Monday, November 02, 2009




Benevolent area-sneaks get lost in the kitchens and are found to impede the circulation of the knife-cleaning machine.
- Charles Dickens

Area Sneaks is a Los Angeles-based journal edited by Joseph Mosconi & Rita Gonzalez that seeks to encourage dialogue between the worlds of visual art and poetry.

interviews with VISUAL ARTISTS

Edgar Arceneaux interviewed by Noellie Roussel
Analia Saban interviewed by Claire de Dobay Rifelj


Elisa Gabbert & Kathleen Rooney
Aaron Kunin
Doug Nufer
Franklin Bruno
Demosthenes Agrafiotis
Ara Shirinyan
Harold Abramowitz & Amanda Ackerman
Mathew Timmons
Will Alexander
Richard Kostelanetz

portfolios of VISUAL ARTISTS

Jody Zellen
Demosthenes Agrafiotis

a VISUAL POETRY symposium featuring

Robert Grenier
Johanna Drucker
Peter Ciccariello
Jessica Smith
William R. Howe
Derek Beaulieu
conducted by K. Lorraine Graham

ARTIST-POET collaborations

Kerry Tribe & Nick Moudry
Hillary Mushkin & Jen Hofer

email for other arrangements


Upcoming Launch Events

Seattle: Friday, November 6, 7:30pm at Pilot Books, 219 Broadway E, Seattle, WA

Vancouver: Saturday, November 7, 8:00pm at Artspeak, 223 Carrall Street, V6B 2J2 Canada, Vancouver, BC...hosted by the Fillip Review

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Hi Friends,

It would be awesome if you could join us for an afternoon reading

on Sunday, May 24, 2009
at The Lounge at REDCAT


Amanda Ackerman
Marcia Arrieta
Deborah Meadows
Joseph Mosconi


Doors open at 2:00pm
Reading starts at 2:30pm

Amanda Ackerman lives in Los Angeles where she writes and teaches. She is co-editor of the press eohippus labs. She is a member of UNFO (The Unauthorized Narrative Freedom Organization) and writes as part of SAM OR SAMANTHA YAMS. Her chapbook The Seasons Cemented is forthcoming from Hex Presse, and her collaborative book Sin is to Celebration is forthcoming from House Press. Her work has also been published or is forthcoming in flim forum: A Sing Economy, String of Small Machines, The Physical Poets, WOMB, Moonlit, Source Material: A Journal of Appropriated Text, and Area Sneaks.

Marcia Arrieta’s work has appeared in Blueprint Review, A capella Zoo, Otoliths, So To Speak, 13th Moon, 88, The Bukowski Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Cold Mountain Review, Mipoesias, and others. Her Chapbook experimental was published by potes & poets press; and her manuscript the curve against the linear was chosen by Toadlily Press and published in their Quartet Series—An Uncommon Accord. She edits and publishes Indefinite Space, a poetry journal, now in its 18th year.

Deborah Meadows teaches in the Liberal Studies department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Her most recent book of poetry is from Shearsman Press entitled Goodbye Tissues. Other works of poetry include: involutia (Shearsman Press, UK, 2007), The Draped Universe (Belladonna* Books, 2007), Thin Gloves (Green Integer, 2006), Representing Absence (Green Integer, 2004), Itinerant Men (Krupskaya, 2004), and two chapbooks, Growing Still (Tinfish Press, 2005) and “The 60’s and 70’s: from The Theory of Subjectivity in Moby-Dick” (Tinfish Press, 2003). Her Electronic Poetry Center author page is located:

Joseph Mosconi is a writer and linguist based in Los Angeles. He is co-editor of the art & poetry journal Area Sneaks and is co-director of the Poetic Research Bureau, a literary service in the public domain. His work has appeared in Try, Shampoo, Triple Canopy, The Physical Poets vol. 2, Primary Writing, the Fillip Review and other journals and magazines.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I've Been Up To Lately, Pt. 1

Long time no post.

1. Lisa Robertson, Yedda Morrison & Sophie Robonson read at a downtown gallery called compactspace. The event was hosted by Les Figues Press and my outfit, the Poetic Research Bureau. We called this the "My Three Sons" reading. -son -son -son. Sophie read to us from Britannia via pre-recorded video; Yedda read from her fantastic new book Girl Scout Nation; and Lisa read from her new book Magenta Soul Whip. Afterwards we stumbled across the street to the recently redesigned Coles, who claim to be the originators of the french dip sandwich. For those of you who don't live in Los Angeles, there are two downtown restaurants that claim to be the originators of the french dip. The other one is Philippe's. I can't settle that dispute, but I can proclaim that, having eaten at both joints recently, Philippe's is much better in the sandwich department. What Cole's has going for it is that the atmosphere is more like a tavern and they have great beers on tap. Philippe's is like an old-school depression-era cafeteria, which has its charm.

