Tag Archives: text

Postcolonial Thoughts: Liz Linden: I wasn’t lying; you didn’t ask the correct questions. January 9 – March 12, 2014

by Christopher Hutchinson

Liz Linden presents viewers with simple, straightforward imagery that unfolds into multiple, often contradictory readings of everyday objects. Over the past seven years Linden has created striking readings of images from The New York Times in her Cartoons (2006-2013) by enlarging and re-captioning selected photographs with text from the articles they illustrate: drawing attention to commentary in the article that broadens the meaning of the image.”

Liz Linden Cartoon (04/09/06, from text by Anthony Tommasini, photo by Stephen Crowley), 2006 Archival pigment print on plexi mount 13.25” x 9.25” http://www.lizlinden.com/Cartoons.html

Liz Linden
Cartoon (04/09/06, from text by Anthony Tommasini, photo by Stephen Crowley), 2006
Archival pigment print on plexi mount
13.25” x 9.25” http://www.lizlinden.com/Cartoons.html

Semiotics & Pop

n. (used with a sing. verb)
The theory and study of signs and symbols, especially as elements of language or other systems of communication, and comprising semantics, syntactics, and pragmatics.

Linden’s artist talk at the Hagedorn foundation Gallery on January 9, 2013 was full of the artspeak terminology, especially that of semiotics, to explain and validiate her work. While Linden rationalized her work behind an academic vocabulary, upon examining the work itself, the context of semiotics is not quite accurate.What we have here is a literal definition of theory projected as art. Does this literal definition art qualify as art or artifact?

There is a common misconception of the definition of conceptual art, where one thinks that by executing a specific concept one has achieved conceptual praxis. This is not conceptual art; rather it is an illustration of a narrative. True conceptual art requires no physical making; it’s not interested in illustrations. In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. “When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art. This kind of art is not theoretical or illustrative of theories; it is intuitive …”-Sol Lewitt http://www.tufts.edu/programs/mma/fah188/sol_lewitt/paragraphs%20on%20conceptual%20art.htm

Joseph Kosuth. 1965. "Box, Cube, Empty, Clear, Glass – A Description http://nsmn1.uh.edu/dgraur/Research.html

Joseph Kosuth. 1965. “Box, Cube, Empty, Clear, Glass – A Description

Linden claims the use of the random text already present in the newspaper juxtaposed beside the image printed creates the system necessary for the recognition of semiotics at work. Juxtaposing the Image and Text, only allows for one possible conclusion. The issue present in Linden’s Cartoons is the iconography present in its illustration of concept. Pop would be a more accurate term for Linden’s work. There was a familiarity with her Cartoons that brought to mind Warhol’s disaster series. Warhol did not use art speak to elevate Pop art to become more than what it was, 15 minutes only to be easily digested then forgotten.

Andy Warhol, "A boy for Meg," 1962 http://gloriajoh.wordpress.com/tour/

Andy Warhol, “A boy for Meg,” 1962

Pop & Authenticity

“In the suite of collaged images, exotic domestic (2013), Linden resituates photographs of archetypal houseplants culled from the pages of interior design and lifestyle magazines in groups on blank pages to create surprising and quirky relationships through the plants anthropomorphic abstractions. These houseplants are the cornerstone of Linden’s third body of work in the exhibition—a hypothetical installation for which she will place a live and artificial Phalaenopsis orchid side by side for the duration of the exhibition. With this coupling Linden presents a compelling tautology that presses on questions of representation, signification, and what the artist calls the plant’s “oxymoronic status as minimalist decoration.” These works shed light on the social and political context we consciously or unconsciously bring to our perception of images and objects, challenging the received epistemology and learned affective responses ubiquitous in contemporary western culture.” http://www.hfgallery.org/exhibitions.html

Liz Linden exotic domestic no. 1 Paper on denril 17”x14" http://www.lizlinden.com/exotic_domestic.html

Liz Linden.   exotic domestic no. 1
Paper on denril

Linden led a discourse on the strange habits of humans that bring exotic plants into their homes and how in catalogues the only objects that are not for sale are the plants. Of Linden’s exotic domestic series (not pictured) the most interesting was the Orchid sculptures exhibited side by side on two pedestals. One orchid was real and the other fake.

