Sunday, October 4, 2015

Mediators! Matadors!:


Mediators! Matadors!: Joshua Clover’s ‘Red Epic’

by Jon Curley on October 4, 2015

(Courtesy Commune Editions)
A swansong for the millennium has just been written and none too soon; or rather, an evensong for late capitalism’s annihilation. The unlikely form for this enthusiastic apocalyptic message is poetry and, against all expectations, given the usual banality of so much politically charged literature of recent memory, it succeeds powerfully. Joshua Clover’s Red Epic is an epic of fiery vision and uncommonly strident radical critique out of keeping with comparable voices of discontent. If you are disgusted by current global conditions and drawn to intelligent work densely layered with surprising juxtapositions of historical reference, statement and prophecy, then you will find Red Epic revelatory. You will also probably wish to abide some of its more extreme commands or be convinced of their theoretical worthiness—as when one poem implores the reader to “seize the fucking banks.”
Few poets directly engage our dire political and cultural realities, and fewer still do so consistently or effectively (Julie Carr’s 2010 collection 100 Notes on Violence is a shining exception, Juliana Spahr’s work is another). So be it: I am all for poetry free of political agendas but I also respect those artists who present empirical evidence of our debased political culture as well as the organizations that perpetuate international injustice. Moreover, I am impressed by those poets who don’t necessarily align themselves with a specific leftist tradition, yet are not reluctant to explore and espouse certain critical elements of many leftist traditions, including those vilified in popular generalizations. Going further, I appreciate the poem-as-manifesto that incorporates both declamatory outburst and nuanced conceptual takes; that also possess a sense of wicked humor as well as an air of moral indignation. Clover fulfills all these demanding criteria and it is refreshing to see...

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Glow, Turtle! Glow :)

Art World

Art Expedition Accidentally Uncovers New Glow-in-the-Dark Sea Turtle

National Geographic Emerging Explorer David Gruber discovers a biofluorescent sea turtle near the Solomon Islands.

National Geographic Emerging Explorer David Gruber discovers a biofluorescent sea turtle near the Solomon Islands.

A marine biologist studying coral reefs off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific made an amazing discovery this week when he noticed a "bright red-and-green spaceship" approaching his way in the pitch dark waters. The glowing underwater body turned out to be a hawksbill sea turtle, a critically endangered species.
While it is known that Hawksbill shells change colors depending on water temperature, the biofluorescent capacities of the marine reptile have never been recorded until now.
The scientist, David Gruber, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, was on site as part of a TBA21 Academy expedition, an art initiative that enlists artists, curators, and scientists to work on projects related to environmental issues. In 2002, art collector Francesca von Habsburg founded Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), which has long been dedicated to ambitious projects that defy categorizations.
The Academy has funded similar expedition to Fiji, the Galapagos Islands, Iceland, and the Caribbean Sea, among other places, and it is now gearing up for the launch of its new three-year project: TBA21- The Current.

National Geographic released a video of the groundbreaking discovery yesterday.

In the video, Gruber describes how the discovery was made by chance when the turtle happened into the camera's view. A yellow filter allowed the marine biologist to pick up the creature's glowing properties.
"I've been [studying turtles] for a long time and I don't think anyone's ever seen this," Alexander Gaos, director of the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, who was not involved in the find, told the National Geographic. "This is really quite amazing."
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Dirty Controversial Graphic Banned Books

Art World

Enjoy 10 Dirty, Controversial Graphic Novels for Banned Books Week

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Image: Pinterest.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
Image: Pinterest.

Banned Books Week aims to combat attempts to censor books that some deem socially, morally, or politically inappropriate, and remind the public what is at risk when we try to stifle creative expression.
While book censorship usually brings to mind controversial depictions of sex or religion, even illustrated children's books, like beloved author and illustrator Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen or Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson's And Tango Makes Three, which was banned in Singapore for its portrayal of gay penguins—have come under fire from conservatives over the years.
For Banned Books Week, libraries across the United States are promoting the event by prominently displaying challenged works, and encouraging patrons to check them out. In honor of this effort, artnet News offers this list of 10 recently challenged graphic novels provided by American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF).

A page from Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Photo: Alison Bechdel.
A page from Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.
Photo: Alison Bechdel.

1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel's Fun Home may be a Tony award-winning play, but that doesn't mean that the original graphic novel doesn't attract the ire of some readers, including freshmen at Duke University.
One student claimed its "graphic visual depictions of sexuality" would "compromise [his] personal Christian moral beliefs," but Duke defended its selection of Fun Home, describing it to CNN as a "unique and moving book that transcends genres and explores issues that students are likely to confront."

A Polish pig and a Jewish mouse in Art Spiegelma's <em>Maus</em>.
A Polish pig and a Jewish mouse in Art Spiegelma's Maus.