2. For the celebration of Russian Futurism's 100th annivesary, Christian Bök & Steve McCaffery read some zaum & sound poems at the getty Center. I love noise, so seeing Christian read is always a treat. I continue to think that Christian's piece for Murray Schafer's experimental opera Princess of the Stars, in which Christian plays the Three Horned Enemy, is one of the best sound pieces I've ever heard.

3. Met up with Scoli Acosta and a few others for a wonderful spicy Korean crab stew at Ondal 2. The stew is cooked tableside by the waitresses; an incredible array of kimchee and panchan are laid out in front of you; and once you're almost done with the stew, the waitress comes by and cuts fresh pieces of pasta into the remaining juices and makes a mouth-watering pasta dish; then, just when you think you can't eat anymore, the waitress comes by again and makes a huge dish of delicious crab fried rice with what's left of the crab juice. At that point you really can't eat anymore.

Scoli and I are working on a children's book together, and it was great to see some of the drawings he's been making for it. The book is kind of an experimental children's book; it's about animals, and all the language uses the same syntax, such as: Oh! This sober mastodon indiscreetly awakened that dramatic hippopotamus. Or: Ugh! That dolorous husky remotely touched some watchful iguanodon. All the language was found and manipulated by yours trulyI think there will eventually be abaout 20 drawings. One of them is below.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Catching Up

After a terrific reading by Kit Robinson & Diane Ward at the Poetic Research Bureau, we headed down to Chinatown where William E. Jones was holding a book release party for his latest project, Heliogabalus. In this, the third book in a trilogy of textual appropriations, Jones collaged various texts about the Roman emperor (who was somewhat of a gender bender, at least in myth: he supposedly married a man named Zoticus, wore excessive make-up and powder, and asked several physicians to equip him with female genitalia -- though most of this is likely apocryphal) with vintage ads and photographs from 70s-era magazines. The design, apparently, exactly mimics a magazine called After Dark.

Woids ‘n Aht: Speculations on the Expanded Field of Writing, a panel of visual artists who use text prominently in their work, was held the next day at MOCA. Mary Kelly, David Bunn and Charles Gaines each presented papers and examples from their work. I was especially interested to see this panel in light of a recent conversation over at K. Lorraine Graham’s blog about avant-garde writing and art and the pressure in each field to make overtly political work. Kelly and Gaines, especially, could be described as artists who foreground the political. Unfortunately they were the least compelling on this day. David Bunn, on the other hand, was a revelation.

Bunn, as I wrote below, acquired the archive of two million reference cards from the LA Public Library when the system went digital (a photograph of his studio looks like the giant archive where the Ark of the Covenant was stored at the end of the Raiders of the Lost Ark) -- he now creates art, poems and artist books with the language on the cards. In the image below, for instance, Bunn created a poem by looking up all the titles in the reference library that begin with the words "Why Does".

The issue of "poetry" as a problematic discourse in the field of art came up during Bunn's talk. According to Bunn, when he first contemplated creating poems in the late 80s/early 90s, he had to face the fact that he would be working in a field that had been totally discredited, maligned and ridiculed by the art world due to its perceived "subjective affect", senimentality and emotionalism. Poetry, he implied, did not engage in critical thinking, and Bunn was a conceptual artist for whom critical thinking was paramount -- how could he possibly write poetry? These sentiments were later echoed by Charles Gaines when he claimed that his total non-commitment to poetry stemmed from the idea that "You can't think and have feelings at the same time."

One hardly needs to point out that this is a sort of caricature of poetry -- of romantic effusion and Hallmark card horridness. I suppose the artists just weren't (aren't?) aware of the history of poetry -- that by the early 90s, (before then, even!) there were several strains of poetics that held the same sort of suspicions about subjective affect, emotionalism, sentimentality, lyricism, etc.

Later that night I ate some foie gras cotton candy. It was basically a big hunk of foie gras atop a lollipop stick, wrapped in sweet vanilla. You eat it in one bite. Sweet, salty, gamey. And surprisingly very tasty.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Went to see the new show at the Luckman Gallery, Dance Witches Dance, a collaboration between Lara Schnitger and My Barbarian. Schnitger has been making fragile, somewhat anthropomorphic sculptures out of commonplace materials such as knitted and sewn textiles, fabrics and sticks for several years now. She calls her sculptures "characters," which she literalizes with titles such as Beijing Bitch, The Cougar and Suicide Woman.

