Monday, July 30, 2018

Grace Note: Albies & Acuña

A lovely moment yesterday: Major League Baseball Atlanta Braves baseball player Ozzie Albies, from Curaçao, was captured on film tenderly comforting his best friend and teammate Ronald Acuña Jr., from Venezuela, during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Albies, 21, a 1st and 2nd baseman, is in his first full season at the Major League level, with the Braves, and is batting .278 with 20 home runs. Acuña Jr., a right-handed batting and throwing left field, is also playing his first full MLB season, with Atlanta, and is batting .268 with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs.

Initial social media comments suggested that Albies was consoling his friend after the passing of Acuña's mother, but subsequent reports now state that Acuña mother is still alive. The video provoked some backlash, including predictable outbursts of gay panic and homophobia. Whatever the reasons behind the gesture, it something we rarely see in sports, and thus beautiful and remarkable. It also underlines that there are other ways of expressing friendship, love and comfort between men that counter the norms of rigid, fragile and toxic masculinities. It's also noteworthy and significant, I think, that both of these men are of African descent. May they and their careers flourish!

Teammates Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr.

Random Photos

Following up on my post of 2018 photos from mid-June, here are few more recent photos from the last few months. Enjoy!

14th Street & 8th Avenue, Manhattan
The view from New Directions's offices,
late spring, Manhattan
At the New Directions Book Expo
American annual party, Manhattan
At a neighborhood association meeting, to stop
a monstrosity from going up on our street
One of the endlessly rising towers,
downtown Jersey City
Waiting for a ride, Jersey City
Filming an ad, Jersey City
Outside Berl's Poetry Store, DUMBO, Brooklyn
Amid the prosperity, Jersey City
Empire State Building, Manhattan
Another closed store I used
to pop by, Manhattan
Praying, on busy 8th Avenue, Manhattan
Repairs, Exchange Place Station, Jersey City
Waiting for the 6, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Street poet, near Astor Place, West Village, Manhattan
Crossing 5th Avenue, West Village, Manhattan
Cyclists, 5th Avenue, West Village, Manhattan
A new high(er) end business,
8th Street (formerly "Shoe Row"),
West Village, Manhattan
8th Street, with empty storefronts, West Village
Another empty storefront, 8th Street, West Village
Bleecker & Christopher Sts., West Village
A can collector, in front of another empty
storefront, Christopher Street, West Village
Rows of empty storefronts, Christopher Street,
West Village
The beautiful letter press edition of my
poem "all music," by Daniela Del Mar
and letterpress-printed at her shop,
Letra Chueca Press in Portland,
as part of my visit to Reed College
and presentation to Samiya Bashir
and her students

Construction on what was formerly
NYU's Coles Athletic Center,
with the Silver Towers in the rear,
West Village, Manhattan
Mercer Street, with one of my favorite
used bookstores in Manhattan,
Mercer Street Books, which has managed
to hang on (please visit them if you're in town)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Adrian M. S. Piper at MoMA

In lieu of a review of Adrian M. S. Piper's (1948-) remarkable show at MoMA this summer, which I made sure not to miss, I am posting some images from it--with random bits of text--images of the artworks that I wanted to sit with, to think with, to puzzle over, to pore through, to question and listen to, to learn from, to emulate--for, as I was again made aware by this show, one of a series by Piper that I have seen, I always gain something new when I engage with her mode and networks of thought and practice, and I realize that she was ahead of the curve not just in terms of her fusion of philosophy and artmaking, but of conceptual theorization and practice, critical intersectional gender and race studies in and as art, and multimedia and multimodal performance.

As was the case at the last Piper show I attended--I want to say at the New Museum, in its old haunt, before it moved to the glitzy new stacked, box building it now occupies on the gentrfied Bowery--I walked slowly, taking (lots of notes), this time with perhaps just as many if not more photographs--did I even have a camera phone back then, because I surely wasn't carrying the digital camera I had, or my 35 mm one--and allowed myself at times to be comfortable with not knowing, not fully understanding, while also recognizing various moments of connection and relation. The effects of opacity are one of the great pleasures of complex art. One thing that Piper's art said then and now was that it was going to make me do some work, that it was not going to be easy, that the result would be knowledge, but also joy, and a kind of pleasure that only such work would provide.

As a black viewer, there was and remains the added benefit of the deeper dimensions of Piper's art; even if my experience was the same as hers, I still could see what lay behind, below, above, around it, its fugitivity, to use Fred Moten's term, in not so plain sight. One anecdote brings this home: as I stood looking a series of framed birth certificates (or something along those lines), a white father and son approached the pieces as well. I'd already leaned in close to read them, and was standing off to the side, writing in my notebook, as they did so. The son, spotting a word on one of the certificates, asked the father, "What is an 'octoroon'?" The father turned to him and said, "Hmm. I don't know." A few beats passed, and I said, "It means one-eighth black." I did not explain, or say any more. The father answered, "Ohhhhh, OK. OK. I get, the 'octo'-'. Right." He didn't thank me, nor did the child look over at who'd opened a new window for him at the exhibit, which was fine. But that word would probably sit with them, as would the manner in which they learned its meaning, just as I realized how much--and at times how little--I had a guide in my head to what Piper was up to.

Now, some images:

VOTE/EMOTE: "List the fears of what we might think of you"
Do you see yourself and what do you fear?

What will you answer in the interactive anonymity of the booth?

What is the value of conceptual rigor, particularly today?

Double Recess: Depth, or its illusion, descent

A series, maintained and now, archived and contained--or not

Self(-portrait) with doll--at age 5 (1966)--what happens when
we represent how an absence of representation erases us?

Looking, listening
Adrian Piper's untitled self-portrait, in her youth:
what do we really see here?
"Sensory consciousness is of essentially undifferentiated sensory information." - Adrian Piper

The grid and the network: consciousness
(the experiment)
Abstraction, network and grid
Hypotheses, situations, charts & photos

Mapped and unmapped -
Untitled Map, 1969
Instructions / details
What's captured, what's lost, what's created
by the record of the performance?
Unrepeatable, but the charts & photos provide documentation

Concrete Infinity Document Piece, 1970


Catalysis III (1970) - to put the self on display
in performance, in everyday life -
consciously & what is not conscious
in the performer & the viewer,
what is catalyzed
The Mythic Being -
what does it mean to embody
a myth, to man-
ifest it
The Mythic Being

"Get out of my way, asshole"

"I am the locus of consciousness" - Nietzschean figure

"I Embody Everything You Most Hate and Fear," 1975

"We will confront each other as aliens,
hostile, because we evince only our
mutual indifference."
"This is not the Documentation of a Performance" (1976)

"It's just art" -
how many of you are in there
What does portraiture reveal
and conceal
An open letter to Donald Kuspit (Kuspit
Extermination Fantasy), 1987

"Aspects of the liberal dilemma"

Listen and you might
not get lost, even if you already are
Funk lessons
A story: _________________
Self-portrait exaggerating her
Negroid features -
how free are you, how black

Vanilla Nightmares

Behind every leader there's the
(black) specter of history
Behind every story there's the
(black) specter of hi/story

Dear White Friend, 
"Our families have been intermarrying
for centuries, think about it"

Time to know (or know that you don't and should):

"Whut choo lookin at, Mofo"
A: "Rodney King"

Repeat: "Everything will be taken away"

A game within a (language) game
News, Dr. Piper is no longer "black,"
but based on DNA evidence, is.....

"To participate, you will have to sign the contract and agree
not to break it, anytime, ever...."