations of abstract artists

from the latest (Nahas, Argue, James Nares),

back through artists who emerged later such

as Frank Stella, Britt Boutros-Ghali, and Larry

Poons (all still active), and their late forebears,

Ashile Gorky, Fritz Bultman, and Michael

Goldberg.

Also featured was an artist of that first wave

who still paints today, Mary Abbott, who Asher

first learned of while putting the show together.

Mary Abbott’s strong personal and

professional relationship with de Kooning

influenced his output to an astonishing

degree. Abbott had experimented with abstract

landscapes from her Southampton home

for nearly five years by the time de Kooning

began his own landscape series… As Abbott

and de Kooning’s lives were intertwined, so

too were their works which seem to share

subject, technique, and even color palette…

When it comes to Abstract Expressionism, the

same auspicious names dominate: Pollock,

de Kooning, Rothko, Motherwell, Gorky ...

Imagine a largely overlooked protagonist in

this narrative, a crucial figure in the New York

Post-war art scene whose story is only now

surfacing. This new story is emerging and with

it the understanding of the profound influence

Mary Abbott had on the Abstract Expressionist

movement and especially on her lover, Willem

de Kooning.” 4

Back to the present, would current events

influence Edelman’s own behavior as a dealer

or collector? “The sociopolitical climate does

not have anything to do with my acquisitions

or the gallery,” he said, “Though the artist

in our next exhibition, Chris Winter, is about

sociopolitical climates, sometimes past,

sometimes present.”

In the spirit of “the 99%,” we asked Asher

how he would advise a would-be collector with

$1500 or less to spend. He replied that he

would give the same advice to a collector with

a budget of $1500 or $15 Million: “Spend 2

days a week looking at art until he is confident

that he can identify what is original, which is

not possible without looking at art. Then come

back to me and I will tell him what I think he

should buy.”

Sources:

1. “Optimistic” © Asher Edelman, 2011

http://asheredelman.com/?p=234

2. “A less than equitable arrangement” © Asher

Edelman, 2011 http://asheredelman.com/?p=241

3. “Art Wars” by Linda DiGusta (c) Cognoscenti

Magazine 2011

4. “Mary Abbott: A Wake Up Call” © Asher Edelman,

2012 http://asheredelman.com/?p=269


the

OWS

Poetry Anthology

BY RICHARD WYNDBOURNE KLINE

In Sum

1 Dreams 3 Spires - 2 Winds 1 Fastness 11

Some of us heard.

Some of us met first.

Some of us went down.

Some of us are in some.

Some of us just came.

Some of us are all in.

Some of us get it.

Some of us don’t get it, but we’ll give it a shot anyway.

Some of us got hit.

Some of us got your back; and Legal’s on it.

Some of us got it on video and are streaming it live to

the human condition.

Some of us thrive on conflict, and even brought our

own---hey, where’d everybody go?

Some of us know too much of nothing is more than

enough and didn’t happen by accident.

Some of us empathize.

Some of us emphasize.

Some of us energize.

Some of us deodorize.

Some of us decolonize.

Some of us defragmentize.

Some of us re-organize our personal baggage.

Some of us recognize each other for the first time.

Some of us demagnetize the little strips on things which

keep us in inhuman bondage.

Some of us are in the picture; some of us aren’t.

Some of us are not enablers of the master criminals.

Are we?

Some of us are.

Some of us want to talk to you about that.

Some of us are incredulous.

Some of us were meticulous; until we got here and

acquired a sense of the ridiculous.

Some of us get really, really nervous in crowds but

somebody’s got to do this.

Some of us hiss when stepped on.

Some of us are friendly.

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

Some of us were friendly.

Some of us have friends, and they’ll be here this

Saturday.

Some of us friend anyone in the 99% (and we really,

really mean it: this means you).

Some of us, too, are in search of something; it was lost;

or I think stolen, but that’s not

important; and we’re here to find it, at least I’m

here to look for it; and this guy/gal/

goy/geezer/gummybearcub on the mike at GA said

that we had it, here: it’s called

community.

Some of us dare.

Some of us swear by it.

Some of us have a flair for this.

Some of us ooze savoir-faire.

Some of us wear flowers in our hair; they’re misty roses.

Some of us wear on others, but we try.

Some of us apply and apply and apply and we’re tired of

it, man, just tired.

Some of us have demands, we’ll get to ‘em; if you don’t

get to ‘em first.

Some of us had plans, which, as things happened were

taken down and out; not, as you may

have heard, by incompetence or blind

circumstance but by the connivance of the few;

of the 1% to be wholly frank. (Look up: They’re

looking down; frowning.)

Some of us try to get things right.

Some of us have a light and let it shine.

Some of us are a sight to see.

Some of us came to see the city sights; and stayed.

Some of us’ve been to school; learned a few things ‘bout

you and me and everyone we know.

Some of us have been to college, and all we got was this

lousy five-figure slave collar.

Some of us have been to hell and back, and even though

we got paid . . . it wasn’t worth it.

Some of us need time.

Some of us need a place to be.

Some of us just need some space to be at play.

Some of us have time and nothing but; we’ve been away.

Some of us have a base station, and we’re pretty darn

48


slick, or we think so.

Some of us are sick and are not going to make it and just

want somebody to know.

Some of us have holes in our wholes, and 1% of us are

pushing everybody else deeper therein,

and selling the soap that comes out the other end at

100% markup; ‘Soylent Dream.’

Some of us have it all, but we can’t get into heaven if we

break your heart.

Some of us want to end it all.

Some of us want to defend it all.

Some of us have all the gall; and plenty of gumption,

too.

Some of us want an end to the beginning.

Some of us intuit.

Some of us intubate.

Some of us innovate.

Some of ventilate when we should filter first.

Some us like to listen.

Some of us like to talk: “Mike check.”

Some of us walk unchecked and unafraid.

Some of us would like to get laid; right about now.

Some of us like how we look doing this.

Some of us like that the pizza is free and keeps coming.

Some of us are just slumming until the Right thing

comes along.

Some of us Left the building about the time that you

were born.

Some of us are a bridge over troubled water, all our

dreams are on their way.

Some of us don’t believe in guvmint; peppermint’s

another story; and as for wondermint---.

Some of us found love.