2. Maus by Art Spiegelman
Spiegelman's tale of a Polish Jew surviving the Holocaust has mainly been challenged by Polish people, who take issue with the book's portrayal of Poles as pigs (the Nazis are depicted as cats and the Jews are depicted as mice).
Just this year, the Canadian Polish Congress published a long article discouraging the teaching of Maus in schools, noting that "children of Polish background who are subjected to this book justifiably feel that their identity or cultural heritage has been diminished by the perspectives described in this book and are, understandably, humiliated by this experience."
The book has also been pulled from bookstores in Russia for its inclusion of a swastika on the cover.

A page from Marjane Satrapi's <em>Persepolis</em>.
A page from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis.
3. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis, a memoir about growing up during the Iranian revolution, was recently challenged by a California student who pushed for a campus-wide ban on "this garbage" after encountering the novel in an English course. Crafton Hills College responded by reaffirming its commitment to academic freedom, while agreeing to add a disclaimer to future course materials.
In 2014, Persepolis was the second-most challenged book at the OIF, second only to young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. The former was judged to be "politically, racially, and socially offensive."

A page from Gilbert Hernandez's <Em>Palomar</em>.
A panel from Gilbert Hernandez's Palomar.
4. Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez

First published in 1983, Hernandez's "Heartbreak Soup" stories of life in the small Central American town of Palomar became a hot topic in February, when a New Mexico mother went to the local news complaining about the "child pornography" her son had checked out of the high school library. (One example included a topless young girl crowing to her mother over the imperceptible growth of her breasts.)
The book was quickly pulled from circulation, a decision that was later overturned by a review committee. Students at the school under 18 now need parental consent to check out the graphic novel.

A controversial illustration from Craig Thompson's <em>Blankets</em>.
A controversial illustration from Craig Thompson's Blankets.

5. Blankets by Craig Thompson
Thompson's critically-acclaimed coming of age autobiography has been deemed pornographic by some for its depictions of the author's first love and sexually-abusive babysitter. After a prolonged challenge in 2006, a library in Marshall, Missouri ultimately opted to keep Blankets on the shelves.
In 2011, Thompson told Mother Jones that his very religious parents had a difficult time accepting the book as well: "They said it was the devil's message in my work."

References to beer in Jeff Smith's <em>Bone</em> were later changed to soda.
References to beer in Jeff Smith's Bone were later changed to soda.
6. Bone by Jeff Smith
This comic book series, published between 1991 and 2004, has won ten Eisner Awards for its pleasing blend of upbeat humor with dark, epic fantasy. Some parents, however, have taken issue with the comic's depiction of drinking and smoking, and Bone is counted by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) among the most commonly challenged graphic novels in the US.

A page from Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House. Photo: Neil Gaiman.
A page from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House.
Photo: Neil Gaiman.

7. Sandman by Neil Gaiman
One of the ALA's most commonly challenged and banned graphic novels, the award-winning Sandman was among four graphic novels challenged this spring at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California. The book has also been the subject of complaints against "anti-family themes" and "offensive language" according to the CBLDF.
"I suspect that having a reputation as adult material that's unsuitable for teens will probably do more to get teens to read Sandman than having the books ready and waiting on the YA shelves would ever do," Gaiman pointed out in a 2003 post on his website.

A page from Brian Vaughans <em>Saga, #12</em>, that initially caused the comic not to be released on the Apple App Store.
A page from Brian Vaughans Saga, #12, that initially caused the comic not to be released on the Apple App Store.

8. Saga by Brian Vaughan
Admittedly rife with sex, nudity, and violence, Saga was perhaps a not-unexpected addition to the OIF's 2014 list, clocking in at number 6. It did come as a surprise to Vaughan, however, when issue number 12, which featured two small scenes of gay sex, was not made available in the Apple App Store the year before.
After Apple informed publisher Comixology that the comic did not in fact violate its guidelines, the issue was belatedly released on the app.
"I never thought either company was being homophobic, only weirdly inconsistent about what kind of adult material was permissible," Vaughan told the Verge, apologizing for his initial complaints about the matter. "I'm delighted I can go back to reading smutty comics…"

A panel from Raina Telgemeirs <em>Drama</em>.
A panel from Raina Telgemeirs Drama.

9. Drama by Raina Telgemeir
Rounding out the year's top ten most challenged books at the OIF, Drama garnered complaints for being "sexually explicit," despite featuring at most chaste a bit of hand holding and a peck on the cheek. The real point of contention is likely the book's depiction of gay middle schoolers.
Telgemeir has defended her decision in a children's book, telling Teen Reads that "finding your identity, whether gay or straight, is a huge part of middle school.

A page from <em>This One Summer</em> by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki.
A page from This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki.

10. This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
Shortlisted for the 2014 Caldecott Medal, the first graphic novel ever so-honored, This One Summer ignited a controversy with its relatively mature themes for a teenage audience.
"My trust in the integrity of the Newbery Medal has been shaken to the core by the filth in this book," wrote one reviewer at Barnes and Noble. The CBLDF has reportedly been confidentially involved in responding to several challenges to the book, which contains cursing and a teenage pregnancy plot line.