The viewer was asked to question, which was the authentic? One of the main components of Pop art was to purposely challenge the value of authentic art, to use mass media production as the cheapest way to level the all that the art world values. Linden’s work repeats these same dated goals, which would not be a problem if these works were presented as artifacts. Does Linden’s exotic domestic orchid challenge authenticity more successfully than Warhol’s brillo boxes?

The values of artifacts are judged based on the civilization present when created. Roman sculpture considered less in comparison to Greece. Linden’s artifacts do not succeed in contributing a new dialogue Pop, much less semiotics.


Christopher HutchinsonChristopher Hutchinson is an Assistant Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and Archetype Art Gallery Owner in Atlanta, Ga. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama. He lived in Alabama for 10 years before moving to Atlanta in 2008.

Learn more about Christopher and his work at Black Flight 144.


by Peter Ciccariello


Works in Textual artifacts are created using an array of 2-D and 3-D software programs and take their inspiration from common methods of archeological excavation. Just as ancient artifacts are deciphered through the recovery and examination of the remains of a culture, environmental data and detritus that they leave behind, these image artifacts represent the remains of poems and writings that have been eroded and battered in a digital process. That process attempts to dissect and deconstruct a text and then reconstruct that text as an evolutionary image. The final visual is created by digitally mapping the image with a copy of itself, in a sense, forming an archeological topography of the material essence of the image. This visual topography, created from the value scale of the image, is excavated from within the process revealing the remains, historical marks and gestures from the original source data. In this way, these images become metaphors of themselves, just as the incidental evidence of our human ancestors provide a reflective metaphor for our own lives.


This art is defined by process, a hybrid of the essential elements of painting, photography and writing. The digital matrix that is created is at the core of this work, provides a new form of plate printing, a virtual digital matrix that functions as the film negative in photography or the copper plate that is the basis of etching, intaglio and engraving printmaking processes. This digital image matrix now provides the possibility to be output from 3-D printers and realized as free-standing sculptures or in this case, sculptured wall hangings. This unprecedented freedom of instantiation provides the artist with the ability to output multiple types of art realized from the same original matrix.

In this sense, every instantiation of the matrix is an original with the unique aura of the artists’ conception. In an age of ever more sophisticated reproductive technologies the image matrix becomes the postmodern link to the artist’s hand. The abstract schema that becomes an imprint is akin to personal writing, instantiated as a new private language – part sign, part symbol and part code, this image surface becomes a non-navigational road map of fragmented and disassembled narratives, disruptive and de-centering yet at the same time oddly imbued with an inner, familiar, and abstracted order.

sister queens

sister queens

tiny disconnects

tiny disconnects

map of the kindness of strangers

map of the kindness of strangers

body as locus

body as locus

raining tache

raining tache

blue scrawl poem

blue scrawl poem

 homage to brancusi

homage to brancusi

after tender buttons redux

after tender buttons redux

poem totally destroyed

poem totally destroyed

soft poem after ryder

soft poem after ryder





Peter Ciccariello

Peter Ciccariello finds his inspiration in the fields and forests of Northeastern Connecticut.

His work explores the fine lines between image and text, and is in constant inquiry about what is and what is not poetry.

Ciccariello’s work has appeared in print & online, in amongst other places, Poetry Magazine, Fogged Clarity, Hesa inprint, Leonardo On-Line, National Gallery of Writing, and also appeared  in the 2013 issue of MAINTENANT 7, A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art.

New work gallery – http://invisiblenotes.blogspot.com/
Poetry and writing – http://poemsfromprovidence.blogspot.com/

You can find my art and writing updates on Twitter
https://twitter.com/ciccariello On Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/peter.ciccariello


by Myke Johns

Accismus by Hilary Kelly


The crow took flight, not knowing where it was going.

The girl had left home in a similar manner. She had shouted that she was off for a walk, the punctuating door slam throwing up a roadblock between her and home. She realized that she had no plan beyond leaving. So she left.

Eight blocks away was the park, a sprawling green space that eddied and dawdled like a summer afternoon. The trees and grass invited her in and she followed, hoping to lose an hour.


