An edited conversation: Patrick Staff

Part 3

 

Dearest Hester,

I’m doing some research at the LUX here in London at the moment. I was looking through catalogues from the London Electronic Arts today, early 90s touring programmes, and I noticed a work called ‘A Spy, Hester Reeve Does the Doors’. We got the tape out of the archive, almost not believing it would be you. It was part of a programme the LEA did called Visionary Sexualities, with annie sprinkle, franko b, sue zando and others. Do you remember it? I was so excited to see this queer drag performance. How did the film come to be made? It said you originally performed it at switch and bait in Chicago, at the Club Lower Links? What was that about? And how did the performance get to be filmed by Suzie?

Thinking of you and sending love, Patrick xx

 

J2

What about the errors in memory when you are recounting stories, when you get things wrong because you don’t remember properly, and how those margins of error are actually linked to the process of editing. Editing is also a process of changing meaning and you can accidently edit just in terms of recounting an event.

J1

Yes, I know. Hester names all of these different people but she could have easily forgotten someone, and in which case that person, in our minds, never existed as part of ‘A Spy, Hester Reeve Does the Doors’. Through her lack of memory, the video that we know, some people are excluded.

J2

And this idea of recording is also echoed in the line where she says how in that version she hid a camera in her loin cloth and ended up taking a photo of the audience. It denies the spectacle as much as it upholds it.

It made me think about Patrick’s work and that fact that again it denies the idea of spectacle. Rather than there being a passive audience who watches the performance, it’s a case of everyone participating. Do you remember the performance that he was telling us about? Everyone was performing so therefore how could you record it without having a separate camera or someone external? The way that he defeated that was by each performer having their own camera. You get multiple recordings and from completely different perspectives, from the body of the performer themselves rather than the external spectator. I think that ties into what Hester says about filming back to the audience or turning your own body into a camera. It’s about using yourself both as the subject that records as well as performs.

 

An edited conversation: Patrick Staff

Part 2

J1

It’s interesting to think about that process of historicising and recording stories etc., in terms of us talking now. The interview speaks of a time maybe what 15 years to the fore? And now we are looking at it 10 years on. I was thinking about the structure of the project and where we want to go with it, how we map the conversation.

J2

Oral histories are usually seen as an alternative way of recording history. When you interview someone you often get a completely different story. There are so many untold stories that get written out of history because the whole idea of recording or making an archive is governed by people who make decisions about what is going to be remembered. For example Gombrich’s ‘Story of Art’. You choose what you make the story of art to be and you elide everything that doesn’t fit within your conception of it.

J1

That fits with the way that Patrick researches, interviews and the use of oral histories. Even from the fact that we have received two conversations from him. And obviously both texts have been so edited. How relevant is it to go and read the original transcript of the Sandy Katz interview? Do we just work with what we have received or do we delve deeper into the content?

J2

I’m not sure what Patrick would have thought but he did give us the links at the top of each document, the video and the full transcript. So there is obviously that desire to maintain a connection to the original transcript. And in terms of Hester, from a quick Google you can find that video of her, you can actually visualise it.

Read More

An edited conversation: Patrick Staff

19 May 2014

Part 1

J1

I wonder if he’s still alive, that’s what I always thought

J2

Sandy Katz?

Tape I 00:05:00

SARAH SCHULMAN: Ready?

Sandy Katz: Oh, so you’re gonna film me from two different angles?

SS: Yeah. Look at me.
Jim Hubbard: Look at Sarah.
James Wentzy: The tapes last 40 minutes, so we’ll change tapes every 40 minutes.

SS: Okay. So the way we start is you say your name, your age, where we are, and today’s date.

SK: Okay. My name is Sandy Katz. And we are at Short Mountain Sanctuary, where I live, which is in Cannon County, Tennessee. I’m 42 years old. What was the –

SS: Today’s date.

SK: And today’s date is October 15th, 2004.

J2

Do you want to take me through your notes?

J1

The interview appears to be part of a bigger project that this woman, Sarah Schulman, was doing at the time…ACTUP…

J2

ACTUP…yes. And it was an oral history project.

J1

What’s an oral history?

J2

It’s based around the process of interviewing and creating an oral history through that medium. So there is less of a focus on documents, cold, factual elements etc., and more of an interest in speaking with individuals, getting their personal stories and creating an archive – a living archive of their voices.

SS: Do you remember how you became aware of it?

SK: I can’t remember the first references to AIDS or gay cancer, or whatever. Later on, in retrospect I’ve read the early articles that appeared. But I don’t specifically remember seeing them. But by the time I started having sex with men, I was definitely aware that there was this health crisis in the gay world, and that I, that there were precautions. I think that, I think I was aware of, say, of some basic safe-sex ideas before I was having sex with men.