Some of us love this town.

Some of us would love to be here.

Some of us would love for you to be here.

Some of us would love to be there but the bars get in the

way.

Some of us beherenow, and we’ve got plenty to share,

the library’s open.

Some of us feel guilty we can’t be here a little longer but

we’ve got to be home by 6:00 to feed

the kids and they won’t understand if we’re late or

get arrested or just miss a days work

and there’s nobody but me so I really have to go

now but Godbless.

Some of us shouldn’t be here---like you, for example,

you really shouldn’t beherenow because

[wabbbity-wab-wabbh-wab] but since you’re here

already can I borrow your sharpie?

my sign’s not done.

Some of us have hearings about our fines.

Some of us have lines to read in the pageant of history.

Some of us got it in the face and lay there screaming,

quite the best days work we ever did

though the hardest; nobody even knew our names.

Some of us came to take pictures but the white collars

broke our camera (just like Sonny at the

wedding) so we’re taking mental pictures for those

not here, and if they’re sorta fuzzy

at the edges, well at the center too, we haven’t

slept for four days you try it sometime.

Some of us have been there and done that, it’s your turn;

but I like your style, kid.

Some of us have been gone so far it looks like time to

me.

Some of us care.

Some of us take care.

Some of us need care, but they cut back.

Some of us move verrrry carefully.

Some of us don’t care, but it’s been thirty years since

they put on this show, and it’s free.

Some of us have been here for 500 generations and we

still can’t figure out what you strawbrained

occupiers think you’re doing to the place;

can’t build a fire, catch a fish,

potlatch worth a shit; nuthin’.

Some of us think all you pissants outta be arrested . . .

they day after you throw the bums out.

Some of us are mad, quite, quite, mad, without a doubt.

Some of us look s-i-m-p-l-y mahvehlous.

Some of us are of good cheer.

Some of us fear for the rest.

Some of us appear a little . . . off. Or a lot. (Took it in

the head at one of these time was.)

Some of us mind the children; I mean that’s always

needed, isn’t it?

Some of us sell papers to make change: “Overhead on

apples is too high; I’ve got an MBA.”

Some of us do plein air, folks just hold that pose.

Some of us sit and spin before we let go.

Some of us layer.

Some of us are enthused.

Some of us are free spirits.

Some of us know what those once meant, and you’re

both right about it.

Some of us recite the work of dead white bushy-bearded

males out loud while we grow up;

some of us are such already, or nearly.

Some of us finally found the wine shop, “Friend, where

have you been all of our lives?”

Some of us want to know what you expect.

Some of us expect you’ll never know what you want.

Some of us expect you’ll never know if you’re not here.

Some of us reflect (it’s the duct tape, we’re getting

brassards).

Some of us reject any destination.

Some of us deflect bullet points; banner headlines would

be better.

Some of us shall expectorate the quintessential mead of

the assembled after due masticulation.

Some of us would be down on that if we knew what it was.


Some of us have the answer, and would be happy to let

you have it.

Some of us brought our own, thanks.

Some of us brought our own thanks. For taking the

time.

Some of us know it’s always the one on bass who knows

what time it is.

Some of us are on the bus.

Some of us were in the bust.

Some of us just drive the bus, but we’re going your way.

Some of us are under the bus, and you know the

sonnsofa-1-in-a-100 who threw us here.

Some of us do outreach, let me give you a hand.

Some of us brought PBNJ with the crust trimmed; for

500. (Thanks, Mom.)

Some of us are packin’ and fight fire with fire; and see,

the fuse took the match some time ago,

‘bout the time they pinched m’ brother’s head off,

mmn-hhmm.

Some of us wouldn’t do that if they were you.

Some of us would.

Some of us would understand, but don’t recommend it,

friend, cuz they’re the 99% too.

Some of us have a verse for that.

Some of us are averse to that---or were; now, we just

don’t know.

Some of us just learned the two-finger salute, they sure

know how to do these things flat out

Over There; they keep in practice.

Some of us knew what “Basta!” meant before the resta

yah, yah need some help.

Some of us face off.

Some of us scoff.

Some of us know the law; it’s not enough.

Some of us’ll write new laws, just tell us what you want.

(I mean these are for you, not for us.)

Some of us eat your food and walk away laughing; not

realizing that freedom is infectious.

Some of us fomite.

Some of us foment.

Some of us form up, but godlovem we think they’re

kinda i-n-t-e-n-s-e.

Some of us have been fermenting for so long that by now

we’re proof of something.

Some of us lament what urban renewal and

securitization have done to the City on the Hill.

Some of us shill for the Man the rest of the time (don’t

say we were here, He’s such a killjoy).

Some of us take notes.

Some of us take names. (There’ll be camps for your

kind, we’re working on it.)

Some of us gave at the office, and lemme tell yah it

wasn’t 99¢; that’s too much.

Some of us give a damn, or thought we did; or that’s

what we’ll say in court since we’re

kettled in tight and going down hard (don’t try this

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

at home, kids).

Some of us’ll give you the shirt off our backs; it’s got

antacid in it, anyway that mostly works.

Some of us came in full dress; there’s 1000 more behind

us.

Some of us are gonna bunch up and shove if this thing

stays stuck.

Some of us go all the way.

Some of us pray.

Some of us have fey smiles all the while.

Some of us let George do it. And boy was that a

mistake.

Some of us shake our moneymaker; here’s today’s take

(*shh* just take it, I know you need it).

Some of us are really, really *an&ry* and wanna break

some heads/stuff inta bitty-witty pieces

but might possibly maybe talk to somebody first

about whatfororwhen or perhaps not

go that way right now but this way where they’re

all sittin’ down being very, very calm.

Some of us fight the power.

Some of us want the power.

Some of us had the power till a pink slip cut our throat .

. . what was it all about?

Some of us fought till we were all fought out; and

nothing changed. It was th’ good fight, tho’.

Some of us fold up when the shit comes down. Or the

rain; whichever’s first.

Some of us are cold.

Some of us are out in the cold; always.

Some of us got cold-cocked by Mr. Market, and when we

woke up somebody left us the bill.

Some us us are cold muthafukkas, real cold, and you’ll

never see it coming or even know until

we want yah tah know; and we work for ourselves,

what per cent of the action is that?