Above, a call and black wings shook the high pines around the east end of the park. The crow pecked at some sap, bored. She walked down the path below and circled the tree, running her hand along the trunk. Her hand strayed behind her and she shouldered the pine, spreading both arms around the rough pillar. She sat down, and as she looked up and scanned the branches, the crow leapt from its perch and spiraled down towards her.

She gasped and nearly lost her balance, her arms giving way behind her back at this sudden break in the still sky. Eyes shaded and narrow, she admired the bird–watching its slow descent. Its wings were spread wide for resistance–a black blade against the green and blue above. It landed at her knees, shook its wings and cawed.

“Hey bird. Hey bird.” she said. It cocked its head back and forth, examining her with both eyes, then looked at her dead-on. “Where have you been today?” The crow ruffled its feathers and rasped and barked. “That sounds exciting.”

A door slammed somewhere–a car on a nearby street. She whipped her head in its direction. She was back at her house–where the yelling was–deep there, in the womb of her beddings and headphones and quiet music. The yelling was usually outside of her room, between the other two. She’d learned to lie low. But every time she heard her name, muffled by all the layers between her and them, she felt like a catalyst. She wanted to explode.

“I’ve been cooped up in a house all day with people who don’t like me much,” she said to the bird. The crow sat still. “They just…” She thought of their faces but could not see them. Their voices rang wordlessly through her, as incomprehensible as the call of the crow. She let it swirl around, quiet, then ease from her nostrils like bitter smoke as she exhaled. “There’s nowhere else for me to go. I’m…” she looked down at the bird. It was staring intently. “I’m talking to a bird. This is the best conversation I’ve had all week.”

The crow stretched its wings to half-span and hopped awkwardly toward her. A flurry of wings and a surprised shudder and it was perched on her arm. “Hey! Hey bird!” It fought to keep balanced on her forearm and looked into her face. The animal’s round black eyes betrayed nothing–she could read nothing in the ancient architecture of feathers and pebbled skin. The crow bent down and pecked at her arm. “Ow! Fuck!” She shook, but the bird gripped tighter, its talons digging in, drawing blood. It pecked again, this time loosing a beakful of skin. She screamed and grabbed at the bird’s neck, but the bundle of muscle and will power drew its head up, pulling a thin strand of flesh.

She pulled at the bird harder, this time yanking it from her bloody arm. It dropped her skin, but managed to snatch it in one claw and hold fast. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” she yelled, and the crow took flight, not knowing where it was going.

The tangle of sinew became wound around the bird’s claw and knotted there. At the other end, she stared in horror as the slender thread pulled from her arm as yarn from a sweater. She found herself focusing on the sensation. The tugging, the pulling away–it felt like a continuous ripping, an old scab being peeled off. The crow flapped against this anchor and pulled more. She gripped the sinew and held fast and raced for a way to free this animal from her body. A sharp yank and a screech of frustration from above and she pulled back defiantly, sank her teeth into her own lost skin and bit hard. It was less painful than she thought, like the flaking end of a hangnail, but the skin stayed firm. The crow pulled harder now as it caught an updraft and soared into the sky. Circling above her, she felt herself unravelling as the bird stole away more and more. The line of tissue travelled up her arm, around her shoulders, and down her back, pulling so fast it nearly lifted her off the ground.

As the tissue tore away from her back and she felt it spiraling away, the pain bore a new sensation. She felt a pressure between her shoulders–pounding from her spine, it felt. Her skin unraveled and thinned and the pounding inside drank in the cool air. Like mountain wind billowing into the mouth of a cave. She inhaled sharply.

As quickly as the strap of flesh had peeled away from its purchase, her skin drew taut–from the slender thread wrapped at the crow’s foot, through the naked air and down down down to the center of her back. An unpleasant twang reverberated through her chest, in sympathy with her reluctant and airborne twin. The thin line of tissue stopped, anchored right between her shoulders.

