A Radical Cut In The Texture Of Reality

November 29, 2015

Patricia Boushel Facebook post concerning of the North


"Many of us watched the of the North controversy billow up over the course of the past week. It’s fascinating to witness something that so few people saw gain such traction, but it’s also heartening that the reaction was so strong. Though social media is a terrifying identity construction machine through which we pick and choose the values by which we wish to be known by others and an arguably imbalanced tool for popular education, it’s an easy outlet for denouncing and condemning racism. Many wish for there to be a greater share of consideration, understanding and love towards those who’ve been especially disadvantaged, dispossessed and whose well-being is still not the bottom line of our own free will. I tried to watch the film, but by the time I got around to it, the circulated link was removed. We've heard from articulate folks that it is cruel, and I've heard from very wise and loving people that it was also beautiful. I vacillate between desire to have accessed the coveted object of discussion and the discomfort of yet again being in a position of witnessing a stilted perspective enabled by a tool for self-broadcast and public institutions that intend on increasing diversity content, and crafted by a singular privileged viewpoint. Rationally, the film being seen by more people could create a better context for conversation about its controversial content, and yet intuitively, the film being seen by more people will invariably wound the people in it, as well as so many others who identify with them. This isn’t about censorship against free speech, political correctness against artistry. The time of distanced, self-profiting voyeuristic cultural practices, particularly in our post-Truth and Reconciliation nation(s) is over. And how about making humility as valuable as creativity?

-  Patricia Boushel


November 28, 2015

When people hear the word racist...


When people hear the word racist their first impulse is to become defensive, to say that they're not racist, etc. But we were all raised in a racist and sexist culture and we all have racism inside of us. It only gets worse if you disavow it.


November 27, 2015

In the interview...


In the interview he says "it's not a racist film." But for me this isn't possible. If we are both reasonable people, and you think the film is not racist, and I think that it is, than for you the film is not racist and for me it is. We have different histories, different experiences, and different ways of understanding these issues and questions. It is a debate. It cannot suddenly, objectively become one or the other. The fact that people are protesting the film opens the question and keeps it open. The next question is where do we go from there. And whose opinion gets to dominate the conversation. And is there any possibility that the discussion might actually lead somewhere productive, towards more justice and less racism in the world. All these questions are further complicated by our overwhelming - historical and current - situation of structural inequality.


November 25, 2015

Art and Politics


Every time I have an argument about art and politics it strikes me anew: how weak I am at engaging with people I disagree with. And how little experience I actually have with the task.


November 24, 2015



Reading Carl Wilson on Adele started to make me incredibly nostalgic for a time "when self-consciously cool people put populist music down on principle." (But if I think about it more, I feel what we need isn't a return to cool elitism but rather more praise and attention for work that is in continuity and dialog with the rage of Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo, current feminist waves, etc.)


November 23, 2015

My answers to THE PARADISE Questionnaire


[Awhile ago I filled out a questionaire as part of the process for THE PARADISE by Maria Kefirova & Hanako Hoshimi-Caines. For some reason I thought I would now post my answers here as well.]

1. What is your image of paradise?

I’m fairly sure I don’t have one. But since that doesn’t seem like a very useful answer, how about: a moment in which everything stops, everyone feels somehow good about this moment of stopping, and then things continue more or less as they had before, just with a little bit more calm.

2. Do you prefer a lake or an ocean?

An ocean.

3. Do you prefer palm trees or pine trees?

I don’t really know anything about trees but I’m going to go with palm. Because I don’t like winter.

4. Name a difference between you and a person you love.

I feel completely different from everyone in almost every way but know there is no way this can be factually true. Also, I fear I don’t really love anyone. A simpler answer: I always drink coffee black.

5. If you could have any one wish granted, what would it be?

15% less work.

6. What will help you to find paradise?

Believing it exists or, put more simply, belief.

7. What is your favorite movement?


*****Can you describe how it happens?

Without my conscious awareness.

8. If you could have a second wish granted, what would it be?

Feeling okay from time to time.

9. How do you define grace?

You know it when you feel it.