Some of us sold out---and they told us there was still

money owing; fees or something.

Some of us have something to prove; seeing as how

things aren’t improving.

Some of us remain unmoved; “Tried hope; like fertilizer,

sold by the ton.”

Some of us were red, white, and dead till we found out

they’re on the other side.

Some of us atomize; some of us automatize.

Some of us Peace, Love, Rope.

Some of us do horizontal.

Some of us try lambent buds.

Some of us have tatts and studs.

Some of us are in the Zone.

Some of us are mystified at that; but whatever.

Some of us took Mystery 101 already, we’re just here to

audit.

Some of us whistle; some of us sing; some of us drum

along. (And along; and along.)

Some of us don’t need no stinkin’ rules.

50


Some us us wear crystals.

Some of us sell crystal and that ain’t no crime; well, it is

a crime but they outta change the law,

and anyhow business is kinda slow what with the

down economy and all the heat

around now sooo what we really came over to find

out is, are you doin’ all right?

Some of us think you should come back when you’re off

the clock.

Some of us spoof the market---but just in case we’ve got

some futures on your action cause our

position is always dynamically hedged; you know,

‘play both ends against the middle.’

Some of us smoked the opiate of the masses till we woke

up in Liberty one September day.

Some of us left our steady for 2000 lovers.

Some of us hover just barely off the ground.

Some of us crash things for fun and profit.

Some of us hope recovery is just around the corner,

‘cause the cops are sure as Hell around

the block.

Some of us keep on squawking when you wish we’d just

shut up.

Some of us want a platform; others think a server would

suffice.

Some of us know that brown rice solves any problem;

just have some more.

Some of us show up when it counts; we’ve got jobs, yah

unnehstand.

Some of us have vendettas even if it’s the Dreamer who

joined the action.

Some of us want to do it; or to do you; whichever we

catch up to first.

Some of us like to watch.

Some of us might snatch sleep.

Some of us are creeped out by the Army of Night across

the street.

Some of us surprise, just surprise.

Some of us map the Zone; it’s one-to-one with a higher

plane, we’ve established that as fact.

Some of us work three groups and have forgotten who

we used to be outside the lines;

that pitiful schmuck.

Some of us took to it like ducks on a pond.

Some of us tossed our pills for despondency---don’t need

‘em here.

Some of us know how this is gonna end; they don’t talk

much.

Some of us came to witness, there was a crime; we just

knew where to go, that’s all.

Some of us let it burn, let it burn, let it burn; but we

didn’t start this thing, no, it was already

going.

Some of us like the pretty colors.

Some of us discover the space between.

Some of us are recovering one now at a time.

Some of us gaze back at the whole world watching in an

infinite loopy jest.

Some of us mask our fear; “For that, black

handkerchiefs work best.”

Some of us brought our wiggy fingers and left the rest.

Some of us preach up on the steps.

Some of us need a few more reps.

Some of us just want a chance.

Some of us dance; pretty good.

Some of us advance a notion; more of a proposition.

Some of us watch another earth begin.

Some of us are charging, all our bars went flat.

Some of us admin this thing; we’ll admit that.

Some of us hack (a little)---or did anon.

Some of us will move on.

Some of us are going home, but we’ll be back.

Some of us still are on song, me and Hikmet gonna read-

--”Nazim, we’re up?”

Some of us resound (silently).

Some of us ping.

Some of us bong.

Some of us just brought vegan chow fong.

Some of us are holding strong, enough to carry the load

out.

Some of us got it wrong, but we’ll keep trying.

Some of us don’t mind dyin’; it’s livin’ on empty that’s

hard to take.

Some of us make it up as we go along . . . well, most of

us.

Some of us are looking for something real; can we talk?

Some of us left our fake currency outside the park.

Some of us caught the rockin’ pneumonia; got to walk it

off.

Some of us nurse a croaking cough.

Some of us knocked off the Maker’s Mark.

Some of us have that inner spark,

Some of us know ‘The Lark in the Morning.’

Some of us are drawn out but in long.

Some of us spoon.

Some of us tune in.

Some of us are huddled and wan.

Some of us begin to plan.

Some of us found flowery evangels, right there beside

the hot dog stand.

Some of us just lie back looking up s-m-i-l-i-n-g.

Some of us join the fun.

Some of us are on the run.

Some of us left to find a john.

Some of us some hours since commenced to scan.

Some of us will learn soon we got the one child born to

carry on.

Some of us are ever the 99th in any line, but hey, who’s

counting, this thing ain’t over till

it’s over.

Some of us saw the dawn.

thing ain’t over till it’s over.

Some of us saw the dawn.


CREATIVE FICTION:

STRAWBERRY

Love and Gentrification in Bushwick: A Metanarrative

Illustrations by Rochelle Fox

I

was at Angel’s perusing the fruit. The

strawberries looked white in places. I still

had two days until your actual birthday.

Chocolate on chocolate you said, and I

wanted to add strawberries because that

had been my nickname for you since

the beginning. That’s what I put in my phone

because your real name – Mark? Wasn’t

exotic, sexy or hood. At the time I had just met

a Dominican guy named Choco who I listed

as ‘Chocolate.’ Strawberry and Chocolate

on speed dial sandwiched between an

alphabetical list of rad feminists ladies.

I recalled the week of the hurricane when I ran

into you on Starr St. and asked you if you knew

my name. We had been sleeping together

casually for 5 months at that point and I had

even spent twenty minutes one afternoon

very carefully smoothing olive oil in between

the crevices of your zigzagging cornrows. You

couldn’t recall it. I said it was fine, at the time,

you hadn’t told me your other ‘real’ names

either. Mark was actually something you made

up the night I met you and had since forgotten

about. Sometimes we’d pass each other in

the park and you’d say something like ‘Call me

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

Johnson and Johnson,” without so much as

removing your headphones. One day you told

me the truth, ‘You can call me Slim, it’s how

they know me out here.’ You were a celebrity

on ‘the block,’ as you called it, this place I had

lived for 4 years but knew so little about.

Slim wasn’t your real name either. Your birth

name was tattooed in black letters across your

biceps, ‘SHIN’ on the right and ‘COSTA’ on the

left. But you didn’t reveal that until month 7 or

8 when I asked about the tatt one day tracing

over your torso with my eyes.