The bird was surprisingly strong as it strained at her skin. She danced in each direction it pulled as it circled in the air and it in turn flapped and bobbed at this awkward ballast. As the tether strained, she was pulled to her toes. The air involved itself with a gust of wind, pulling hair across her face and as she spat and brushed, the crow followed the breeze. There was stumbling sideways like a newborn fawn, but then her legs were carrying her after the crow. It felt as if she was being lifted off of her feet, her weight reduced, gravity losing grasp. Her strides grew longer as she ran, until she was bounding over hills with barely an effort. Was the bird leading her, she wondered, or were they moving in synchronicity? Leaping from footfall to footfall, she spread her arms, fingers wide and palms flat. The wind moved through her, swept under her and the strain on her back tugged like an invitation.

At the crest of a hill, she jumped and the sky received her. She felt only lift, only equilibrium between land and sky. The crow carried them and she looked at it and it cawed down at her. She reached up and grasped at the tether between them and began to climb, looping her ankles under her, straining to pull up and up and higher still. As she climbed, the crow took to the clouds. They cleared the treetops and the town below. The rush of cool air filled her ears. It stung tears from her eyes and higher she climbed. When she got to the crow’s feet, she held onto them. The bird looked down and opened its beak; its maw yawned wide and engulfed her. The crow struggled to fly with a girl in its belly, but inside, her hollow chest and strong arms found new homes. When she opened her eyes, she saw straight ahead, the blue of the world reaching farther than she’d ever been able to see. Testing her arms, she flapped once and her new wings beat against the wind. She laughed, and a brand new call echoed against the earth.

Myke JohnsMyke Johns is a radio producer at WABE, Consigliere of WRITE CLUB Atlanta, and the man in charge of screaming in the band Mice in Cars. He also writes things down at The Occasional Triumphant.

Anne Carson and the Experiment(al)

by Mark Kerstetter

cover-anne carson's beauty of the husband

Art critic and novelist Michael Welzenbach wrote in his wonderful book Conversations with a Clown that, of all of the arts, painting is the most complex. It got me to thinking that the claim is more suited to the language arts. One might begin by saying,

The unique complexity of language arts is rooted to a blindness of their aesthetics due to the commonness of language. We use language in speech and in all kinds of written discourses to convey all kinds of information, but also to make art and essays about all kinds of art. The unique complexity of language arts comes out of the medium’s existence as at once mundane and unimaginably flexible.

So connected in the mind is the relationship of language to context-dependent meaning, to the conveying of information, that a work of language art that does not do this is treated with a deeper more disquieting suspicion than unconventional art in other media. Indeed, it is almost nonsensical today to use the phrase “unconventional art” except as applied to language arts. It has long been the case that people expect the visual arts to be weird. We are far from the days of scandal and protest. Even so dismissals such as “my kid could do that!” or “that’s not art!” persist. Some still manage to be offended by free improvisational music. But if the former are often made out of amusement, and the latter annoyance (“It’s just noise!”) the suspicions leveled against weird language art are something else. This is a suspicion of something which is possibly threatening, possibly subversive. It is one thing to make sounds which skirt all known boundaries of melody and rhythm. It is quite another thing to disregard the conventions of language. Is the person even speaking? Are they thinking? Are they sane?

We associate proper language with rationality. Therefore non-rational language art can simply be dismissed as “nonsense”. But if we are asked to take it seriously what do we say of it? To write an essay about a work of non-rational language art is to use the same medium as the artist. Yes, one reminds one’s self that the use of art and the use of essay are two distinct uses of the medium, but those reminders creep in and get entangled, threatening to pull the wise essayist into the wild deep. Yes, that poem is a mighty fish, taking the poor critic for a ride. The fact is, the essayist may not simply remind himself in silence, or even once, but this reminding—that the poem and its analysis are two distinct uses of language—underlies the whole endeavor like a shadow. And what does one say about a text which combines normative with weird language? Art threatens the essay the way madness threatens reason. Why else is the most common stance of the essayist to play master, to be the one in control, the one who explains, who shines a light into the artist’s blind spots? Because to not do so already looks like concession, a relinquishment, to some degree, of the normative use of language and thus of the possibility of making one’s self understood.

