For their very awesome and just-released issue "Street Life," Virginia Quarterly Review published my essay "To Write About A Hole" first on Instagram and then in the magazine. The essay dives down holes in city streets and language, starting with finding "halcyon" on a steel plate on the street in NYC. From there, language slips free gets tossed into the road and travels to where I live upstate. Here that hole in the street connects directly to the reservoir and the "halcyon" to halcyonidae, the kingfisher, which lives along the reservoir and on the stream behind my house...
Entries in Kate Newby (6)
This summer for the contemporary art museum Arnolfini in Bristol UK, I wrote an essay-as-ghost-story as a new commision for their show The Promise. Haunted by Sarah Ann Henley, the only women to survive the 250-foot jump from Bristol's famous suspension bridge (a Victorian engineering miracle by Isambard Kindom Brunel), the essay ties together Bristol, Brutalism, slavery, patchs of gum, traffic bollards, three virgin sisters and the story of lead shot, made by falling precipitously from a tower. It starts here:
"Look up. A woman tumbles from the sky. The mud on the River Avon glistens silver in the light at low tide. Her skirts billow around her like a parachute as she spins over and over. Time, life, love is suspended as her fall slows, and she wonders what she is doing here, as she panics, as she hits the mud. The drop is more than 75 meters. She lives. She has hurled herself off the Clifton Suspension Bridge and over the next hundred years becomes one of only four to survive. Two of that number are children. They plummet over the side together a decade later."
Here's a link to the pdf.
And it includes images by Kate Newby including this, which I love...
"What if you stop and cut off the analogy you’re about to make and leave it open? But what if I stop there, rather than completing the image the words connect to? What if they’re not like anything? What any analogy exposes is not the exact thing itself but its failure, that it’s not this thing. Hold back and there’s a gap, the space the simile was going to paste over. Let the hole remain and you expose something more profound, certainly more unfinished and shaggy than the thing you were going to compare it to in the first place." What happens when language fails us? When words are just poor approximations, and they smooth over the weird and wonderful. Meet Kate Newby, who I write about for The Weeklings and whose art can be radically slight, and is failed by trying too hard to describe it.
For the March issue of Frieze, I write about the work of New Zealand artist Kate Newby, whose pieces can be radically slight – so small they can be easy to overlook. Through them she asks questions of us and art and what we notice. In fact one of my favorite pieces of hers I never got to see but only heard about. In a gallery in Auckland she gave the people working there little stones and charms she made (often cast from things she'd found, coins and nails) to keep in their pockets during the exhibition. They'd take the charms home at night and bring them back, so they lived with them and they became part of the attendants' daily lives. That was her contribution, part of life, something so small so insignificant, it could be overlooked. She also makes stones for her friends to skip in ponds and rivers, oceans and even swimming pools. The stones, made out of porcelain, disappear swallowed by the water, and that brings up the question, what was the art? The rock? The moment? The friendship? Below is an image of Drew skipping on of Kate's stones on Fogo Island where I first met Kate.
You can read a PDF of the piece here.
This summer the awesome inspiring Kate Newby has a show up on Fogo Island (itself awesome and inspiring). I wrote an essay for her (the catalogue published by Sternberg Press), that talks about the point of art and the experience of it, whether or not the moment is in an object, an experience. Or, watching a pebble disappear into a frozen pond...
Here's the start of the essay. In the bit after this, I exhort the reader not to read any further and to tear up the page she's reading and cast it into the wind. Or water. Or both.
1. December 5, 2012: Kate Newby pulls a pebble from her pocket. The stone is green and smooth and feels fragile to touch. We’re on the edge of a frozen pond, in a place evocatively called “inland” to denote everything that isn’t by the sea. Next to me PJ Decker, a retired house painter and oil-rig worker, looks at the rock with amazement and perhaps some confusion. “Did you paint it?” he asks, assuming it’s a real rock, found on this island, Fogo Island, that is rocks on rock. He turns it over in his palm and passes it to me. I send it skimming across the ice. The pebble is, yes, painted. It’s been glazed and is not rock, not in the traditional sense, but porcelain, made by Kate and designed to be skipped in water. The rock bounces twice and disappears. How do you throw art into a pond and toss away this beautiful thing? But that’s the point, and after it’s gone, what is it? What was it? This fleeting moment, an action, a game, a thing made from rock thrown into the water, with no witnesses other than three people by a pond and a photo taken on an iPhone here in this place, this inland that sounds like a fairytale.
Or, maybe the point is the question, “Did you paint it?” Or the way I handle the rock gingerly because it’s art. Or that art is literally a throwaway moment that Kate’s repeated in waters around Manhattan and New Orleans, on Fogo Island and in New Zealand.
To Read further click on the link to Sternberg's site. The catalogue itself beautiful and Kate's work inspiring – radically slight so it asks for a reconsideration of art. And the world around us.