Bethany Collins, She’s Trying to Fuck Her Way Into Blackness, 2014, color pencil, acrylic and wood panel
"[Bethany Collins] sifts through the dictionary-archive, selecting those words—those topics—that make us more squeamish, more desirous of fixity, and barring that, of escape. […] By this repetitive and palimpsest-like process, she creates drawing out of writing, abstraction out of representation, possibility out of narrowness." -Rujeko Hockley
On view in Material Histories at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Finally going to check out Charles Gaines: Gridwork at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Check back here for my thoughts on the show soon. And for all things grids and Gaines follow the tumblr for the exhibition.
Paul Auster’s Benjamin Sachs, the subject, but not narrator of Leviathan, is at once tragic and sympathetic, chauvinistic and boisterous. Structured much like Auster’s other novels, the story is a story within itself. From the very first paragraph of the book, we already know the unhappy fate of Sachs. As a consequence, the book is less about Sachs himself, but more about why, even after the narrator continues to believe in his character as a good man. As with all Auster’s heroes, they each have a fatal flaw that they cannot overcome, an Achilles heel that inevitably causes their downfall. For most of the book, I thought we were being told about Sachs’ flaw, about how he became the kind of man who would die building a car bomb. But by the end it is clear that it is the flaw of the narrator, who despite all the warnings, remains true to Sachs, even to the end, that we are being shown. In writing the very book we are reading, the narrator is placing himself in line with Sachs. After finishing the book, I was struck by how much the narrator’s steadfastness resonated with my own misplaced faith in past friends and lovers, even after it was clear that their character was not as I thought. Just as Auster’s narrator was a believable and well constructed version of myself, so to was Sachs a version of every person who I chose to see only the best in. But unlike his other novels, the book did not leave me feeling that the narrator lost as a consequence of his faith in his friend. Instead I was left feeling humbled by his need to stand by him, to be his lone defender. Perhaps this says more about me than the book; or perhaps it speaks to Auster’s strong and sympathetic characters who address the best and worst parts of each of ourselves.
Appearance. Perception. Representation.
These are some of the broad themes that Paul Auster’s Moon Palace tackles. The book opens with a comparison between the landscape of the Moon, recently touched by humans for the first time, and the Midwestern dessert. How can two landscapes, light-years away, be so visually similar? How can two unlike things appear to be the same? Juxtaposing how things appear and how they really are. While this is not a new issue for modern literature, Auster’s approach sheds light on this old-age topic. The narrator of the book, a hapless writer as many of his characters are, encounters a wealthy “blind” man with whom he spends a large portion of the novel, often wondering if he really is blind. It is this friendship that leads to a beautiful passage of ekphrasis, as the narrator is asked to memorize one of the old man’s favorite paintings on view at the Brooklyn Museum. Every moment that it seems the characters and plot become clear, Auster adds another twist, challenging our perceptions.