Nothing is more dismissive of weird language art than the designation “experimental writing”. By labeling the text at hand as such one renders it harmless before one has said another word about it. And any positive value that the text might have is only that which is restored to it by the authority of the critic. The very power of the phrase is seen in the offhand manner with which it is thrown around. The function of the word “experimental” is to render the unwieldy and weird text inert and impotent, like a lab specimen, to stifle the mode of inquiry that the text gives rise to. Its effect is to shut the text down, like turning a machine off. The beast is only safe with a spear through its heart. Since it is not turned on, not moving, it is not doing what it is supposed to do, and the reader has no more sense of it than a visitor has a sense of a great stuffed grizzly frozen behind plexiglass. This inert thing sure looks puzzling. Guess who holds the key? In consequence a daunting new difficulty is added to a text that by its very nature challenges the reader. Well, you see, he is told, it’s experimental.

But all works of art are experiments if they are seen as lines of inquiry or as particular responses to problems posed by society and by other works. A novel is the elaboration of an experimental self: such a character will respond in such a way to such a set of problems. A fiction is a hypothetical life, a novel is a rehearsal for an imagined state of affairs. This situation does not exist, but it could; the “could” places it in the realm of the experimental. What the critic does when she singles out a given work as “experimental” is two-fold: first, she ignores the fact that all literary works are experiments. Second, she casts the integrity of the work in question by saying, in effect, it is that much more an experiment than other works, that much more capable of failure. In fact the designation “experimental” almost assumes an aspect of failure.

Daphne Merkin’s review of Anne Carson’s The Beauty of the Husband reveals a prejudice for normative language in poetry. She flatly asserts that “the enterprise of poetry has become almost willfully insular” and that Carson “sometimes seems lost in an enterprise of her own devising.” That sounds like saying Carson is lost in her own mind, which sounds like a description of madness. Carson will write a poem as if it were an essay, an essay as if it were a poem; she weaves Dickinson and Saint Augustine together into a single text; she places a poem that is suggestive, visionary, enigmatic, next to one that is analytical; she sketches great narratives with a few lines, and she reveals the way in which a poet, writing over a thousand years ago, is a contemporary radical. She makes the old appear new and the new appear classical. What, today, seems more new? At one time Emily Dickinson seemed new. When her poems were presented to the world a little over one hundred years ago, her friends and editors were sure to caution the reader that they were not written with publication in mind. Had they been they would not have “inevitably forfeit[ed] whatever advantage lies in the discipline of public criticism and the enforced conformity to accepted ways.” 1 Comparing her work to some of her contemporaries, Mabel Loomis Todd wrote, “Like impressionist pictures, or Wagner’s rugged music, the very absence of conventional form challenges attention.” 2 In the edition from 1948, Carl Van Doren reminds the reader again that Dickinson “did not round them out into accepted forms of verse.” 3 Today such comments are historical anecdotes. Dickinson has become classic. Yet to those, like Carson, who know how to read, Dickinson is still a wild beast. Indeed, Dickinson’s poems, exactly the way she wrote them, do not seem to be the versions most commonly read today.

Making it new is one of the things we expect of artists and by responding in hypothetical ways to contemporary challenges, how can writers fail to be experimenters? Must the twentieth century battles of the avant-gardes be fought and re-fought, then fought again? Haven’t the achievements of the modern era permitted Anne Carson to adopt a variety of styles, forms and voices without anyone raising an eyebrow? Hasn’t all this been settled? Alas, no.

I do not propose the question to diminish the challenges that writers such as Carson offer. It is asked in the same spirit that Milan Kundera said that Diderot and Sterne

were the greatest experimenters of all time in the form of the novel….When I hear learned arguments that the novel has exhausted its possibilities, I have precisely the opposite feeling: In the course of its history the novel missed many of its possibilities. 4

—remembering that the “greatest experimenters” were two founders of the novel. Isn’t it curious that Anne Carson can be perceived as insular when one of her most dramatic effects is to present the new moment of today’s poem as, not merely equivalent, but as essentially the same moment as that of an ancient poem, a classical poem? This experience helps sweep the table clean of the last crumbs of oppressive notions of the avant-garde; it is a new concept of the new.

If we follow this new feeling, and ask in a broad kind of way why the possibilities that Kundera cites have been missed, one answer that offers itself is the blindness to the aesthetic potentials of language due to a prejudice for its normative uses.

