Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I'm still slowly coming out of a very intense space where i'm obsessed with words but barely able to string a verbal sentence together.

after hibernating at Debbie's for 3 days - i've spent a frantic 3 hours catching up on email. Barely moving, typing frantically in front of a computer screen - very like the way I've been since saturday.

I've realised that it takes me at least a day to arrive into the zone where I can write - and let the words flow. I'm realising that i can't be fordist about my writing - that I spend stupid amounts of time sitting and staring and then stupid amounts of time at stupid times just typing tapping frantically.

Over the last few days I've remembered to eat a coherent breakfast of porridge and fruit - but after that I get a bit vague - tending to wnader into the kithcen at odd hours wolfing down whatever I coud find - or munching vaguely on chocolate coated coffee beans.

It's an insane way to work - but it gets the job done - strange strange space of creativity.

Sometimes - actually most of the time, the tome feels like the hardest thing i've ever done. I feel my brain and body at their absolute limits - pushing, pushing pushing shit uphill. trying to synthesize so much infomration, anecdotes whatever.

I've found with the interviews - that I have to listen and relisten and let them enter into my own thoughts before I cna include them in my writing. It's a painfully slow process. I'm still working on some of the stuff i transcribed 12 months ago.

i'm still working on a lot of the stuff I read 12 months ago. Last year was a fucking cataclysm.

i'm been moderately gloomy - coming up to the aniversary of the end of my marriage. I spent Valentines day with diarrhooeah (charming detail!) and feeling sad.

the surprise present from the consort added more confusion to the layers - especially as he admitted that he'd started seeing someone -a euphemism for sleeping with them I guess.

Part of me is desperately miserable. I sobbed myself to sleep and spent a day sobbing silently striding through snow and sunlight in central park. I found it strangely life affirming - and remembered my siilar snow bound stides across white streets of Tampere last year....

as I felt
her love

sometimes the present is so ghastly all I can do is try to keep moving - like a mad mouse on a treadmill - hoping that the force of my momentum will move time forwards and move me away from the present.

but this is not how writing gets done.

writing involves slow, unbearable stillness. Solid stoic fixity. an immersion in my body and a very strange detachment from it. I sense my body so much, I can smell my sebum, feel the grease ooze from ever pore. every fart, every muscle, every splash of piss - it's an intensely visceral experience.

Lautreamant obviously did a lot of writing. His crazy bit in the chant du maldoror (regular readers of my bodies art and stuff blog - will know the reference) evokes so much the intese abjection of the writing body.

but hell! this blog is meant to be about my fun filled whirl of an exciting life in the big apple eh!

so what bits from the big apple can I offer you this week?

the bum destroying Davis's version of Caravan on a battered trumpet in the subway?

the simulated autumnal perfection of the R train at 49th Street? the R-train carriage is pure '70's uber brown - formica wood-swirled panels, orange and yellow seats, and 49th street is all red tiles.....

Or last weeks madness - an 8 hour 'theatrical' drawing marathon in some theatre in NOHO. It was the only place in New york without central heating and there were naked models, standing around for half an hour at a time. I lent my puffy parka to one to use as a robe.
that was the bad bit. the good bits included lots of fake blood, gorilla outfits and furry caveman outfits, homocidal housewives and lots of silliness. I was glad i borught my colours.

I aquired a crumpler bag for my laptop (it just fits) by agreeing to join the cave-people for a 15 minute pose. All i had to do was weild a baseball bat - pretending to belt one of them in the arse.

It was stange how my body autmatically wnet into a contraposto rotating pose: feet in one direction, legs twisting so my torso headed to another direction and me head turned in another. Strange how In a freezing basement theatre in new york, i counted the same breathes as for a 15 minute pose as a freezing classroom in sydney. Even after 3 years. two hundred and ten breaths.

