This Saturday, at 6 pm, on February 8, 2014, Marfa Book Company presents Lannan Writer in Residence, Rick Bass. Rick is the author of many well-respected and well-loved books, including The Diezmo, The Book of Yaak, The Lives of Rocks, and Why I Came West.
Bass was born in Fort Worth, Texas, U.S., the son of a geologist, and he studied petroleum geology at Utah State University. He grew up in Houston, and started writing short stories on his lunch breaks while working as a petroleum geologist in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1987, he moved with his wife, the artist Elizabeth Hughes Bass, to the Yaak, where he works to protect his adopted home from roads and logging. Rick serves on the board of both the Yaak Valley Forest Council and Round River Conservation Studies.
He won the 1995 James Jones Literary Society First Novel Fellowship for his novel in progress, Where the Sea Used to Be. He was a finalist for the Story Prize in 2006 for his short story collection The Lives of Rocks. He was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award (autobiography) for Why I Came West (2009). He was also awarded the General Electric Younger Writers Award, a PEN/Nelson Algren Award Special Citation for fiction, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship
We're proud to announce the latest publication by Marfa Book Company / Impossible Objects: 16 from r h y m m s by author / artiste Robert Grenier.
The work, which is the first publication of Grenier's notebook-drawing-poems in more than a decade, appears in two versions: the first, an edition of 26 signed and lettered sets, for sale here; and the second, to appear in the coming weeks, an edition of 100 numbered sets. The signed and lettered sets (pictured below) are printed with archival, pigment inks on Epson Hot Press Bright, 18 mil, 330 g/m^2, 100% cotton fiber, acid-free, lignin-free, archival paper.
The publication coincides with the conclusion of an exhibition of Grenier's work at the Marfa Book Company. On display between October 2013 and January 2014, the exhibition consisted of 16 from r h y m m s; selections from an earlier publication of notebook-drawing-poems, Owl/On/Bough (Post-Apollo Press, 1997); and a grid of cards from Grenier's groundbreaking, and perhaps infinite, publication, Sentences (Whale Cloth Press, 1978).
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Marfa Book Company's secret weapon is part-time resident, Hector MacTavish. Every year he comes to visit us, hangs out at the shop, takes a tons of marvelous photos, and then returns to Toronto, where he produces these marvelous panoramic photo card sets. Each comes with one copy of all the photos you see below the first image.
The cards are printed with pigment inks and are suitable for framing. They're that nice. Plus, you get great views of Pinto Canyon and lots of landscapes from the Big Bend Region. Click on the images to get a closer look.
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Quite possibily the heaviest document of Texas music culture since Les Blank's films. We're very happy to host Peter Beste and writer Lance Scott Walker at the bookstore on Friday, December 6th at 6 pm. Some extra details inside the image below:
The book is notable for several things. First, it provides candid photos of several generations of rappers and music promoters in Houston. Additionally, it depicts the neighborhoods, houses, housing projects, clubs and record shops where the music developed. And not least of all, it includes excerpts from long interviews that Lance Scott Walker conducted with many of the members of the scene / movement.
We're thrilled to present PURE X at Marfa's newest venue, the still unnamed venue of note, possibly called the Dollar General Auditorium, on Friday, October 11th. The show, which will also feature SILENT LAND TIME MACHINE, starts at 9 pm, coincides with the first night of Chinati Foundation's Members' Weekend, and will be absolutely free. That's right! Pure X have released a couple of great records, Pleasure and Crawling Up the Stairs, both of which creep into your head and screw you up some. Here's a link to the band's soundcloud page and the song "Things In My Head". (Thanks to Tim Crowley, Chinati Foundation, Rob Crowley, Jennifer Bell, Dustin Pevey, Tavahn Ghazi, and many others for their support.)
Marfa-based painter Dustin Pevey presented an exhibition of his paintings and photographs at the Marfa Book Co from August 1st through September 1st. Several of the paintings are pictured below: We've admired Dustin Pevey's paintings and photo-collages for several years, and considering how small this town is, had a pretty clear idea of what this exhibition would include. However, we were considerably surprised by some of the new aspects in Dustin's work, especially the paintings, some of which were made in the two or three weeks leading up to the exhibition. For example, he has decided to include a lot more sand and granular material in the paint as several of these canvases demonstrated. There is also a more integrated, and therefore less legible, combination of digitally printed and manually painted surfaces in some of the others. This second aspect was particularly powerful in a painting whose unifying element was a checkerboard whose black rectangles were the product of both digital and manual methods, although it required a close view of the surface before this fact became clear. Not all of the paintings were totally unforeseeable choices, however. The painting above is an example of Pevey's collage method, something that characterizes much of his work for the past year or two. Here, various fabrics, some commercially printed, others printed by the artist have been attached to an already painted surface and then further painted or treated in a variety of ways to make the final work. The text, "future drugs," for instance, was spray painted on the surface at some point and then covered by other tiles of fabric, some of which began as photographs that were then treated and later printed out. Another, and certainly the most talked about, change in Pevey's work was the decision to use thin wire mesh screen as the surface of several paintings. This somewhat strange barnyard choice provided more than a gridded texture to the paintings, however. Rather then applying paint with a brush or other instrument to the surface of the stretched wire-mesh as-is, Pevey painted from behind the surface, through the mesh, to give the paintings a kind of uneven, primitively digital character. In some places, Pevey blocked the paint from passing through the mesh by applying tape to the front side of the screen. I thought of Mark Flood's lace paintings in this regard, but there's also something divergent from Flood's and other stencil-styled work here. As is evident in the image above, when looking at these paintings from a distance of a few feet, the tactility isn't visible, neither do the works look stenciled. On a closer examination, the surfaces become undulant and more alluring. Closer still, however, there's a moment when they can become nasty, or even scatological. This can't be said for all of the paintings of this sort, but it can be said for many of them. Strangely, it's precisely this disregard of beauty, or a particular idea of beauty, that makes these paintings so interesting. Perhaps it's because, in this way, Pevey makes a curious play of elegance and squalor, where squalor seems the more persistent, and simultaneously the more grounded term. Other paintings in the exhibition, such as the two pictured below, demonstrate that he still knows how to make very good work with a minimal number of movements. This is, after all, the man who claims to have recorded the vocals for his band Past Life Billionaires while lying in bed.
Artist and designer Sam Schonzeit will be officing, working and exhibiting in the MBCo gallery for the month of July. And when I say exhibiting, I mean two things: in addition to a rotating exhibition of Sam's paintings, sculpture, furniture, and pottery, much of which he will be making on site, Sam will be constructing a small gallery called "Showing People" where he will exhibit other artist's work. He will also be providing a variety of services, including but not limited to dining companionship and personal history tours of Marfa, for a nominal fee. You can learn more by writing the artist directly: [email protected]
In the first week, Sam wallpapered the gallery with discount advertisements gathered during the last four years from the local grocery store.
In the following weeks, Sam regularly rebuilt his fountain, made several paintings with cans of spray paint and candle wax, made a considerable racket with a table saw, produced several large, wooden sculptures and constructed his gallery, Showing People. Artists exhibited in the gallery include Michael Drake, Michael Camacho, Emily Steriti, Tim Johnson, Ross Cashiola and Anthony DeSimone. Sam also hosted a film screening and a panel discussion, moderated by Jason Kolker.
Two years after his Artist’s Residency at the Chinati Foundation, Jean-Baptiste Bernadet presents Scenic Drive, a new group of paintings, at the Marfa Book Company. The exhibition opens with a public reception on Wednesday, May 1st, from 5-7 pm, and will be on display through Sunday, May 26th, 2013. A prolonged meditation on the possible equivalencies between the mineral, human and pictorial realms unites the work.
Photo: Clement Pascal
The Writing of Stones, The Reading of Paintings
Text by Clément Dirié
Nature is a temple in which living pillars
Sometimes give voice to confused words;
Man passes there through forests of symbols
Which look at him with understanding eyes.
Flowers of Evil, 1857
In 1970, French intellectual, poet, and translator, Roger Caillois (1913-1978) published L’Écriture des pierres (The Writing of Stones). In this book, Caillois examines the relationship between forms generated by the mineral world and those born of the human imagination. He attempts decrypting agates, onyxes and various Tuscan marbles that men have historically collected for their resemblances, to a landscape, a city, a face, and so forth. Ever and always there - the absolute presence of these stones fascinates us. Sought out for their unique character and the curious drawings they contain, they are framed, made into paintings and used as supports for creating other works. In Florence, l’Opificio delle Pietre Dure (literally, The Workshop for Semi-precious Stone) holds several examples of these objects, whose motifs serve as
In reading these stones, Roger Caillois both stimulates and relies on the imagination, situating the mineral realm at the heart of human existential questioning. It is not so much a question of turning these stones into works of art as of seizing their immemorial dimension.
In a passage on septaria, stones sprinkled with a never-ending variety of hieroglyphs, Roger Caillois elicits speech from one of them: “ I don’t signify anything,” she says, “but I was smart enough to anticipate the particular economy of a restrained symbols that composes writing. Only a few are needed to enumerate the multitude of things that exist in the universe, as well as those born from desires or dreams. There is no speech too long or complex to be conserved and transcribed by them. The world is full of discarded alphabets, their codes long lost. Their beauty lives on. Not only because of the scribes’ or engravers’ talents, but the unemployed virtue that remains, that of being able to record everything.”
Texas, New Mexico, the West – regions explored by Old World citizen Jean-Baptiste Bernadet during his last stay in Marfa – are sand and stone books, opening onto world history. These immense and atemporal landscapes, like the stones that comprise them, provoke primordial musings and a questioning of anthropocentrism. From the writings of stones to the reading of landscapes, they offer, to those able to understand them, Charles Baudelaire’s “forest of symbols.”
Collecting stones (like Donald Judd), visiting Big Bend, Death Valley or the Petrified Forest, fashioning a belt buckle out of semi-precious stones… the human being reconnects (however awkwardly) with his origins, searching – through these mineral intermediaries– to insert himself into time, to feel the permanence of things, to regain an elsewhere that was here long before he was.
Painting was already here, a long time before Jean-Baptiste Bernadet became interested in it. But his canvases accept their insertion into a timescale that both surpasses and subsumes them. They constantly look back to painting’s primordial origins, a pre-linguistic state where univocal interpretations would be impossible but obscure meanings could emerge (“confused words”). He appropriates art historical and painting-specific codes through his various ways of working, his relationship to images, his use of recurring motifs, and his engagement with the painterly gesture. Covering the surface with glass beads or successive layers of paint, laying down thick or thin material, encrusting non-pictorial elements, veiling the surface in plastic, showcasing the painterly mark or, on the contrary, resolutely erasing it, letting contour or inversely color dominate: so many attempts to make this at once out of date and ever pertinent painting “alphabet” his own, to assemble his own breviary. But this logic of appropriation, meant to get back to the essentials of painting, “doesn’t aim at reproducing a gesture, an image, or a code, but rather a subjectification that is the result of a displacement in a singular practice,” that, because we are in the 21st, inevitably includes a critical and reflexive dimension.
Like Roger Caillois’ ventriloquist stones, the mineral works Jean-Baptiste Bernadet brings together at the Marfa Book Company are core samples from the studio, their vanishing points and exposed surfaces as sharp or inversely blunt as an agate or nodule. Cut from a daily pictorial practice, extracted from a simultaneously interior and immemorial landscape, they are an invitation to read.
Benjamin Crotty, Translation
Jean-Baptiste Bernadet was born in Paris in 1978. He has lived and worked in Brussels since 2000, and was artist-in-residence at Triangle Studios in Brooklyn in 2012, APT Studios in Brooklyn in 2011, and Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas, in 2010.
His solo exhibitions include, among others, Saks in Geneva, Torri in Paris, Renwick in New York (2011), the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, Maes & Matthys in Antwerp, Baronian_Francey Gallery in Brussels (2010), Les Filles du Calvaire in Brussels, Chapelle des Calvairiennes in Mayenne, France, Galerie Xprssns in Hamburg (2008), and Konsortium in Dusseldorf (2007).