It had been a busy morning. I was caffeinated,

rushing around deliriously on Knickerbocker

Ave restocking the Epsom salt and buying a

box of cake mix and a bunt pan at the 99cent

store. I even found some Michael Jordan

wrapping paper to wrap your new pair of

Footlocker shorts in.

By Friday, your official Birthday, you had

jumped ship. You came in the middle of the

night, left me the money you owed and the

keys. You took your jar of cocoa butter, laundry

detergent, backpack and 2 boxes of shoes.

BY KATIE CERCONE

It took all of 5 minutes. You said you were

coming back but you didn’t and I cried all

night. I never even had the chance to borrow

your brand name detergent like you always

insisted. ‘Do you,’ you said.

It hadn’t always been this way. I used to

ride my bike through Bushwick, gangsta rap

blasting through my headphones, eyes darting

back and forth assessing the buffet of thugs

perched on street corners, hollering out of

bodegas and blasting by on BMX bikes and low

riders with base that made my junk tingle. Men

with wavy braids, bulging muscles and white

diamonds glinting from their milk chocolate

earlobes. I listened, I watched, I went home

to my lily white boyfriend and let dem thugs

control my every waking fantasy.

Until the night of the rapture that is. I was

walking home with Jazlyn, my homegirl with

smokey bedroom eyes and pouty lips. As usual,

our verbiage was veering toward sex and men.

It was Friday night. It was the end of the world.

I was sobering up to the fact that I was never

going to meet my Baby Daddy if I couldn’t stay

up past 9pm and my social life revolved around

Feminism and Art.

‘Strawberry Tush,’ your voice floated up

from behind us. We were on Starr St. and

we had just passed an unruly group of black

teenagers. I was wearing a pink onesy with

a skort that rode up in the back. Jazlyn and

I giggled and kept walking as you objectified

our backsides like sweet, plump summer fruit.

Something in me snapped by the time we had

walked the three blocks back to our place. It

was the last time a sexy black guy hollered at

me on the street and I let him get away with it.

You didn’t say ‘tush’ you said ‘kush,’ it’s a type

of designer weed. There was a drought then so

you didn’t have the regs you normally pushed.

It was Friday and you were wearing your studs.

‘I like your earrings.’

‘They’re real.’

You came over and we smoked an L on my

roof. You didn’t have to say much. You told me

your friend had just died. He was selling stolen

guns out of his apartment nearby and got

shot and killed by an undercover cop. I asked

if you cried about it and you said never. You

never cried. You made bread and you balled.

You were nice. Nice means you played well.

Bread was money, also called cake because

you could stack bills in sheets like cake.

Communicating always took us several tries,

one slang term bleeding into the next, you

proudly ‘Burfing’ (that’s birthing, teaching me

54


STRAWBERRY

continued...

for the first time) me to slango and I always

eager for more. ‘Everything is always double,’

you said, like when you told me ‘I never had a

Moms.’ You didn’t have anyone to spoil so you

spoiled yourself.

‘I want to get in you,’ you said.

I liked black voices. You later told me ever

since white girls had started moving in to

the neighborhood you had been working on

getting one. You were shocked that none of

them had hollered before me. I wasn’t. I didn’t

know anybody that would meet a drug dealer

on the street and invite him over and sleep

with him all within the span of 2 hours. There

were programs for that. Afterward I saged the

place. It was a fantasy, the sex was abrupt and

like usual the mental frenzy outweighed the

physical pleasure. Little did I know, it would

only get better. Honestly, when you’ve built a

sexual relationship over time with a semi-Pro

basketball player that doesn’t drink or jerk off

you’ve cashed in on the best sex of your life

and you might live to regret it. In the months

following I’d come to learn Strawberry was a

rare breed next to Godliness.

Drowning myself in Drake during my daily

commute had new meaning. Strawberry

‘Gave me the business,’ as y’all said, and I

was Screaming out every time you deep in!! I

tweeted, emailed, texted to anyone that would

listen: STRAWBERRY GANGSTA RIPPED A NEW

HOLE IN ME DURING THE RAPTURE!!! Politically

incorrect slander, yes, but I had been fucked

backways and sideways into a neo-fruitopia.

And I wanted to tell this story without my usual

intellectual armor. You taught me the poetry of

rap – usually high, singing along to every word,

lying next to me in bed – and I taught you

about the Prison Industrial Complex. The term

that is, whatever good it was worth to someone

who was locked up on Rikers island before he

graduated high school and walked the streets

in fear of the police every day.

One day you asked me if I knew what ebonyx

was to which I replied very promptly and

proudly, ‘Black vernacular slang.’ You laughed

and replied, ‘Naw…it’s just SLANGO. Get right.’

Little did I know six months post-rapture I’d be

buttering you up oversize slabs of my organic

gluten free cornbread and walking on your

back in the middle of the night when you came

home injured from a game and caught me in

a submissive half-dream state. You’d be going

through a box of Yogi tea a week and burning

through bags of the lavender Epsom salt I liked

to use in my bath. You’d be having brunch with

my two best friends and I on my Birthday.

We went to Pies n’ Thighs in Williamsburg. I

wore pearls and you wore diamonds as you

always did on Fridays. You ate Mac n’ Cheese

because you said you ‘Didn’t trust white people

chicken.’ You knew the buser who you had

attended high school with and I imagined how

proud you felt, taking three beautiful, petite

girls out to breakfast while he scraped up

our leftovers. We hadn’t all spent the night

together but in June you had a ménage with

Jazlyn and I and in July with me and Sass.

Each was different. It was a first for all of us

and all my idea. That was the first time we

really talked. After the rapture we continued to

see each other but our affairs were limited to

sex. You’d show up, tell me I looked gorgeous,

we’d blast some hip hop and do the bizness.

Do it like whoa. Like nothing I had ever

experienced before. You were built. You were

brilliant. And you brave.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE

MALE ARTIST POPULATION:

More Exercise, less drugs boo!!! I want to come

3x (on the Dick!!!) while you finger my two

best friends, choke me, kiss me sweetly and

whisper words of encouragement in my ear.

FRONT YARD BROAD DAY, ya heard?

You’d high five me before and afterward you’d

often jump up and sing along to the radio

while admiring yourself in front of the mirror.