I took it as an opportunity to d some research - find out about the posers and the organisers - i guess it could be participant observation - but I'm not sure if any uni ethics committee would accept it.

speaking of uni'ss I was mired in my slavish insecurity on saturday, which was no day to be swanning around in the Hilton Hotel. I didn't have any scerrick of pastel pink and thought of Paris and felt regretful.

I went to the Feminist Art Project seminar for the College Art Association conference. Initially I'd had vague dreams of swanning around with little business cards, networking and sussing out a post-doc. But - I have days where everything is too much. i can barely meet people in the eye - let alone run my own marketting campaign. sometimes I wish I was doing a PhD in mathematics so I'd have an excuse to act like I had aspergers......

some of the talks were OK, some were good, some were tedious, a couple were brilliant. surrounded by affluent successful earnest bookish women - I felt not unlike Jean Louise Barrault in Les Enfants Du Paradise - the bit at the end when he's running around a sea of clowns - and it was a bit scary... is this what I am? what I want to be?

Of course I wear less black and less designer clothing that feminist art historians. I wear bright colours and take my clothes off with people dressed in gorilla suits. I felt extremely uncomfortable in the Hilton hotel and tend to feel awkward and yuckky wherever I see the dead animal brigade (those freaky perfumed women clad in carcase skins - I'm not an animal libber - but I find fur coats... ABJECT). I feel more in common wiht the strethced out stithced up pelts than the freaky beings wihtin them.

maybe i've been working too hard

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Drawing in the Box

Sometimes I wish I was more diligent and could have been keeping a daily inventory of the whacky things that I see each day..... Wandering around a new city - dialy life still stirkes me as completely extraordinary. I saw some huge billboard saying something about contemporary art today - it was over a street in the northern tip of chelsea - where caryards meet ocndos meet contemporary art spaces.
Outside the streets were icy, with one of those rapier like winds that sting your eyes and make the tears freeze on your face -inside free piss was flowing. Each white box lit up
like a little beacon of delight......

I was headed for the uber white box, literally called "white box" - where they had a retrospective for the toronto based rad-mag off the '80's called impulse. there were tables and walls full of photos,cuttings and lots of fun weird little things - like some guy's microfilm comic strip and a display of documents and images from SITE. site was the acronym for Sculpture In the Environment who were a bunch of artists and architects who got together in the '70's to make some pretty amazingingly deconstructed shopping malls. Impulse had bits from their fragmented shopping mall - as well as the lava'd parking lot - ccars set into and covered in concrete..... which reminded me of the forest blockaders in tassie..... way to go!

so what was I doing swanning around in the chelsea art-cube world? - wishing I could imbibe some of the Grolsh beer being popped open ever second. If it had been congnac - or even a half decent vin rouge I probably would have succumed

Acutally, I had tagged along with Carollee Schneemann - who invited me out after our interview...... I know this sounds like crazy name dropping but I've realised that New york lives from a continuous circulation of namedropping and story telling. the narrratives and networks are the cultural life blood of a city that is also rapidly changing - and turning into some really weird version of strathfield, or something. Condo's eat up whole areas - really fast. and being white, arty, queer and aspirationally upwardly mobile (ie doing a PhD) I feel like part of the problem. which is the arty, bright eyed, alternative, go getting high culturaly capitalled rif-raf like muggins are the thin edge of the wedge for the staid culture eating, financially capitalled, psychic vampires that eat up cities,, suck out the life blood and turn them into apartments, parking lots and shopping malls. It's happened already in Brooklyn - and bits of manhattan. anyway - said thin edges of wedgers - living off a sliver of hope, possibility with smatterings of conscientious social contention - slip aghast as the ground slides under beneath us and gets teflonned into consumerised antimatter - and so all we have left is our stories, the names, the brief brushes with fame, utopian possibilities, eternal nostalgia. it's certainly how i feel about newtown - so I'm fully OK with the name dropping nostalgia thing.