10. Describe a part of the body of someone you love.

It’s there and not there at the same time.


November 19, 2015

I've started saying I'm semi-retired


"Beware the barrenness of a busy life." - Socrates

I've started saying I'm semi-retired. It's both a light joke and deadly serious, as if my life depended on it. So far, in what we might call reality, I'm working more or less as much as I ever have. But my attitude towards this work is hopefully, gradually starting to change. Saying I'm semi-retired is a critique of the fact that, as an artist, I feel I'm under constant pressure to over-produce. As soon as I finish one project I'm already being asked what the next project is. It seems there is a natural, unspoken assumption that what an artist does is produce a never-ending supply of works that fulfill an equally never-ending series of empty slots within various institutions, projects and structures.

I'm naturally somewhat prolific, so overproduction has never seemed like an impossible task. But I've also felt that, for me, being artistically prolific is almost like a bad habit. I think the absolutely hardest thing to do as an artist is to keep making good work, work with integrity, over an entire lifetime. (I have now been making work for twenty-five years which is perhaps why these questions are now hitting me with such peculiar force.) I've always thought that the best way to last is to produce less, to really consider each step and never unnecessarily rush into anything. At the same time, at certain moments, a sense of recklessness and spontaneity is also essential. It's not like I've got it all figured out. And I don't exactly want to figure it out. I want to remain open enough to whatever happens that I might still end up somewhere I previously didn't even have the tools to consider possible.

Nonetheless, I've started saying I'm semi-retired. It has something to do with no longer feeling I have to do everything, feeling some things are more important than others and my actions have to reflect such values and realities. One definition of capitalism is an insatiable need for growth, for more, always more, and I feel as an artist, often living hand to mouth, I am also expected to do both as much as possible and often more than I can. I am searching for ways to say, more clearly than I have before, that this is not where it's at. Time needs to be understood in other ways. We'll still have to see in the future whether saying I'm semi-retired is only wishful thinking or, to put it more bluntly, to what degree I end up a hypocrite. But more is certainly not always more.

Finally, as a critique of many of the assumptions in what I've just written, I will finish with - and very much hope you will read - this piece by Pampi Thirdeyefell: Art with Teeth because #CreativesLabor


November 17, 2015



Last night I dreamt I was an arsonist. As I headed to set one last fire, I got a text saying "it's a trap," turned around, and decided to go see art instead.


October 15, 2015

Fred Moten Quote


with nothing it’s impossible and easier, the same but really close to one another but unbridgeably far from one another, the way we flee a broken park when the island is a shipwreck and a language lab and half of school falls away.

- Fred Moten, The Feel Trio


The mid-career blues...


Of course, in a way, I meant that I have something like the mid-career blues: a feeling that I've done a lot already and it's not as clear as it was before what else I should do, how or why. If I can actually do anything better than I've done before and what attitude I might take, or what kinds of changes I might make, to make it so. But I also had the thought that 'the mid-career blues' are something that exists, something that's going around: that many people who have been making art for a good while, who most likely have as much behind them as they perhaps have ahead, might feel something a bit like this. That it might be normal, and even that it is perfectly understandable.


October 14, 2015

letters we wrote to friends after reading "polyamorous love song"


Jasna Zmak in Croatia has started this beautiful thing:

letters we wrote to friends after reading "polyamorous love song"

An excerpt:

"It was then when I decided this was something I ought to do. So, I am giving this book to you, as a present. I am giving it to you, but on one condition. Or actually two. The first one is that you read it. The second is that, upon reading it, you do the same as I did: you think of a friend who you think might like it, who you think will be a nice addition to our small community, you give it to him/her as a present and along with it, write a letter to explain why you think this person and this book might go so well along. Then you give them the letter and the book, and you forward the letter to me, so I could publish it here.

You decide on the length of the letter, I am just asking for the language to be English so that more people could understand it… and, of course, at the end of the letter you make a small note about this principle so that when your friend is done with reading, he or she can send it to the next person, including a personalized letter, so that this circle could go on expanding…"