Walden, reel 3 (Jonas Mekas, 1964)

by Travis Jeppesen on July 18, 2013

Diaries, Notes, and Sketches – none of these are complete. Deep of winter, Velvet Underground grinds something out, a cat. This will noble to be blessed with the rest. He falls in love with a madwoman. Oh get more flow. The ethereal disaster. One theory of the cinema was/escape a bog. Wrapped in an American fag, there is no autumn. Only stairs. The machine joined this guild, soil owned hands (I think, believe.) He went all into the snow – glowing with hands. I thought his hands were on fire and I couldn’t much believe it. There was no precedent for that illusion. Or else it proceeds as though a dream. A patchwork. He remembers (reel 3) the women for peace, 42nd St. Nobody stopped, they were passing by. What the winter does in New York when it begins to break up, the street. Yet this pond does warrant a mention…Walden. My own private. A privacy trace. Film Culture gets mailed out Amy stops for coffee. From whence a beginning could be begged, down and diamond brite, the sentience like a strobe, peace and marching. Police violence for peace, I am marching. Blue jean legs the wrong direction. Night flow bravely exacter. Black power the construction site. Leslie sees it all through the coop window, red squirrels turned into hot dogs for fifty cent. Child’s foot massages glazed wood on chinese new year; become my favorite bastard. All the babies of filmmakers please. Benefits of democracy displaced dreams from a specific dreamer. What do I think sunwindslush. I love that ceiling. Dump the droll, enthusiastic boogiewoogie dimensionality, the cab driver’s breath. Jean Cocteau had a dream. Grown fuckers in the snow. I don’t care the love affair, tree. Sinful skipping bird moves so slow the sled slush. Whirrr. DON’T WALK. She doesn’t know how to. Stay. Don’t film the windshield. The city as seen from a boat. The city as seen from a moving vehicle. Jonas. People moving through the brushwork. Splaying with light. Could it be a funeral. For a man forgot to die. He went into midnight instead the rooftops. A man to breathe as the people crawl. Myriad impossibilities, this maggot being. Were a footprint in snow to be a lock. All fail the echoey considerations of this tumult. Still we climb, seeking a higher landscape. Hold on to this red sweater before the view slides by too fast; explosion. He smiles yes as it all explodes.

Maria Lassnig

by Travis Jeppesen on July 16, 2013

On Maria Lassnig, at Art in America.

I read aloud

by Travis Jeppesen on July 12, 2013

….tomorrow night at Exile in Berlin.

Will you be there?

Irregular Readings
July 13, 7 – 9pm

Irregular Readings is an end of (gallery) season and early evening of short readings and vocal actions by artists and writers Travis Jeppesen, Amy Patton with Erik Niedling, Hanne Lippard, Nisaar Ulama, Marcus Knupp, and Tove El.
The evening is hosted by artist Katharina Marszewski whose already de-installed exhibition CV CE LA VIE will have closed just one hour before the beginning of this event.

Travis Jeppesen is a novelist, poet, and art critic based in Berlin and London, where he teaches at the Royal College of Art. His writings on art, literature, and film regularly appear in Artforum, Bookforum, Upon Paper, and Art in America. He is a contributing editor to 3ammagazine.com. Jeppesen’s new novel, The Suiciders, will be published by Semiotext(e)/MIT Press in October. Since it’s summertime, he will read a poem.

Amy Patton reads from the diary of Erik Niedling. The artist would like to be buried in Pyramid Mountain, the largest tomb of all time, conceived by writer Ingo Niermann. To make this goal a reality, Niedling lived one year as though it were his last. The Future of Art: A Diary recounts the joys and horrors of that year. Niedling will further give latest information about the current state, and future plans of Pyramid Mountain.

Hanne Lippard uses language in all its forms in an effort to create an original aesthetic of the word. Nuances of No, the first comprehensive collection of the artist’s text work was published in June by Broken Dimanche Press BDP.
Her contribution to the event reads as follows: Stretched neck, the mouth remains the end point of the spinal column. Spoken word is our tonal brainpower. Spelling remains trivial. Re-composed through the pointed ears of others. Comma. Coma. Karma.

