At sea #13

Prayer ceremony for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami - Arun Sankar K., 2013, for AP


Realism(s) #37, or: on déplace le problème

Les salauds - Claire Denis, 2013, HD video


I think I focus on fathers. To be a father, like Marco is a father. And what happens when this kind of thing occurs between a daughter and a father. Because the daughter is not completely a victim of her father, she is accepting it too. In a way—maybe I'm about to be completely crazy—when I was the age of a daughter I thought if I had a bad experience with sex, even though the man was brutal or ignorant or whatever, I always took it for granted that this was my problem. That this was the problem of women, to keep it for ourselves. On déplace le problème. [We shift the blame.] I remember when I was very young and coming home and thinking: "Well, this is my problem. There is nowhere I can go and complain." There's not a guiltiness of being a woman, but women deal with their bodies in a very complex way, a total way, a global way. Not like men. Men, they have a hard-on or not. The feeling of a woman is so much more complex, because she can pretend, she can fake, she can also be terrified and hate and not show it. I think to be a woman is a complete sexual experience in a way. And this makes everything more complex.

History Lesson(s) #24

Vers Madrid (The Burning Bright!) - Sylvain George, 2012-13, digital video


Traveling Light #2


For the next month, Gina Telaroli's great Traveling Light (2011) is streaming at Lumière and freely available to download in HD. I wrote a short text about related sounds (see also: the post below) to accompany this release, one of many fragments of prose, images and video also compiled here. Alongside watching the film itself, I strongly recommend reading Gina's 'precarious preamble', which addresses issues of craft, labour, class and gender with an openness and honesty that often seems to be absent in reflections on contemporary filmmaking. Traveling Light will also be playing at Anthology Film Archives in New York (before the Cinemateca Portuguesa in Lisbon) alongside a short programme of train movies – a good excuse, if needed, to revisit 4'8 1/2" from afar.

Realism(s) #36


The way we make music is not like this calculated, conceptual thing; sometimes we'll have an idea that's mostly sort of affective and nebulous. Like the song "Ready for the World" came from this idea where we were talking about what it would be like to be a little boy and to have this downstairs neighbour who'd just gotten broken up with by his boyfriend and you can hear him crying though the floor and you can hear R&B music coming through the floor, and so we just started making the song in light of that. And usually we'll make a song and I'll just open my mouth and sing. After the fact, I'll listen to it and hear words that I've sung and then kind of write something down, get something formal from that, but still relatively informal. I guess I just sing R&B hooks because... I really think KS 107.5; man, the first music I listened to. When I open my mouth to sing, I sing these melodies.

This reminds me of a dream I had when I was a kid, that ghosts were flying around my bedroom. The only way to calm the anxiety of their pace and intensity was to focus my gaze on theirs, at which point they would fly straight through me. The sensation was overwhelming, but it felt much better than watching their random flight patterns and erratic behavior. I think about this dream a lot as a metaphor for what songs are to me. Some of the ghosts are mine, and some of them aren't. It doesn't always feel great to engage with them, but in the end I’m usually glad to have their company.


Des animaux #9

Repast - Mikio Naruse, 1951, 35mm


History Lesson(s) #23

Untitled - Diana Markosian, from the series Chernobyl's Last Breath (2011)

History Lesson(s) #22

Pripyat - Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 1999, 35mm




On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, a retrospective of Peter Nestler's cinema returns to London and Sheffield. The following films will be screened on 16mm, 35mm and digibeta: By the Dike Sluice / Am Siel (1962); Ödenwaldstetten (1964); A Working Men’s Club in Sheffield / Ein Arbeiterclub in Sheffield (1965); From Greece / Von Griechenland (1965); Up the Danube / Die Donau Rauf (1969); How to Make Glass (manually)Wie macht man Glas? (handwerklich) (1970); Chile Film / Chilefilm (1973-74); The Jewish Lane / Die Judengasse (1988); Time / Zeit (1992); Pachamama – Our Land / Pachamama – Nuestra Tierra (1995). Worth revisiting: Martin Brady's essay on Nestler for Afterall, and the English version of Martin Grennberger and Stefan Ramstedt's conversation with Nestler from last year.