At the same time, I’ll say that sort of because of what I was just describing, of this idea that I just was so strongly not identified with the men who I could tell from a block away were gay. I did feel sort of weirdly distanced from AIDS in my early sexually active years. I felt like the guys who I was having sex with didn’t really fit the profile, and I wasn’t, I don’t think I was really sort of seriously considering the idea that, that they could have HIV.

J1

One part of the interview that I found particularly poignant were the sections about medication, which seems to be quite a contentious issue at the time, whether you took the prescribed medication for HIV/AIDs or whether you didn’t.

J2

Well that medication came out as new medication just as HIV/AIDs was considered a new disease. There’s a fear around how you actually treat it and deal with it. Because in many ways it’s the unknown.

J1

And it’s interesting how he put off the fact that he was sick. It got me thinking about the idea of abled and disabled bodies again…

 

J2

Yes, it’s interesting to question at what point you become a ‘disabled’ body. Is it from the moment that you start to feel physically ill or at the point when the doctor diagnoses you? In many ways you become a disabled body because the diagnosis and prescription of medication tells you that you are.

J1

And for a long time Sandy seemed to be in denial about that, thought he was…before he was positive…when the results came back inconclusive.

SS: Well did you ever conceptualize of yourself as a potentially future person with AIDS?

SK: Not really. I really just, I just, I guess I felt I had enough information, and – was smart enough that I wouldn’t get it. And I never particularly had any anxiety about having been exposed to it. And the times when I got HIV-tested, it was always as a companion to someone who was filled with anxiety about having been exposed, and just wanted a friend to go get tested with. So, and it’s kind of interesting.

I didn’t test positive myself until 1991. But I did start testing inconclusive in 1988. And on two different occasions, it was the same scenario, of a friend who was filled with anxiety. So I went with them to get tested, and got tested, really just thinking I was doing it as support for them. And then, they came back negative. And I came back inconclusive. Which I didn’t really interpret as positive. I sort of constructed all of these elaborate – reasons why I would have an inconclusive blood test. I had had malaria in the late ’80s, and some doctor told me, maybe my malaria was making the test read strangely, or. Um. But it, no, it wasn’t ’til I actually tested positive in ’91 that I really thought about the possibility that I could be positive. I had even had boyfriends who were positive, but I just felt like I was being so careful and by-the-book that, uh, that I’d be okay.

 

 Compiled by Joseph Constable and Jess Dunleavy

An edited conversation: Patrick Staff

Part 4

JAMES WENTZY: We have to change tape.

SS: Change tapes? Okay.
SK: Okay, I need to pee.
SS: Okay.

SK: Do you want me to just pick up where I was?

J1

The format of this interview with Sandy is really…I guess we have to guess how much Patrick has edited and formatted it himself. It seems so purposeful how he’s left some parts…It’s very…

J2

…contrived…

J1

He’s really trying to create something with this document by including those parts.

I was thinking of creating a subsequent document as an interview between you, me and Patrick, to create a new fiction. We could develop a script to include stage directions. We could really play on this script format and, like you said, continue to edit and create further fiction.

J2

I like that idea of those interludes being like stage directions. Creating a play.

J1

Do you think he has left them in order to create a sense of context to the interview?

J2

Maybe it’s trying to show the artificiality of the set-up. Even though it’s a really real testimony, the interview format is also a very artificial construction. For example the fact that they have to change tapes every forty minutes. I’ve watched transcriptions of interviews before and when you have to change tapes it’s actually really frustrating moment because someone can be in the middle of saying something, quite a good thought or point, and then because of a logistical concern when it comes back to it that thing gets lost and that thing never gets said. It’s really hard to get back to it. I was once transcribing some documentary and just watching the way that the interviewer tries to steer it back but it’s really hard to interview someone and get them to think. So maybe that’s why he’s included it, to show that technological interruption and how it affects the story.

J1

It’s also about how much ‘umming’ and ‘arring’ you choose to put in, because you don’t really need to if it’s just for time coding. But this transcript does make notes of all those bits.

J2

I wonder if the interview continued beyond that. Patrick could just be giving us…

J1

It does say at the top ‘edited email’. Did he cut bits out before he gave it to us?

J2

It’s a shame we didn’t record our conversation with Patrick.

J1

I just felt we would have done so if it had felt comfortable to

J2

I think you’re right. I don’t think going back and listening now would be that helpful. I think it’s actually interesting to not include a conversation with Patrick. I think it’s interesting that he’s given us these two pieces, not really said anything and then we have had these responses.

J1

He almost seems like a fictional character, an in-between person, an enabler or facilitator, connecting these two texts. Whatever comes out that we create is kind of Patrick Staff. That’s all you get of him. It’s what we choose to…through our own voices.

Read More

The Artist’s House

Critic and writer Kirsty Bell is interviewed by Chloe Reith in Edinburgh where she recently delivered a multimedia slide lecture based on her new book The Artist’s House: From Workplace to Artwork. In this book Bell narrates a series of intimate encounters with artists for whom the home is the locus of artistic production and the role of domestic space is in direct relation to the work.

Krasinski Interior

Chloe Reith: You worked for many years in various galleries in London and New York. How has this influenced your approach to the subject of the artist’s house?

Kirsty Bell: Though I studied art history, my first encounters with contemporary art came through work: I began as an intern filing press clippings at Anthony d’Offay Gallery in the early 1990s, went on to be exhibitions assistant there, spent a couple of years freelancing as an artist’s assistant and curator, and then as director of Gavin Brown’s enterprise in New York from 1997 to 2001. So my interest in contemporary art was never academic or theoretical, it really came through the practical experience of working directly with artists, and building up ongoing relationships that had as much to do with their daily lives as with the works they were making and showing. This hands-on approach influenced me when it came to the subject of the artist’s house in that I wanted to get as close to the situation as possible, to base my research on site-visits and interviews with the artists; field-work rather than second-hand analysis. Although theory did have a part to play, this came later.

Read More

Humour is a slippery fish: a conversation between Catriona Gallagher and Siân Robinson Davies

Recently I responded to an open call to participate in a performance project by Siân Robinson Davies, an artist I had met a few times before. Usually I wouldn’t be interested in this kind of thing, as I have an aversion to the idea of being in front of an audience, but it caught my eye as I have been on the lookout for a subject for this article. I’d been asked to write about an Edinburgh based artist and I’ve been intrigued by Siân’s work for a while, having seen, by chance, a gig she did at The Stand comedy club last year, so I emailed her expressing interest. We arranged to meet at her studio in Rhubaba, an artist run space in Leith, to discuss the idea. I thought I could use the opportunity to find out some information for my writing, and decided to record the meeting surreptitiously. I’d prepared in a café over few coffees planning how I could steer our conversation towards the questions I wanted to ask about her practice. The caffeine had left me feeling a little edgy, and I was nervous because, with Siân, I’ve been told you can never be quite sure when she’s being serious and when she’s joking.

 Siân Robinson Davies: Hey Catriona, thanks for coming. Thanks for replying to my email, How are you? Would you like coffee?

Catriona Gallagher: Err, yeah, I’ve already had one but that’d be great, thanks.

SRD: Grab a chair.

CG: Great, thank you. So maybe you could tell me about what I’d be doing in your project?

SRD: Sure, right, well firstly I should say I’m so glad you’re excited about this project, I really try to work with people who are really passionate about this stuff, you know? And I should also say that it’s really not about me telling you what to do, I’m not imagining that I would be giving you directions. The idea is more about a life practice than an art piece, which is key. But that’s why I wanted to speak to you, because your reply to the call I put out seemed really in tune with that idea. So great, thanks again for coming.

(Pause)

Read More

Modern Edinburgh Film School, A new island forming, a fighting island, its surfacing painful from freezing, unfathomable waters, says “the reality diagonal”, itself a floating cinema, and is a cathartic event  2014

Modern Edinburgh Film School, A new island forming, a fighting island, its surfacing painful from freezing, unfathomable waters, says “the reality diagonal”, itself a floating cinema, and is a cathartic event  2014

The Modern Edinburgh Film School The Silver River, 2014

The Modern Edinburgh Film School The Silver River, 2014

Exploit.zzxjoanw.Gen by Dane Sutherland

Image courtesy of Plastique Fantastique

Coined by writer, artist and self-proclaimed ‘concept engineer’ Kodwo Eshun, the term Sonic Fiction refers to the myriad statements, titles, costumes, relations, speculations, rituals, hidden tracks, production techniques, economies, patois, basslines, gestures and images close to a genre of music, generating a trans-media narrative, immanently connected as they are to the speculative potency of the sonic grain of each song. As the enigmatic art collective 0(rphand(rift> have said, “the solitons of the music tell a story.”

The key development that has made thinking Sonic Fictions possible is certainly Afrofuturism: a name for the alternative histories and alien futurities generated amongst Afro-diasporic cultures. As an epistemology, it considers Black artistic production as a dispersed modality of wresting forms of science-fiction, utopian thought and modernity from a situation in which the Black subject is inherently alienated by the events of dominant historical narratives, speculating upon this alienated character as a future-oriented subjectivity in-production.

 

Read More

FWD: LINE, Commission.
Dimitris Papoutsakis and Becky Campbell, Slope, 2014

FWD: LINE, Commission.

Dimitris Papoutsakis and Becky Campbell, Slope, 2014