When you moved in, this would become longer

productions in the bathroom that involved

lots of cocoa butter and soap bubbles. Black

homeless men in their twenties with loads of

brand sneaks shower a lot, a heckuvvalot more

than privileged white feminists in swagspicious

drag. On one occasion, you approached my

collection of My Little Ponies and asked if they

were lucky. ‘Why yes’ I replied, as you picked

one up kissed the bridge of its nose and

tapped your chest 4 times in the shape of the

cross. One time I was having a bad day and you

said ‘Theys got you runnin around,’ to which I

replied ‘Who?’ and you listed off a number of

animate and inanimate objects, people, places

and things that somehow related to my life. I

liked that you always had faith. That no matter

what I was going through you reminded me

‘You blessed.’

While most of my artsy friends ran around with

2 or 3 degrees, always on the brink of financial

peril and governed by a wildly fluctuating God/

inferiority complex, without a home or a high

school diploma you were one of the most well

adjusted, confident, peaceful and kind human

beings I had ever met.

Sometimes you came home with a fresh

tattoo or a new design in your hair. Once you

came with it all loose. It was the hottest day

of summer and you were glistening with sweat

and sporting an Afro that could have scraped

the heavens. In the beginning you didn’t ever

lay beside me after. For the first time in my

life I didn’t need you to. At the ripe age of 27

I was a hardened Mack. When we had the

threesome with Jazlyn we talked a bit first.

She asked you things like your middle name.

Making myself small was the role I chose with

you in the beginning.

Sass wanted more. Sass likes to take her

sweet ass time. She made you smoke another

joint with us on the roof at the neighbor’s

party. I realized after our second threesome

what fantastic therapy sex was. You burfed

me to the joy of sexin’. Sexual Healing. It still

hurt so bad I’d scream my head off like a

tantruming child. You let me climb up you as

you couched lovingly ‘Climb da tree.’ You could

fuck two girls at once. By August, the goal

was three girls at once and film it. We got our

hair done, did our make up, danced around

the bedroom in giddy anticipation (We were

making a lesbian gangsta erotica!!) and you

never came because you got arrested. So we

made a movie about waiting for Strawberry.

You came in the aftermath of Credwin and

weathered the storm of various other more

suitable, educated hip black fellows that made

art or music and fancied me for a while until

I got bored. Credwin broke my heart in five

places the minute I lay eyes on him. Credwin

was beta, the kind of G that crawled up out

of the ghetto into art school and had the

tatts and the white homies to prove it. This

made Credwin a safe first. When I smelled

the cocoa butter on Credwin I assumed it was

pheromonal and that black people just smelled

like candy to me. By the time you starting

living at my place I knew it was the Palmer’s.

And by the time you left and I payed a visit to

Credwin he confirmed – he doesn’t even wear

coco butter! As Josephine Baker, the Missouri

born ‘Créole Goddess’ that made millions of

dollars shaking her behind for white audiences

of the mid-twentieth century said, ‘the white

Imagination sure is something when it comes

to Blacks.’ 1

Drake, you, Strawberry II, Credwin, Dabtdrae…

everyone was bleeding together like some

bastard exquisite corpse of a melancholy hymn

drenched in squirt (that's female ejaculation.)


STRAWBERRY

Credwin came in the wake of Dabtdrae, who

was born in the Caribbean third world but

learned the American way how to barf up

friend Chicken and test saliva for Candida

traces.

Before I knew it Dabtdrae would become your

‘custee’ and start calling himself ‘Strawberry

II,’ a weaker fruitier art-school you that fancied

he could one day play you basketball oneon-one

in the park. Dabtdrae that fancied

he could one day have a Black girlfriend.

Dabtdrae always said things like how he felt

like everyone thought he only dated white

girls because of some internalized hatred of

his own kind when really, he just didn’t know

very many Black girls. Especially Black girls

that were into cross-dressing and painting with

butter Dabtdraes.

‘You know people don’t think that,’ I answered

back.

‘I know, but it’s something I’m really sensitive

about.’

The next day it hit me that I do think that.

Not just about Dabtdrae but about most of

the Black male artists I know that date white

female artists. Strawberry was capital ‘B’

Black, in the pure imaginary sense. Black in

the sense that your strong arms led me in and

out of my illusions with fluid precision.

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

When you didn’t answer my calls I could

usually hunt you down where you were ballin'

in the park.

‘You want some pussy wid dat?’

‘Hell yea!!’

I escaped all day long at work into fantastical

text messaging with my Strawberry. In October

you went to California to try out for the NBA

d-league and the topic du jour at work between

my boss's daughter and I became Basketball

Wives. After the tryout you got phone calls from

teams across the country and ever since I’ve

been making you Blackberry-sized hoop mix

tapes as a labor of lust.

‘I want to sleep next to you.’

You texted me suddenly one night. We didn’t

fuck, you came over and you held me. I

thought you didn’t know how. For the next

several nights we smoked together and you

told me where you came from. You were an

orphan, and you had been homeless since

your adopted father was instrumental in having

you arrested your last year of high school. Your

adopted father worked in finance and played

inappropriately with his adopted children. He

had 6. You learned to snatch purses and sell

drugs to survive. You spent a year on Rikers

Island. You’d been homeless this whole time

and I had had no idea.

continued...

In high school, you worked at McDonald’s for

a week until one day you were at the fryer and

you looked outside across the street into the

adjacent park and said aloud, ‘Fuck this, I’m a

baller.’ And as much as you craved, relished,

savored, elevated and celebrated the act of

coitus, the best sex noises you’ve ever made

occurred while you were watching basketball

highlights on my laptop.

Eventually, you were coming every night

bringing me blackberry seltzers and asking

me to sing you to sleep like a Mermaid. You

started calling my place ‘The Crib,’ or ‘Home,’

and it made me happy. You slipped so quickly

into the boyfriend zone, and just as quickly you

slipped out. You bought me fitted caps in all

different colors and taught me how to ‘Cook

Up,’ Lil B’s rare dance move about making

crack cocaine I began to incorporate into my

yoga routine.

You’d always have a bedtime story that could

rip my privileged white paradigm to shreds.

