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NEW PUBLICATION: 2 BLUE CUPS ON TWO DIFFERENT CORNERS OF THE TABLE by OHAD BEN SHIMON

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2013 at 2:59 pm

121112
 
 
 
 
The latest VerySmallKitchen paperback is 2 blue cups on two different corners of the table, by Ohad Ben Shimon. It is available for £6 (plus £1 P&P) here.
 
In a dialogue on the book, in June 2013, VerySmallKitchen asked: where does a book begin and where does it end? Ohad replied:
 
 
 
i think a book begins at the point when all other plans don’t seem to work out.. funny as it is, the strongest form of self expression is actually the last one we think of…perhaps we don’t allow ourselves that freedom. once we feel entitled we create a title. a ‘book’. it ends when someone forces you to end it. and that brings on a new restriction to once again search for that freedom, perhaps in the form of a new book.
 
 
 
Read that dialogue here, and see the posts by Ohad Ben Shimon as part of his VSK Residency. Here is 2 blue cups in the process of being written:
 
 
 
 
book_photo_1
 
 
 
For this online launch, here is a sketch of SWISS read by Mercedes Azpilicueta.
 
 

 
 
And here is a set of 5 readings by Ohad Ben Shimon, recorded at home in Rotterdam:
 
 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
EXTRACT
 
 
28.11.12
 
 
 
 
the sun
the coffee
a banana
a milk carton
things on the table
stuff
kitchen towels
a poster in arabic saying ‘a thousand and one nights’
the sound of the fridge
plants
me?
i’m putting sugar in the coffee
i’m drinking the coffee
sitting
a red chair
a beautiful autumn day
a few emails are awaiting
actually just one
i can’t open it yet
in the meantime i write
writing is a diversion
a detour
passing by something
writing hints about a situation
the contours of a reality
its shape
a substitute
me?
i’m a substitute teacher
i teach how to substitute this with that
them with us
me with you
 
 
 
 
//
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Purchase the book for £6 plus £1 P&P here:
 
 
btn_buynow_lg
 
 
More about Ohad’s work is here.
 
 
 
 
//
 
 
Ohad Ben Shimon
2 blue cups on two different corners of the table
VerySmallKitchen 2013
ISBN 978-1-909925-01-4
80pp
 
 
 
 
 
 

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VSK PROJECT OHAD BEN SHIMON: 2 BLUE CUPS ON TWO DIFFERENT CORNERS OF THE TABLE

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2013 at 3:28 pm

book_photo_1
 
 
 
 
The following are three sections of Ohad Ben Shimon’s 2 blue cups on two different corners of the table, forthcoming from VerySmallKitchen Books in June 2013.
 
 
 
 
23.11.12
 
 
 
 
the morning
it comes
it rains
it coffee
it happens
it mornings
it silence
it occurs
the morning is an event
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
my narrative capabilities are destroyed
all I can do is describe what I see
name things
making connections is hard these days
nothing seems to fit into one coherent whole
a totality
instead
fragments of a reality
a fragmentology
and you are in the middle
you move around
in between
close and far
you are the writer
attaching your words to objects
watching them
naming them
in hope that one day it will make sense to someone
and the ends come closer
they arrive faster
once you used to start something
and it took you a while to get there
nowadays you start
and it ends
 
 
 
 
24.11.12

 
 
 
 
leidseplein
amsterdam
a line
lights
many people running
they seem like they can steal my laptop
rain on the ground
music
bikes
some guy is smoking a big joint
the tram lines run
we just finished our performance
it was nice
elegance says one street sign
r&b says another
people
plastic bags
an orange umbrella
a strong smell of weed coming out of a coffeeshop
a burger king
someone says ‘money’
more umbrellas
more plastic bags
surfaces
cigarettes
haircuts
coats
girls
guys
keys
a bike
a tram
a guy with a coat looking at my laptop and bags
2 guys laughing
a few girls throw some redbull cans into a garbage can
a guy in a rickshaw
a theater building with the sign ‘macbeth’ on it
below it another sign says ‘to see or not to see’
2 spanish guys with cotton hats saying ‘amsterdam’
me?
im drunk
im ok
with a black coat on a brown bench
another rickshaw guy passes
some guy says bye to a girl
bad fashion
a flashlight
 
 
 
 
25.11.12
 
 
 
 
to work around things
to shift them
to replace one with another
to exchange values
to redefine
reshape
remaster
remix
re re re
to rest some place
to let it rest
to change your ways
to come back to them
to change again
to create sockets
pockets of air
the breath
reaches a high point and a low point
somehow somewhere sometime
you always find yourself back on the saddle
it’s never really gone
what has gone are layers of times
somehow somewhat peeled off by their own movement
and you imagine a place
a list
where all these changes take place
whilst at the same time not really taking place
the internet and the computer
are helpful for that illusionary space
it’s there and not there
it allows you to dream
to expand
it harbors your imaginary right and wrong doings
by presenting an ordered software and hardware
to renegotiate your own order
your own mechanism
the state of your affairs
the never ending
yet always already ending
life that you are living today
and the next day
and the next
so rewire
refine
recruit
whatever energy is left in you
make it happen
reach that land
it is there waiting for you
you called for it to appear
don’t hesitate
make way
you will become
you will become
 
 
 
 
//
 
 
 
 
book_photo_2
 
 
 
 
The following dialogue was conducted between VerySmallKitchen and Ohad Ben Shimon during the writing of the book:
 
 
 
 
VSK: I wrote some questions for you today – about the book, the book to be, the book as it is, the book as it is being imagined, will be and won’t…. where does a book begin and where does it end?
 
OHAD: i think a book begins at the point when all other plans don’t seem to work out.. funny as it is, the strongest form of self expression is actually the last one we think of…perhaps we don’t allow ourselves that freedom. once we feel entitled we create a title. a ‘book’. it ends when someone forces you to end it. and that brings on a new restriction to once again search for that freedom, perhaps in the form of a new book.
 
VSK: Do some experiences look wrong on the page or perhaps “too right”?
 
OHAD: i try to see all experiences as part of this thing we call life and in that sense always ‘right’. what’s in the book is not the experience. it’s just the transformation of that experience into an artistic form, in this case text. so in a way all the experiences look wrong on the page as they don’t represent exactly the experience. the only true or ‘right’ experience in the book and on the page is the one the reader is having, because for him or her it is the first time they have the experience of reading such things.
  
VSK: What else does a list do?
 
OHAD: i’m thinking here actually of a list as a registration of desire. of things you want. so a list can create desire in the mind of the reader. now the question is a desire for what.
  
VSK: Does writing encourage fidelity or fiction?
 
OHAD: i believe you can’t run away from your own writing. in that sense it has always been a form of fidelity for me, even when it’s introduced as fiction. the reader will always find your blind spot whilst reading or you will eventually find it given sufficient time. 
  
VSK: Is a notated day different to a not notated day?
 
OHAD: not really. i see breathing, walking, swimming, eating, basically many everyday actions as forms of writing if they’re on some page or not.
 
VSK: When do you read this in the future?
 
OHAD: in mornings.
  
VSK: When do details affirm and when do they erase?
 
OHAD: it’s an exchange. they affirm their own presence. the presence of the detail. but at that same very moment they erase the whole. that’s why i can’t really get my head around them. they are slippery creatures.
  
VSK: How does the text function as gift?
 
OHAD: it’s wrapped. in the same unexplainable material that life itself is wrapped in. it requires the reader to unwrap it.
 
VSK: How does the text function as instruction?
 
OHAD: maybe it’s an instruction to keep my eyes open. perhaps in the form of note to self.
  
VSK: Is it some sort of record that is breaking?
 
OHAD: yes it’s a record that is breaking but the record itself remains intact. what is being broken is language. it’s in a constant state of self annihilation. the text is at once a living organism in the sense that it has a breaking force and at the same time it is a residue or cinder.
  