The bias is easy to understand. So much so that it is a little odd to even acknowledge it, but acknowledge it we must, since a receptivity to the aesthetic potentials of language requires one to look at language as if it were a weird thing, an untamed beast. From this perspective, the purest form of language art is indeed outside the norm. No full and rich sense of language as art is possible without an open mind to this art. Why then the resistance, even amongst writers, who should know better?

Perhaps part of the answer can be glimpsed by taking a look at Kurt Schwitters. In 1920 he wrote, “I pity nonsense because it has been so neglected.” 5 It is fair to say that by now quite a bit of attention has been paid to it so that one feels that a good deal of sense is welcome. But if some of Schwitters’ texts fizzled out in weak frivolity—too much nonsense—much of today’s poetry and fiction limps along with cumbersome textual attachments designed to make sure that the norms of language are given their proper due. It’s a dull-sounding truism to say that weird language art is meaningless without normative language as a contrast. But it would be a mistake not to recognize that normative language is dead without the life-force of its opposite to infuse it with the energy of new ideas. A conversation between the two is vital. The great writers of today are those, like Carson, who can combine the two primary forms of language into a single text. They are the great experimenters.

1. T. W. Higginson, Editor of Emily Dickinson Poems (The World Publishing Company, Cleveland, 1948), 23
2. Ibid. 125
3. Ibid 16
4. Milan Kundera, Afterword to The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Penguin Books, 1981), 231. See also Kundera, The Art of the Novel (Grove Press, New York, 1986) 15
5. Kurt Schwitters, PPPPPP (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1993) 215.

Mark Kerstetter Mark Kerstetter is restoring a house in Florida, where he writes poetry, fiction and essays and makes art out of wood salvaged from demolition sites.

Phantom Sister

by Linda Simoni-Wastila

Marlena comes to me on the cusp of sleep and wakefulness, when the world blurs grey. She soars through yellow-tinted waves, her bald shining skull pushing through water. Although she never speaks, she makes a gurgling sound, high-pitched like the bottle-nosed dolphins at the aquarium. I look but never see her face. When I wake, the bottoms of my feet sting as though I walked over a yard of smoking coals. Those mornings I call in sick and sleep in the boat’s hold. The gentle rocking hugs me.

My twin sister Maria lives halfway around the world in the Catoctin Mountains. She paints and writes poems about trees. We rarely see each other but the internet tethers us. Maria has the same dreams about Marlena – we think of them as visitations — but she feels the ache in her chest, the left side, a sharp pain like someone has plunged in an icy hand and wrested out her heart. Afterwards she also feels an uncommon, exhausting peace. We wonder if this is how we tangled in our mother’s womb: hands to feet to heart.

Thanksgiving Day, I find myself alone on the boat, flipping through scrapbooks, missing my sister. I find an old photo of the two of us, a college road trip to Baltimore. Our smiling faces squeezed together, the Washington monument towers behind us. I scan the picture, push send. The image zips to Maria’s mountaintop. Seconds later, she writes back. “There’s a hole between us.” I look closer at the photograph and my soles burn.

Linda Simoni-Wastila writes from Baltimore, where she also professes, mothers, and gives a damn. Her stories and poem are published or forthcoming at Smokelong Quarterly, Monkeybicycle, Scissors and Spackle, MiCrow, The Sun, The Poet’s Market 2013, Hoot, Connotation Press, Camroc Press Review, Right Hand Pointing, Every Day Fiction, and Nanoism, among others. Senior Fiction Editor at JMWW, she works one word at a time towards her MA in Creative Writing at Johns Hopkins and two novels-in-progress. In between, when she can’t sleep, she blogs at http://linda-leftbrainwrite.blogspot.

Visual Poetry from Jaume Jorba

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

About Jaume Jorba:
Born in Barcelona, I arrived to Atlanta sixteen years ago. Little I knew about the journey I was about to embark. Applied research in public health was my first eye opener and I decidedly joined the Polio Eradication project. Sometime later I found in Visual Poetry the stream uniting tributaries long abandoned. Facing loss and grief, Visual Poetry emerged in gratitude. Thus, a new journey began. The one I keep telling my soul: Haven’t met you yet.

See more of Jaume’s work at  Journey to Tallulah Falls.


%d bloggers like this: