POETICS STATEMENT -- BRIAN KIM STEFANS
It would be absurd for me to write an artist's statement at this point in time as I've not been making much art lately. I suppose, if anything, I am exercising a certain patience that some of my favorite artists -- Carl Dreyer and Scott Walker, for example -- have exercised in the long, though never "empty," time between bursts of creative activity. There's no drama here -- I've merely been busy, moved around quite a bit over the past years, and have had some highs and lows. I've wanted to make a change in the way I do things anyway (hence the title of my recent book of essays) -- more disciplined, less frantic in that New York School manner (though you can't take New York out of the boy -- or is that New Jersey?)*. My work has also been divided between "digital" and "proper" print poems for some years now, and I'm trying to take both sides of the project up a notch, which requires a sort of concentration I've not had recently. So I guess I'm excited to see what will happen next; I hope someone else out there is too! Could happen in half a year, or right after I hit "send" on this e-mail.
* Or is it just Mickey Rourke?
Postscript: I can say that my "research interests" -- which is code for what I hope to see in my poetry -- have veered off into all sorts of quasi-academic concerns such as video game narrative studies and the role of algorithm in the creation of cultural objects, the Rabelaisian aspects of internet culture before and after Web 2.0, and the somewhat vanquished poetic tactics of the "90s," trying to acquire some substantial sense of what's happening now and why (as Juliana Spahr seems to agree) a whole gamut of discourse from that time seems to have disappeared. On that last note, I'm hoping to take advantage of my newly minted status as an academic to take a closer look at a range of poetry that I more or less experienced as a writer and reviewer in the New York scene up until 2005, when I left for Providence; of course, I wish to situate myself again in the community of poets from my lofty perch above La Brea Avenue, with no bets on how that will play out. In a phrase: I'm in a transition.
ARTIST'S STATEMENT -- LAURA ELRICK
Sounds like you have a busy weekend ahead of you...leafblowers and bell-chimes and talks poems texts walks! I feel my imagination of your current projects like a foreshadowing delay or something utopian on the cusp of becoming concrete. Well, in any case, you're already there, in SF!
I read your talk on the B48 bus last night, as it made its slow way from Greenpoint to Lefferts Garden in the gleaming Brooklyn night, on my way to a meeting at the Belladonna office. I like what you're saying about tactics, and will be trying to think about that more in the coming weeks, between the jerk and grind. In terms of the difference between framing and distancing, my gut tells me there is something about the kind of space one is in that must co-determine the tactic. I mean, the high-density sign grove of the suburb/highway median or the grove of signs that has become the city itself, stretching its plastic bubble-time controlled-climate over the isle of Manhattan. Distance=Brooklyn? Is this distance aesthetic?
Questions I have—what is or is not possible "here" (for me I mean, my here) in this monstrosity of global finance in the middle of free-fall. The jumpers against a 15 second duration of laced steel. (I mean, maybe the compressed urban daily experience simply is NOT the focal point of progressive possibility right now. I am trying to consider what that might mean for my nonetheless very located, daily praxis. How to contend with the mediation.) Another question might be: How is dailiness (and the distancing from it) different in different space-times? Distance is relief here sought after, hard to achieve, and can feel like warm lovely rain, this interval on a city bus (distance in time and through space). Or, and I take this possibility seriously, might my longing for the lull be a retrogressive clinging to a by-gone mode of being. I don't know, I really don't. My exact dilemma is that it feels like frames are obliterated as soon as they are formed in New York. That for a frame to establish even a momentarily fructive register, an interval of distance must be briefly constructed from the detritus that gets dropped by all that movement… then move on.
Could Katz's concept of the contour help me here, in thinking about this? (And I really really love the reference to Cindy Katz's concept of the topographical contour! I'm so glad you reminded me of her important work.) Contour might actually be a really interesting and useful way of bridging poetic thinking to a spatial plane that allows for both a located grounding and a sufficiently theoretical engagement with the abstraction of global social relations. In her 2001 essay “On the Grounds of Globalization: A Topography for Feminist Political Engagement,” Katz discusses topographical knowledge as “a means to develop a politics that works the grounds of and between multiply situated social actors in a range of geographical locations who are at once bound and rent by the diverse forces of globalization.” And further, in defining topography she writes, “The thing itself as much as the description of it are produced, and unraveling the processes of how they came to be can reveal the powerful interests vested in topography and topographical knowledge.”
I would like to think of Stalk as a step toward the creation of an oppositional topography of post 9-11 New York. The June 17 act, a poem without words, was a “framing” intervention (an irritation to the slick skin of the naturalized polis). The text which mediates the visual record of that act tries to come to terms with the always-already aesthetic distance between what Katz calls “a local that is constitutively global but whose engagements with various global imperatives are the material forms and practices of situated knowledge.”
Anyway, these are just some of my initial thoughts. Thank you so much for sending me your talk! This quickness of the blood all around. This groping toward something sensed, but only vaguely known.
Hope you are having a brilliant time. And that I will hear more from you after the dust settles.
POETICS STATEMENT -- BRIAN KIM STEFANS