Since 2001, he has participated in many group shows, including Toomer Labzda Gallery in New York, Angstrom in Dallas, Texas, Klemm's Gallery in Berlin, Villa Noailles in Hyères (2012), Artorama in Marseille, 8 rue Saint Bon in Paris, Karma in New York City, White Flags in Saint Louis, Missouri (2011), WIELS in Brussels (2009 and 2010), Galerie Crèvecoeur in Paris (2009), Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tourcoing (2005), Galerie Catherine Bastide in Brussels (2004).
Upcoming projects include a solo show at Casado Santapau, Madrid, the Young Belgian Art Prize at Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, and a collaboration with American writer John d’Agata on the book On Knowing Not, forthcoming this year and published by Karma in New York City.
This exhibition was made possible thanks to the support of Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.
It has taken me longer than I'd like to admit to create this site, but it's finally here. What's currently visible is a tiny number of the total number of events that we've hosted during the past six or seven years. The idea for this site is to make it an archive for the many activities that take place inside the Marfa Book Company as well as to provide people with an opportunity to buy some of the books, records and art that we care about.
There are so many excellent things upcoming: performances by Parquet Courts; an exhibition and performance by Roni Horn; an exhibition of new paintings by Jean-Baptiste Bernadet; a gorgeous new logo designed by myself and Sally Coleman; readings by Clark Coolidge, Colson Whitehead, David Treuer, Rebecca Curtis, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Rosa Alcala, Jeff Sirkin, D.T. Max, and many, many others. I hope you'll check in often to find out what's happening.
I especially want to thank T. K. Croft for his work designing and launching the site. He deserves the credit for what's cool here.
We're hosting D. T. Max, author of Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace Wednesday, April 17th at 6 PM. Pick up a hardcover copy for $28 (+ shipping).
D. T. Max is a graduate of Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. His new book, Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, was released by Viking Penguin on August 30, 2012 and was a New York Timesbestseller. He is also the author of The Family That Couldn't Sleep: A Medical Mystery. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, their two young children, and a rescued beagle who came to them named Max
Poet and translator Rosa Alcalá will be reading from her work, along with the poet and educator, Jeff Sirkin, at the Marfa Book Company on Friday April 19th, 2013 at 6 pm. Alcalá has recently published two books, her second collection of poems, entitled, The Lust of Unsentimental Waters (Shearsman) and a translation of performance works by Cecilia Vicuña, Spit Temple (Ugly Duckling Presse), which you can order here for $18 (+ shipping). Spit Temple is a significant event in poetry publishing in that it provides the first, large selection of translations for the performances texts of this extraordinarily innovative poet, as well an introduction to her work.
Marfa resident Lynn Xu's first book of poems, Debts and Lessons, has just been published by Omnidawn. It's a marvelous collection, consisting of seven unique sections. One, entitled "Lullabies", features 21 poems, each dedicated to a poet that we can unashamedly name a legend. The list includes Marina Tsvetaeva, Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Celan, Gu Cheng, Emily Dickinson, and Frank O'Hara. You probably will have gathered from the list that they make a diverse group and Xu demonstrates great agility in writing a lullaby that is both appropriate and also surprising for each poet. There's something recognizably "Lorcan" in the line, "The moon is an insect in the autumn wind", for instance. But the line that follows and closes the poem, "Brushes it away" is something unexpected, at least for me. It narrativizes Lorca's early strategy of presenting single images in succession, but the second line doesn't quite fit the template. Is it the burden of satisfactorily addressing the work one's predecessors that's brushed away here? That I can entertain this question without feeling the poems are disrespectful is a particular accomplishment In fact, it demonstrates the strength of the sequence. A consequence of the method is the proliferation of questions like this. One that lingers for me: what do we make of the ghost image of other writer's words appearing in lullabies dedicated to someone else? Is it Eurylochos that speaks, "no crew remembers me", in Percy Shelley's lullaby, for example? What's even more striking is the lullaby for Dickinson, which consists of four Mandarin characters. (A note at the back informs the reader that each of the characters plays on a single sound, ye, and provides an English word for each of the characters.: Night, Also, Pages, Wild, are provided as a possible translation, but characters for Leaf and Industry are also given as additional variants.)There's more in this collection than can easily be addressed. The closing sequence, Debts and
The Mexico we are still young from
Faking our own deaths
As children, shaking our futures
Before your eyes -
How warm the night is
With these feelings you've been avoiding.
The summer we spent in Oaxaca
Is at the same time inconceivable
And without eternity.
We hosted the Berlin-based novelist Helen Dewitt on Saturday, March 30th, 2013. Helen read several sections from her most recently published novel, Lightning Rods, published by New Directions and available here in paperback for $15 (+ shipping). If you're not already familiar with it, you should check out Helen's website, which tracks her projects and provides a window onto her many interests as a writer. You can also listen to a podcast of her interview with Marfa-based writer Rachel Monroe at the Marfa Public Radio website.
We're hosting historian and activist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on Saturday, April 6th, 2013 at 6 pm. Taylor is the author of the forthcoming book, Rat, Riots and Revolution: Black Housing in the 1960s (Haymarket) and is a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University. Taylor gave an excellent speech at last year's Socialism Conference in Chicago which addressed police brutality and racism in what author Michelle Alexander has called the era of The New Jim Crow.
For three Thursday evenings in April, Marfa Book Company is pairing with artist Joachim Hamou to reanimate Rio Bravo, the artist space Hamou operated for several years in Copenhagen, Denmark. During these evenings, Hamou intends to challenge the representation of the river boundary between the U.S and Mexico as an abyss, a liminal place between places. Each night of the series will be dedicated to a different aspect of the border in our area. In the first week, the marvelous Enrique Madrid, a people's historian of the border, will talk about the culture and history of Redford, Texas where he currently resides. In particular, he will address the killing by the U.S. Marine Corps of U.S. citizen, and Redford resident, Esequiel Hernandez in 1997, as well as the nature of border enforcement post 9/11, and the recent introduction of drones to our area. The second week will feature Alpine public defender Elizabeth Rogers, who will be talking about Anti-drug laws, the many distinct forms of drug-trafficking and prosecution. And in the final week, we will be joined by UC-Berkeley professor Ronald Rael, author of Earth Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press), who will discuss a series of theoretical Border Wall Interventions that he has been developing during the past several years.
