In Uncategorized on July 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm
P is for Poodle, 1983


This latest VSK handbook offers an expanded PUBLICATIONS NOTED, a transcription notebook through recent readings that via extraction and sequence (may) become a form of commentary, and/or a determined neurosis of (mis-)use.

Each of the following texts could be positioned as a starting point that determines the themes of the others, with each such sequence posing different priorities and forms of travel.

MoreImmediateMotivation for such a method was Hans Dickel & Lisa Puyplat’s Reading Susanne Kriemann, for its exploration of reader/ reading involving both the practice (the reader and the art work) and the thought about it (by the artist and others. Reader as body and anthology in shifting multiplicity). As Axel John Wieder notes in “Reading Meanings”, his essay for Reading…:

“Reading” emerges here, perhaps in a more poetic understanding, as a process which itself produces meaning, which doesn’t only decipher, but constructs information in a performative sense through one’s own associations and ideas. We should start from this point, when we speak about the reading of images. (155-6)

1. Peter Friedl

“I think the more interesting part of the theater question for me is emphasizing the different between the stage and the public and how it works under perverted circumstances…”

“…. when everybody wants to be a spectator and a protagonist at the same time – certainly without any revolutionary romanticism – and even something like Pasolini’s despair looks like some role model to be picked up by any hysterical video artist (male or female); circumstances are definitely perverted. The real scandal is complicity.” (189)




(2) Susanne Kriemann



“In attempting to formulate my narratives with all the images taken from other contexts, the clear structure of the book serves as a basis for the associative relationships inherent to my work.” (190)

“there is a striking difference between the formulation of the work in book form and its realization in the exhibition context. The latter is a transcription of sorts, which is an act of transposing the book into the exhibition space.” (190-2)

“Do we bring one language into another language into another language, I wonder? Revealing a fabric woven of languages in space? Could this be transcription as performance? I have mostly been thinking of my process as series of “transformations” from image to text to image again, from painting to physical installation, to virtual space, and back to text again and into image – in a long and transformative process.” (206)


“I also dislike the word “installation” but I cannot stop using it when describing what I do. Lately I have started to embrace the old term “exhibition” instead. I make exhibitions instead of installations. Installation is for me more of a thing in a space that can be seen as a whole  body. Exhibition is like a book with a beginning and an end.” (208)


3. General Idea

General Idea
is basically this:
a framing device
within which we
inhabit the role of
the artist as we see
the living legend

Showcard 1-001, General Idea, 1975


Degraded and humiliated,
the glamorous image
is brilliant in its vacancy,
glorious in its degradation.
The image retains
signs of a former purity.
The face of reality is
still evident beneath
the thin skin of Glamour.

Showcard 1-007, Brilliant in its Vacancy, 1975


Glamour, like myth,
miniaturizes reality,
making it visible
in a single glance.
All major characteristics
are retained.
Any “reali-life” context
may be simulated.
Glamour is the perfect
simluation technique
for on-going battles,
the perfect tool
for re-shaping history:
adding,  subtracting
indeed MAKING history.

Showcard 1-009, Battle Plans, 1975


Like all artists, s/he is
intent on the definition
of unoccupied territory.
S/he wants to describe
the background by
simplifying the foreground.
S/he wants to occupy
a central position in the
general state of affairs.

Showcard 1-071, The Artist Constructs a Model, 1977

Felix Partz models V.B. Gown #3 at City Hall, Toronto, 1975-1977

4. Paul Chan

“Reading Sade, one can’t help noticing something about the countless debaucheries: they are not real. What I mean is that they are physically impossible. There are situations that Sade depicts where bodies suck and fuck in ways that defy physics as much as morality. The world Sade portrays is even less representative of reality than pornography is of actual sex. But they are not mere fantasies. They possess the prodding movements a mind that imagines sex not merely as a pleasure, a job, or a weapon but as a form of reason. Here is where the spirit of Sade resides. If human freedom is expressed in the sovereignty of sex, then Sade is pushing to create a form of expression that can free the reason of sex from both nomos (human law) and physics (nature’s law).

In other words, the spirit of Sade is embodied in the idea of abstraction. Abstraction, as the power to create from empirical reality an essential composition outside the laws of what constitutes the real, has always been the emblem of a kind of freedom. If abstract art has any insight left beyond merely being an apologia for interior design, then it must find a new necessity to produce images and objects that follows laws unto themselves. Abstraction worthy of that word binds content to form in such a way that the process that directed its expression is indistinguishable form the idea that led it into being. In abstraction, the origin is the end.


Sex abstracts us from ourselves. In sex, the senses lose all sense and make one feel wholly other. It is a domain in which truth and rationality have no ground, a place where no one knows what to do with what is true. Sexuality, like art, makes reason unreasonable. Abstraction, as an aesthetic principle of essential separation, has the potential to redescribe sex by delinking it from the tortured legacy of a Western imaginary that ceaselessly tries to make  what we do to ourselves and to one another into a truth worth fighting and sometimes killing for. In a sense, erotica, pornography, and even secret military prisons are merely different ways we have sought to make sex truthful: by fixing its shape, determining its laws, making it useful, rendering it reasonable. They are material representations of what sex is supposed to be. But there is nothing less reasonable than sex. This unreasonableness must be given form, rhythm, movement, touch, feel, and more. In abstraction, sex reveals the intangible force of its own irreconcilability and becomes what it is in reality: a spell for togethering doubling as a boundary.” (103-4)


5. Glenn Ligon


“… one of the things about the paintings is that there’s always this question of whether I’m obscuring the text or highlighting it, whether the accumulation of material on the paintings is about actually withdrawing meaning and my ambivalence about language and its ability to communicate, or is it about this incredible faith in language which someone like Baldwin had. I feel like coming to this essay [ James Baldwin, “Stranger in the Village, ” in NOTES OF A NATIVE SON (1955)] fifty years later there’s always this sense that the world has changed, but not enough, and so what can language do in some ways? What are its limits? I think that’s part of what’s going into these paintings.” (115)

“My approach to the essay of these particular works is one of questioning. The paintings are fundamentally about language and an ambivalence and pessimism about the project of communicating, of going back and forth between really wanting to communicate with the viewer and also wanting to withhold things and the aggression of that withholding. There are several ways to view the paintings, and I feel that when I started doing these paintings that people’s relationship to Baldwin’s writing was one of just celebration, that there was this uncritical relationship to him, and they weren’t looking at the essays anymore and weren’t diving into the in the way that I thought they should. I didn’t want my paintings just to be re-presenting the text, saying “Baldwin is important, here’s the text, read it again.” I wanted to explore the more abstract level of why do certain things disappear or how they have become so known that they’re not visible anymore, and pushing the viewer to think about this visual object, and in the way I’ve rendered the text in terms of these more abstract questions that the paintings ask.” (115-6)




Frédéric Bonnet, General Idea: Haute Culture A Retrospective, 1969-1994 (JRP Ringier, 2011).

Paul Chan, The essential and incomplete sade for sade’s sake (Badlands Unlimited, 2010).

Peter Friedl, Secret Modernity: Selected Writings and Interviews 1981-2009 (Sternberg Press, 2010).

Susanne Kriemann and Matts Leiderstam, “Is this what we do?” in Hans Dickel & Lisa Puyplat eds. Reading Susanne Kriemann (Sternberg Press, 2011).

Scott Rothkopf ed. Glenn Ligon, Yourself in the World: Selected Writings and Interviews (Yale University Press, 2011).


This VSK HANDBOOK (2) is part of an ongoing project exploring forms of writing and essaying that stay in proximity to acts of reading and writing. Previous projects include the recent handbook on John Berger’s Bento’s Sketchbook, and a collaboration in January with the artist Jennie Guy, performed at the Galway Arts Centre.

All these projects operate variously in a zone of transcription, passing on, (W)reading and commenting. They propose a form of theatre out of that process, where the value of reading is staged, rather than left to a process of unconscious accretion.

Transcribing this handbook prompted various questions concerning such a staging. Are the quotations in order? Is an argument unfolding? Is there anyone out there reading from the bottom up? How does a voice read all these aloud, inhabiting them both for possible through-lines and refusals? This, it seems -4/-7/11,  is less about subjectivities than imagining an endlessly refracting being who could speak everything.


IMAGE CREDITS (From top:) General Idea, P is for Poodle, 1983; Peter Friedl, Corrupting the Absolute; Susanne Kriemann, Spying invisible acts (high-rise building Alexandria), 2006, 110 x 135 cm, c-print; Susanne Kriemann, Picknick am Wegesrand, 2011; General Idea Felix Partz models V.B. Gown #3 at City Hall, Toronto, 1975-1977; Paul Chan, sade for sade’s sake, 2009, digital projection, 5 hours, 45 minutes looped; Glenn Ligon, Figure #32, 2009, Acrylic, silkscreen and coal dust on canvas 60 x 48 inches (152.4 x 121.92 cm).


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