Archive for October, 2012

No Core

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

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Just out!

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For the past decade, Pamela Rosenkranz (*1979, Sils-Maria, lives in Berlin) has sought to collapse the meaning of the artwork into the meaninglessness of pure materiality. In challenging these conditions of art, she activates a contemporary form of nihilism. From paintings produced from the foil of emergency blankets or Ralph Lauren-branded latex paint and soft drinks, to plastic water bottles filled with skin- or urine-hued liquids, to a monitor featuring an approximation of and challenge to Yves Klein blue, Rosenkranz’s artworks take aim at the empty centers of history, politics, and our contemporary culture as a whole. Her adept engagement with the homogenous surfaces of our consumerist societies reveals them to be not just objects of desire but parts of a natural order. In so doing, and by unraveling mystified notions of art that has as its core the artist’s subjectivity, Rosenkranz incorporates questions about a “self” that insistently appears to be at the absolute center of cultural attention.

No Core is the first monograph on Rosenkranz’s increasingly celebrated oeuvre. Beautifully designed by Yvonne Quirmbach, the book features an overview of the work that Rosenkranz developed in three recent institutional solo exhibitions in Geneva, New York, and Braunschweig, Germany. The monograph, edited by Katya García-Antón, Gianni Jetzer, Quinn Latimer, and Hilke Wagner presents contributions by the art historian and writer Alex Kitnick and philosophers Robin Mackay and Reza Negarestani, alongside extensive visual documentation. Taken together, the compelling essays and images that comprise No Core offer profound insights into Rosenkranz’s unique work and thinking.

Published with the Centre d’art Contemporain Geneva, Swiss Institute Contemporary Art, New York and Kunstverein Braunschweig.

First Book Interview #56

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

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The poet Keith Montesano interviewed me for his web anthology of interviews with young American poets about their first books here. Some excerpts from the interview:

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Tell me about the title. Had it always been Rumored Animals? Did it go through any other changes?

It’s always been Rumored Animals. I think, sound-wise, rhythm-wise, it just worked for me, but conceptually too. The book engages so many different themes and forms that I liked the idea of one central idea or image—of the spectral animal—running (or pacing) through it. With so much going on in the various poems—family, desire, loss, art and literary history, art- and literature-making—this strange bestiary was a way to bring it all together. In some of the poems the animals are lucid, domestic, quite there; in others, the animals are neither practical nor material nor totally discernable—they’re just the hint of some strange intelligence or sensibility illuminating or darkening the perimeter. Acting as an against, an other, etc.

At some point, late in writing the book, I found this wonderful Virginia Woolf quote that perfectly encapsulated the kind of animal that I was imagining, its affects and effects. In A Room of One’s Own, she wrote, rather startlingly: “The sight of that abrupt and truncated animal padding softly across the quadrangle changed by some fluke of the subconscious intelligence the emotional light for me. It was as if someone had let fall a shade.” And so that became the book’s epigraph.

How involved were you with the design of the book?

I work in the art world, where books are often seen and designed as art objects—even more so now with the rise of digital books and web magazines. So I always had this sense that I wanted the look of my book to be right: very intentional and beautiful and contemporary. Early on, for the cover image, I wanted to use a specific painting by the American artist Susan Rothenberg, from her 1970s series that featured horses crossed out or halved by geometric lines. Actually, last week I was reading a recent issue of the New York Review of Books, and an article on Obama’s foreign policy was illustrated with a photo of the president in a meeting in the White House, and this exact Rothenberg painting was hanging on the wall behind him. I cracked up, but I was also impressed: he (or likely his curator) have great taste. Anyway, in the end the horse painting was too literal and illustrative with my title. I just couldn’t have an animal on the cover, no matter how abstracted the animal actually was.

So I ended up asking an artist in Los Angeles, Jennifer West, if I could use one of her experimental film stills. I liked the idea of using a frame from a film, as image-making and framing comes up so much in the book, which often has a filmic touch. And I feel very close to Jennifer’s work: its themes of Southern California landscape and counterculture, feminism and punk music. The still I used is from a 2011 film of some girls surfing on a beach near where I grew up, and the image is totally blown out with psychedelic, fluorescent colors; the artist took the 16mm film stock itself and coated it in sunscreen, Cuervo, surf wax, Tecate, sand, and a million other materials that have the same tenor.

Then I asked a Swiss graphic designer based in Lausanne, Sarah Leugger, to design the cover. Book design in Switzerland is a huge thing with a very important history, and I really wanted someone here—where I currently live—to leave their mark on the book. Sarah did an amazing job, and steered me to an insane new font by the Dutch typographer Jan Duiker. I wanted something similar to Futura, with a modernist and postwar European feel to it, like Godard title cards or old Frankfurt School paperbacks. Sarah and I didn’t have any input on the interior of the book, but I think the publisher did a really nice job and I was surprised how the outside and inside ended up matching pretty well.

Do you believe that poetry can create change in the world?

This summer I became quite obsessed with the second volume of Susan Sontag’s journals and notebooks. I really can’t recommend it enough. She was quite close to Joseph Brodsky, and her journal is full of his quotes and notes about him. Here are three from December 1977, when they were in Venice together:

Joseph: “Censorship is good for writers. For three reasons. One, it unites the whole nation as (or into) readers. Two, it gives the writer limits, something to push against. Three, it increases metaphoric powers of the language (the greater the censorship, the more Aesopian the writing must become.”

A few pages later:

Joseph: “I feel like crying all the time.”

And a few pages later:

“The poet-in-exile [Brodsky], born in Leningrad, walking alone on the wet empty streets at two in the morning. It reminds him, ‘a little bit,’ of Leningrad.”

For the full interview, go here.