Banned Books Week is being held September 27–October 3, 2015. 
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Opposed to Being Shot

Just published

Americans Opposed to Being Shot Seek Representation in Washington


Borowitz Report

Borowitz Report

  • WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – Americans who are opposed to being shot, a constituency that has historically failed to find representation in Washington, is making a new effort to make its controversial ideas heard in the nation’s capital.
    “When you bring up the idea of not wanting to be shot with members of Congress, there’s always been pushback,” Carol Foyler, founder of the lobbying group Americans Opposed to Being Shot, said. “Their reaction has been, basically, ‘Not being shot: who’s going to support something like that?’”
    “For years, we’ve been talking about the right to not be shot and people have been looking at us like we’re out of our minds,” she said. “But recent polls show that a vast majority of Americans, in fact, do not want to be shot.”
    While Foyler and other anti-being-shot activists believe that Washington may finally be receptive to their radical ideas, Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, is doubtful. “People who don’t want to be shot are a very narrow interest group,” he said.

    Art Fairs and County Fairs and Their Affairs

    Art vs. Farm

    Art Fairs and County Fairs and Their Affairs

    Art Fairs and County Fairs and Their Affairs
    Illustration by Nicole Vidor

    Kristen Dodge ran the eponymous DODGEgallery on Rivington Street between 2010 and 2014, when she closed shop and moved with her husband, Darren, to Kinderhook, New York, where they live surrounded by art in a contemporary barn that is itself surrounded by the makings of a small farm. This is the debut of Art vs. Farm, her new column on Artspace chronicling her observations on the intersections of these seemingly polar, living subjects.

    I remember trying not to gape at the bald, gender-bending couple sauntering past in drag like Siamese twins at a carnival. This was my first experience at an art fair. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. The bright fluorescent lights, maze of white walls, and parade of proud visitors were fresh and exhilarating. Carts of pink bubbly rolled by alongside snakeskin heels, a fabric VW Beatle sagged with string tassels, and simulated cigarette butts littered a corner like spent confetti. My eyes took in everything. I remember buying a small, flat woodcarving that was segmented into thirds, each part a severed section of an animal: the scull of a skunk, the torso of a donkey, and the ass of a fox. Everything made perfect sense.

    But that was a long time ago, before art fairs became a relentless necessity. It’s not a secret that fairs are one of the reasons I closed my gallery, in its former iteration. The more ambitious we were, the more fairs we had to do. From a practical perspective, it was too taxing for us to spend most of our resources applying to, participating in, and recovering from fairs. They had also become routinely uninspiring to me, with few exceptions. During my last experience at an art fair I reverted to a two-year old: Blah blah blah blah. Can we GO now? When are we leaving? I ignored all of the ‘important’ people I knew, or knew I should know, and limited conversation to snacks and sneakers. That was the day I decided to close the gallery. It was one of the first times in my life when I moved swiftly away from, rather than toward, something with uncompromising conviction.

    Last summer I fell in love with fairs again. But instead of pandering to people who subscribe to their own exceptionalism (I’m not an exception), I was accosted by carnies at the Columbia County Fair. "C’mon! Step right up! Win a prize!" There was a rodeo, tractor pull, and lawn-mower race. All were exhilarating and rough. Parents of young children were unfazed by toxic air baths exploding from custom-fucked engines. Instead of champagne and cheese plates, our snack options included grease, ass, and onions. We ate Greek gyros served by Mexicans who didn’t reject my bastardized translations. Someone in line flinched and told me that these people don’t speak Spanish. Greek people serve Greek food. And Artforum is for people who write for Artforum.

    We skipped the Budweiser tent and went straight for the children’s magic show. The beating sun and mediocre tricks didn’t dissuade my deep and vocal enthusiasm. I stopped volunteering when I realized my primary competition was the kid with Down syndrome kneeling behind me. At the end of the show they were selling magic wand kits, which were significantly lighter and less expensive than a Phaidon monograph. We wandered into the cattle, goat, and sheep barns, passing each stall where animals were treated to fresh hay, affectionate petting, and lengthy naps. This was nothing like groomed gallerists standing in high heels for extraordinary lengths of time without food or water.
    We also enjoyed the exhibition of workers humming skillfully away at dead trades. There were alabaster Amish sisters spinning white wool on wood wheels, and bearded blacksmiths burning and beating dusky metal. The barn was full of working hands—thick hands, slight hands, dirty hands, and delicate hands. I thought about the difference between hands at work on a trade and hands at work on art. One necessarily repeats to master and produce, and the other repeats to master and deviates to create. Both can be inventive, both can be repetitive. The worst-case scenarios, however, are when a tradesperson has no skill and an artist avoids change. What I began to see at many art fairs was that time limitations, production demands, and artist branding worked against creativity.

    Back to the county fair. We hopped onto a ride that I had been on many times as a kid. I call it "The Pirate Ship." To maximize the effects of increasing velocity, it’s best to sit at the end where you think you might die. A handful of other fairgoers joined us. I worried about the insubstantial safety bar and the small girl sitting a few rows ahead. The ship began to rock back and forth, higher and higher, and soon there was a maniacal outburst of screaming, laughing, and crying. I was slow to realize that the noise was all coming from me.

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