Tuesday, March 20, 2012

William Burroughs' Cut-Ups and the Use of Collage in Literature

I will be giving a talk on William Burroughs’ (and Tristan Tzara’s) use of the cut-up, and on more recent developments in the idea of collage as literature, this Thursday, March 22 at 11 a.m., as part of Collage in Context: A Symposium, a two-hour event connected with More Real than Life: An exhibition of contemporary collage, curated by Alexander Jarman, and running March 8-April 12 at Southwestern College Art Gallery. The event is free and open to the public. Address, program, and parking details below.

Come on out if you’re anywhere nearby.


More Real than Life: An exhibition of contemporary collage
 Curated by Alexander Jarman
March 8-April 12 at Southwestern College Art Gallery
 In a digital world, the analog has become all the more important.

This exhibition will present 11 contemporary artists, from California to France, currently using scissors and glue rather than a mouse and a printer to create works that question our perceptions of common reality and provoke discussion about collage’s increased relevance.

Related Programs:
Collage in Context: A Symposium: Thursday,  March 22: 11:00-1:00 p.m.
Collage in poetry, Mark Wallace: 11-11:20
Artist Talk, Joshua Tonies: 11:25-11:40
Roundtable Discussion: 11:45-12:15
Q&A with Audience 12:15-12:30

This symposium program will present collage as a strategy both in art and literature, as well as position the practice within a larger context of current analogue approaches in art.  The first presentation, from Mark Wallace, will discuss the collage practices of William S. Burroughs and their continued legacy.  Wallace is the author of more than fifteen books and chapbooks of poetry, fiction, and essays, and won the 2002 Gertrude Stein Poetry Award for Temporary Worker Rides A Subway.  The second presentation will feature artist Joshua Tonies speaking about his own collage work.  His contributions to the exhibition highlight some current approaches to utilizing both analog and digital collage within a single work, and how the two differ or complement each other.  The last presentation will consist of a roundtable discussion between Michael Trigilio, Alexander Jarman and May-ling Martinez. May-ling Martinez is featured in the exhibition.  Besides creating analog collage, she has built outdated or impractical machines from old mechanical engineering manuals as part of her art.  Michael Trigilio is a Professor at University of California San Diego and a multi-media artist who has worked extensively with sound.  His independent radio project, Neighborhood Public Radio, has been featured at The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles and the 2008 Whitney Biennial.

Exhibiting Artists:
Sadie Barnette  http://www.sadiebarnette.com/  Based in San Diego, CA.
Mike Calway-Fagen http://mikecalway-fagen.com/  Based in San Diego, CA.
Troy Dugas http://troydugas.com/   Based in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Lola Dupre http://loladupre.com/  Based in Avignon, France. 
Chris Kardambikis http://www.kardambikis.com/ Based in San Diego, CA.
Gordon Magnin http://gordonmagnin.com/ Based in Los Angeles, CA.
Morgan Manduley http://morganmanduley.com/
 http://sezio.org/feature/Morgan-Manduley.aspx  Based in San Diego, CA. 
May-ling Martinez http://www.maylingmartinez.com/index.html Based in San Diego, CA.
Arturo Medrano http://convulsive.tumblr.com/  Based in New York City, NY.  

Jason Sherry http://www.jasonsherry.com/  Based in San Diego, CA.
Joshua Tonies http://www.joshtonies.com/ Based in San Diego, CA.

The Southwestern College Art Gallery is located in Rm 710B
900 Otay Lakes Rd, 
Chula Vista, CA 91910.
Gallery Hours 
are Monday through Thursday 10:30am-2:00pm,
Wednesday & Thursday 5:30pm-8:30pm.
Tel. 619-421-6700 x 5568
Fax 619-421-6700 fax 5368

Free parking is available in Lot J on the days of the related events

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Brief Review: glowball by Steven Farmer

Hardcore afficionados of poetry that stretches the materiality of language in surprising ways will love Steven Farmer’s glowball, and everybody else should read it too for the challenges it offers to overly conventional uses of language and for its insights into contemporary globalist capitalism. glowball features five poetic sequences, each quite different, but all of which interrogate how conditions of language can both reveal sociopolitical conditions and enmesh people in them.

Each of the first four sequences establishes a serial structure: jagged seven-line stanzas in “Spectacler”; isolated lines of prose occasionally disrupted by stanzas in “Jewel Box” and “Saturuate”; and the chaotic yet still somehow pleasing visual shapes in “Parts/Din.”  The final sequence, “Metacity,” varies structures more from page to page with a virtuoistic flair attuned both to shifts in language and in visual presentation. At one point, “Metacity” breaks into a kind of call and response between contemporary power structures and language dynamics and Latin (yes, Latin) versions of the same. Farmer suggests by juxtaposition that the Roman Empire remains a  relevant precursor to conditions under corporate capitalism’s present-day empire, an empire which seems more shadowy only until you challenge it.

Within these various sequences, and almost in every line of the poems, the torturous, knotty problems of the present twist and turn and result in few clear possibilities, much less solutions. “The strong station, the weaker station, the station changing messages” is just one of many moments in “Saturate” that let readers know precisely what is saturating them (68). The lines “if he stands on the bucket, we see him in the abundance/lack dichotomy” from “Jewel Box,” show humans caught in their own clownishly absurd display structures (38). There are many more thematic nuances in every part of glowball, which deserves both re-reading and a closer, fuller elucidation of all its details than I am providing here.

My only criticism of glowball is that, at times, the poems struck me as lacking a bit in energy. The book shows a world so collapsibly intertwined on its own bad intentions that its various bits and pieces of language don’t build much forward momentum, and occasionally I felt myself pushing through rather than being taken along. Of course, that’s partly because there’s so much to dwell on in each of the book’s many small parts. Besides, the gleeful rush that comes from energetic language is perhaps, in the world of glowball, no more than a desire for escape, a desperate attempt to catch some final buzz while kneeling bewildered in the ruins.