New York based magazine and art book publisher Capricious was initially founded as a fine art photography magazine in 2004 by Swedish photographer Sophie Mörner. Now renowned for their feminist and queer art books, with titles like Girls Like Us and Randy, the collection of photographs of Los Angeles sex workers from the 1990’s by Eve Fowler titled Hustler and Matt Keegan’s box of art objects , ==. Capricious approached author Andrew Durbin (Mature Themes in 2014 and next year Blonde Summer both published by Nightboat Books) and asked him to edit a book of his choice with the stipulation that it be “literary”. Andrew Durbin invited five female writers, Dodie Bellamy, Cecilia Corrigan, Amy De’Ath, Lynne Tillman and Jackie Want to each contribute a short book of new or previously uncollected material.
2012 Guggenheim fellowship recipient, artist Nayland Blake was approached to provide the cover and packaging artwork. When Andrew Durbin was perusing archived drawings by Nayland Blake he came across the furiously quacking ducks with the text Say bye to reason and hi to everything – this artwork became the box cover artwork and the overall project title.
Five short chapbooks, five different genres, poetry, memoir, criticism, dramatic monologue and personal journal are the resultant collection.
First up Jackie Wang’s “Tiny Spelunker of the Oneiro-Womb” a personal journal/poetry collection recalling her dreams The medium Wang used was Twitter, placing the restriction of the number of characters in play as well as the immediacy of her output and an unknown audience adds a layer of complexity to the poems. Her simply revealing to the world her inner demons, and the immediacy of her posting the poetic tweets as soon as she wakes up, starting the tweet “stanzas” (loose definition here) with the phrase “In the/my dream”. This demarking of her poems, where as a twitter follower you will know where one poem starts and ends, is also a demarcation of her dream life and reality.
On the box of cardboard letters there is a list of suggested phrases. None of them have to do with Halloween.
The letters have melted together, making my task infinitely more onerous.
The cardboard letters were also supposed to be perforated but weren’t.
It’s hard to assemble even a simple work, materially.
I have accidentally torn the letters of the word I wanted to make and feel defeated about language.
An extremely personal revelation covering a raft of subjects, sexual, artistic, desire, detachable slug like penises, female lesbian desire, lust, book creation, brothers who are under arrest, no subject is taboo here, and in a format that is very readable and enjoyable this is a great introduction to Jackie Wang’s work. Check out more via her twitter handle @LoneberryWang or her blog at http://loneberry.tumblr.com/
How can I not like a collection that includes the following quote?
I revolt: I no longer want to be a person. Clarice Lispector
Dodie Bellamy’s collection, “More Important Than The Object”, covers a raft of personal art viewing, and working history through eleven reflections presented as “memoir”. With titles such as “Permanent Collection”, which explores the nuances, feelings, emotions when entering an art space;
When I visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art I am both an outsider without status and an artist in my own right, with a peculiar variety of privilege. Being a writer, I’m not central to the Bay Area art scene, but I bisect with it in overlapping circles. If you know any curators, the first thing that you’ll realize is that in private they love to act out, to throw off the formal constraints of writing copy for catalogues and signage, or whatever they call those informative blocks of text that hand on the gallery walls, from which the first person is forbidden. In private they take enormous pleasure in disclosing, in writing the forbidden, getting all personal and critical and gossipy, throwing around the first person with abandon. Get them alone and they’re eager to extricate themselves from the official discourse of the museum, to show the human side of the process, all the insecurities and resentments and near catastrophes. They expose their feelings about their jobs, and how at times when rushing around the museum they’re stopped in their tracks by the wonder of a piece of art.
And Bellamy’s past as a 16-year-old art student and her copy of /Vision In Motion” is explored, along with photography, imagery, capitalist consumerism, in the memoir “Moholy-Nagy”;
In our culture of ahistorical surfaces and angles of gaze, we all know better than to go around searching for transcendence, yet I suspect that most of us still long for it, that being human, we’re hardwired for such longings.
“Cream” by Cecilia Corrigan is a stream of consciousness style teenage anecdote/monologue about the beauty industry;
Sometimes I have to look at the internet and see what kind of horrible thing has happened now.
Things don’t seem to be working out very well for most people in the world and there’s so much disaster and tragedy and so many products you’re supposed to put on your skin or not, depending, and lists, and no one knows the answers to any of it.
A monologue that flows from Stanley Kubrick to Shelly Winters to Jean Genet to Abdallah the tight rope walker, the common link their make up.
It’s sad how most men don’t get to use lotions, except for the mysterious “aftershave.”
It’s like they don’t have any secrets.
Eight short poems make up the chapbook “ON MY LOVE FOR Gender Abolition” by Amy De’Ath
Every feminist man thinks he is a good friend.
He wouldn’t hit a woman, nor rape her. Nor kill her,
but maybe he would writer something to pause the brain, a
Heraclitean litany or regular love song. Save her a song in the spirit
of universalism that she would comprehend –
All my abstract labour is on the mountain top. So fuck unto yourself.
Highly politically charged poetry, covering Maxism, feminism, sexuality, this is another personal revelation.
Lynne Tillman’s “In These Intemperate Times: 9 FriezeColumns” we have the critical essay. Seven short pieces that explore the ordinary, where the writer actually explains is a mischaracterisation, maybe the mediocre “Being mediocre requires an effort not to be ordinary, then failing.” She explains the bulk of “ordinary people”, getting sucked into watching reality television, where she generally reaches for the remote, this time the thoughts, whilst watching The Voice, she stays tuned, “If she can do it, I can”
On The Voice she sang for an audience of millions. How at ease, I thought, she looks onstage, which achievement – ease – is meant itself to be a modern-day miracle. The girl started to sing and imitated what hundreds of pop singers have modelled on tv since before her birth. There was no sense, to my eye, of her wanting to make something her own, just to do what everyone else did as well as she could. She had the moves down, handling the mic, doing the familiar gestures, and could add the usual trill and vibrato here and there. The voice was a sweet, unmemorable voice, a voice like so many voices. I didn’t watch to the end, the outcome seemed clear, and she won a day or so later.
Factual in feeling, at times disjointed, the flow or connection at times felt a little tenuous. Containing a large number of great themes that could be explored in more detail. The political, the entity known as a nation is explored in “Fighting Talk” or language in “Seriously?”;
I’m not a cynic. I prefer irony, which depends on the ability to hold contradictory ideas, which probably springs from ambivalence. People confuse and conflate irony with insincerity and dishonesty; they believe an ironist isn’t serious. But saying the opposite of what is meant allows for at least two meanings to fly. Irony couples and uncouples statements, while revealing the hidden agendas of language and its conventions. Still, defending irony is self-defeating and oxymoronic. To mount an attack on anti-ironists would deny me the pleasure of pointing without being pointed. Earnestness does have its place. (President Obama’s new press secretary is names Earnest.) But to be earnest treads the line of righteousness and, worse, self-righteousness. It is often said of an earnest speaker that he or she means well. ‘Meaning well’ implies the speaker has used platitudes. Irony refuses platitudes, and hopes to undo them.
Overall this is a very tight collection of varied works that all address the common theme of identity, a nicely presented collection that gives you a taste of all the writer’s works without having to invest in a full length work. An enjoyable visit into the minds of the margins in the USA.