Past projects by Rio Bravo include a series of events relating to the artist, composer and communist, Cornelius Cardew, presented in collaboration with the artist, Andreas Fuhrer; a series of individual talks by Caroline Bergvall (Meddle English, Fig), Arturs Punte (Orbita), and Francoise Piron (Castillo/Corrales); a Semiotext(e) seminar featuring Chris Kraus, Mark von Schlegell and George Porcari; and, imagine this, projects organized and presented by other artists and groups of artists in the Rio Bravo space.
Rio Bravo is formed around the idea that there is need for an interdisciplinary space in Copenhagen to house performances, lectures, and events produced by artists and practitioners of other fields whose work intersects one another. The goal is to create a place that represents the wide cross section of practices shaping the cultural landscape today.
We're excited to present, "Knowledge Platform", a special exhibition and reading of RAND Corporation's 1955 publication, A Million Random Digits and 100,000 Normal Deviates by Ross Young. The exhibition, which consists of a single re-bound copy of AMRDA100,000ND and a lectern built for the sole purpose of presenting the book, will be on display from Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 28, 2013. In addition, Young will be giving two readings from the book, one at 6:30 pm on the day of the opening, and another at the same time on the day of the closing.Young also prepared the following statement:
A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates was first published in 1955, a product of the RAND Corporation. At the time A Million Random Digits was publishd, RAND was the main private contractor conducting research and development for the United States military, with their primary role being development of nuclear weapons platforms, tactics, and strategy. The book filled a scientific need in this field for a large, statistically sound source of random numbers. As statistical models increase in complexity, there is a concomitant need for large quantities of random numbers, used to simulate naturally occurring variation. At the time of its introduction, RAND's distribution of a single, massive, ideally random set of numbers was a breakthrough for disciplines grappling with order and disorder. The publication of random numbers and tables as a book is now obsolete, as computerized random number generators are widely available. This million digit long iteration of chance is a continuity leading back to nuclear warfare by way of statistical idealism. As a book, this set of numbers mirrors its paradoxical mathematical specificity, simultaneously text, historical record, and scientific tool. The component digits remain static as they participate in new configurations.
The Classic Marfa Water Tower T-Shirt is finally available on-line. They're 100% cotton and extremely soft. A little shrinkage is to be expected and the shirts are cut closer to the body than ordinary tees. Available in six sizes: XS, S, M. L, XL, XXL.
Novelist, visual artist, poet, and educator Rikki Ducornet read from her latest novel, Netsuke, on March 23rd. The book features the most demonic appearance of an Eames lounge chair that I've encountered in literature. The thing, or rather two of them, appear among the many items, things and people collected by the novel's central character, a nearly sociopathic, sex addicted psychotherapist. A really outstanding writer, Ducornet will go there. $15 (+ shipping).
Along with our friends at Ballroom Marfa, we hosted curator and writer, Anthony Elms, on Thursday, April 4th, 2013. Elms, who is Associate Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia and the editor of WhiteWalls, an independent publisher distributed through the University of Chicago Press, will be talking about White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart, which he recently presented in Philly. The exhibition, which features Genesis P Orrige, Bernadette Corporation, Seth Price, Lynda Benglis, Dexter Sinister, Zoe Leonard, Erin Leland and Frances Stark, among still others, examines aspects of clothing, adornment and self-presentation within the context of identity made-visible and sometimes made-multiple or transformed. Elms has also been selected as one of three curators of the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Elms' writing has appeared in Afterall, Art Asia Pacific, Artforum, Cakewalk, May Revue, Modern Painters, New Art Examiner and Time Out Chicago in addition to numerous catalogs and collections.
Marfa-based artist and filmmaker Jennifer Lane presented a beautiful new group of works on paper in March 2013 entitled "bc". Lane works in a variety of media, including film, guache, and collage. For this exhibition, she has produced a number of large prints that resemble ancient stone steles or statues.
Each of the works is roughly four feet wide by six and a half feet tall. Lane chose to hang each of the works so that the bottom of the work is about two feet from the floor, giving the viewer a sense of a body more or less human-scaled, standing or perhaps hovering over them. There's definitely a sense of these being deities, with a variety of possible attributes.
In addition to the main body of large prints, "bc" includes four of Lane's gorgeous collage works, which remind me a little of her previous work from
Historically, her works have been marked by their metamorphic qualities, and I mean metamorphic in the Ovidian sense. Bodies of mushrooms, flowers, birds or moths become bodies of women and vice versa. Or the same may sprout limbs, wings or stalks of one or the other. She also makes strong singular forms that consist of parts of any or all of these. And there are solid painted forms that maintain organic resemblance but without figural aspects. Have a look at her work at her website, if you'd like to see what I'm trying to say.
Jennifer Lane was born in Dallas and currently lives and works in Marfa. She studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Her films, collages, and drawings have been exhbited at the Castillo Di Rivoli in Turin, the ZKM Center for Experimental Media and Technology in Karlsruhe, the Royal Collage of Art in London, the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Bonelli Contemporary in Los Angeles, and on Japanese television.
On Sunday, April 28th, we'll be joined by Los Angeles based poet, Michael C. Ford, who will be teaching a free creative writing workshop (2-4 pm) and giving a reading from his work (7 pm). Mr. Ford has published many books and is a well-respected artist in the realm of recorded performance poetry. His many collaborators include Genesis P. Orridge, Wobbly
James Evans Crazy From the Heat: A Chronicle of Twenty Years in the Bend Big. This large format book provides a great introduction to James Evans' work and features a generous selection of his images, including portraits, landscapes and some night photography.