Nisaar Ulama is a philosopher, interested in how societies form themselves through knowledge and images. He will give a short lecture about our actual political paralysis, which, he thinks, is founded by a broken concept of »reality«, an addiction to knowledge, and a collapsing relation between subjectivity and space-time. If there is still time, Ulama will explain how artists and philosophers can solve these problems.

Marcus Knupp offers a form of communication that passes through the membrane of implied meaning and into the meaning of a new meaninglessness. From his vantage point within the media and marketing industry his gaze is cast upon a wide range of cultural sectors, topics and forms of mainstream incorporation.
He will read from one of his new short stories that either deals with the event-culture obsessed lifestyleartworld we find ourselves trapped in or about his recent experiences in some unnamed dark Berlin basement.

Tove El‘s performances take their starting point in the situation and environment in which they are to take place. They raise questions about social codes, status, dreams and the struggle to pursue an artistic career.

Exile is located at Skalitzer Str 104, 10997 Berlin

China in Venice

by Travis Jeppesen on July 10, 2013


A review of Chinese art at this year’s Venice Biennale, at Randian.

Iraq in Venice

by Travis Jeppesen on July 8, 2013


An interview with Jonathan Watkins, curator of this year’s Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, at Art in America.

Otto Zitko

by Travis Jeppesen on July 3, 2013

Otto Zitko paints lines. Long lines curving and curling, extending into nowhere, the void. A line never ends. It just goes and goes, infinite in its stark simplicity and ambiguity. Zitko uses lines to create environments. Such as the maze he installed at the 48th Venice Biennale. For his exhibition in Prague at the Austrian Cultural House, he limits himself to two colors: red and orange. Paints the entire room with them, totally changing the environment and violating the sacred white space of the gallery’s walls, effectively turning it into a fiery red-orange swirl, another world. Otto Zitko didn’t always paint lines. He used to paint other things, but in the late ‘80s, he decided to stop painting everything, everything except for lines. Where do Zitko’s lines lead? They are all contained in the same space. The Austrians have been kind enough to provide chairs for us to sit in and study these lines. Try to locate where it begins, follow its path throughout the walls and ceiling of the gallery, all the way to the end. And begin again. A line implies the dimension of time. Zitko’s lines illustrate time. You may sit in the gallery for hours, lost in Zitko’s maze of lines, until you ask yourself what time it is. The time is always now. It is never then or there. Zitko’s decision to stop painting in a conventional way wasn’t a nihilistic action, a gesture of aligning himself with the whole “painting is dead” debate that’s been going on for far too long. Rather, his intention to paint lines was and is based on the firm belief that this is the only way to develop painting any further. He is striving for a very specific and idiosyncratic form of purity that he can only hint at. A primitive gesture that becomes a reflexive metaphor – a line representing all lines, only gaining meaning in the context of the space it fills.


Originally published in the now-defunct Prague magazine Think Again in 2004.

Re-published in Disorientations: Art on the Margins of the “Contemporary”.

Reading the Palace

by Travis Jeppesen on June 14, 2013

What the “Encyclopedic Palace” ultimately offers are multiple examples of the extra-exclusionary, which may be nothing more than that fleeting moment in the act of creation when other people don’t exist—just me and my god(s).


My review of “The Encyclopedic Palace” at this year’s Venice Biennale for Art in America.

Waste: an object-oriented, collectively authored poem

by Travis Jeppesen on April 18, 2013

Below, you will find Waste, a collectively authored object-oriented poem composed last weekend at London’s ICA in response to the Bernadette Corporation’s retrospective, 2000 Wasted Years, as well as their collectively written poem, The Complete Poem.

Click here to get wasted.