For this show she teamed up with performance collective My Barbarian (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon and Alexandro Segade) who provided a song & dance interpretation of her sculptures. The conceit was that the sculptures were witches, and that the members of My Barbarian were some sort of sorcerers who could bring the sculptures to life in order to make them dance to the songs being sung. Lara Schnitger danced in the background and occasionally took part in the rites being performed as My Barbarian sang their songs -- Schnitger looked exceedingly pleased that her sculptures were being metaphorically brought to life; it occurred to me that the next step should be to actually bring her sculptures to life via mechanical means -- I half expected them to actually move. There was also a video in the back room that they collaborated on -- it was supposedly filmed in the former Hollywood Hills home of Liberace, now owned by an art collector and apparent fan of Schnitger and My Barbarian. Overall a great collaboration -- I hope they do more together.

The next morning I woke up at dawn to join Ara Shirinyan, Brian Kim Stefans and a host of others for the Armenian specialty breakfast, khash. It's sort of an Armenian menudo, a hot boiling pot of garlicky goodness -- with stewed cow tongue, stomach, hoof and tendon. It's served with dried lavash bread crumbled into the soup, and lots of garnishes: pickles, radishes, fresh greens and cured meats. Also you drink vodka. Lots and lots of vodka -- and at 7 in the morning, it really gets your day off to a fresh start, let me tell you. The idea is you eat, get a little tipsy, then go back to sleep and wake up in the afternoon. It's supposed to be a good hangover cure. I love it. All the richness from the fat makes your lips stick together.

Monday, January 26, 2009

derive in the archive

"The derive has to become a practice within the archive, allowing the discovery of the hidden ambiences within the Situationist stacks that escape the division of intellectual labor."

Coincidentally, I saw the conceptual artist David Bunn speak this afternoon. He was given the entire archive of cards from the old LA Library card catalog when they decided to go digital -- and now he creates poetry out of the language from the cards. For instance, in one of his poems he looks up all the titles in the catalog that begin with "after you" and arrives at:

After you, Columbus
after you, Magellan!
after you, Marco Polo
after you with a pistol.

This example is more procedural, but he has lately taken to creating poems with the card catalog in a more arbitrary fashion, dipping in and out and moving through the information randomly. He described his work as "derive" in the archive.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I want to answer some questions that Mark Wallace and K. Lorraine Graham have thrown my way, but I'll save that for a later post.

Wednesday night I went out to Hollywood to see "that Swedish vampire movie," Let the Right One In. Kind of a moody, brilliant near-horror film. I say "near" because there really isn't that much blood, and when the gore does show up the effects are low budget, nearly embarrassingly so, to the extent that it comes off charming and oddly fitting for a film that takes place in the early 1980s. (Look for the CGI cat attack!) It's almost a horror version of Brewster McCloud. There are some strange gender dynamics going on in the film -- there is an implication that the vampire, a 12-year old girl, used to be a boy -- we see a quick shot of her nude body below the waist and see a scar running across her genitalia -- though not much more is revealed on this point. The loner little boy protagonist predictably vanquishes the bullies with the help of his vampire girlfriend -- but as typical as the story arc is, it is the pacing, mood, and snowy, nearly Black Metal atmosphere that make this film memorable.

Thursday night we logged on to Twitter to find out where, exactly, the Korean Taco Truck was going to be. You've heard the rumors, but nothing will prepare you for the experience. You will head down to the Miracle Mile, or Silver Lake, or Venice Beach and find a crowd of twenty-something foodies loitering on a corner, checking their iPhones. When the truck arrives you will wait in line for over half an hour, the smell of bbq short ribs wafting up the sidewalk. When you finally get to order you might be overwhelmed by the choices other than the short rib, spicy pork, and chicken tacos; should you get the Kogi Dog? The kimchee quesadilla? The korchata (Korean horchata)? It's all amazing, trust me. I too was once a skeptic.