Also in London: Honoré Daumier at the RA, and Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor in conversation with Philip Hoare at the Tate Modern. Elsewhere: Warhol's L.A., and Malevich in Amsterdam.

Some links too: Glyn Davis' tumblr; Amy Cutler on Writing Britain and The Robinson InstituteAaron Cutler on Lav Diaz (w/ addendum); Sylvain George: Giving a Voice to the InvisiblePhilippe Garrel interviewed by Jean-Michel Frodon in the press kit for La jalousiea new DVD and book of René Vautier's great Afrique 50 (1950)Serge Daney's La rampe (1983), translated by Laurent Kretzschmar and Otie Wheeleran interview with Nathaniel Dorsky – "we’re all mutually alone"; forgetting to remember the reminders of old; Jenny Diski's defence of Liz JonesOwen Hatherley on Richard Rogers; excerpts from Richard Skelton's Landings (also: a new Archival release, and a rare live performance by Skelton next year); a study in Sincerely Yours (20052013); Adam Harper on R Plus Seven and Daniel Lopatin's XLR8R mix; Rashad Becker: Nontraditional music; The People Dreaming in Church (and an interview with Julia Holter); Rene Hell's beautiful Dummy mixi think life might be elsewhere; and Songs for Sleep.

Realism(s) #35

Xiaolangdi Dam #3 (Yellow River, Henan Province, China) - Edward Burtynsky, from the series Water, 2011


Realism(s) #34

Untitled - Sally Mann, 1978-1980


A discourse of differentiation


The following text by C.W. Winter was originally published in TOO MUCH #2 (Summer 2011, p.81-89), accompanied by a series of photographs by Anders Edström. C.W. Winter is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles, and Anders Edström is a photographer and filmmaker from Sweden who lives in Tokyo.


Exterior: Topography (Text by C.W. Winter)

'Landscapes are mental states, just as mental states are cartographies, both crystallised in each other, geometrised, mineralised.' —Gilles Deleuze, Cinema II: The Time-Image.

Last night a friend of mine returned to Los Angeles after some time spent in the rural Rocky Mountains. In our local bar, over a beer, he spoke of a slowness that he felt out in that wilderness. He spoke of a sense of time for reflection. And he spoke of an anxiety about getting back up to the speed of the city. Cities are epicentres of distraction. Of innumerable stimuli vying for our absorption. And even our homes, the former sanctuaries in these cities, are now infiltrated by digital portals to even further reaches of unfocused attention.

There's been a fairly healthy discussion of late about the aesthetics of slowness. Of slowness in art, in music, in food, in sex. A fundamental reconsideration of the meaning of the simple acts of listening, seeing, speaking, reading. And certainly one of the most robust of these conversations is taking place on the fringes of cinema. As a society of spectacle gives way to an age of participation,* we're witnessing a recalibration of participatory roles: the generally venal, fairly dominant role of prosumerism (the favoured m.o. of the indie set) and the more active, resistant role of rigorously focussed attentiveness, among others.

But too often the conversation seems to be drifting towards slowness as a destination. As an accomplishment. As an end sufficient to the urgencies of our time. But as we trace a lineage of the iterative from the actualities to Ozu, to the Italian neo-realists, to minimal composition, to conceptualism, and on to structuralism, we can begin to see slowness, in and of itself, as a kind of trop vu or a non-radicality.

Speed is a degree. It's a quantitative measure of looking at and relating to images and spaces. But, on its own, it isn't necessarily qualitative. It isn't necessarily a different kind of relationship. And in the current criticism around the observational in cinema and in photography—conversations that overwhelmingly value story over the act of image-making—we're witnessing a paucity of differentiation. Films and art-making of a certain speed are being lumped together in discussion. And almost invariably from there, the classical language of entertainment—as opposed to engagement—takes over.