“Don’t bother to take photographs in Big Bend. James Evans owns the place and frankly you should simply buy his books and save yourself some time. He not only has what it looks like, he has what it feels like and means. This is a very rare thing.” - Charles Bowden
Ed Skoog, author of Mister Skylight, gave a great reading at the Marfa Book Company on Saturday, January 19th, 2013. He read a few poems from his first book along with many poems from his forthcoming collection, Rough Day, a few new pieces, and part of a long fable which he wrote during his Lannan Foundation residency.
On Thursday, January 31st, 2013, we hosted a group of Marfa High School students, their friends and family, as well as a large number of members of the community, as the students presented original audio documentaries as a part of the Youth Media Project organized by Alice Quinlan and Marfa Public Radio. Subjects for the documentaries included "Identity", "Stereotyping", "Cultural Difference" and "80s Movies" and the pieces ranged between 5 and 10 minutes. Here the participants are pictured with their mentors on the night of the event:
Thanks to everyone who attended. It was a great event. You can learn more about the KRTS Youth Media Project, which is a part of National Public Radio's American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen initiative, by visiting the Marfa Public Radio website.
We hosted EVER ENDING KICKS, a band from Anacortes, Washington consisting of Paul Benson and affiliates on Friday, February 1st, 2013 at 9 PM. Paul was joined by two other marvelous visiting songwriter friends MOLYBDEN, from Austin, TX, and JESSICA MOORE, from Toronto, ON. Both MOLYBDEN and JESSICA have new records forthcoming, so keep an eye out for those.Ever Ending Kicks at Padres, Marfa
We hosted Marfa Elementary School's Fourth Grade Class Friday, February 15th, for a poetry reading in honor of Black History Month. The event featured small groups of students reading classic poems by a number of great poets including Langston Hughes and Kevin Young. The students also be read original poems to the music of Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Louis Jordan and a many of other Jazz legends. A chapbook of student work is available for sale and proceeds will support the Marfa Elementary Activity Fund.A Group of Poets Flex Their Muscles[/caption]
The event was the conclusion of a five week poetry class organized by Ms. Heidi Roman with assistance from Tim Johnson of the Marfa Book Company. Special thanks to the Marfa Education Fund, Robert and Rosario Halpern, Suzi Gruschkis and Andrew Peters for their support.
Chinati Foundation Artist in Residence Matt Roberts will speak about his work at the Marfa Book Company on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 at 8 PM. Roberts lives and works in Oregon. He works primarily in sculpture, employing extra-sculptural gestures such as walking and mapping to form the dense web of his understanding of place. His materials are often found and then manipulated until they are largely unrecognizable.
Roberts' work hinges on the tension between our recognitions and impressions. He understands that as we move through a place we collect impressions through our visual experience – the patina of the building, the shape of the sky – which are then recognized, stored and aid in forming our understanding of place. Roberts’ draws these forms over and over as a way of internalizing them, only later to re-instate them as sculptures. In his choice of materials and formal considerations, Roberts’ sculpture brings the periphery of our experience into plain view. Together the sculptures form a loose narrative that reawakens the sense of wonder for
Chinati Foundation to present "Two Readings", one each by Deborah Eisenberg and Wallace Shawn. Here's the info:
Deborah Eisenberg is the author the following collections of short stories: All Around Atlantis, The Stories (So Far) of Deborah Eisenberg, Under the 82nd Airborne,Transactions in a Foreign Currency, Twilight of the Super Heroes: Stories, and her most recent anthology, The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg. She is the recipient of prizes and awards including the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the Whiting Writer’s Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, Lannan Literary Fellowship, PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, as well as the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2009. Eisenberg played the role of Marie in Shawn’s Marie and Bruce at a benefit performance for the Chinati Foundation in 2001, and a staged reading of her play Pastorale was performed in Marfa in 2011. Eisenberg will re-create the role of Judy in Shawn’s The Designated Mourner at The New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre in June of this year. She is a professor of Creative Writing at Columbia University and lives in New York City.
Wallace Shawn’s writing for the stage includes The Hotel Play, Our Late Night (Obie Award), A Thought in Three Parts, Marie and Bruce, The Fever (Obie Award), The Designated Mourner, and Grasses of a Thousand Colors, which will have its American premiere at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre this fall. Shawn adapted Machiavelli’s play The Mandrake and Brecht/Weill’s The Three penny Opera. Shawn co-wrote the screenplay and co-stared in My Dinner With Andre with long-time collaborator, Andre Gregory. Director Jonathan Demme recently filmed his adaptation of Ibsen’s The Master Builder Shawn has written numerous essays, which were collected in a volume published by Haymarket Books in 2009. He is also a noted stage and screen actor, and lives in New York City.
One of our favorite local artists is Nicolas G. Miller, whose exhibition "Pastoral" we presented in November 2012. Miller is probably best known for his musical compositions and his artist's editions project, Recondite Industries, but he has been moving into something decidedly more sculptural and lan(d)guage oriented in the past year, which has really impressed us. The works in "Pastoral" pose a series of interesting questions about Land Art, language in art, and the position of "the natural" in contemporary art and commerce. There's also a fair amount of play with mimicry and mimesis, as you can see in this work:
The exhibition also made an interesting use of mirrors, especially in that they're used in decidedly different ways in each piece. In the work below, Miller makes a reference to Robert Smithson's well-known non-sites, but here the mirrors are turned inward, endlessly reflecting, a model of solipsism, or perhaps merely make a gesture toward what's unthinkable. There's also something exceptionally controlled about this treatment of land art; it's very geometric. And the mounds of dirt are equally distributed along a gentle curve.
Another use of the mirror is found in "Birch Effect", which makes use of an IKEA bookcase. The piece borrows its title from the name of its veneer, chosen from the company's list of options. We are reminded that this bookshelf isn't made of birch, but rather consists of a birch effect. Miller emphasizes this by attaching mirrors to the tops and bottoms of each shelf. As a consequence, the piece "grows" infinitely earth and skyward, immediately upon peering in to see the surface of the mirror.