Then we headed over to Michael Kohn gallery to see the Wallace Berman/Richard Prince show. The idea behind the show is that, supposedly, both artists have an overriding interest in female nudes. Seems rather arbitrary to me; one could easily say they both have an interest in Western iconography. I heard the original plan was to show Berman alongside Bruce Conner, but it fell through due to problems with the Conner estate. The two artists were exhibited in separate rooms, an odd curatorial decision. I'll have to wait to read the catalogue essay before I write more about this, but my initial reaction is that it would have been more interesting if the curators contrasted and looked critically at Berman & Prince's use of images of women; instead it seemed like a wanky celebration. The opening was packed with celebrities: Pamela Anderson, Anthony Kiedis, Brett Easton Ellis, Jason Biggs. At first I thought: what would Wallace Berman have thought of this scene? Then I remembered his close ties to 1960s Hollywood; Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell, Jack Nicholson and the like. Oh Hollywood, you're so close...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Some New Multiplicities: a conversation between Mark Wallace, K. Lorraine Graham & me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sunday night saw Steven Soderbergh's Che. Better than any film biography deserves to be -- and better than I expected, given Soderbergh's past offerings (of his many films the only one I can stomach is The Limey). Benicio del Toro as Che Guevara is pretty perfect casting to my eye -- better, at least, than the too thin & pretty Gael Garcia Bernal in The Motorcycle Diaries. Soderbergh's Che is stipped of most typical biopic tropes -- no swelling music, no ironic dialogue, not even re-enactments of historical events, like the march into Havana -- instead, the action is very naturalistic, as though Soderbergh's been overdosing on Kalatozov and Bros. Maysles. Four hours long and released as two movies, which means I had to pay twice (not a very revolutionary marketing strategy I'd say). The first half follows Che up to the end of the Cuban Revolution, the second is one long guerrilla war in Bolivia, marred only by Lou Diamond Phillips and Matt Damon cameos. Would've loved to have seen Terrence Malick's take.

Monday night met up with a group of folks at a Mexican restaurant in Los Feliz called Malo for artist Kerry Tribe's birthday. Kerry just finished a movie called H.M., "the true story of an amnesiac known as 'Patient H.M.' In 1953, at the age of 27, H.M. underwent experimental brain surgery intended to alleviate his epilepsy. The unintended result was that he could never form another lasting memory." So says the casting call. I was an extra. Look for the back of a doctor's head as he walks down a hospital corridor. That would be me. The real H.M., Henry Gustav Molaison, coincidentally died this past December. As the New York Times obit says, "each time he met a friend, each time he ate a meal, each time he walked in the woods, it was as if for the first time." Until it was the last time, I guess. Kerry has a collaboration with poet Nick Moudry in the next issue of Area Sneaks that incorporates some H.M.  film and production stills. Extremely jealous that one of Kerry's birthday gifts was a copy of Fiona Banner's The Nam, "a compilation of total descriptions of well known Vietnam films Full Metal Jacket, The Deer HunterApocalypse Now, Born on the Fourth of July, Hamburger Hill and Platoon" all written out for 1000 pages as if it were one long movie. Also saw a preview of a Mungo Thomson multiple in which he remade several copies of Art Forum, the content of which is solely composed of advertisements that appeared in its pages during the 1970s. 

Ate Malo's deliciously spicey chipotle & cream salsa as well as three hard-shell tacos: chipotle potato, ground beef & pickle, and lobster.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Friday night met up with Ara Shirinyan, Andrew Maxwell, Aaron Kunin, Jacqueline Fauteux, Lilit Keshishyan and my wife Rita at Koko's Armenian, a restaurant run by Ara's genius chef of an uncle deep in the San Fernando Valley. Koko just sold the restaurant so this was to be our last meal there. I tried lamb brains for the first sort of had the taste and texture of tofu or a dense cottage cheese. Not bad. Perhaps needed a bit more spice. The lamb tongue was delicious if a little too thickly sliced for me. The quail was perfect, as was the beef and luleh kabob. We finished off our feast with a large branzino grilled over an open flame. I asked Aaron about his upcoming essay in Action Yes concerning the "gurlesque." Supposedly it looks at the trope of the "princess" as political theology in the poetry of Catherine Wagner and Brenda Coultas. Elsewhere at the table, everyone was discussing the Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In and admiring Andrew and Jacqueline's new boy, Felix.