Like the night you said you went to play ball at

a Latino club and a bunch of them ganged up

on you saying you were too good to play at their

club. You retaliated by hiring a hit man to go

to the club owner’s house and had your killer

wait a block back as you patiently asked for an

apology.

That’s when I learned what ‘beef’ meant. You

said you didn’t have any. You said the only way

to end beef was to end beef. A week later you

came back from a hood tournament saying

your team had lost by six points and then shot

your opponents. You said the whole team was

drunk and stoned. Another time you punched

a guy during a game and ran through half

the backyards of Queens as the other team

stalked you with guns.

I taught you about kale. You taught me all the

various pseudonyms for pseudonyms and all

the ways you could say you sliced through

someone’s face – like ‘eatin’ someone’s food’

(the whole face) or ‘Buck fifty’ (half the face).

Every slang expression revolved around money,

sex or food and had two or three meanings.

You examined my asshole for herpes.

You taught me about selling urine in drug

treatment centers and selling drugs in drug

treatment centers.

I barely knew the names of any of my

neighbors and you knew the whole block. They

knew you. They worked for you, they called

your name and shook your hand in the park.

Even the ‘Community Service Stars,’ what you

56


called the women who cleaned the bathrooms

in Maria Hernandez park. I remember when

you first called me a ‘Star,’ and I had thought

it suited me so well – Me the artist! Me in the

singular. Me the pretty white girl that breezed

through the park with my headphones blocking

out the world looking for you.

Until the day Gigi – who claimed to be your

long term live in Girlfriend with a capital G!

– began stalking me online and calling at

all hours of the night to threaten me. And

it wasn’t just Gigi. Pretty soon angry Black

Mamas were hanging out of windows howling

my name to avenge their jealous chickenhead

daughters. All this peppered by sudden vague

pronouncements by you such as ‘Don’t tell

anyone you know me I don’t want you to get a

hot curling iron shoved up your ass because

someone’s trying to get at me.’ And in defense

of your multiple boos ‘I am the best. Nobody’s

getting all of me because nobody’s takin’ it in

all three holes.’

Sucking your dick that one time made me

gag and I cried afterward. I guess you were

homeless in the sense that you were a nomad

with Moms, Boos and Bs scattered across

Brooklyn. You were, as a good friend of mine

once said, ‘A key holder.’ You were welcome

everywhere you went.

I was golden, Gigi or not. And as you faded

back into NSA sex I found that I had a

remarkable ability to attract young, beautiful

Black men of all camps. They were coming

out of my ears. I could love them as long as

they cut me off first. At the end of the day,

the harder I ran into the arms of the next

Black man the more they reminded me of my

father-brother-sister-mother…Me! Early sexual

experimentation. Shame. Alienation was our

mother tongue. The generation that stopped

pooping. Stopped menstruating. Stopped

Loving.

Then all of a sudden one day Gigi blitzed me.

Called me 100 times a day for a week and

made death threats. I was having paranoiac

fantasies about Gigi climbing through my

apartment window with an oozie and my yoga

teacher said their was radioactive cell phone

matter in my aura. She didn’t stop, and no

matter where I went I heard Gigi vibrating in my

handbag. Until finally I was biking somewhere

and realized her phone calls were vibrating

my handlebars. I stopped the flow of traffic,

answered and let her yell at me. I apologized.

She won. Officially, I came to the 212 six years

after I moved to New York when a jealous

(genius?) hood chick called me private so

many times I had to get a new phone number.

I did whatever I could to get your approval even

if it was granted in some demented form like a

one word text message. At the end of the day

what lay beneath the way I worshipped you,

and I did, was self-loathing. Familial loathing.

I’d go to the ends of the earth searching for

anyone that didn’t remind me of myself. I

developed a high-speed radar for any man that

had never washed down six rice crispy treats

with a trip to Disneyland. My explosive love for

you, Strawberry, masked a violent and utter

disgust at the way my having been born with

a golden spoon in my mouth only caused me

to dive head first into a bucket of ice cream

and swim out through rehab. When I should

have been saving the world, not climbing to the

shrillest pitches of pleasure with a dick singing

in my ass?

In the African folk tradition the spiritual self

revolves around a number of rotating centers

one among them sexuality and food. In the

African Diasporic tradition of boasting and

bragging we see today embodied in Rap, there

is no space for guilt, fear and shame around

food and the body. ‘Katie vanilla fudge Kakey’s

got the fatty,’ you said, and I’ve liked my body

ten times more ever since.

Eventually, you came back. You gave me

knicknames. I was ‘My Yoga,’ or should I say

Your Yoga, and also ‘Katie Kakey,’ named

after Kakey Long Tongue, our favorites. You

texted ‘What’s good?’ several days after I had

decided you were never coming back. You

texted ‘What’s good?’ several months and

several days after I had decided you were

never coming back the second time. Your

birthday cake was still waiting for you in the

fridge with candles. It was crusty hard and you

only ate one bite to be polite. You opened your

present and have been wearing your lucky

shorts ever since.

And then one day you actually did clear out.

Again. And then came back, again. Without

talking about it, just like when you moved in.

You left the cocoa butter and I slather myself

in it every time I know you’re coming around

for a visit or I miss you which is a lot of the

time. I call you and text you and often you

answer and say ‘What’s good?’ like nothing’s

changed. Saying ‘I want to see you. I’m going

to come through’ and then half the time I just

fall asleep and wake up in the middle of the

night to check my phone, take out my video ho

earrings and rub the cheapy Wet n’ Wild off my

lips.

1 Brenda Gottschild, The Black Dancing Body:

from Coon to Cool, 2003


When I set out to write about French painter

Francois Gilot I had a lot of make-up work to

do. Mostly because I have never given a hoot

about Picasso or any of the other straight

white patriarchs of the Western European

tradition. I never had to. Along my trajectory,

Art began with Judy Chicago’s Menstruation

Bathroom and earned its stripes when Ellen

Gallagher hit Pomp-Bang. As far as I was

concerned, we didn’t need anymore born

again Burdens shooting themselves because

all those dead white Fathers were just that,

dead. Unfortunately, what knowledge has been

circulated concerning Gilot still filters through

the lens of the piddly ten years she spent in

P-Town. Ten years during which she become

immortalized in the public imagination as a

flower, lobster, bowl of cherries, knight in armor

and in one singular painting…an Artist 1 sans

the objectification and domestic trappings

by which Picasso, 40 years her senior, was

helpless to abide.