It also contributes to the increasing shudder I feel around williamsburg - which is homogenisedly young, white and clean cut cool. Everyone there looks like the fashion students from east sydney tech. It's a bit scary - and they all look 10 years younger than the yuppies pushing prams or walking dogs in park slope. which is like Balmain. eugh

so, my interview with Carolllee was amazing, as expected - though I was mostly rather speechless and I don't think I sounded intelligent or asked nearly half of the questions I wanted to ask. I guess one of the reasons I love and adore what she does - is that she's like a beacon of hope for what I really, deep down believe about art, and about drawing as a form of critical praxis.....

I HATE the way that drawing and life drawing has been mobilised as emblematic of traditional skills. and the type of drawing that emerges from this discourse is DEAD, dead drawing, by and for psychic vampires who are afraid of their own and others bodies, senses and experiences and want to foreclose any possiblity of ART being a way of re-imagining and experiencing the world
. I HATE people who insist on drawing being 'hard' and needing some form of 'mastery' whihc is shorthand for denying the self. Denying the power and beauty of vulnerability, of failure. I'm not saying that drawing ISN'T hard - or isn't intense, because, like any serious practice it can be, extremely personally, physically, and mentally challenging. (When the ciy winds hit me like a slap - I remember sitting on cliffs in belle Ile, moaning aloud from the cold - going half mad from the wind - but staying there drawing for 3 hours... because I HAD TO). Carollee's vintage piece "up to and including her limits" really articulates what drawing is for me. It is about pushing yourself - completely, being utterly immersed in space, and thrown into both the space around, suspended with your own bodily force as the only momentum. and marking, marking marking, this process of reahcing out to make matter mark across space, to trace what we see - through our skin, through our muscles as much as with our eyes. Seeing and drawing is embodied, empathic and life affirming, and is a profoundly human pursuit. In addition to being a legend performance artist, Carollee is also an exquisite draftsperson - and she showed me a catalogue of the chorecographic sketches through which she developed her performance work. Renaissance primero pensieri eat your bloody heart out! this is not reflection of a continuous tradition - but an exquisite point in the life of the universe where imaginations, connnections, images and possibilities meet across time and space. It's a rhizomatic miracle - not a dead arboreal lineage. Carollee has also taught drawing and life drawing for about as long as I've ben alive or something - and is critically engaged with it as an empathic discipline, a practice that is absolutely contemporary, because its a means of observing and engaging with the present.

So this is the fire in my belly that keeps me trudging back to the library, and up those bloody marble stairs. And keeps me from screaming aloud after wasting my last $2 on a photocopier that doesn't have metric measurements..... It's what keeps me going, going through interviews of people who I occasionally find offensive, or boring or just obfuscating. And going through bad lying books and bad lying articles that are offensive or boring or obfuscating. Because I believe in the necessity and importance of disrupting the use of history as a bludgeon to destroy the present. when people cite a tradition like its some monolith, they make it into a myth - which like the law of the father, doesn't get challenged easily. So I like to break it up - find little tricks, little by-ways - expose it as a fractured connection of white lies, arbitrary habits, strange chinese whispers, odd moments. Every 'tradition' is just a collection of habits and blind spots - which can be challenged, and changed and contested.

In the USA - people refer to the classical tradition - quite a bit - and they mention some guy called Bargue who i'd never heard of before last month. He's THE MAN they like to copy. Today I trudged up to the extreme sports old school National Academy of Art to hear a talk and demonstration of the BARGUE DRAWING TECHNIQUE. and the place resembled the Royal Art Society so much it wasn't funny. Even the smell. and the weird beige partitions. and the people, of course. Oh God. the lecturer was not an art historian. at all. In fact the whole thing was dilletante city. Most of the questions were about wher she got her fancy drawing tools, and white type of expensive vellum paper to get. Oh fuck. to be fair - she seeme dlike a good drawing isntructor - open to and responsive to her own and other's foibles. The main thing she emphasised was the sight-size method - which I felt like a gorgeous little piece of maxmeldrum in manhattan.