Saturday Rita and I drove down to Orange County to check out the California Biennial at OCMA. This year it was guest-curated by Lauri Firstenberg of LAX Art. Highlights included Daniel Joseph Martinez's life-size animatronic self-portrait that goes into epileptic fits every hour on the hour, entitled Call Me Ishmael; Mark Hagen's paintings of what appear to be found, crumpled up notes that say things like, "TO PSYCHIC UNDERWORLD: STOP ASTRAL TRAVELING TO MOLESTIDECEIVE OTHERS (ANIMALS TOO). ANIMALS ARE NOT MADE OF HATE. CEASE & DESIST"; an installation by Marco Rios that consisted of an entire room in which the ceiling was brought down to precisely the artist's height (64 inches); Anna Sew Hoy's site-specific sculptural installation made partly out of denim sewn into the shape of worms or snakes; Rodney McMillian's painting/sculptural hybrids; and Amanda Ross-Ho's large-scale assemblages made out of lean-to dry-wall with patterned holes cut into them, collaged with seemingly random magazine cut-outs and other bizarre objects. (Below is a detail from her work).
Then we made our way out to the OC "anti-mall" (not much anti- about it; mostly just hipster shops like Urban Outfitters, hair salons and cafes -- but probably the coolest place in town from the perspective of an Orange County teenager) where the artist Shana Lutker was performing her interactive piece, Hear it Here. Shana had hired two actors who wore headphones connected to two mics set up in the audience. The actors stood up on a stage and repeated anything that any audience member spoke into the mics, so essentially the audience was supplying the dialogue for an ongoing "play." The actors, however, would only repeat everything in a dry, uninflected monologue, so when I sang the lyrics to "Herod's Song" from Jesus Christ Superstar into the mic, what came back to me was a sort of menacing monologue demanding that Jesus walk on water and mocking his inability to perform miracles, which was kind of weird given that we were in Orange County, a hotbed of evangelicalism. Other audience members recounted dreams, gave shout-outs to their loved ones, or tried to make the actors say more or less funny things.

After that we headed over to Little India in Artesia for some Andhra Pradesh-style Indian food at Tirupathi Bhimas. Incredibly delicious and spicy thali plates tempered by pappadum and chapati bread...washed down with mango lassi. Yum! Below the restaurant there is an Indian ice cream shop called Saffron Spot where we both ate saffron flavored ice cream. Near the entrance there were a bunch of free books published by the Society for Krishna Consciousness. Most were based on the teachings of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I picked one up called Chant and Be Happy: The Power of Mantra Meditation which consists mostly of interviews with George Harrison, John Lennon and Yoko Ono about the benefits of chanting Hare Krshna.

Drove back to Los Angeles and stopped by Chinatown in time to catch Kirsten Stoltmann's solo show at Cottage Home. Mostly incredibly colorful and densely layered collages that incorporate images of Lamborghinis and phrases like "MISUNDERSTOOD," "FAT MOM" or "LAVERNE IN THE BUTT SHIRLEY IN THE VAGINA." Some medium sized sculptures in the middle of the room looked like Oompa Loompa Land props from the 1970s version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The gallery literature describes her work thus: "This new body of work employs over-used and abused tropes of swinger pornography, suburban craft, sports car masculinity, meditational sculptures and Tourette’s like poetics. In an attempt to exercise New Age sentiment through self-loathing and inspirational denigration, Stoltmann's efforts at reflection are always thwarted by her passive aggressive sincerity, humor, and self-depreciation."

Then made our way over to the Steve Turner Gallery where Julia Meltzer and David Thorne, aka The Speculative Archive, had a show with sculptor Jeff Ono. Julia and David presented a series of photographic dyptichs "of recent cases," according to the gallery literature, "in which people have been stopped, questioned, detained or arrested because they were photographing or found to be in possession of a picture. The pictures in question--the ones that remain invisible--are of sensitive sites in the USA; bridges, banks, tourist attractions, state capitals, and power plants. In this series the unseen image is paired with a publicly available image that has been found on the internet." Spent some time up in the gallery offices previewing work by Eamon Ore-Giron (who has a show coming up at the end of March) -- collaged, cut-out and manipulated LP covers that will be framed or hung on the wall.

THEN -- geez, we did a lot yesterday -- went to the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater where we saw Gustav Deutsch's essay film, Film Ist. In 12 parts and about 3 hours long, the film is mostly collaged found footage -- Austrian instructional and industrial films, silent movies, archival reels, Méliès clips -- that investigates, well, what film is: as such its parts have titles such as "Movement and Time," "Light and Darkness," "Magic," "Conquest," "A Mirror," etc. Affective and highly recommended.

This afternoon met with Gabriela Jauregui about some upcoming readings at the PRB, then went straight to San Gabriel for a big hot bowl of bun rieu oc (Vietnamese crab and shrimp paste rice vermicelli noodles with periwinkles).