The Picasso I can place is the Picasso I wash

my hands of everyday and wake up dirty

again. The Picasso of idolize and despise. The

Picasso of powerful sublimation and impotent

discord. The Picasso of fear, scarcity, shame,

conflict, refusal of intimacy and exponential

Exile. The Picasso that doesn’t let light into

his lower three chakras. The Picasso that

had “fetishistic addictions” and kept taking

younger women as his lovers went insane

or in the unique case of Gilot, matured into

womanhood and left him. The Picasso who

believed every interaction boiled down to an

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

equation of “victor and vanquished.” 2 I can’t

place the Picasso on the Gagosian website, the

one bracketing Gilot as if we really need the

myth of a spineless war-wrecked man-child to

decode this Artist’s work.

While we discussed writing this article at the

Revolt HQ, publisher Scotto Mycklebust flipped

through a Picasso book to show me an image

Françoise Gilot, Dark Moon, 2002

of Gilot with Picasso as reference. She was

pictured in a chic sun suit with another

notable male painter and another mistress.

The caption read: Picasso with Male Painter X

François Gilot and Pablo Picasso

BY KATIE CERCONE

as if the women weren’t even there. Much in

this vein Gagosian’s press for the upcoming

show Picasso and Françoise Gilot: Paris-

Vallauris 1943-1953, frames this mature

female artist as the seductive appendage of

male singular genius, “Picasso and Françoise

Gilot celebrates the full breadth and energy

of Picasso’s innovations during these postwar

years, as well as presenting Gilot’s

paintings alongside his marvelously innovative

depictions of her and their family life.” I read:

Gilot’s paintings v. Picasso’s marvelous

innovation.

Conceived by curator John Richardson, a public

figure who in the heat of writing his multivolume

biography on Picasso attacked Gilot’s

best-selling novel Life With Picasso (which

sold over a million copies in its first year)

as “indiscretion masquerading as candor”

and “chip-on-shoulder malice.” Although he

eventually changed his mind and said it was

all true. Of the Paris-Vallauris 1943-1953 show

currently at Gagosian he told Vogue Magazine,

“One of the things we want to establish is how

she bounces off him, but how he bounces a

little bit off her, too. She drew very well, and

she was a serious and extremely professional

painter. . . I don't want to make this another

mistress show.” 3 I read: Pass-around-Arty-dick

loved by many bounces marvelous innovation

“a little” off Gilot.

Since Gilot declined to interview with Revolt,

I’m forced to begin where my cursory research

meets my wildly Feminist imaginary. As I read

58


Life With Picasso I was frankly more interested

in the work as a love story during a war era.

Whereby Picasso accused mistress Gilot of

not being jealous enough, “You should refuse

to admit another face into my painting. If

you knew how Marie-Thérèse suffered when

I began making portraits of Dora Maar and

how unhappy Dora was when I went back to

painting Marie-Thérèse. But you,” he told Gilot,

“You’re a monster of indifference.”

Whereby Picasso loathed dancing, tortured

his small social circle comprised of lovers and

servants and forced Gilot to bare his children

by putting her down, “You are developed

only on the intellectual level. Everywhere

else you’re retarded. You won’t know what it

means to be a woman until you have a child.”

Whereby Picasso’s first wife Olga stalked

Gilot and threatened her, sending daily letters

in which she wrote in French, Spanish and

Russian “horizontally, vertically and in the

margins.” 4 Until one day Gilot twisted Olga’s

ankle and face planted her at the beach.

The Feminist frame within a Gilot frame within

a Picasso frame within a break-the-frame

frame with which I choose to remark upon

Gilot’s work seems strangely at odds with her

artistic personage. Although she ran in circles

with Simone de Beauvoir, painted images of

Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Art Directed

a California based Virginia Woolf Quarterly,

suffered much physical and psychological

abuse at the hands of men, painted her

daughter Paloma as the Sphinx and a work

Françoise Gilot

titled Adam Forcing Eve to Eat an Apple

(1946), she’s certainly not an out Feminist.

She never had to be because she’s famous by

association. And sick of it.

She wrote the book damn it, expanded her

château in Vallauris for the kids with the

publishing advance and is frankly, tired of

talking about big P!! As she told Vogue, “Art is

not a communicable disease. It's not like TB.

You have it or you don't. And if you have it, you

have to develop it yourself. I was interested in

my work.” 5 She was drawn to Picasso during

the tragic live-every-day-like-it’s-your-last

climate of the German occupation in France

and notes that the work of Matisse, who also

served as her mentor, was far more influential

and inspiring to her as an artist than Picasso

ever was.

Truth be told she has been on the front lines

for over seventy years now since the age of five

years old when she told her mother Madeleine

Renoult, an amateur watercolor painter and

ceramicist, “I want to become a painter.” 6

Before she met Picasso, she was already

showing and painting professionally, much

to his amusement, “That’s the funniest thing

I’ve heard all day. Girls who look like that can’t

be painters.” 7 At the time, she saw herself a

philosopher disguised as a girl and already

had a law degree, a career in fashion and a

day job giving horseback riding lessons. She

was identified as a French hostage and put

under city arrest by soldiers of the German

occupation after a student demonstration

she took part in at the age of 19. When she

announced to her father she was set on

painting professionally he threatened to have

her committed and she was forced to escape

to her Grandmother’s house where she lived

estranged from her Father for many years.

Although she recounts in Life With Picasso

how the verbal and mild physical abuse she

suffered from Picasso connects back to the

violent treatment she suffered at the hands

of her father and the shell she constructed

to not only withstand his blows but learn to

reap a sort of perverse pleasure from them,

she is very clear, “I did not want to become

[Picasso’s] victim or martyr.” 8 Eventually she

grew up and got out.

She went on to paint a life time of works -

lithographs, watercolor, oil, pen and ink

drawings, gouaches, works on paper and

original intaglio prints. She made work about

the Utopia of Greek mythology, what her

website explains is an interest in the cyclicality

of Goddesses, Gods, heroes and their legends

interwoven as a “golden thread in the fabric of

her life.” Gilot writes, “The oracle unravels its

ambiguities, the Sphinx asks its odd question,

the seer prophesizes and the painter borrows

all the masks and invents new ways to solve

the enigmas of the human predicaments.” I

read: Yea biatch I’m talking about Africa the

cradle of human civilization.