VSK: Aren’t you really just trying out a form of magic?
 
OHAD: only if this form of magic has some kind of thera-poetic power like the word abracadabra.
  
VSK: Does the writing imagine you or someone else?
 
OHAD: of course. the image-nation. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ohad Ben Shimon’s 2 Blue Cups on 2 Different Corners of the Table is forthcoming from VerySmallKitchen in June 2013.
 
 
For more about Ohad’s work see here. His VSK Residency posts are here.
 
 
 
 

VSK RESIDENCY OHAD BEN SHIMON (7): 24 APRIL 2012

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2012 at 1:22 pm

 

 

“One finds again and again the presence of another world, like a solid ocean bottom from which the restless waves of the ordinary world have drawn back; and in the image of this world there is neither measure nor precision, neither purpose nor cause: good and evil simply fall away, without any pretense of superiority, and in place of all these relations enters a secret rising and ebbing of our being with that of things and other people.”

Robert Musil, Toward A New Aesthetic, 1925

 

 

“This is the territory of the writer, the realm in which his reason reigns. While his counterpart seeks the solid and fixed, and is content when he can establish for his computations as many equations as he finds unknown, there is in the writer’s territory, from the start, no end of unknowns, of equations and of possible solutions. The task is to discover ever new solutions, connections, constellations, variables, to set up prototypes of an order of events, appealing models of how one can be human, to invent the inner person.”

Robert Musil, Sketch of What The Writer Knows, 1918

 

 

 

 

24.4.2012

 

 

It’s another monochrome day in the Hague.

The white lilies near my window have yet to decide if to blossom or to wither.

The glass table I’m writing on is peacefully chaotic and cold.

The French radio is playing some songs in Portugese.

This is planned to be my last diary entry/post as part of what turned out to be a half year residency at Very Small Kitchen.

What have I done? What have I written about? Where was I all this time?

I’m assuming it had to do something with writing and something with art.

But what is this something? This I do not have an answer for.

What do I know now that I didn’t know before?

Well, I have a better sense of the power of the word, the desire that writing fuels upon, its singular force, its passion and its limitations.

But one should not turn to nostalgia when one concludes. The dictionary definition of conclusion states that a conclusion is when a statement or question comes to an answer or when an idea or thought is settled. The etymological origin is taken from the latin conclusio which also means blokade and/or siege. Siege also means a seat: The place where one has his seat; a home, residence, domain, empire.

 

 

Ohad Ben Shimon untitled 2012

 

 

So con-clusion might also be thought of as a space where one has a seat – a chair.

I am sitting on a chair now. I always sit on a chair when I write. I almost never tried writing while standing up or running. It might be a nice exercise but something tells me that the chair has served me as an appropriate vehicle to transport without actually moving anywhere.

Something in putting your ass on a flat surface gives rise to focus and concentration. Waking up, brushing your teeth, drinking coffee, sitting down, etc. It belongs to the world of order. And it is no coincidence that siege also refers to the anus or rectum. Order. Domination. Control.

So to conclude this residency I would like to take the opportunity to thank my chair, that has served me throughout the last half year. It can now serve as both the tool (object) and the subject of this last post – the conclusion – the seat – the chair, and by both being the subject and object of this post emancipate me and lift the dualistic burden or blockade off my shoulders or ass and let me do whatever I feel like doing at this moment which is to shake that ass.

 

 

“As is
you’re bearing

a common
Truth

Commonly known
as desire

No need
to dress

it up
as beauty

No need
to distort

what’s not
standard

to be
understandable.

Pick your
nose

eyes ears
tongue

sex and
brain

to show
the populace

Take your
chances

on
your accuracy

Listen to
yourself

talk to
yourself

and others
will also

gladly
relieved

of the burden-
their own

thought
and grief.

What began
as desire

will end
wiser.”

 

 

Allen Ginsberg, Written in My Dream by W.C Williams, 1984

 

 

 

 

AN EXCHANGE

 

The following is edited from emails between Ohad Ben Shimon and VerySmallKitchen 24-27th April 2012.

 

OHAD: I’m thinking we should omit the first quote, what do you say? It’s quite essential to Musil’s thinking but I’m not sure it works good with the general flow. I thought it might be nice to post it with a link which is a video work of mine from 2009. Not sure yet I want to use it. Let me know what you think. I also like the idea of a video link of Beyonce and 50 Cent doing shake that ass/naughty girl. Not sure about that.

VERYSMALLKITCHEN: There’s something good about the Musil pair – how it emphasizes that returning to, repeating, in new arrangements/ formations of words, the attempt to define the “another world” and/or the “territory of the writer.”

Reading your text I’m thinking about what Blanchot says about the writer as the figure removed from the world of action into the world of literature which then, at the works completion, excludes the writer who ends up in “essential solitude.” About this, too, from the new The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard:

 

 

        You know, it’s really funny this kind of writing. This “trying to be honest” kind of writing. For several years now I’ve been doing it, and getting better and better at it. Getting closer and closer to a point (a place) in my head I call the truth.
        But now I’m beginning to doubt that very point (That very place).
        I mean, what I’ve been working towards just isn’t there anymore (Zap.)
        Do you know what I mean?
        I mean, the closer I get to the truth the less I know what the truth is.
        Wish I could make myself more clear but ——– right now I can’t.” (313)

 

 

Perhaps your video dramatises what Brainard asks: as a work and a practice as a whole unfolds: what do you get closer to? And what are you thinking about the Beyonce and 50 Cent? I like its provocation, erupting into this select gathering of Musil, Ginsberg and Williams but-

OHAD: Lets skip Beyonce. It was just a dancing feeling I was in at that time. Maybe you get closer to an image. an image of your self but also an image as such.

a clear image. a crystallization of a sort. see through the clouds, the hard times, the chaos, the struggle, the life of an artist. you find out that it’s a lot about a certain image of an artist but beyond or underlining this image or myth of the artist there is something pure, something child-like something magnificent that should be cherished and I don’t care anymore about what the fuck society or my parents or whoever else thinks an artist is. an artist, and art is the essence of life. anybody can tell me differently but fuck that.

 

 

 

 

there is always this self doubt… especially in jewish traditions…do not make a sculpture..do not make an image, etc. the 10 commandments. fuck that.

you command yourself daily to sit at that fucking chair and do the job. i do not know many people who do that with such belief besides the pope and that is where art meets religion. but it just meets. it goes on to a new and yet unknown territories. and this is the quest. this is the journey. if you are a writer or painter or sculpture or whatever this is your quest. going there. to that place. figuring out. finding out what its about. focus is essential. and in a way solitude might be a consequence but you don’t choose for solitude. you chose for something bigger than yourself. you chose for life. and for the good in life.

i see the points alongside this quest in mathematical terms as i explained in my previous exhibition at 1646 in the hague. they are derivatives. you derive certain things along this time line that is called life or the process of art you are busy with and those derivatives are meaningful. somehow its like you are packing your bag along your quest and not from the get go. and these derivatives can and will serve you and others along the way.

the way is forward. art is essential and people are good and bad and both. so as i said just shake that ass.

 

 

*

 

 

This is the final post of Ohad Ben Shimon’s VerySmallKitchen residency. See also post one, two, three, four, five, and a correspondence with Ariel Goldberg.

More about Ohad’s work is here.

 

 

 

VSK RESIDENCY: OHAD BEN SHIMON AND ARIEL GOLDBERG: A CORRESPONDENCE

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Ariel Goldberg, Part of the epistolary novel, and performance "The Photographer," March, 2012

 

 

The following is an edited version of a correspondence which took place by email between 24 February and 15 March 2012, between Ohad Ben Shimon and Ariel Goldberg.

Ohad emailed Ariel as a follow up to their inclusion in Ugly Duckling Presse’s Emergency Index publication, proposing a dialogue, one of whose public forms would be as a blog post on VerySmallKitchen.

Transcript edited by VerySmallKitchen 18/03/12. The full unedited exchange can be seen here.

 

 

 

OHAD: I was quite happy to view and read your thoughts regarding the intersection of photography with performance and text. It’s nice for me to take photography as a starting point as I was also educated in art school in photography and kind of drifted away from it. I’m more into connecting writing/performance to painting nowadays. But eventually i guess all roads cross.

ARIEL: I started in photography school also, turned to writing as the more practical and versatile tool, but always still deep in photography. Actually I argue my writing is photography. Photography is in such rapid change, I think language is at this moment of really entering the game. Like caption revenge or something.

 

 

Photo: Ohad Ben Shimon

 

 

OHAD: Your writing might very well be (is) photography, I get that. Presence/absence etc. What is the object of writing/photography? I also used to identify myself as a photographer without a camera for people who didn’t get the picture. It should go on from there to new and yet unknown territories.

ARIEL: Just subbed for a class of 18 year old photo students and I felt like why make supremacy out of photography. It seems like these photographers, and they were very young ones, who knows what they will become, had no hunger for reading/writing as maybe a better lens when the world is over-saturated image wise.

 

 

 

 

Ariel Goldberg, slide lecture, AND NOW festival, 2011, based on photgraphs of parents Ellie and Ira Goldberg.

 

 

 

Past explaining things, settling into writing as a primary medium may be where I have always been heading. Perhaps there is some idea of not wanting to give up one for the other. Preferably the unknown, as you say.

I have a prompt for this emergency index release party to make a piece “from” something else in the anthology. I’m curious about the medium, if there can be one, of “performance lecture.” Is this a thing? I feel like it is a buzz word right now in the arts crossing over to writing. I’m interested in how a faux-expert operates. As a real expert, tonally.

 

 

 

OHAD: Can we free photography from its contemporary heavy chains of disgust? Can we acquire the sense of innocence that once inhabited this medium? Without getting all sentimental about it or perhaps to exaggerate this sentimentality to an absurd point…

The lecture-performance format deals with a certain academic authority to my understanding. This authority is perhaps the same sovereign authority that the photographic medium has dealt with throughout history.

Predominantly I think a lecture-performance is a way to designate an exchange between an artist and an audience which is neither an academic (lecture) exchange nor a performance in the normal sense of the term. So it’s an interesting case of a double negation. Like the double negation of writing slipping into art. It’s neither writing, nor art. Neither-nor.

 

 

Ariel Goldberg, Directed self-portrait, as a bridesmaid, in New Jersey, 2011

 

 

Who is telling what to who? Who is listening? Who’s in the picture? Who’s not? Who’s smart? Who’s stupid? Who’s infantile? I sound like Heide Klum in Project Runway. What if we could break all the cameras in the world in one given moment and then glue them all back together to form one uber-camera? What would we see?

I’ve had another talk with a friend last week, also contemplating what you say regarding the realisation that writing is/should be your primary medium. But what the hell is a writer? Is it someone who publishes books? Goes to readings? Is reviewed about? I really don’t know.

For me writing lately comes down to silence. There is a silence when I write. I transform that silence into a certain visible trace in the form of words. Maybe it’s similar to the way a camera brings a certain darkness into light?

 

 

 

ARIEL: I am thinking today about caption errors. About how this seems to be the most dramatic twist, some affirmation of the way blind faith in the surface of an image distorts our experiences (of what?).

I read the news constantly, more so now maybe because I started getting a New York Times weekend edition. So the papers just pile up and it feels like I am a worker, like Bartleby the Scrivener, getting through the stories.

Do you read the news? Are broken cameras caption errors? There are so many cameras going into the garbage heap everyday, it is the most rapidly evolving and consumer cycling technology it seems, if cell phones are included in the pile of cameras. I like to stare at those bins at thrift stores of film cameras. But I don’t want to accumulate them.

If we took this, cameras broken then gluing it back together, and thought about what we would see- light leaks? Literal. We would see the people in the military taking the horrific pictures of the dead bodies their commands are responsible for. This sort of footage of carnage is under constant raps, but so much of it is flowing through the memory cards of the U.S. military.

I’ll tell you what a writer is, in the sense of how it feels in my daily life: I wake up in the morning and I must write. The thing I am making, are pieces of paper with writing on them. Other stuff grows from that point but I guess it’s a crude estimation of my production that I say I am more of a writer.

I must write or I go crazy. It is really actually a compulsion. I must write down the things that seem crucial to observe, minutia in photography, inside my many little systems for collecting then finessing this observation into a piece of writing to redistribute back to the world.

 

 

Ariel Goldberg, SFMOMA 2011: "On July 7, I led a group of people up to Robert Gober’s Newspaper piece, discussing, theorizing, and reciting the photographic acts that happen throughout the museum. Evan Kennedy helped by narrating the script up to the piece..."

 

 

But it is a struggle. And there is a lot of silence in it. Yes, I agree silence is crucial, something to seek, to cultivate. I guess mostly, a writer is a reader. I guess I identify with the procedures for arriving at subjects or projects like that of a writer, but also that of a photographer, a photographer who doesn’t use film but uses language, because it is much freer. In the economic sense, I think it is important to differentiate between photography and writing.

You write “the lecture-performance format deals with a certain academic authority to my understanding. this authority is perhaps the same sovereign authority that the photographic medium has dealt with throughout history. who is telling what to who?”

For a while I was obsessed with writing the imagined voice of the subject of photographs, as these sort of dredged captions. Then I was also writing the voice of the photographer- who sounded kind of like an asshole. I think with citizen journalism, anyone who is there with any type of camera and catches a crucial picture to document something considered news or history, the sovereign power of photography is changing.

Perhaps more people doing “performance lectures” is just a result of the spread of academia into the arts, which it seems everyone bemoans at every opportunity they get. Bash the M.F.A. or the B.F.A.

 

 

 

OHAD: What motivates me? Kinship. Maybe that’s why I contacted you. I sensed a certain kinship. which is strange. I mean we are total strangers.

I saw Rabih Mroué in Utrecht. I liked his approach. I also sat behind him just before and after his performance in the audience. I thought of talking to him and congratulating him for an interesting performance. But then I thought to myself. Wait. You are Israeli. He is Lebanese. I felt like anything I would say would be disrespectful. Maybe something I did or said would be interpreted by him as offensive. I felt guilt. I rather remain silent and appreciate him from a distance. And so I did.

There is a bit of an element of fooling around in a child-like way in your (and mine) writing/performances. Maybe that foolishness is our way to maintain the innocence we once experienced as related to photography? Maybe photography is a funny medium. A fun-ny medium.

 

 

 

ARIEL: I’ve spent some more time with your performances, or the documentation of them, The Mirror Stage in particular, and then when two people come together, giving a reading, and the interview with Chris Clarke.

 

 

Ohad Ben Shimon, The Mirror Stage at The Second Act, Amsterdam, 2011

 

 

I have this urge to ask a long string of questions and observations which you can choose to answer or not.

I was curious about the image in your the documentation of the mirror stage- how it only shows one image, and the whole performance cycles through many many images. Did you choose that still for the picture on the screen?

 

 

 

 

Is there hierarchy or can there be of “good pictures” when you are showing them as a mass? Are favorites possible? Is a “good” picture becoming obsolete when there are just necessary or de-facto pictures?

Do you bring a little kit for your performances or are they built from whatever equipment that is there? That lamp, and the desk. I have this urge to use no technology- have no tek needs that is, for upcoming
performances. Or if there is a photo or a text people need to see they hold it.

I was interested in Chris Clarke’s question about integrating “your pictures” after doing performance talks/ readings without images and how you said you experienced a “distrust with photography”.

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Ohad Ben Shimon. From Top: Mitzpe Ramon; Tel Aviv 2009; Dad at the Dead Sea; The Love Parade Berlin.

 

 

…and The Mirror Stage is reflective we are striving for a unity a feeling with the audience taking these fragments- there is something about vulnerability. What do you think about vulnerability? Is diary a misnomer? I have been thinking about handing people work, literally,
the page that i first write about something on (and I edit a ton when it transfers into type on the computer). The holding of a piece of writing as performance.

Do you know Stephen Ratcliffe, the American poet’s work? I think it would interest you. How it all begins with a date, as numbers, he writes from the same place, mostly, everyday, a sort of same sounding poem.

Can we make an analogy of anything to photography? Is it that far and wide? Do you prefer to sit than stand while reading to an audience? How much of that do you premeditate?

Do you edit the diary? Really? How many languages do you speak? Forgive me, I am very verbose by nature. I cannot seem to edit this down. I want it to be real/rawe.

Perhaps the reason I am so interested in correspondence, and interviews or other topics for criticism is that I must have something to bounce the photography focus off from or else I’ll get bored with it. I might. I might stop the obsession but it is alive and well now. I am not done. I am not discovering but collecting. Maybe afraid of losing to cope with real losing. Talk about psychology! For motivating procedures for making.

I like getting glimpses of the big time difference between us. How your bed time, or meal time, with when I am reading. Correspondence, even over the internet, guarantees some delay, like the delay I think I am most attached to in photography.

 

 

OHAD: I also like the delay very much. The more ‘serious’ photos I take I store the film for about half a year until I’m in Tel Aviv again and I develop them in my favorite lab. It’s the only lab I develop film.

So the status of my analogue photography is always tied to this lab, in which the owner died from cancer about 2-3 years ago and since then his son has taken over. They have nice punk concerts there on Friday afternoons. I once took my father and brother and we had a nice time. We drank arak. Do you know arak? It’s this kind of anis.

Thanks a lot for your reflections about my works. It felt like I had a solo show, you know this specific attention to specific works and details. You don’t imagine that you can actually have a solo show online, depending on the attention of the viewer.

In The Mirror Stage performance there was no real hierarchy… and I was never a kind of fanatic digital photography producer of images. I guess I’m kind of choosing to exaggerate the medium to see where it will break. Breaking the medium by overusing it.

 

 

 

Ohad Ben Shimon & Veniamin Kazachenko, Self Portrait As Van Gogh Sitting On The Chair In His Famous Painting - The Bedroom, 2012.

 

 

 

The camera I used for that performance actually did break. I was with a new friend I just met in Amsterdam. She went on the roof of her apartment. Then she asked for the camera to take a picture of us hanging around the balcony. Then it dropped and never opened again.

Did I mourn it? I still have another one with me. I never buy cameras. I somehow manage to receive them from someone who doesn’t need them. So it’s like a ready made. I treat the cameras I use as ready made.

Today is the International Women’s Day and I was wondering how being a woman is related to your text/performances.. I’m sure it’s quite significant.

It’s nice to discover that our approaches are the same in a kind androgynous way. I mean to say all this technology and monotony and the rest are kind of a-sexual. Until now I only met a few guys who were doing this kind of pseudo news reporter lecture-performance things.

I feel now like I felt with Rabih in a way that because I’m not a woman I might say something wrong in a non p.c manner. Is that a pressure to perform? Ok enough about this guilt-trip thing. So how does being a woman relate to your technique of performance?

No, I don’t have a kit. I try to have only the pieces of paper. I find the rest on site or someone arranges it. I actually want to stop using photographs also. In 2010 I made a performance without images (my pen died). I think conceptually that was stronger.

I like how you take out pieces of my performances. Like you are actually photographing it/me/my voice/the text. I understand you do that often, create a kind of mash from your own writing with the writing of behaving of others. a kind of self dissolving in others, others self-dissolving in you. Authorship issues, etc. But also a kind of fusion. Not necessarily with people but also with inanimate things. Do you want to become a camera? Are you a camera? Wasn’t Warhol busy with this as well?

I don’t usually edit the diary. I manage to fool some people that I speak about 7 languages but in fact I only speak about 2 and a half. Hebrew, English and ok level of Dutch.

 

 

ARIEL: I find the morning writing time to be crucial and something to protect. That numbness, a perfect fit for untimed stares out the window, is in some way a judgement or clutter free state, one where obligations or logistics can get suspended, if the time is of course predetermined as protected.

 

 

Ariel Goldberg, Potential Implications of Photography on the Surface of Clothing, 2011

 

 

I find the establishment of quiet in the morning, allows me to remember my dreams, and even if the smallest conversation happens, like oh no the alarm didn’t go off, there will be a ticket on the car because it is parked in a metered spot, I then cannot focus all morning.

Sometimes even the first ten steps from the bed is a period of time the dream goes away. I find if I don’t have a chunk of time to write with coffee in the morning, about nothing, it is always just the journal then, that my mood is very strange and fractured for the rest of the day.

Sometimes when I am holding the camera I get so satisfied by that feeling of the echo of a camera, the insides of the machine clicking and turning reverberating into my palm, that I then take more, a little string of pictures.

One night recently I set up my slide projector in the studio and shot film pictures of the slides because I wanted to finish the roll of film but also didn’t have time to scan them- it turned out the digital ones I took that night were much better, of course, because it was dark and the border and empty space needed to be excised.

I forgot really that the shadow coming in from the window and then edge of my projection screen would just be black in the exposure. I forgot when i was setting up the shot that what I saw through the viewfinder was not what I would see as the picture. That my eye wasn’t the camera.

It’s so great you ask about the being a woman thing. I actually don’t identify as a woman. I identify as a feminist who is queer. I identify as a little butch dyke. Your questions about it, and the awareness of your questions coming from a male perspective I find really provoking and touching.

 

 

 

OHAD: Travel. Motion. An important component of writing somehow. At least for me. The displacement of the physical body always begs the wandering of the creative ‘spirit’/drive. Maybe it’s no coincidence that the word ‘drive’ is used both in a libidinal sense and in creative forces.

We drive somewhere. We go. We cross. We map and are mapped. We at times conquer something or somewhere or sometime. Some times it has bad consequences (in the form of a national drive) but most often in a personal sense it has good consequences.

 

 

 

More about Ariel’s work here and Ohad’s here.  Ohad’s VerySmallKitchen residency posts can be seen here.

 

 

 

VSK RESIDENCY OHAD BEN SHIMON (5): 25 FEBRUARY 2012 and PARIS DIARY

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

 

_

 

“I’ve thought of you so often these past few days, and also occasionally about the time long ago when, as you will remember, you visited me in The Hague and we walked along Trekweg to Rijswijk and drank milk at the mill there. It may be that this influenced me somewhat when I did these drawings, in which I have tried as naively as possible to draw things exactly as I saw them.”

 

From: Vincent van Gogh
To: Theo van Gogh
Place/Date: The Hague, Saturday, 3 June 1882

 

 

 

25.2.12 (Amsterdam)

 

 

I’m sitting on a bench in the Museumplein in Amsterdam.

I’m facing the Van Gogh Museum.

A big banner on one of the facades of the museum says:

‘The Bedroom has returned’.

Under the big bold black letters is a reproduction of the bedroom painting by Vincent Van Gogh.

It is only lately that I feel attracted to Van Gogh and his work.

It is the figure of Van Gogh as the romantic artist that fascinates me the most.

The portrayal of his struggle encapsulated in a world that could not or did not want to understand him is what strikes me.

In the letters to his brother Theo I could detect a certain sensitivity of the everyday and banal elements of reality.

Van Gogh trusted his vision, he immersed himself in it and held onto it as his only ally. By being immersed in this reality he could perhaps transcend his own existence and become one with this reality.

The erasure of all external factors is a charming idea. It gives the feeling that only him alone equipped with his vision of the world was the world.

The bedroom in this context was a place of refuge for Van Gogh in which he could put this vision of the world to rest.

Where did The Bedroom (painting) return from?
Where did it travel to?

 

 

 

 

The ‘re-turning’ of The Bedroom (painting) also designates a primary return of the painting to its metaphorical bedroom – The Van Gogh Museum.

 

 

Work In Progress: Self Portrait as Van Gogh Sitting On His Chair In His Famous Painting - The Bedroom, Ohad Ben Shimon & Veniamin Kazachenko, 2012

 

 

The painting now, embodied with Van Gogh’s aura can go back to sleep.

It is a curious incident in which a content of a painting dictates its contextual reception.

The Bedroom (painting) rests in its bedroom (museum) and the visitors of the museum acquire the position of witnessing an artifact with a human quality – fatigue.

The painting continues to hibernate in an eternal winter sleep and the museum maintains its status as the all containing reservoir of art.

I see two birds passing.

Then a sound of two planes roaming the skies.

It is the end of the winter.

Nature will soon awake to a glorious yellow-blue spring.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

16.2.12 (Paris)

 

Photo: Daillier Fabien

 

 

_

 

“Shit!”

“What?”

“I forgot my camera. Do you have the key? Open the door! I need to get my camera”.

“I don’t have the key.”

“Does Lev have the key?”

“No. Nobody has the key.”

“Shit!”

“Come on! We gotta hurry, the train leaves in half an hour”.

It’s 5 thirty in the morning.

We’re in Amsterdam. We are on our way to Paris.

 

 

“Bonjour. Can I see your tickets?”

We show our tickets.

“This is not your cabinet”.

Lev has already drunk a beer and is searching for his second one.

“If you guys want to sit near a big table you can sit in the cafeteria cabinet”.

We go sit in the cafeteria cabinet.

Ben goes to look for beer. It’s 6 fifteen in the morning.

“There is no beer here” he says as he comes back from the cafe lady behind the counter. Ben takes out a deck of Russian cards and we play some Russian card game in which there are no winners, only losers.

The train stops at Rotterdam.

We consider stepping out for a smoke but by the time we have made our minds to get up of our seats, the conductor lady says that the train is leaving.

We leave.

We stop in Antwerp.

“Should we try and have a smoke now?”

“Yeah”

We go to get coffee.

In line before us is one of those ladies with small change. She keeps counting her change. It takes her about 10 minutes.

By the time we get our coffees and try to go step outside the conductor informs us that it is too late to get out.

The train leaves. The next stop is Brussels. We will try to have our cigarette smoke there.

We stop in Brussels.

We smoke.
We get on the train.
We move.

We continue moving for a bit, then we fall asleep and wake up in Paris.

Ben and Lev leave the train while I stop by the toilet to take a piss.

I piss and get off the train.

As I walk on the platform towards the escalators I see Ben and Lev from a distance with 2 police guys that are asking them all sorts of questions and showing them some badges.

As I approach them I hear the police guy saying to Lev that he needs to check his bags.

I conclude quickly that its some kind of drug inspection.

I remember hearing something early in the morning that Lev has some white powder present that he got from someone for someone else. Not knowing exactly what Lev is carrying with him I decide to continue walking without making any eye contact with them.

I try to observe what’s going on from the other side of the platform but the parking trains block the sight.

I try to come up with a plan of what to do as I imagine Lev and Ben being arrested for smuggling drugs into Paris from Amsterdam.

I walk out of the station trying not to be noticed and go search for an ATM machine to take out money so that I can pay for a hostel for the night.

As I don’t have a mobile phone nobody can reach me and I can’t be tracked by the police.

I get out some money from a machine and ask a guy for the directions to Centre Pompidou which is near where our exhibition will take place. The guy points me in the direction and says it’s quite far.

I decide to go back to the station one more time before I depart towards Centre Pompidou. I reach the crossroad and try to be out of sight of the police. I see Ben waiting outside the station by himself without any bags. I signal to him to come meet me down the road as I’m afraid the police will connect me with Ben and Lev.

Ben meets me at the end of the road and says “It’s over”.

I ask him if Lev is arrested. He says yes and that they took all their bags.

After we walk for a bit more I suddenly see Lev sitting in a cafeteria with the bags.

It appeared to be that Ben was just fooling around and that eventually nobody got arrested.

He said that indeed the police, whom were customs officials, opened Lev’s bag and found a small bag with white powder in it and asked him what it was. Lev said to them that it’s a small present from a friend and that he is an Artist coming to Paris for an exhibition and that the white powder is just plaster powder for a sculpture he is going to make.

 

 

17.2.12

 

I’m in some kind of youth hostel near Montmartre. I’m already 33 years old and I’m still sitting around 18 year olds fighting for a second round of breakfast consisting of bad coffee, small croissants and artificial orange juice.

Ben is upstairs showering and Lev is downstairs having breakfast. I’m sitting in the entrance of the hostel watching different young people pass by.

2 guys next to me are speaking Spanish. Some Japanese girl is touching her iPhone and some other Spanish guy is writing “Fuck” on a chalkboard wall that is here for the visitors of the hostel to write stuff on. Then he writes “Room 203, I’m waiting”.

I store my big black bag in the luggage storage room. I hope we will be able to come back today to pick it up. I roll myself a cigarette and go outside for a smoke.

 

 

18.2.12

 

I’m outside of an art shop sitting on some metal fence thing smoking and writing.

Ben is inside shopping for paper and oil.

Afterwards we will have something quick to eat and go back to the exhibition space to meet up with the others.

Tuesday night is the opening of our show in Espace des Blancs-Manteaux around the corner of the Centre Pompidou.

My feet are hurting from too much walking.

A guy is standing about 10 meters from me with a grey jacket and watching the traffic go by.

I go check in on Ben inside.

There are many people inside the large art shop.

Ben is checking the acrylic department.

He says “I’m so stupid, why didn’t I take some French speaking person with me?”

I go outside of the art shop and sit on the sidewalk.

A car parks.

A French couple talk some French and walk.

An old lady is walking her cat with a yellow leash.

I’m hungry.
I’m tired.
I’m in Paris.

 

 

Dinner was had. Chinese.

Ben is drilling.

Lev is searching for something on the internet.

We are inside the huge exhibition space.

It’s 22:00 o’clock.

Rain is raining outside.

Part of the exhibitors have already put up their stuff on the white panels.

There is nobody besides us here now.

I was told the space used to be a mental institute before and after that a meat market.

“Hey, how did Ceel use to say ‘Record’ in French?” Lev asks and then answers to himself “Ah yes, Register, Register.”

“…but he’s exhibiting in the Biennial,” Ben says.

“Which Biennial?” I ask.

“I don’t know. What’s a biennial?” Ben asks.

Now we move the table closer to the electricity so we can have some music on the laptop.

Lev needs my pen to write down ‘Magneto-scope’. I use my other pen.

It’s Saturday night.

“I’m not going to buy a fucking Magneto-scope (the french term for a VHS Player) for 40 euros”, says Lev.

Ben continues drilling.

 

 

 

19.2.12

 

It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday morning.

Paris is waking up.

I bought a juice from the supermarket that says it has 12 fruits and 10 vitamins in it.

I’m opening it.

It makes the sound of a juice bottle being opened.

I drink the 12 fruits and 10 vitamins.

I search for my tobacco in my pocket and realize that I must have forgotten it somewhere.

I drink some more of the vitamins.

The Parisians seem to be minding their own business. They walk by me with baguettes and dogs.

A guy on a skateboard rolls down the sunny street.

The shop’s name sign in front of me says “Look”.

The birds are birding.

I like mornings in Paris.

A lady walks by with flowers.

Then some more people walk by.

A young puddle dog sniffs some poop on the sidewalk and then pisses on it.

A guy runs.

A car cars.

I go back to the hostel to see if the others are already awake and showered.

 

 

 

I’m back in the hostel.

I’m waiting for Ben and Lev to come down.

Above the reception desk are 3 clocks.

The left clock says 2 o’clock and “Los Angeles” under it.

The middle clock says 11:00 o’clock and “Paris” under it.

And the right clock says 7 o’clock and “Tokyo” under it.

A CCTV camera connected to a small monitor on a fridge displays various video shots of us in the interiors of the hostel.

 

 

20.2.12

 

 

I’m tired.

The radio is playing classical music.

I’m going to sleep.

 

 

21.2.12

 

I’m standing on a sunny corner of Paris.

Tonight is the opening of our exhibition “Donner du temps au temps” which translates into “Giving time to time”.

Me and Ben will do a dialogue-painting-performance during the 3 days of the exhibition in which he will work on his painting whilst I talk on a microphone and have a reflective dialogue with him in front of the public.

He started already by painting a big black hole on the 6 x 2.5 m paper.

Lev is working on his installation upstairs.

Yesterday we were interviewed about our work and how it is related to the theme of time and why we chose to work in-situ.

I’m starting to get hungry.

For the last 3 days we had falafel and shawarma.

 

 

22.2.12

 

I’m standing on a sunny corner of Paris outside our exhibition space in the Jewish quarter.

Last night was our opening. Many people came.

Ben was painting whilst I was talking to him with a microphone so that the audience could hear our dialogue.

At first the painting started with a black hole and throughout the time/evening and our talk it included also a black swan.

The idea was that it would combine somehow two distinct points of view simultaneously. The macro level or cosmic elements of the universe and the down to earth, everyday, micro level of the human animal. Ben was the cosmic one, I was the everyday.

Towards the end of the event a guy approached our installation and asked if it is possible to have it in smaller scale. While I was performing with Ben I asked the guy out loud with the microphone how big he wanted it. He made a gesture with his hands of something like 100 x 80 cm. I asked Ben with the microphone if he could do it in that size. He said yes whilst he continued working on the painting.

At some point Ben finished and talked to the guy who identified himself as Monsieur Daniel. When I asked him what does he do for a living he said it’s not important.

He continued to give Ben complements of how much of a genius he is and he expressed many prospects about Ben becoming famous and warned him of being around the wrong people.

The girls that were responsible for the selling of the works in the exhibition took Monsieur Daniel aside and wrote down his phone number.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Dallier Fabien

 

_

 

 

We’re at Notre Dam.

The tourists flood the square in front of the Notre Dam. A young American girl is wearing a hat next to me with the price sticker still on it saying 17.90 euros. I wonder if she knows it’s still there. She seems to be having a casual talk with a guy who appears to be Thai. She asks him if he went to the top yet. He says no. She asks if it’s because he’s afraid of heights. He says no and gives some explanation.

The American girl has an American accent. The Thai looking guy has an Arab accent for some strange reason.

Various other tourists pose in front of the Notre Dam and take pictures of themselves as tourists standing in front of the Notre Dam.

 

 

I’m back in the installation-performance-painting-dialogue.

I’m seated on a chair.

The microphone is next to me.

I’ve eaten a cold lasagne for 5 euros.

The painting has taken a new form. After I came back from the walk Ben was busy making fine details of the painting.

Ben and me started talking while the audience were watching us paint and talk. At some point we reached the conclusion that the painting has reached a certain stage and that now it was becoming static from the significance it had received as a work of art with a certain value. We tried to think what should be the next step. One of the visitors asked if the painting has a title. We replied that it doesn’t have a title.

At some point Ben opened a tube of silicon and started smearing it on the painting together with some black paint. Then he made some more scribbles with some yellow and red crayons. It was becoming less of a painting and more of a child’ drawing. Then Ben took some more oil and acrylic paint and started erasing the black hole. It became one big black mess of nothing.

Ben continued obliterating the painting until it became a big messy cloud of paint. The black swan managed to survive and remained in its place without damage.

I said to Ben and to the audience that I feel much more relieved now. A certain weight was removed from the painting.

I remarked that it’s a bit like in Buddhism. It is a process that changes all the time. Yesterday night it was still a painting with a black hole and black swan. Now it has changed. It has transformed into something else. It doesn’t matter that it can’t be named now. Only that it existed for a certain moment and in a way died at a certain moment.

It became lighter this way.

I asked Ben if he felt relieved also. He said sure. He smeared some more paint around and then we went to get some USB sticks and wine.

A few visitors pass by the different art works in the exhibition that are installed in an art fair fashion.

They walk.
They stop.
They look.
Then they move onto the next booth.
They scratch their heads.

They look at the sign that is suppose to explain what this is about.

Then they look back at the work and move on.

 

 

23.2.12

 

It’s 6:25 in the morning.

We’re in Gare du Nord metro station

The train is leaving.
We are on it.
We drink coffee.
The rain rains outside.

 

 

We stop in Brussels.
We smoke a cigarette.

When we come back from the smoke we see that some old guys have taken our seats which we took from them.

Ben and Lev go over the documentation images of the exhibition.

The girl sitting next to me is sleeping.

She has a purple shirt, dark black pants, dark shoes and dark earrings.

She has one leg crossed over the other.

She moves her legs a bit in her sleep. Her black scarf is hanging on the hanger next to her. He face is facing the window. She has a dark coat worn backwards on her keeping her warm.

 

 

It’s 8:30 in the morning

I try to have a little nap but can’t manage to fall asleep. The old guys that took our seats that we took from them are talking a mixture of French, Flemish and Dutch.

Mist is covering the fields outside.

The train stops in Antwerp.

The sleeping girl next to me moves a bit. Then she wakes up and checks her iPhone. It says 8:36. Then she goes back to sleep.

The ticket lady walks up and down the cabinet.

Some Belgian people outside are riding their bikes.

The voice of a male conductor comes out of the speakers and apologizes for a delay of 10 minutes in 3 different languages.

The trains stops at Rotterdam.

Ben says “Come on, let’s get off. This is our stop”.

I stop and get off the train

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

 

The following exchange took place by email from 28th February – 1st March 2012.

 

VERYSMALLKITCHEN: Do you ongoingly keep diaries like this or does it require the focus of a particular event or commission?

 

OHAD: My diary writings have been an ongoing project/format of mine since a residency I was invited to visit in Hoyerswerda, Germany in 2008. Back then it was meant to document the last days of a group of artist that were inhabiting an old abandoned apartment block that was destined to be demolished when the residency terminated.

Since 2008 I have occasionally written these diaries (to be performed in a kind of Lecture-Performance format) on travel (extra-territorial motion tends to surface these concerns) whilst participating in Exhibitions, Festivals and Conferences across Europe. They are usually part of and apart from the actual experience taking place. I see my position in these encounters as a cross between a pseudo-journalist/art critic and a group psychologist.

This is the first time that a diary like this is not filtered primarily through my voice in a live performance in front of a live audience.

 

 

 

 

VERYSMALLKITCHEN: What is the absence this writing gives shape to? Looking at the texts you sent me, writing constructs this absence whilst also providing commentary, evidence, naturalistic detail, anecdote…

 

OHAD: Perhaps the absence you correctly describe is an absence of this diaristic voice…

 

VERYSMALLKITCHEN: I’m thinking how Maurice Blanchot begins his discussion on Recourse to the “Journal” in “The Essential Solitude”:

 

It is perhaps striking that from the moment the work becomes the search for art, from the moment it becomes literature, the writer increasingly feels the need to maintain a relation to himself. His feeling is one of extreme repugnance at losing his grasp upon himself in the interests of that neutral force, formless and bereft of any destiny, which is behind everything that gets written. This repugnance, or apprehension, is revealed by the concern, characteristics of so many authors, to compose what they call their “journal.” Such a preoccupation is far removed from the complacent attitudes usually described as Romantic. The journal is not essentially confessional; it is not one’s own story. It is a memorial. What must the writer remember? Himself: who he is when he isn’t writing, when he lives daily life, when he is alive and true, not dying and bereft of truth. But the tool he uses in order to recollect himself is, strangely, the very element of forgetfulness: writing.  That is why, however, the truth of the journal lies not in the interesting, literary remarks to be found there, but in the insignificant details which attach it to daily reality. The journal represents the series of reference points which a writer establishes in order to keep track of himself when he begins to suspect the dangerous metamorphosis to which he is exposed.  (The Space of Literature, 29)

 

 

OHAD: In the performance together with Veniamin Kazechenko, we mainly had an internal dialogue between ourselves and to a small extent between us and the audience. Yet it felt predominantly different than the kind of monologue I’m used to.