Not too long ago I did an informal study of the language of criticism. Over the course of one calendar year, I counted every word that was written in reviews of narrative film in three of the leading English-language journals of international cinema. And I divided the words into various categories. I found that approximately 92% of the words were used to discuss story. Around 2% of the words were used to discuss performance. 5-6% of the words were used to discuss exophoric matters—information about the directors, the actors, the productions, etc. And less than 1% of the discussion was used to consider images, sounds, economics, politics, and the entire non-literary history of aesthetics combined. Less than 1% of the conversation was devoted to the matters that I would argue ought to matter most. While I had a hunch about the results going in, I was still pretty startled to find results that were this stark. And I was reminded of a quote from Michel de Certeau from his The Practice of Everyday Life: “The more limited the discourse of a given practice, the less, in its proliferation, that it will obey the laws of discourse. But rather it will follow that of production, the ultimate value of commerce... Favour is then inevitably given to two things: narrativity and 'perfection' that aims at technical optimalisation.”

So then what would a discourse of differentiation look like? If we're to take slowness itself as a matter of degree, as insufficient alone to looking and making, what might then constitute a different kind of prolonged looking? What might we begin to see as approaches to looking that cut through the strata of images in a way that is sufficient to the urgencies of our time? And, in a digital age, how might we begin to think of the simple acts of seeing and listening as acts of resistance to the dromological dynamics of our current topography?

With these questions in mind, what I'll propose here is less an essay than a beginning of a conversation—one that will be continued in forthcoming essays and will hopefully be added to with feedback from others. It's the beginning of a look at the work of certain contemporary makers—Jean-Marie Straub, James Benning, Pedro Costa, Mark E. Smith, Morgan Fisher, David Rosenbloom, Harley Gaber, Eliane Radigue, and Anders Edström, among others—whose work, I would argue, constitutes a different kind of protracted looking and listening.

And I'll propose a set of qualities of such looking and listening—engagements with: intuition, topology and time, pure presence, non-fiction narrativity, ostensiveness, and the non-commodity gesture. Taken together, it's one set of measures for an age of participation. Measures that take into account the aforementioned histories but with a hypermodernity that is specific to current problems of sustained attention.

We can think of our durational relationships to our cities from any number of angles. We can think of the war model of the modern city proposed by Paul Virilio. The intuitive flâneur model proposed by Henri Bergson. Or the descriptive cartographies of Robbe-Grillet or Michel Butor. But what interests me more are the personal models of the makers mentioned above. Makers who, in their own ways, have set out to describe their views of the intolerable. And, hopefully, this can be an angle not just into means of making but into a means of being that is perhaps best summed up by Steven Wright: “I bought a new camera. It's very advanced. You don't even need it.”

thanks to Lucas Quigley


* Diedrich Diederichsen's “Music—Immateriality—Value,” e-flux #16, May 2010.


History Lesson(s) #21

Faraway Love - Agnes Martin, 1999, acrylic and graphite on canvas


History Lesson(s) #20

The Great Cinema Party - Raya Martin, 2012, digital video


As I became an implicit guest to Martin’s party, I found it hard not to think about Raul Ruíz and his great essay, 'Central Conflict Theory.' Ruíz explains how a dominant ideology assumes that the beating heart of cinematic meaning is contestation, A fighting B in an "athletic fiction." Wars, then, are the perfect cinematic subject for this regnant artistic hegemony. And if I may be heretical here, we could think in terms of Freud’s "deferred action" (Nachträglichkeit) or the anti-linear time of the Unconscious, and we might wonder whether armed struggle’s total appositeness for art in the dominant mould helps to explain why we never stop waging wars, why on some level we seem to need them. It is often bandied about that once a nation builds a weapon, it will eventually be deployed. However, the connection between cinema and weaponry, which has been philosophically traced by Paul Virilio and has been the subject of film work by Harun Farocki, Péter Forgács, Yervant Gianikian/Angela Ricci Lucchi, and Peter Kubelka, is usually left out of this equation. Since we have cinema, we will insist on generating conflict, in order to perpetuate the flow of worthy profilmic events.

--Michael Sicinski, "This Is Not an Omnibus: The Jeonju Digital Project 2012"Cinema Scope 51, p.34.


J.B. #5


I always believe that any learning comes through concentration and patience, and that you have to train yourself to have that patience and to perceive. That isn't slow to me, that's hard work. It may be slow in the movement of things but it isn't slow in the stuff that's going on in your mind when you watch something for a long time and you see very minimal changes: you start to learn from that. So time is a function of becoming more intelligent, I think; you need to take time. The word 'slow' seems to belittle that process. How can you rush that?

I remember years ago when I saw a neighbourhood film with Gene Hackman, Night Moves [1975]. He's talking about an Eric Rohmer movie and says 'It's like watching paint dry', and when he said that I thought 'Oh, that's what I have to aspire to!' That's so brilliant, to make a film that would require such concentration that you would notice paint drying. And then to actually feel the way the paint dries, the way light would come off the wall in a different way when it's wet and dry: as that transformation comes I think you could learn a lot about light. I'm kind of joking, but at the same time I'm serious. That's not slow, that's hard work and learning.

--Extract from Nick Bradshaw's interview with James Benning (accompanied by a particularly unflattering profile pic) [pdf]Sight & Sound 23.10, p.49. Wonder whether Benning has seen David Gatten's The Extravagant Shadows (2012)?


Illuminations #19

sections of loop-film from a performance of Iimura Takahiko's Circle & Square (LUX, 13th October 2003), via


Realism(s) #33

Untitled - Jan Postma, from the series Se non è vero... (2009)


Illuminations #18

Flutterbye - Ray K. Metzker, 2007, composite of 13 mounted prints (24 x 20")


Realism(s) #32

My Tears Are Dry - Laida Lertxundi, 2009, 16mm


I was listening to different songs, and I picked that one because he talks about how he's found a new love and is never going to cry again, and it feels very positive. But then there's this contradiction at the end: If that's true, "then why am I still crying over you?" Somehow that fits the southern California landscape, the idea of utopia, a place with oranges growing everywhere. The reality is that it's a big, improvised mess, congested by traffic and inattentive to its history.

I try to bring the making of a soundtrack to the foreground and make it so that image is never more important than sound. This soul song is music that can’t exist in the background. It's pouring its heart out and it's recorded in an intimate way, so you have to listen to it. I gave the song the time to develop and take over against a black background, playing also with postponing the end of the film. When we see a black screen and hear music, we start to think about whether the film is over. Has the ending happened already? It can also make us think of intermissions or the moment before the show starts.

The texture of the field recording includes the song that I use and ambient sound. If you listen really close to "My Tears are Dry" after the image fades to black, the song is playing in the alleyway where the palm tree is and you hear someone walking to the tape player and turning it off. While you were listening to the song, the sound of the city was there too. I never have anything recorded in a studio; everything exists in the world of the things that you’re looking at. When I had a screening at Marfa, it was a quiet night and you could hear a cop car go by or trains in the distance. They didn't interfere with the film or feel external because this inclusive field recording fabric sounds like the world in general.

--Extract from Genevieve Yue's interview with Laida Lertxundi, "Walkin' in the Sand" [pdf]Film Quarterly 66.2, p.39-40. A recording of "My Tears Are Dry" can be heard here, and more info on the (beautiful) film itself here. Also: a much shorter recent interview in Frieze, and Lertxundi's contribution to This Long Century [194].


Realism(s) #31

Placerita - Karin Apollonia Müller, from the series On Edge (2006-2008)



History Lesson(s) #19


What comes at the end of cinema?

Not what comes after cinema—a good question for marketing gurus like Spielberg and Lucas and Cameron to lock themselves in a room and argue until they expire, choked on their own hot air—but right there at the end, in death tranquil or terrifying or both, as the movies take stock of a lifetime of failures (and, okay, more than a few successes). As a moment, it’s the end of both the particular (the last movie) and the universal (the cinema): the world-as-projector clicking senselessly onward, the projectionist long gone (or maybe never around to begin with), and the cinema-as-film caught in the stasis of perpetual motion, run through, ass-end slapping ceaselessly toward disintegration against its one true companion. When that delivery finally comes in the form of a complete formal breakdown—the comfortable order of the classical style churned into a maelstrom of frames and pixels (cf. Film socialisme [2010])—will the unifying force of Bazin’s trusty old ontology hold? “Now, for the first time, the image of things is likewise the image of their duration, change mummified as it were.” If one accepts that the cinema will come to an end before the world does (i.e., as long as there’s still duration; figuring out what comes after duration is the real question of what comes after cinema), then there’s no reason to think otherwise—even a radically decentred cinema, one whose tatters are sent flying off in infinite directions, both analogue and digital, would still hold together around this core of mummified change. It might finally be a real big bang for the movies, which is to say that as long as there’s a world, what comes at the end of cinema isn’t an end at all: it’s cinema.

--Phil Coldiron on Raya Martin and Mark Peranson's La última película (2013) [pdf], which premieres on 35mm next month at TIFF.


Realism(s) #30

Collier County, Fla. - Nathan Benn, 1981


Allan Sekula, 1951–2013.


Allan Sekula, a great artist and photographer, passed away on the 10th August. R.I.P. Reproduced below, belatedly, is an extract from Sekula's seminal text, Fish Story, which was originally published by Richter Verlag in 1995 (second edition, 2002) but is now long out of print and more readily accessible here. This particular extract also features in the concise essay collection A Film About the Sea: Notes on Allan Sekula and Noël Burch's The Forgotten Space, edited by Jerry White and published in 2012 for the Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival. The above image by Sekula is titled Hammerhead Crane Unloading Forty-Foot Containers from Asian Ports. American President Lines Terminal. Los Angeles Harbor. San Pedro, California (November 1992), and features in the series Fish Story, Chapter One. This photograph was recently acquired by MoMA, and is currently on display on the third floor of The Edward Steichen Photography Galleries. In London, there is a new display of Sekula's Waiting for Tear Gas (1999-2000) at the Tate Modern, consisting of eighty-one images that Sekula photographed during the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999. The display is presented as a sixteen-minute timed slide-sequence in Room 14 on Level 3. The day after Sekula's passing, the FT published a story on the first attempt by a Chinese cargo ship (a 19,000-tonne vessel called the Yong Sheng) at commercial transit of the Northeast Passage above Russia (from Dalian to Rotterdam), an event that Sekula would surely have noted with considerable interest. A few links, too: an obituary at East of Borneo, a transcription of Sekula's letter to Bill Gates from 1999, and a video of the panel discussion that followed last year's screening of The Forgotten Space at the Tate Modern (which is very much worth watching, for a few reasons that I briefly noted at the time).


Dismal Science: Part 1 (Excerpt)

To the extent that transnational capital is no longer centred in a single metropole, as industrial capital in the 1840s was centred in London, there is no longer a 'city' at the centre of the system, but rather a fluctuating web of connections between metropolitan regions and exploitable peripheries. Thus the lines of exploitation today may run, for example, from London to Hong Kong, from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, from Taipei to Shenzhen, and perhaps ultimately from a dispersed and fluid transnational block of capitalist power, located simultaneously in London, New York, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, and Beijing, drawing ravenously on the rock-bottom labour costs of the new factories in the border city of Shenzhen and in the surrounding cities and countryside of Guangdong province in southern China. The ability of Taiwanese manufacturers to move rapidly from production in Taiwan to production in Guangdong or Fujian province is largely a function of the unprecedented physical mobility of manufactured goods and machinery. Shoes made in one month in Taiwan are suddenly made a month later in Guangdong at greatly reduced cost. The shoes are identical, only the label registers the change. And even labels can be falsified when import restrictions are to be circumvented. The flow of cargo to Japanese or North American or European markets is never interrupted. A ship leaves Hong Kong with its forty-foot steel boxes full of sneakers, rather than Keelung or Kaohsiung.*

The key technical innovation here is the containerisation of cargo movement: an innovation pioneered initially by the United States shipping companies in the latter half of the 1950s, evolving into the world standard for general cargo by the end of the 1960s. By reducing loading and unloading time and greatly increasing the volume of cargo in global movement, containerisation links peripheries to centres in a novel fashion, making it possible for industries formerly rooted to the centre to become restless and nomadic in their search for cheaper labour.** Factories become mobile, ship-like as ships become increasingly indistinguishable from trucks and trains, and seaways lose their difference with highways. Thus the new fluidity of terrestrial production is based on the routinisation and even entrenchment of maritime movement. Nothing is predictable beyond the ceaseless regularity of the shuffle between various end-points. This historical change reverses the 'classical' relationship between the fixity of the land and the fluidity of the sea.

The transition to regularised and predictable maritime flows initiated by steam propulsion was completed a century later by containerisation. If steam was the victory of the straight line over the zigzags demanded by the wind, containerisation was the victory of the rectangular solid over the messy contingency of the Ark. As we will see, containerisation obscures more than the physical heterogeneity of cargoes, but also serves to make ports less visible and more remote from metropolitan consciousness, thus radically altering the relationship between ports and cities.

The story is of course more complicated than this. It would be difficult to argue that the pioneers of containerised shipping had a vision of the global factory. Their innovations were responses to the internal competitive demands of the shipping industry, but these demands were by their very nature of an international character. Historically-militant seagoing and dockside labour had to be tamed and disciplined: the former had to be submitted to the international search for lower wages, the latter subjected to automation. Ships themselves had to be built bigger and differently and by workers earning relatively less than their historical predecessors. International capital markets had to be deregulated and tariff boundaries circumvented or dissolved by fiat or international agreement, but these legal changes follow rather than precede containerisation. NAFTA and GATT are the fulfilment in international trade agreements between transnational elites of an infrastructural transformation that has been building for more than thirty years.

Indeed, it can be argued further that the maritime world underwent the first legally mandated internationalisation or “deregulation” of labour markets with the invention by American shipowners and diplomats of the contemporary system of “flag of convenience” registry in the late 1940s. At the time, American trade unionists concerned about the decline of the U.S. merchant fleet complained about “runaway ships,” drawing an analogy with the “runaway shops” of the textile industry then relocating from New England to the non-union south.† Little did they imagine that within three decades factories would follow ships to a more complete severing of the link between ownership and location. The flag of convenience system, which assigned nominal sovereignty to new maritime “powers” such as Panama, Honduras and Liberia, allowed owners in the developed world to circumvent national labour legislation and safety regulations. Crews today are drawn primarily from the old and new third worlds: from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, China, Honduras, and Poland, with Asians in the majority. Seagoing conditions are not infrequently as bad as those experienced a century ago.†† The flag on the stern becomes a legal ruse, a lawyerly piratical dodge. To the victories of steam and the container, we can add the flag of convenience: a new ensign of camouflage and confusion, draped over the superficial clarity of straight lines and boxes.

My argument here runs against the commonly held view that the computer and telecommunications are the sole engines of the third industrial revolution. In effect, I am arguing for the continued importance of maritime space in order to counter the exaggerated importance attached to that largely metaphysical construct, “cyberspace,” and the corollary myth of “instantaneous” contact between distant spaces. I am often struck by the ignorance of intellectuals in this respect: the self-congratulating conceptual aggrandisement of “information” frequently is accompanied by peculiar erroneous beliefs; among these is the widely held quasi-anthropomorphic notion that most of the world’s cargo travels, as people do, by air. This is an instance of the blinkered narcissism of the information specialist: a “materialism” that goes no farther than “the body.” In the imagination, email and airmail come to bracket the totality of global movement, with the airplane taking care of everything that is heavy. Thus the proliferation of air-courier companies and mail-order catalogues serving the professional, domestic and leisure needs of the managerial and intellectual classes does nothing to bring consciousness down to earth, or to turn it in the direction of the sea, the forgotten space.


* See Xianming Chen, “China’s Growing Integration with the Asia-Pacific Economy,” in Arif Dirlik, ed., What is in a Rim? Critical Perspectives on the Pacific Region Idea (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1993), p. 89-119.
** I owe this insight to Stan Weir.
† See Rodney Carlisle, Sovereignty for Sale: The Origins and Evolution of the Panamanian and Liberian Flags of Convenience (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1981), p. 112.
†† See Paul K. Chapman, Trouble on Board: The Plight of International Seafarers
(Ithaca, New York: ILR Press, 1992)..


Three Landscapes


The Hudson River Valley is my home. In the summertime I’m always amazed at how beautiful the landscape is. The dry green meadows, where the hay bales cast long shadows at that magical hour of the day. The clouds rolling above the Catskill mountains—huge thunderheads—are stunning, evoking dreams. I remember reading an account of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the Hudson River, and how fragrant the land was to the sailors on board his ship; they could smell the abundant fruit trees. From the dispiriting climates of Western Europe, they thought they had arrived in paradise.

--Peter Hutton, in conversation with Luke Fowler, Mousse #37, 2013. Hutton's newly completed film, Three Landscapes, will premiere next month at TIFF


History Lesson(s) #18


My son, we have received your letter from Chalkida, and we read in the paper that they have sentenced you to death, my child. Your letter makes the stones cry out. How will the heart of your mother and sister not break? Today we sent out the funeral procession from our house. Oh, how unjust it is, my son! Do you remember how they received you in the Summer of ’43, the whole of Lidoriki, all the good words that were said for you? Why now, my son? Oh, my child! I will die, my son, before they bring me the dark message that they have murdered you, and brought you into the black earth. All of us in the house are as if insane. We weep, my son, for the terrible things that have happened to us. We have lost both father and son and our house is falling down. Everything, my child, is missing in our house. As if that weren’t enough, my child, they have also shot our Eleni, and now we are left with nothing but death. Everyone, my son, asks about you. Do not therefore leave us without a letter. Many relatives and friends send their greetings. Your sister kisses you, my child, and we all wish for you to return to our house swiftly. Your dearest mother sends you her blessings and wishes that nothing bad ever happen to you.

Your dearest mother, Konstantina Petru.

--Letter written in Lidoriki by the mother of Georgius Petru, a DSE fighter, on 19th January, 1948. Spoken by Peter Nestler in Von Griechenland / From Greece (1965). Georgius Petru was executed during the Greek Civil War, alongside many hundreds of ELAS and DSE fighters who joined the struggle for a democratic Greece.