One last body of work that I'd like to mention is the set of "Perfect Landscapes", which consist of three pairs of framed letterpress prints, each reproducing the title card information for a painting by Thomas Gainsborough in the international Phonetic Alphabet. The text of the prints in each pair is identical, but the overall formats differ. To put it plainly, one is small and the other large. Their sizes have been determined by the two most common aspect ratios for motion pictures. Here's a look at one of the pairs; this one consisting of the title for Gainsborough's "Wooded Upland Landscape":
Sound artist Derek Holzer will be teaching a two-evening course entitled Learning to Listen at the Marfa Book Company on January 6th and 7th, 2013. Each class begins at 6 pm, will last about two hours, is free and open to people of all ages.
The course includes an introduction to different disciplines of listening, to the world of handmade electronics, and to the basic gear for making field recordings. There will also be listening exercises where students are asked to write, speak and draw responses to a variety of recordings that Derek has chosen.
Here is Derek's description of the classes:
I do what I do because I never learned to play the guitar. Starting with an interest in field recording and environmental sound, I soon moved to teaching myself to build first digital and then analog non-traditional sound instruments as a way out of the problems of "virtuosity" in music. A great deal of my work involves simply listening, whether to natural or electronically generated soundscapes, searching for that beautiful chaos of birds, hailstorms or cicadas that produce the kinds of dense, arrhythmic textures that I enjoy the most.
As my work is so much about learning to listen, this two day artist-talk and workshop will focus on the art of listening. I'll start by introducing my history, my practice and the instruments I create. We'll continue by listening to several field recordings by myself (and possibly others), using these as a springboard to talk about listening from the perspectives of both science (physics, acoustics, psychoacoustics, psychology, etc) and culture (musicology, anthropology, architecture, urban planning, film studies, etc).
There will be opportunities on the second day for workshop participants to play and discuss their own soundscapes, and we will work towards a definition of what "soundscape" actually means. The workshop concludes with an introduction to some of the tools I use to both record natural soundscapes and create my own electronic soundscapes.
This workshop is open to the public and participation is by a donation of your choice. Please bring your own paper and a writing/drawing tool as these will be very important during the workshop!
Derek Holzer (1972) is an American sound artist based in Berlin, Germany, whose current interests include DIY analog electronics, sound art, field recording and the meeting points of electroacoustic, noise, improv and extreme music. He has played live experimental sound, as well as taught workshops in noise art technology, across Europe, North America, Brazil and New Zealand.
Derek is also one of the founders of the marvelous SOUND TRANSIT, an upload site for field recording artists and enthusiasts from all over the world. At SOUND TRANSIT, you can freely upload or simply listen to sounds based on their geographic origin, as well as a number of other criteria. It's a cool thing.
We're presenting "Discreet Depravities," an exhibition of paintings by Marfa-based artist, Maryam Amiryani from December 7th, 2012 through January 13th, 2013.
This new body of work consists of small paintings whose images have been derived from LP sleeves, paperbacks and other printed objects which have taken on a poignant sense of nostalgia in the shift to digital-everything.
The works in the show, such as this "cover" of Panda Bear's Person Pitch can be quite playful, but Amiryani's technique is no joke.
Most of the paintings reproduce the scale of the originals. Here's Amiryani's diptych for Sticky Fingers, seen from the side.
For more information, call 432-729-3906.
Young Tambling consists of poetry and prose, much of it somewhat elliptical, and resembles a kind of experimental memoir, but one where the word memoir doesn't bother with its usual categories of truth and authenticity. At the same time, it doesn't altogether abandon its function as a representation of experience.
Until recently, Kate Greenstreet lived in County Cork, Ireland, with her husband Max. They are currently on tour for a year.
Februrary 22nd, we hosted Ali Abunimah, author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Haymarket) and editor of The Electronic Intifada, an excellent online newsite for articles pertinent to the Palestinian community and the situation in Israel.
Ali gave a great interview to Marfa Public Radio's Tom Michael a few weeks before his reading which I highly recommend. In it he discusses his family's history in Palestine as well as his ideas about the inevitable integration of the communities that are presently living in what is known as Isreal. Additionally, Ali appeared on BBC World Service during his stay in Marfa to discuss a photo which he discovered, taken by an Israeli soldier, in which the soldier has a young Palestinian child in the cross-hairs of his rifle.
Natalie Diaz is the author of,
reading from her work at the Marfa Book Company on Saturday, December 1st, 2012, at 6 pm.
Natalie Diaz, a member of the Mojave and Pima Indian tribes, attended Old Dominion University on a full athletic scholarship. After playing professional basketball in Austria, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey she returned to ODU for an MFA in writing. Her publications include Prairie Schooner, Iowa Review, Crab Orchard Review, among others. Her work was selected by Natasha Trethewey for Best New Poets and she has received the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She lives in Surprise, Arizona.
Chinati: The Vision of Donald Judd, provides the first historical overview of the Chinati Foundation, which Donald Judd established in the late 1970s. Researched and assembled by Chinati Foundation Director Emeritus, Marianne Stockebrand the book includes many illustrations and provides an excellent context for each of the works in the collection.
Lannan Writer in Residence Laila Lalami will be reading from her work on Saturday, October 13th at 6 PM. Lalami is the author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, a collection of stories, and the novel Secret Son. She is currently working on an historical novel about the life of Estevanico, a survivor, along with Cabeza de Vaca, of the Narveaz Expedition and the first African to reach North America.
You can also read a number of Lalami's short stories,
essays and opinion pieces at her website.
Sic Alps played the Marfa Book Company on November 6th, 2013. These guys Have a few new albums, which you can check out at Drag City. This latest record, self-titled, is my favorite yet. Here's a videofake for a song called "Cement Surfboard" from an earlier record called Napa Asylum.
This Thursday, September 27th, 2012 at 8 pm, Charles Stankievech will be giving a talk entitled, "Over the Rainbow, Under the Radar". The event coincides with the opening of a new work, "Homeland Security (It's hard to find a good lamp)", which we've installed at the Marfa Shade Structure. It's our first outdoor / public work and we're very proud of it. The work will be on display until October 9th, 2012. (Columbia University's Interventions Journal has posted a conversation between Charles and I, and have also posted many additional photos of the installation.)