for the purposes of public information - the sight size method was a way of generating tonal copies of drawings or paintings or even statues and objects, and people. It works on the basis of generating a tonal sketch based on the idela viewing position of a picture. this is ye-olde-worlde-genuine you beaut renaissance master territory here. Basically the viewing position - is where a painting especially - but any 2D image should resolve into an effective illusion of three dimensionality. I think you can calculate it as 3.5 times the vertical length of the picture. so if a picture is 50 cms high - you have to stand 1.75 metres away form it to see it properly. Now in the sight size method of drawing/painting - the artist has to make all of the decisions about their drawing from this distance. If you are copying an A4 drawing, onto an A4 peice of paper - then you stand 90cms away from both the oringinal and your copy. If you are dong a life study -then you set up your subject as a TABLEAU and then set up your easel so that the posing figure appears to be the same size as the copy that you will create on the canvas. and you must stand 3.5 x the height of the canvas away. If that distance is longer than your arm - then the process involves looking and making a decision at the viewing point, stepping forward to make a mark, and then stepping back to the viewing point. It requires an enormous amount of self discipline, spatial awareness and bodily control in order to do it. the plus side - is that, like Iyengar yoga - the precision does increase your kinaesthetic awareness of your own body in space and how seeing and mark making becomes and extension of this. the down side of it, is that unlike Iyenga yoga - the bodily schemata is extremely limited to standing upright and still, wiht one arm -pointed straight out, which is shit boring. this shit boringness - the rigidity encourages a denial of the body, and its capacities. If people oculd do sight sizing stanidng on their heads, lying donw, seating, turned sideways or lying sideways -then it could be interesting. as it is, pretending to be a set of compass points or some kind of freaky fleshy CAD program is just silly. (I didn't tell them that's what I thought though.)

the reason why I mention the BARGUE thing - is that I SUSPECT that this is what has made so much of the postwar US drawing so mechanical. Mercedes Matter was really into phenomenology - and yet the New York Studio School produces a 'style' of drawings that is weirdly geometric and cold and very unlike anything that comes out of a body. so I'm interested in people who can help me tease apart this link. I LIKE phenomoenology and phenomenological drawing, I respect people who can obsessively engage with a level of observational precision that borders on complete barminess. but I want drawings to be warm, embodied, open to possibilities and exchanges which communicate the vulnerability of that precision. some do - but it's a funny and strange thing how.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bananas in Brooklyn

I've been typing, I've been writing, seriously, shitloads!
just not on the blog.

i've settled into the bookish life of an innelekshool abroad, and I love it.

I make amazing porridge each day from this 5 grain organic mix and add in a banana, plus strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and rasberries. Plus freshly grated cinnamon and a tablespoon of tahini or sunflower sead paste.

this keeps me going for 5 hours or so in the fucking cold whatever 17 degrees farenheit is mean to represent....

and I've been doing interviews and going to local sketch clubs, including a burlesque one (again) and the nicolaides run through at Spring Street.

and today i found "the worlds largest discount paint store" and was pretty happy -and sending texts to firends overseas seeing if they wanted to place orders......

I know this sounds really banal and probably is -but everyday life and banans are what makes a city liveable.

the other day though there was a bright sunlight on my exposed nose and it was even a bit warm and I had a brief longing for the sensation of sun on naked skin..... and I sighed. Hell I never get that in Sinney summer anyway - but bundling up in 5 layers eahc time I want to elave the house gets a bit tedious at times.

my friends Hen & J, have got me addictied to this new Dr. Who spinoff called TORCHWOOD. It's set in Cardiff! It's reminiscent to 12 months ago when simon and holly got me hooked on Shameless. Each day I'd cram my eyeballs and brain with the british library and then come home to vicarious white trash land - it was great. now my mind is full of ideas about drawing and tyring to intellectualise recent art pedagogy AND futuristic pan sexual alien seekers in wales.

and I rekcon noo yorkers are nutty

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Where am I?

at present I'm drama free and blogging here
I've also got really boring pics up on my flickr site