Still, as you suggest, the performance does fill in an absence of a sort. Yet I’m not sure it is in direct relation to the text. Or maybe, the diary could be thought of as an account between a 1st and 3rd person, in comparison to the performance which was more of an account between a 1st and 2nd person.

 

VERYSMALLKITCHEN: You also offer a narrative of an artist’s life. I recently read YEAR from Komplot in Brussels, which in its contents and design consciously constructs a narrative of a contemporary artist’s lifestyle and personality as part of its presentation of the work…

 

OHAD: The narrative of an artist’s life is something that indeed interests me in the last few years. I’m aware of the Bildungsroman and the Künstlerroman genres which are two forms that interest me, yet I’m still puzzled as regards to what kind of coming of age my texts could be referring to or point at.

There is a point in the diary text from Paris where I’m writing about me being 33 years old sitting in a youth hostel of 18 year olds’ fighting for a second round of free coffee. I mean, this kind of coming of age never seems to come. Maybe it is an account of these days in which adulthood is postponed to an indefinite future.

 

VERYSMALLKITCHEN:  In the first part of this post you work with/ from the narratives-become-myths of Van Gogh –

 

OHAD: To be honest I’m still trying to discover what part of this myth enchants me the most. It probably has something to do with the discrepancy between the artist’s own subjective perception of reality and the public personification and portrayal of the artist by society/culture.

I’m also interested in a kind of testimonial level or witness experience coming from the artist usually in contradiction to the accounts of the artist by society. What I mean to say is that I trust artists more in their historical accounts. Something in the figure of the artist lends itself to a kind of historical validity or accountability which perhaps the myth of the artist tries to de or re-construct.

 

VERYSMALLKITCHEN: My initial thought for how to publish this post was the Van Gogh piece, then the diary beginning 21.2.12 and ending with 23.2.12 “It’s 6:25 in the morning”…. maybe starting with 19.2.12 but also maybe good in the blog post itself to keep a focus around the performance? The whole diary could be available as a PDF.

 

OHAD: I’m quite puzzled as how to deal with it. For me usually the diary texts are in a way a kind of round artistic gesture in the sense that I start writing at a specific time (and place) and I end in a specific time (and place – on location in front of an audience).

In that sense it is a performative kind of writing. It’s hard for me to carve out pieces from it. Yet I’m aware it’s quite long for a blog post. So I leave it up to you to decide how to handle it. Maybe have 2 posts (part a / part b?). And I have this nice piece of text from Gertrude Stein which i read on the train today:

 

Once upon a time I met myself and ran.
Once upon a time nobody saw how I ran.
Once upon a time something can
Once upon a time nobody sees
But I I do as I please
Run around the world just as I please.
I Willie.

 

(Gertrude Stein, Willie and his singing, From The world is round.)

 

OHAD: I love the first sentence! Once upon a time I met myself and ran – beautiful!

 

*

 

More about Ohad’s work is here. See also post one, post two, post three and post four.

 

 

 

VSK RESIDENCY OHAD BEN SHIMON (4): 22 JANUARY 2012

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Portrait by L. Ying

 

 

There is no more stage. There are no more footlights. You are among the people. Then be modest. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside. Be by yourself. Be in your own room. Do not put yourself on.

 

Speak the words with the exact precision with which you would check out a laundry list…The poem is nothing but information. It is the constitution of the inner country. If you declaim it and blow it up with noble intentions then you are no better than the politicians whom you despise. You are just someone waving a flag and making the cheapest kind of appeal to a kind of emotional patriotism. Think of the words as science, not as art. They are a report.

 

(Leonard Cohen, How To Speak Poetry, from Death of A Lady’s Man, 1979)

 

 

 

Writer Statement 1

 

What should a writer be stating? Should it be something rebellious like ‘Viva la revolution!’? Should it be something gentle like “I love you’ or should it be something morbid-smart-ass like ‘Writing is like death and death is the end and that is the limit and trying to go beyond that limit is futile’ and all that kind of stuff?

 

No, those don’t sound like real statements. They sound like somebody wanting attention.

 

Maybe a writer is somebody who wants attention? Maybe he is seeking attention? Maybe he just doesn’t want to be alone? Maybe that is the feeling he is transferring to the reader?

 

The writer writes.

The statement states.

That is the inherent contradiction in a Writer’s Statement.

 

A writer tries to hide by writing, not to state something.

 

So in fact he is not looking for attention. He is trying to draw attention to his writing so that he can escape in the meantime. It’s like a decoy. Writing is a decoy.

 

He writes in order to erase himself.

 

This should be my Writer Statement:

 

“I am a writer and I am going to disappear. While you are reading this I am already somewhere else. You will never find me.”

 

Portrait by Veniamin Kazachenko

 

 

Writer Statement 2

 

To write a Writer Statement means that I already admit that I am a writer in first place. Only a writer can write a writer statement. Someone who isn’t a writer shouldn’t be writing any kind of writer statement. But if I am already stating that I am a writer isn’t that what the statement should be proving? That I am a writer. That I write. It is a confession that I am a writer. A writer statement is a confession that one is a writer.

 

I confess.

 

I am a writer.

 

 

 

22.1.12

 

My nose hurts.

 

At first I thought it hurts because its growing,
growing from all of my lies like Pinocchio.

 

I imagined myself walking around a little Italian village
and meeting some guy who would promise to make me real,
to make me real famous.

 

Then I sat around and thought to myself that writing is like lying,
because it always misses the point
there is always something else I want to be talking about,
but I end up talking about what’s in front of my nose.

 

What if I were to stop writing?
Would my nose stop growing?
Would it stop hurting?

 

But writing is what makes me feel real.

 

And how would I become real,
how would I become real famous,
if I were to stop writing?

 

Would I be able to become real famous by stopping to write?
Maybe stopping to write would make me real?
Maybe It would make me focus more on life
and less on telling all these lies.

 

The Thinker (After Rodin), Ohad Ben Shimon, 2012

 

 

Maybe my nose will stop hurting,
and my lies would stop lying,
and I would be just ‘one of us’,
a good old jew boy with a big nose.

 

_

 

 

 

AN INDIRECT DIALOGUE

 

The following exchange took place by email from 23rd-25th January 2012.

 

 

VSK:  That’s a very interesting statement by Leonard Cohen isn’t it! Particularly those ideas of “information” and “report” and how those might sit with us now.

I’m thinking about this alongside your previous residency writings – that sense in the last post of observation, reportage in some ways, in the bar…. the way that from post to post I feel as a reader I can follow a series of kinds of attentions, not a linear flow but a series of distinct positions…

Out of the Cohen comes a cluster of terms and concerns through which to think about writing – the ambiguity of how it feels and effects: “state” and “statement”, different notions of paying attention, being attentive, and wanting attention. How “attention” changes when it is something to be received not given!

The concerns of the writer leading to the creation of a text which has its own life to lead…

 

OHAD: I was thinking of the notion/definition of art, as such, and here referencing the Conceptual Art’ preoccupation with who defines Art. The problematic of the artist defining what is art in comparison to the writer stat-ing or the relation between the writer and the state.

Perhaps then we can say that the space between writing and art practice is defined by a double failed negation. The Artist in his or her attempt to define what is art or who is an artist and the writer on his or her behalf to make any clear statement about writing.