The work consists of 36 Flowtron Insect Killers, arranged in a large grid, and hung from the rafters of Marfa's central public gathering space, known locally as the Shade Structure. Each of the objects hangs 8 feet from the ground, considerably lower than ordinary lighting, even a little uncomfortably so. And yet, they're just out of reach. The artist turns the lights on each evening, at around 8 pm.
We've also produced a small booklet, in association with Paper Pusher, a small batch, mostly risograph publisher based in Toronto, to accompany the show. The edition is limited and the cost is very low. If you're interested in obtaining one, call or come by quickly.
Charles Stankievech is an artist who creates “fieldworks.” His diverse body of work has been shown at such places as the Palais de Toyko (Paris), International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA2010, Germany), Xth Biennale of Architecture (Venice), Eyebeam + ISSUE Project Room (New York), the Musee d’art contemporain Montreal and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. He has curated such unorthodox
This October, in collaboration with Alexander Gray Associates, we're presenting Last Words, a text-based work by one of our heroes, Luis Camnitzer. The work consists of six large, consecutive panels where Camnitzer has printed a collage-text interweaving the last words of an unknown number of people executed on Death Row in Texas during the last thirty years. The work opens Thursday, October 4th and will be on view until Sunday, November 11t, 2012.Last Words (2008), Pigment print; Edition of 3 with 1 AP; Part 1 of 6; 66h x 44w in (167.64h x 111.76w cm)[/caption]
The quotations which Camnitzer has selected for Last Words, primarily statements of affection directed at friends, family members and other loved ones, were taken from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Death Row website, where the names of names of people currently on Death Row, along with the names and last statements of people whom the State has executed since 1982, can be found. The works are framed pigment prints, measuring 66" by 44", with page numbers appearing at the bottom of each. This aspect, a straightforward reference to the codex form, accentuates the linear, cohesive nature of the work.Last Words (2008)
The work, like many in Camnitzer's oeuvre, troubles the distance and distraction that characterize habits of viewership by implicating the viewer in the act, or acts, on which the works are based or in which the works consist. It also draws attention to the practice of publicizing and, in a way, making aesthetic, a person's last words, which would otherwise be a person's most private, intimate. In this sense, it relates to another line of inquiry, which is common in Camnitzer's work, a consideration of the agency and behaviors of single individuals when confronted with the vast, impersonal and often very violent mechanisms of State power. And perhaps most importantly, the exhibition of this work in Texas raises critical questions about the actual policy of Capital Punishment which effects everyone in our state.
Luis Camnitzer (b. 1937) is a German-born Uruguayan conceptual artist and academic who works in the media of printmaking and sculpture. His humorous yet biting work has appeared in many exhibitions since the early 1960s.
Camnitzer’s work has been shown in noted exhibitions and institutions, including individual shows at The Kitchen and El Museo del Barrio, New York; List Visual Arts Center at M.I.T., Cambridge, MA; and Museo Carillo Gil, Mexico City. Retrospectives of his work have been presented at Lehman College Art Gallery in the Bronx, NY(1991) and Kunsthalle Kiel, Germany (2003), as well as at the Daros Museum in Zürich (2010) and the upcoming exhibition at El Museo del Barrio, New York (2011). His work has appeared in biennials and group shows, including Information (1970), The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Biennial of Havana, Cuba (1984, 1986, and 1991); Whitney Biennial (2000), Documenta 11 (2002), and Beyond Geometry (2005), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA. Camnitzer’s work is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, Argentina (MALBA), among other institutions. Camnitzer received Guggenheim Fellowships in 1961 and 1982. A highly regarded critic and curator, Camnitzer is a frequent contributor to ArtNexus, and wrote New Art of Cuba (1994, 2003) and Conceptualism in Latin American Art: Didactics of Liberation (2007).
We're hosting a special late night acoustic performance by Phil of Mount Eerie (Anacortes, WA) on Saturday, September 29th at 10 pm. Also, our friend Tess, who performs as Molybden (Austin, TX) will perform a short opening set. Five dollars at the door.
Mount Eerie has released an impressive number of excellent records over the past six or seven years. Phil Elverum, the songwriter and principle member of the band, writes beautiful, contemplative songs, and records them with a stunning variety of sounds, and bands, often resetting earlier songs in surprisingly new ways from one record to the next.
To learn more about Mount Eerie, check out their website.[caption id="attachment_658" align="aligncenter" width="460"] Mount Eerie at Marfa Book Co.[/caption]
For the record, CineMarfa & MBCO combined to screen NOWSREAL a film made by and about the Diggers in 1967 on Friday, July 20, 2012. We did it because we wanted to and almost one hundred people came and most of them stayed late to talk about it. We also did it to celebrate the publication of Notes From a Revolution: Com/Co, The Diggers & The Haight, edited by our friend and fellow CineMarfa member, David Hollander, along with Kristine McKenna, who edited the wonderful Semina Culture book a few years back. Yes. The book provides a historical introduction to the Diggers' publication venture, COM/CO, the Communcations Company, and reproduces a generous number of COM/CO's broadsides. We've got copies remaining. And you can order one by calling 432-729-3906. I'll try and update the store and add this to the inventory shortly.
These are two of our favorite Texas bands. They've played a number of shows out here that we've either sponsored, presented or attended. Check out the Low Times tracks at Soundcloud and Bandcamp, check out the Eets Feats tracks at Bandcamp. Check out their tape label, Aye Aye Aye.
Lannan writer in residence Chris Williams has offered to host a reading group for anyone interested in discussing his book Ecology and Socialism. This will take place at the Marfa Book Company, Wednesday, August 15th, from 6 - 7:30 pm. If you're interested, please call 432-729-3906 or write Tim Johnson at [email protected]
Wilderness, an exhibition of paintings by Ann Marie Nafziger, opens Friday, August 24, 2012 at Marfa Book Company.
Nafziger will show nine new paintings and one work on paper. The paintings range from modest in size to large-scale and are acrylic on canvas; the lone paper work is a monotype print.
As in previous work, Nafziger uses forms that hint at odd-looking things from nature—crawling limbs, seedpods, and root-like protuberances appear; so do insects and architecture—but the references are less specific. These figures (and the paintings themselves) seem on their way to becoming something else, caught in the act of morphing from one thing to another. Clean, sharp edges lend a graphic sensibility to the work and create distinctions between layers of information, but color choices and shifts in transparency and opacity cause foreground and background to swap or merge, and a sense of flux to prevail.
Many of the paintings in the show contain a single figure that dominates. Nafziger often treats these as templates, re-using them in multiple paintings. Some works include silhouetted forms applied as transparencies, allowing the viewer to see through them, like a veil, to other layers of brushwork, lines, or sprayed marks. In other pieces, the silhouette
The largest painting in the show, titled “Root Down” (96 x 84 inches) offers the viewer a landscape of sorts. A large, gnarled form is stenciled over half the canvas, while smaller, bulbous objects are painted with loose, contour outlines. These are joined by flat, concrete-colored planes of primer gray and some wide, vertical stripes or bands of color that act like Venetian window blinds, partially blocking and partially allowing the viewer to see through to what lies beyond. In this piece and in others, a sense of constantly shifting territory and ongoing change seems to be embraced by the painter as a strategy unto itself.
Nafziger has a fondness for uncultivated landscapes and examples of nature having her way (whether in untouched wilderness areas or forsaken urban places overtaken by vegetation) and is intrigued by the natural world’s ability to adapt to new circumstances in order to regenerate and survive.
Wilderness will be on view through September 23, 2012. Marfa Book Company is located at 105 South Highland Avenue in Marfa and is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and Sunday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM. For more information contact the bookstore at 432 729 3906.
Ann Marie Nafziger was born in Northwest Ohio in 1972. She received a BA in liberal arts from Goshen College (IN) in 1994 and completed an MFA in painting from the University of Houston (TX) in 2008. She was an artist-in-residence at Caldera Arts in Sisters, Oregon in 2011. Her work has been included in national and international venues, mostly in Oregon, Texas, and the Midwest, since 1998. Nafziger lives and works in Marfa, Texas. More information is available at the artist’s website, www.amnafziger.com.
BALLROOM MARFA AND THE WASHINGTON SPECTATOR ANNOUNCE
The Marfa Dialogues a symposium ON Politics and Culture of Climate & Sustainability
Participants include David Buckland, Hamilton Fish, Cynthia Hopkins, Diana Liverman, John Nielsen-Gammon, Michael Pollan, Robert Potts, Tom Rand, Rebecca Solnit and Bonnie J. Warnock
(Marfa, TX) — August 2, 2012 Ballroom Marfa, in conjunction with the Washington Spectator, Marfa Public Radio and Marfa Book Company, is excited to announce the second bi-annual Marfa Dialogues, a three-day symposium that includes conversations around climate change and sustainability with artists, performers, writers, scientists and entrepreneurs – among them Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Rebecca Solnit, the distinguished critic and author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost and A Paradise Built in Hell. Other featured participants include David Buckland, Hamilton Fish, Cynthia Hopkins, Diana Liverman, John Nielsen-Gammon, Robert Potts, Tom Rand and Bonnie J. Warnock.
The 2012 Marfa Dialogues begins Friday, August 31 with the opening of Carbon 13, Ballroom Marfa's fall 2012 exhibition presenting newly commissioned works by artists that propose a creative response to climate change. Curated by David Buckland, Founder and Director of Cape Farewell, Carbon 13 features eight international artists who have ventured alongside scientists to some of the world’s geographic tipping points, places profoundly stressed by our warming planet, and whose work aims to stimulate a wider engagement with the climate debate. We will kickstart our symposium Saturday, September 1 following FarmStand Marfa (the weekly regional farmers' market) and the annual town-wide Marfa Lights Festival Parade. Join us Saturday afternoon at the Crowley Theater for a thought-provoking conversation about art and activism with Carbon 13 artists, moderated by Rebecca Solnit. The next discussion will look at the ecological challenges facing the Southwest with leading environmental expert Diana Liverman andTexas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. On Sunday morning, guests are invited to engage the West Texas landscape on a guided nature walk led by Bonnie J. Warnock, chair of the Department of Natural Resource Management at Sul Ross University. Sunday continues with two events at the Marfa Book Company – a reading by Rebecca Solnit and a presentation by Tom Rand, a Cleantech investor and expert on carbon mitigation. The weekend concludes with a performance by New York-based artist Cynthia Hopkins of This Clement World, a musical that sails through the burning ice and myths of the high arctic.
With the Marfa Dialogues and Carbon 13, Ballroom Marfa continues its ambitious mission of presenting art as a transforming media capable of addressing the most pressing issues of our time. By underlining the power of artistic engagement to communicate, on a human scale, the urgency of global climate change, the event hopes to inspire and envision the cultural shift required to build a sustainable society.
All weekend events are free and open to the public. Seating is general admission and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Friday, August 31, 2012
6-8 pm: Carbon 13 Opening at Ballroom Marfa
8-10 pm: Community dinner at the Capri
Saturday, September 1, 2012
9:30 am: FarmStand Marfa
10 am: Marfa Lights Festival Parade
1 pm: Discussion: Art and Environmental Activism, moderated by Rebecca Solnit at the Crowley Theater
3 pm: Discussion: Climate Change and Adapting Environments, with Diana Liverman and John Nielsen-Gammon at the Crowley Theater
6 pm: Michael Pollan in conversation with Hamilton Fish at the Crowley Theater, co-presented with The Dixon Water Foundation
Sunday, September 2, 2012
9-11 am: Brunch and guided nature walk on Mimms Ranch with Robert Potts and Bonnie J. Warnock
1 pm: Reading by Rebecca Solnit at Marfa Book Company
3:30 pm: Presentation by Tom Rand at Marfa Book Company
8 pm: Performance of This Clement World by Cynthia Hopkins at the Crowley Theater
For more information, visit us at: www.ballroommarfa.org, Twitter.com/MarfaDialogues, Facebook.com/MarfaDialogues.