She explored Buddhism to participate in the “Here

and Now and an elaboration of the future.” 9

Françoise Gilot, New You Studio, 2000, Photo: Brunon Mouron

Françoise Gilot, Pablo Picasso, 1946


Françoise Gilot, The Waves, 1986. Oil on canvas (two-sided screen), 64 x 104in.

She was sued by Picasso three times over

her book and won every time. In 1972, she

shifted from a classic rectangular canvas to an

oval or stylized mandala format suggesting a

distinctly Feminine and Modernist sensibility.

During these years she also painted large

compositions illustrating perpetual motion

through the glamour of the circus, spectacle

and sport.

Gilot’s lifetime muse was her childhood friend

Genevieve and this served as a leitmotif

in her work. Gilot painted Genevieve in full

glorious polyvalent and participatory humanity.

Meanwhile, Picasso’s depictions of his many

lovers celebrated illegitimate white male power

and failure. The time he’d rather spend on the

stairway looking out the window, waiting for

Gilot to arrive than with her in the flesh. 10 So

why do we have to keep relating back to it four

shows in a Blue-Chip gallery that throws Gilot

15 minutes in ten years in which she fucked

him like a raggedy gnarled bone?

Gilot sought to understand movement so

she studied dance with Marguerite Bougai,

a devotee of Isadora Duncan and Martha

Graham. While Picasso and Olga raised a son

that liked to throw women out of windows, Gilot

raised little Claude that told her things like,

“Mama I like your painting…it’s better than

Papas.” 11 She published books of poetry. In

the 1980’s she became interested in depicting

women’s bodies in action. She was tired of the

stereotyped “Nudes and Sofas.” 12 I read: I’ll

give you a black eye Fucker!!

She began to think about stillness and the

Universe. “From atoms to galaxies, everything

quivers, throbs, moves, unfolds, coils up,

ripples, expands, radiates, multiplies, eludes,

huddles up, branches off, augments, and

dwindles. All is part of a huge cosmic dance

where the only constant is change.” 13

This is Feminist too. Australian interdisciplinary

philosopher Elizabeth Grosz has addressed

a similar tenet in Time Travels: Feminism,

Nature, Power (2005). Grosz’s feminist

rereading of Darwin suggests that ‘Survival

REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012

of the Fittest’ is not the dog-eat-dog-eatbitch

game of victor and vanquished we

see embodied in Picasso’s work and artist

personae but a case in which the ‘fittest’ is

actually the being most open and amenable

to change. The being most receptive to the

unadulterated gifts of the present. Grosz

maintains that Darwin “outlined an ingenious

‘temporal machine for the production of the

new’” in which evolution is a “fundamentally

open system” with “no real promise of any

particular result, no guarantee of progress

or improvement” save “proliferation and

transformation.” 14

Whereas Picasso told Gilot painting was a

“matter of seizing the power” and “taking

over from nature not expecting you to supply

her with information and good advice,” 15 Gilot

plunged into nature’s unruly wake. Picasso’s

rhetoric maintained fealty to the bland

2-dimensionality of a dominant/subordinate

pair of terms even as he tried to fragment,

extend and abstract their axis. It’s no surprise

that his African or Black Period has been so

easily absorbed into the Western Cannon with

its source – let’s call them the ‘vanquished’ -

uprooted, white-washed and obscured.

Gilot lived through the war too. It became

one filter she incorporated into her worldview

before expanding beyond its adolescent

double-bind. If Picasso is our Anti-hero, Gilot

must be our unsung Heroine. Both are equally

necessary to understand where we’ve been

and where we’re headed. Gilot prevailed and

reinvented herself; found polyvalent cyclicality

and perpetual motion. She probed the deep

potentiality of Female subjectivity and her life’s

work reflects the way in which the subordinate

term – Female, Other, Africa, The Dark

Continent! - is always “the heart and center” 16

of the dominant one.

Dodie Kazanjian, “Life After Picasso: Françoise

Gilot” Vogue Magazine, April 27, 2012

Life With Picasso, Francois Gilot and Carlton

Lake, New York: Anchor Books, 1964

John Richardson quoted in Dodie Kazanjian,

Vogue ibid

Selections from Life With Picasso, Francois

Gilot and Carlton Lake

New York: Anchor Books, 1964

Francois Gilot quoted in Dodie Kazanjian,

Vogue ibid

Francois Gilot interview with Charlie Rose, Art

& Design, February 13, 1998

Pablo Picasso quoted in Life With Picasso, ibid

Life With Picasso, ibid

Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.com/

Life With Picasso, ibid

Claude quoted in Life With Picasso, ibid p. 247,

259

Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.com/

Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.com/

Elizabeth Grosz, Time Travel: Feminism,

Nature, Power London: Duke University Press,

2005 p. 21, 26

Picasso quoted in Life With Picasso, ibid p. 272

Grosz, ibid pg. 6

(Endnotes)

1 Dodie Kazanjian, “Life After Picasso:

Françoise Gilot” Vogue Magazine, April 27,

2012

2 Life With Picasso, Francois Gilot and

Carlton Lake, New York: Anchor Books,

1964

3 John Richardson quoted in Dodie

Kazanjian, Vogue ibid

4 Selections from Life With Picasso,

Francois Gilot and Carlton Lake

New York: Anchor Books, 1964

5 Francois Gilot quoted in Dodie Kazanjian,

Vogue ibid

6 Francois Gilot interview with Charlie Rose,

Art & Design, February 13, 1998

7 Pablo Picasso quoted in Life With

Picasso, ibid

8 Life With Picasso, ibid

9 Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.

com/

10 Life With Picasso, ibid

11 Claude quoted in Life With Picasso, ibid

p. 247, 259

12 Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.

com/

13 Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.

com/

14 Elizabeth Grosz, Time Travel: Feminism,

Nature, Power London: Duke University

Press, 2005 p. 21, 26

15 Picasso quoted in Life With Picasso, ibid

p. 272

16 Grosz, ibid pg. 6

60


wearable art!


Sketchbook drawing, Rochelle Fox, 2012

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines