September 17, 2013
Rumi said, “Be the change you want to see in this world.” This is where it all begins. The power to create the world in which we want to live, to exact a future that is happening now, today, using all that exists at our fingertips. Exactly, it is this, I type as my fingers fly free across the keyboard. The Universe conspires to remind us of this. D.I.Y. Do It Yourself.
It’s like the 70s all over again. A return to the era when the artist represents the underground and brings new worlds to light through the publication of their vision in print form. It is this space, this world at our fingertips, a world we unconsciously read as our hands traverse the page. We feel the image, we let it sink in, we read the words as the pages turn. We see it unfold, with our eyes and our hands, the stories touching us as they rest in our laps. It is the book made manifest that reminds us of the beauty of physical life.
Bruno Ceschel knows this, though it came to him by way of seeming happenstance. After curating an exhibitions of self-published artist books for A The Photographer’s Gallery in London in 2010, the digital response was large enough to propel the website into ongoing curatorial project for artists and authors alike [we don’t really distribute books, we feature them, showcase them] and from this Self Publish, Be Happy was born.
Ceschel observes, “Digital has caused a renaissance of printed matter. Self-publishing is not a way to make money. That is a burden. Self-publishing requires you to spend money which paradoxically free you from being concerned about profits. That is the restriction of the traditional publishing house. The people who do it today are very young. They are born into the digital generation. They are used to the computer and the online world. Self-publishing is their response to it. They are finding a complement to it in book form; they now have a physical object in reality and can share it with people. Books give them a different way to communicate.”
And this idea inspires and uplifts print more than anything ever could. Because it is not simply a matter of marketability, of consumer appeal, but of a need to tell stories, produce objects, create content the enlivens, inspires, and elucidates all sorts of spaces in the Universe we would never otherwise know, were the author not driven to make manifest that which holds them captive. And it is in this same way that the publisher operates.
Ceschel’s background is in magazines. He began working as a journalist for Colors in 2001. He then joined Chris Boot in 2013 where he learned the process of publishing and saw the tyranny of the trade firsthand. Most books are simply not economically viable, and an industry built on this offers a tightrope held at great heights. It’s a challenging business model from any angle you look. Self Publish, Be Happy avoids this by forgoing the model itself. It exists on its own terms, as defined by Ceschel. It is less a company and more a curated space, a digital doorway that transports us into another world of books and art as they are being lived today. Liberated from the burden of profits, the artist is free to do as they wish.
And it is here that Ceschel reveals his own love, establishing the SPBH Book Club that funds the production SPBH Editions. These are books that Ceschel selected, chosen from love. “It’s a small enterprise that’s very personal. I went to my people: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Brad Feuerhelm, Christina de Middel.”
And it is here that we come full circle, back to a love of books that is without beginning or end, but born of a desire to see in print our vision of the world and the way in which we want to live. As both publisher and a curator of the self published illustrated book, Ceschel has found himself in a new and dynamic world that combines tradition and experiment, classic and avant garde to sublime effect. Self Publish, Be Happy is more than a name, it is an ethos, a call to action, and way of being that speak to people from all walks of life, the single common denominator being a wish, want, desire, and need to produce a book.
Many are called, few are chosen. Come see why. Self Publish, Be Happy will be exhibiting at the New York Art Book Fair from September 19-22 at P.S. 1 in Queens, New York.
September 16, 2013
I have been asked to find a spot, a spot that is mine,
that speaks to me with and without words.
To sit for ten minutes in silence, letting go of all that came before,
all the noise that no one else hears, only me,
the eternal internal track running without pause.
I be where I am so I am where I be and I don’t even notice where I am
until I see it through the eyes of other ladies
and they hoot and the holler and they whoop it up and it occurs to me
that what I have is so very good, and more than enough
and I need not look because now I can see,
and it’s like Amazing Grace, only less dramatic,
yes, less dramatic is now me.
I am a writer. Finally, I can own this.
I write because I be.
I write as though it were air and air it is I breathe.
I write, and then I forget.
I forget what this means, this honor, this gift,
this blessing, this curse, this everything.
I am a lucky girl.
I remember the first time I breathed those words
and he looked at me confused, even doubtful,
and I knew then he would be the man with whom I would learn
nothing is my everything (yes)
and it has been a year, two years,
not that he would remember or even care.
Yo soy como la bruja.
I know things I am not meant to know
and I am told things without words and I am told
to keep talking, and to write, and to tell the world.
And to not care for proof nor judgment nor reputation,
but to simply tell, and to encourage everyone to tell,
and if we all tell, there will be no secrets to fear.
And so I write—
as I speak,
and I discover my voice, my voices,
all of those speaking to and for me.
But me as I am, me obliterates,
me disappears inside of the me that is me,
matrioshka is my favorite thing.
And so I write—
for sanity, understanding, for compassion and fearlessness,
To release the shame that vibrates,
the fear that you never loved me because you didn’t,
I say everything and you say nothing and that makes it fair.
Or at least even or at least I know I will never forget
because I will tell all, but not about you,
of you I will never tell a soul.
You will be erased, like those who came before,
like those who know one knows, for they are not secrets
but shards, shadows, and ghosts.
They without substance
and they without meaning
and they without being
are simply that.
I’m on my exorcism and I purge you from my flesh.
September 14, 2013
September 14, 2013
September 13, 2013
Bond. Bonded. Bondage.
Tie me up, tie me down.
G’head. Make me.
You can’t cause I won’t.
It’s been spinning round and round in my head
and no good ever comes of it.
Don’t believe the hype.
Were it that I could think without words,
that I could think with pictures and song.
Were it that I could think
with touch and taste and smell freedom and remain…
Writing chose me and so I submit.
Refuse to resist.
I love this too much.
Too much to love.
Love it all,
even when I know I don’t know what I’m writing about.
I’ve given up.
This idea of knowing.
Of owning. Of controlling. Of it being so.
But I like the way I lie. It’s aspirational.
I’ve given up nothing. I’ve acquired a new faith.
That I can search for meaning while saying it can never be known.
Because meaning is personal and me,
I am grandiose.
I dream of staircases, sweeping circular things,
and long gowns flowing behind me
as I ascend and descend and drag my dress behind me.
September 4, 2013
“i write from inside me.
you read from inside me.
you can not have a more intimate relationship
lovers, nayyirah waheed
September 3, 2013
I meet Truth with a cold bottle of rose
and pour myself a glass and drink it fast
like it’s water from an oasis because…
I pour myself a second glass
and drink it less fast but not at all slow
and still I feel nothing or, rather,
I don’t feel nothing yet. I am waiting for the click,
the click of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
and I’m holdinn on Brick, but it’s just no use.
I slide down down down I slide
and I like the way it feels
because I feel nothing
and nothing is my everything yes.
Because that’s a lie.
I know the Truth
in a way that I haven’t ever let myself be honest.
I’m looking at my phone
and I’m walking down the street
and the flagstones are wide
and dry and the air is damp and sweet.
And I’m saying,
I’m saying I already knew I was lying
and that I was never swept away
because there was no one sweeping up nothing
How strange this pain that’s in my heart
for it is soft and warm and vibrating quietly
as it fades with each word that I type.
It is a pain of pleasure
and the pleasure of pain
and it is my First Love,
and it will always be
and it is not at all sane.
Wet eyes that are dry
and a smile that slides back into the ether
and what is seeking me I can never know.
How strange to imagine being sought
as though such a desire could be manifest by anyone else.
And yet, the space between us is. Is.
It’s pieces of the puzzle and I don’t know what to do
because I want to Do rather than to Be
because being confuses with its darkness and mysteries.
Inspiration is a mystery and for me
mystery is most enthralling with possibility.
Nothing but my dreams to live
or simply to dream because…
It is all within me and I look without
because I love that pain in my heart like I hate myself.
And I could know this without ever knowing a thing
and I only feel what is real
only what is real isn’t Truth,
it is just me being…
September 1, 2013
As I’ve said all along,
a good idea attempted is still better that a bad idea perfected
and I’m still turning my problems into my assets.
August 31, 2013
I think when I first started out, I was very, very nervous and scared to even ask to sit at the table. A lot of times, to be quite honest, when I first started, I was just so picked apart and ridiculed even by my own people.
Sometimes I would say, `OK, I’m just going to stand here on the corner, I’m good. Go ahead, sit.’ And that didn’t sit well with me. And after a while, I just started pushing my way through and saying, you know, `There is nothing wrong with the way I look, there is nothing wrong with the way I speak. You guys are the ones with the problem. So move over ‘cause my seat is right here, right next to you. And I’m not going to change to fit into your sense of what is norm. That should only occur in the roles that I play. The only time that I should change who I am is when I’m playing a specific character. Outside of that, I am who I am, thank you. Now let’s eat.’
And I think that if more people took that approach, we would have much more success and we would have much more of a volume of us, if you will, at the table. But we have to find some type of strength within ourselves to say, `I am beautiful, I do deserve to sit here, thank you very much.’ And that going full circle has definitely come from being from Brooklyn, just because you know who you are. When you’re on your block, you know who you are and you feel good about it.
August 31, 2013
August 30, 2013
I did not know until it began and then and only then it began to expand, this desire and will for all things photography, for publishing, for books, for essays poems odes sonnets everlasting of stories told, for the people who lived and live forevermore captured on the page where the photograph is born.
It had been since 1999 that I found myself captivated by the spell of the photography book, page after page after page of lives unfolding, one page after another. It had found me, this thing I had been living unconsciously, and it has been to this I have given myself completely, with everything I possess, a true believer driven to act upon the printed page, with words, photographs, stories being told in complete and utter silence.
I beheld, held these things to be sacred, though I didn’t know the hows or the why of it at all, and I still don’t. But I do know it is fate for in my life it transforms…
I began as a publicist, a publisher, and I became a journalist, a book reviewer. It was Jean Jacques Naudet at Le Journal de la Photographie who made this possible, with a daily newsletter detailing the international photography world, documenting an expansive array of festivals, fairs, exhibitions, events, and industry moves. It also features notable profiles and interviews, as well as archival stories and weekend portfolios. I was given the freedom to cover anything I’d like, anything that sparked my interest and fanned the flames of curiosity and wonder, anything that inspired tribute and reverence, consideration of ideas that exist only in pictorial form.
I had never thought, until I had to, of the nature of the photograph and how it held me spellbound like Ingrid Bergman in the Hitchcock classic. And as I began to write, it came to me, that it was the photography book that is my destiny. And that is a beautiful thing, the freedom to create the world in which I wish to live. I was given cause to speak with artists, publishers, visionaries, to peruse these very powerful pages of their lives, to share in ideas and wisdom, to listen to the words and the silence and the stillness of the single image…
and then to return to the world with this new found knowledge, to share of these photographs and books. I remember standing outside Bookmarc on Bleecker Street as a cop on horseback watched the scene. Old punks gathered thick and deep to celebrate “Just Chaos,” curated by Roberta Bayley. And it was at that moment that I knew punks were the last of the hippies. Never sell out, never say die, just keep on keepinn onn, because art is life. Life is art. The Art of Living, like Epictetus wrote.
And so we gather here today to salute Le Journal de la Photographie, which bids us adieu after three years sailing the uncharted waters of digital publishing. Of communications, community, and communion; we stand here today in honor of the photograph, of what it is, what it was, what it shall be, for we know, without words, we know in our souls these things. Cheers to Le Journal for making this possible, for giving writers like myself the opportunity to discover our Truth in photography.
August 28, 2013
…and still the chills come as the words reverberate in the ear, Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice as clear as the call of the clarion. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heart of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.
“I have a dream today!”
King first spoke these unforgettable words on August 28, 1963, at the historic March on Washington, where he stood at the Lincoln Memorial before 250,000 people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to mount a peaceful protest demanding Civil Rights, justice, and equality for African Americans nearly one hundred years after slavery was abolished in the United States.
In tribute to the fiftieth anniversary of one of the proudest days in this country’s history, Getty Publications has just released This Is The Day: The March on Washington by Leonard Freed, with texts by Julian Bond, Michael Eric Dyson, and Paul Farber. Most of the seventy-five photographs featured here have never been published before, and taken as a whole they offer a compelling, powerful, and uplifting vision of the day itself—before, during, and after the march.
As Dyson writes, “The moral beauty of Freed’s photographs bathes the aesthetics that guides his flow of images. The folk here are neat, dignified, well-dressed—in a word, sharp, with all the surplus meaning the word summons, since black dress can never be divorced from political consequence…. Freed captures the simple dignity and the protocols of cool—the ethics of decorum—that characterizes large swaths of black life. And when his camera swings wide to include a vision of America too rarely noticed in the mainstream press at the time, and in some cases even now, he records almost mundanely, and hence rather heroically, the everydayness of the encounters between white and black. He allows the images to steep in the crucible for American race. One can almost catch the subliminal suggestion: This is what it should always be like.”
Indeed, the legacy of this historic day is that it offered to not only America but to the world a vision of the power that healing brings. We return again and again to the day, not only for what King verbalized for us but for what Freed’s images say. We see in these images the American ideal: all power to the people, and for that we reflect with a quiet reverence and hopeful spirit that the dream shall be fulfilled.
August 26, 2013
August 25, 2013
It was a dark and stormy night. The rain came tumbling down and from where I sat before the open door and the windows ajar, I could feel a gust of calm, cool, and collected air steal across my skin. Maybe it was the weed or maybe it was the wine or maybe it was that I did not eat, but whatever it was, it invited the heavens through my crown chakra and my eyes lit up in flame as a light flickered in the candle of my brain.
We were speaking of spirits and ghosts, I mean, mostly it was me speaking, most people don’t speak on it so much. So it’s just me adrift in the ether, trying to find the words for the ineffable. And that’s when I understood, it was so much bigger than this. I thought about humans, about how we are the only creatures with two hemispheres to the brain, how evolution has produced this left hemisphere that goes against Nature itself. Ahh, the left brain, home to sequential thinking and language and meaning. The left brain, the thing upon which all of civilization was founded. All thought, all interpretation, all rules, all punishment, all ways in which we structure our very lives are created by, umm, well, some freak mutation in evolution.
The left brain, the thing that allows us to conceptualize Armageddon, is the thing which makes it possible for us to live into the actualization of total annihilation. But annihilation of ourselves and our world and our dreams, for how else will Nature regulate the species that has climbed its way to the top of the food chain except to program it to finish itself off, because that is poetic justice for all we have wrought? But that’s not my point. My point is this: all the Universe is right brain, because everywhere else the left does not exist.
Everything is space and time in its purest sense, and not an interpretation of things. It is shapes, colors, sounds, vibrations, energies, frequencies, things we are attuned to, so more that most, some taking things to the next level. To hear symphonies clear and take note, to transcribe them onto a scale so that when hands play and splay the piano, your energy is felt as though you never died but are alive each and every time your song is played. That it is in these energies that we become eternal, and this is why we seek legacy. To exist long after life is gone and be one with the Universe through its continuity of form. To understand the greatest questions of all: What is the meaning of life? What is life itself?
I never bothered to ask, until I did not know. I just went on autopilot until the engines blew. And then I had to start again. Because I never asked myself the question: What’s it all about?
So many possibilities occurred but the first one was not reality. I had hit the age where my body overrides, and neon signs started flashing. Last. Chance. Motel. (ohh myy). There was a moment that fluttered haplessly by, a moment where I considered the possibility of a child but yea. No. Lies. But! I figured, Children. That’s what Nature wants. Couldn’t be more clear about it, only me…
I’m more Mannered than Natural, which might explain why I think of Freud’s theory of sublimation, explaining the male impulse to create, to make something out of nothing using only his mind, his mouth, and his hands. It’s like Zeus giving birth to Athena. It’s clean, uncomplicated. It has it’s own complexities but all told, it’s a narcissistic impulse. Life, like art, requires balance, and it requires intention, otherwise it’s for its own sake. Art, like life, requires activism to be a force of transformation in the world.
“Everything is art. Everything is politics,” said Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist imprisoned by authorities for speaking freely. Let’s bring it back to this. The freedom of speech is the freedom of thought, the freedom of the individual to fully assert his and her view upon the world (cause it’s all interpretative left brain thinking, in the end). The simple act of blogging, so banal in its ubiquity yet so entrancing in its success, is an act of declaration, an intention set upon the world. In our every word, act, and thought we are forever answering the question: What’s it all about?
For me, it is communication. It is the image and the word. It is the force of personality that allows their creation to change our perception of reality. It is to collaborate, contribute, and to tell the untold. It is to shine the brightest light in the darkest corners, or to take that light and diffuse it with a veil and to cast a muted shadow across a sparkling netherworld. It is feeling, it is a current to sweep away, not only myself but everyone who reads my words and fill them with the spirit that holds me captive in its ethereal embrace and whispers secrets in my ear it knows that I will tell, ohh yess ..
I believe Life Is Predetermined in Retrospect. The illusion of choice is a psychological necessity, but it was only ever going to be exactly what it was. Enlightenment is seeing where we are going years, decades, centuries ahead of the world. Enlightenment is finding the light inside the shines bright, intense, the flame that flickers and burns through and beyond day. It is knowing that meaning is an illusion cast by the machinations of the left brain. Nature gave us this blessing, this curse, this Pandora’s box of words, words, more words to be spoken, told, written and read. Words, we think and speak and breathe in words, symbols, copies of the original idea we can never fully create.
But we strive, we desire, we admire, we pursue, because we are creatures of mind, heart, body, and soul, and it is with out full being that we evolve and grow. We live into the very possibility we imagine in the deepest, darkest aspects of existence we can barely name, and from this nothing comes everything because they are one and the same.
This is my math. But first we must be whole, fully realized, integrated from the fragments that have accrued throughout our lives. Broken, shattered, scattered shards, slivers, and splinters, held together, falling apart, forever moving forward and looking backward. We are ten thousand things, and then we are one, and when we are whole again, we go through the looking glass to where nothingness is everything it is—
The ether. Michael Jackson said, “People ask me how I make music. I tell them I just step into it. It’s like stepping into a river and joining the flow. Every moment in the river has its song.” And I think about that a lot, how when I stop my mind from chattering I can hear the words. Like, Take this down, on some dictation ishh, and then I realize the cosmic joke of saying, I am a writer, because I ain’t writing ishh.
I’m listening. It’s always being told. We are like dogs—or like Beethoven, if you prefer—we can hear things other creatures don’t. We are given messages, and they are always coming. When resistance ends acceptance begins and the feeling of everything shifts. It’s quite simple to understand, but difficult to master. That’s part of the path, it seems, learning how to walk with grace. But it is to each their own that the answers come, and sometimes it is not the answer so much as the questioning of it. Because it isn’t ever what we think it is. That’s why the question is never answered.
Meaning is but a dream, but meaning is what we love, what we create, intentionally or not, we are forever creatures of the Word. The left brain, the groundskeeper, creating a fine garden of organized chaos, a Dadaist score, a dalliance in a mid-day dream, a Shakespearean sonnet gone wrong. Because…What’s it all about? How does it go down for you? What is the meaning of life? Does it need a meaning or can we say Fuck The Word? Are we called to a higher purpose? What are we doing this for? Do we really need a reason? What is your heart’s true dream for you, the stardust of ten thousand things blown up billions of years ago…
(Originally published on All The Right Questions, March 15, 2013. Much love to T.Q. Fuego and Witty Pseudonym)