History Lesson(s) #17

Untitled (Italo-German air raid over Madrid) - Robert Capa, Winter 1936-1937


An aside, or: links


Noticed, of late: Patrick Keiller's forthcoming essay collection from Verso, The View from the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes; at Vdrome (for another week or so), Eric Baudelaire's The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years Without Images (2011)Ryland's second short film, Inside Voices, to be shot this summer; seanema, a homemade archive of annotated images, links and texts being built by May Adadol Ingawanij and Richard Lowell MacDonald (inc. recent texts on Bangkok-based artist Taiki Sakpisit and a note on Tropical Malady); Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings; Erika Balsom's Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art [pdf]; a new article by Jonathan Beller, Advertisarial relations and aesthetics of survival: Advertising –> advertisigna tribute to Raúl Ruiz by Adrian MartinBoris Nelepo on Norte, the End of History; and two starting sketches for a new film by Gina Telaroli

In London: T.J. Clark and Anne M. Wagner's Lowry exhibition has opened at the Tate, and is notable for its embrace of a still strikingly reactionary figure – "a rent-collector by day and an artist by night, a lifelong Tory voter and teetotaller," as a celebratory article in the Telegraph a few weeks ago reminded us. The FT marked the opening of the exhibition by commissioning a series of comparative photographs by John Davies. Elsewhere: Death in the Making: Photographs of War by Robert Capa at ATLAS gallery, and, at the BFI, a Jean Grémillon retrospective, and rare screenings of films by Santiago Álvarez and Peter Nestler during August's Art of the Essay Film season.

Also: parts I and II of a rediscovered 1971 interview with Henri Cartier-Bresson  "you have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt, which is not an easy thing, because you steal something"; an informative, telling piece on the transformation of London's Olympic park, w/ photographs by Jason Orton (related); Chris Watson's Sheffield Sound Map (and a beautiful new LP recorded on the tidal island of Lindisfarne [320]); David Runciman on Thatcher(ism)It makes us sick: notes on affective labour, sanity, and post-Fordism; two new publications by Red NotesThe Little Red Blue Book: Fighting the Layoffs at Fords and Revolution Retrieveda typically fine interview with Lars Iyer – "friendship is difficult – it involves a struggle against what is now a widespread opportunism and cynicism. I think there really is such a thing as an art of friendship. I think it’s worth breaking off friendships when this art is being dishonoured – and doing so in the name of friendship"; recent mixes by Mark Fell & Old Apparatus; Four Tet on Hessle AudioAfter Dark II; and two older pieces I didn't link to earlier, Amazon Unpacked, and Simon Reynolds' excellent 2011 article for The Wire, EXCESS ALL AREAS, or: The Catastrophe... And What Comes After.


Realism(s) #29, or: some little bare numb spot of ground


I guess you get to a point where you look at that pain as if it were there in front of you three feet away lying in a box, an open box, in a window somewhere. It's hard and cold, like a bar of metal. You just look at it there and say, All right, I'll take it, I'll buy it. That's what it is. Because you know all about it before you even go into this thing. You know the pain is part of the whole thing. And it isn't that you can say afterwards the pleasure was greater than the pain and that's why you would do it again. That has nothing to do with it. You can't measure it, because the pain comes after and lasts longer. So the question really is, Why doesn't that pain make you say, I won't do it again? When the pain is so bad that you have to say that, but you don't.

--James Salter's beautiful, laconic reading of Break it Down by Lydia Davis. Text from The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (Penguin, 2011), p.24. Also, recently on Salter: James Meek in the LRB, and Sarah Nicole Prickett on A Sport and a Pastime


Des animaux #8

Before Sunset - Richard Linklater, 2004, 35mm


Forests #12


Amy Cutler has uploaded a full catalogue of the recent exhibition at St. John on Bethnal Green, Time, the deer, is in the wood of HallaigThe exhibition includes a specially extended 25-minute version of Noon Hill Wood by Richard Skelton (part of his second ARCHIVAL release, accompanying the publication of Bark, Xylem), as well as work by Camilla NelsonSung Hee JinCarol Watts and David Chatton Barker (whose own site is worth a look too). Related: Dan Handel's extended essay for Cabinet's current special issue on trees, Into the Woods.



The blues goin' dwell with you #2

The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins - Les Blank, 1968, 16mm

The blues goin' dwell with you #1

The Sun’s Gonna Shine - Les Blank, 1969, 16mm