Forever Okay: The Art of Jimmy De Sana

by Travis Jeppesen on April 14, 2013

Jimmy De Sana believed that the human body was every bit an object as, say, a toilet or a chair. Blend together, mix up the legs of a table, the legs of chairs, the bare legs of a person and see what you get. A person is no longer a whole, but known by her/his=its parts: head is a suitcase, brain a lightbulb, penis a shoe. Maybe become an entity with four legs instead of two arms and two legs. It’s all the same world, isn’t it?

There are those of us afraid of what we see. A world of interior objects we keep so that we can ignore other things – namely, the world out there. Furniture is static existence. De Sana’s work says something about domesticity. What does it mean to be a person and to disappear. There are no warnings, an announcement is never made. Objects are kept around us to avoid the sense of disappearing. To imply permanency. Railing, a railing against the sure swallow of the big fat void whose rim some of us dance around.

Jimmy De Sana’s gesture is a violence against disappearing. He committed suicide constantly in his work. He had to do that as a way of living in the world. Suicide salvation: the black-and-white photo that made him famous was him hanging from a noose naked with a hard-on. Or else he lies under a car, again naked, forever naked, wearing a mask with a tube connected directly to the exhaust pipe. Inhaling the car. Is he really killing himself there. I don’t think so. As with all of his photos, it’s more of a becoming-object than a becoming-dead. An extension of the car, that’s all. If you look at it as a body, then of course it’s going to die, but Jimmy De Sana did not want to die and his photos are not about death. Inanimate objects never die; you can’t get rid of them, no matter the state of decay. They’re never really alive, either, are they; they just are. Forever okay. A being that is a freedom in not-being.

For a gay person who has suffered violence directly, there is a fluffy comfort in becoming-object that few others may comprehend. It seems so hard. De Sana’s aesthetic looks hard, but I would say it’s just the opposite. Wooden boxes, pool chairs, torsos; the arch of a body run the length of a room, head in the toilet, an extension of the toilet; heads, faces almost never to be seen in these photos, to heighten the sense of disappearance, of desubjectivication; the light always soft; no more self to contend with, no such thing as death to confront. Jimmy De Sana is softcore, if the core we’re talking about is being, safe from the trenchant torpor of navigation.

This was among the least apparently glamorous approaches one could take in the 80s, which De Sana characterized, in an interview with Laurie Simmons, as a decade of death and money. The art market exploded, everyone dancing as dollar bill confetti floated through the air, meanwhile, guys are walking around with lesions, dropping dead all around you. It’s wrong to read these photos as documentary evidence of a gay S/M subculture that De Sana was never really a part of. Mapplethorpean scenes from a Manhattan night. Others have more aptly identified surrealism as the operative force, the fuel in De Sana’s vehicle. As an adjective, surreal is too vague and overused, and anyway, it’s the artist’s duty to carve their own reality out of this messy consensual one – that impulse comes out of a disbelief in messy consensual reality. It’s too easy to say that the world, as it is, is surreal on its own. Forty-year olds dropping dead for no real reason is surreal – becoming an object is pretty much okay, in a permanent sort of way.

There is, after all, a glamour, certainly a sexiness, in immortalizing yourself or some other selves in this manner. Don’t treat me like a sex object, screams the liberationist who, in doing so, believes they are on their way towards attaining autonomy. But for the corporealist, sex is just another utility; come here, let me touch you where it matters least. Jimmy De Sana knew things about bodies that we’re only now, in the twenty-first century, beginning to figure out. In this way, his photos can be seen less as a relic of a past moment and more as a blueprint for our present-future selves.

Cohesive Holes

by Travis Jeppesen on April 9, 2013


“As an embodiment of the myriad contradictions that China
finds itself mired in today, MadeIn effectively explodes the
double-mindedness that Chinese artists have had to internalize
in the post-Tiananmen era. The million little shards that
result, when put together, probably wouldn’t form a cohesive
whole. If anything, they’ll yield a cohesive hole.”

My essay on MadeIn Company appears in the April issue of Art in America.

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