 

VSK: Given what we have been discussing about writing in an art context, I enjoy this sense of “writer’s statement” in relation to the more familiar “artist’s statement” and the particularities/ peculiarities/ contexts of that form… that writing is somehow counter to the writer or the writer’s thoughts and intention- how that “counter – to” works itself out…

So if this ‘writer statement’ is impossible even as it is acted out then it suggests there might be other ways we can talk about this, which also returns to certain literary forms such as fiction, poems, fables..  we also turn to everyday experiences and anecdotes to try and find another way of speaking this, or to find an energy that might feed into our ‘writer statement’ even as it escapes it…

 

OHAD: I like very much you pointing out that the impossibility of a writer’ statement being acted out (and indeed it is reminiscent for me of the artist statement) can lead to or suggest other detours to talk about it… you mention literary forms… and I think visual forms can also function as such detours… perhaps that’s the dance/oscillation between the textual and the visual in my practice.

 

VSK:  In The Writing Life Annie Dillard tells a story of a writer who would repeatedly stop writing and go out for a walk, come back home, then type up the whole story again, hoping that each time the impetus of the walk followed by typing enabled the writer to build up a momentum that continued the story for a few lines or pages. In this way the novel was written…

 

OHAD: Well, it took me a while to figure out some images and I played with some options.. At last I came to three different portraits of me. I wanted to stay away from any kind of theatricality due to Cohen’s low-key reference but eventually I couldn’t…it was stronger than me.

 

VSK: I like the ending – a real punch line! Interesting to think of punch line as art writing strategy…

 

OHAD: I would like to suggest the figure of the philosopher/thinker here as perhaps an essential link in order to make the bridge and complete the ‘picture’.

 

 

More about Ohad’s work is here. See also Post 1 , Post 2, and Post 3 of his VSK residency.

 

 

 

 

VSK RESIDENCY OHAD BEN SHIMON (3): 20 DECEMBER 2011

In Uncategorized on December 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Nare on Skype 22 December 2011

 

 

20.12.11 (for Nare)

 

 

 

There is a man standing next to me in the bar.

He is on his mobile phone.

“Let’s make the deal. Let’s make the deal,” he keeps repeating.

He says something about needing to bring the papers and something about a flight and staying for a week somewhere.

He is serious.
He is well dressed and wears a golden wedding ring.
He places his other hand on the bar while continuing to negotiate how many days he will spend somewhere.

“When do I go back?” he continues asking.
“I need to work whether you like it or not. It’s as simple as that. Without discussion.”

(He has a Dutch accent.)

“I cannot leave without the papers for two and a half weeks.”

Then he says ‘New York’, ‘January’ and something about a position he needs to take whether someone likes it or not.

Then come some more words like ‘Paper’, ‘Flight’, ‘Christmas’ and ‘New Year’.

I think to myself that this guy is retarded. Whether he likes it or not.

He gets more and more angry and says he can over-bridge a week but not two weeks.

I wonder to myself if this guy is maybe just talking to himself. Maybe there is nobody else on the other side of the line.

Maybe he is just pretending so that nobody thinks he is alone.

The conversation seems to reach an end. Both sides agree that the guy comes without the papers.

All this about some papers.

This guy means business. That’s for sure. He listens to the other guy a bit about the option of no papers and he points to Nare that is the bartender and hints for a new glass of beer.

This man is full of shit.

’Magazine’, ‘Mexico’ and ‘Television’ are the next words that he says.

He takes a sip from the beer and says “Anyway, I’m going to take the papers and two laptops.”

He has gel in his hair. His hair is pulled backwards.

“So the deal here is no papers and leave (sometime) in January or take the papers and leave (some other time I don’t hear).”

Then comes ‘New York’ and ‘Nairobi’.

“I need to be back in my office again on the 9th of January.”

 

 

I think to myself that I should just say to the guy: “Listen man. You cannot sit here on the bar and talk business the whole fucking time. Make the fucking deal and get on with your beer. Are you retarded? Are you seriously retarded or autistic? How can you be living like this man? This is sick. You are sick. Your life is sick. Your watch is sick. Your big fat white fingers are sick. Your mobile is sick. The way you talk is sick. Your whole fucking brain is sick.”

As his words come out of his mouth, I put words on the paper. Maybe my notebook pages are the papers he is talking about? Maybe I’m writing on the papers he needs in order to close the deal? Maybe I’m keeping him from signing the contract?

I look into his bright blue eyes.

His fine glasses are slightly tilted on his nose.

He looks sharp.
He looks like he knows what he is talking about.
He looks like everything is under control.

After about 15-20 minutes of talking on the phone he still hasn’t reached an agreement with the other person on the phone.

Then he says “Having said that,” and repeats the date 7th of january for the eleventh time.

His way of talking is abrupt, cut and with a bass tone.

Then he scratches his penis or balls and notices that I notice that.

“The bottom line is,” he says and then goes onto another round of negotiations with the guy.

He says “2 weeks..3 weeks..what?”

I decide to finish my beer and leave when I finish it.

I finish my beer and hear him say “You are talking a language I don’t understand.”

I decide to give up with this guy. Just stop paying attention to him.  I take out some money, pay my beers and leave.

 

 

 

Nare at Home 21 December 2011

 

 

*

 

 

More about Ohad’s work is here. See also Post 1 and Post 2 of his VSK residency.

 

 

 

VSK RESIDENCY OHAD BEN SHIMON (2): 2 DECEMBER 2011

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2011 at 4:36 pm

“…it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it.”

(Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young poet, The Seventh Letter, May 14th , 1904, Rome)

 

“Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a  strong, simple ‘I must’, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.”

(Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young poet, The First Letter, Feb 17th , 1903, Paris)

 

 

2.12.11

 

It is night-time.
It is winter.
It is cold.

It is difficult.
It is hard.
It is driving you crazy.

Nevertheless.

It is good.
It is for the good.
It is difficult for the good.
It is a difficult time for the good.

Nevertheless.

You will be fine.
You will.

As long as you keep your eyes open no harm will be done to you.

Be aware.
Be brave.
Be funny.
Be consistent.
Be around friends.
Be in big cities.
Be in the country side.

Be sexy.
Be aroused.
Be attracted and attractive.
Be horny.
Be flirty.
Be clever.
Be yourself and not yourself.
Be the different characters of yourself.

Be a literary hero.
Be a movie star.
Be famous.
Be famous.

Be emotional.
Be lost.
Be free.

Be reading books.
Be walking in the forest.
Be riding the bike.
Be and be not-be.

Be someone who cares.
Be honest.
Be a man.

Be a woman.
Be a child.
Be in equanimity.

This poem demands a final ‘Be’ standing alone at the end but I wont do that.

Be-cause,
this poem wants to
be
a
tree.

 

 

 

 

_

 

 

What has not been said?

There must be something that has not been said.

Postmortem.

How can we connect that to Postmodernism?

 

 

 

 

_

 

 

 

 

She is on her fours,

I am above her.

She is below me.

She is blowing me.

 

I am being blown.

I am being blown from below.

I am being blown from below by a beautiful blonde.

I am being blown from below by a beautiful blonde with big breasts.

b(e)-b(e)-b(e)-b(e)-b(e)-b(e)-b(e)-b(e)

Her breasts are dangling in front of me.

I look at them.

They are big.

They belong to a beautiful blonde with big breasts.

I take them in my mouth.

I suck on them.

She sucks on me.

We both suck each other.

We suck and suck and suck.

Then we fuck and go to sleep.

 

 

 

 

The following is a reconstruction of an email exchange between VerySmallKitchen and Ohad Ben Shimon in response to the above post, which took place Dec 3-4 2011.

 

 

OHAD: i have been wanting to write something erotic after reading bataille’ story of the eye for the first time. im aware that it doesnt quite pass by my usual subject matters or ‘style’.

what made the last section definite for me is that it is not at all about desire or the sexual act but only about the one long sentence where i felt like coming up with a lot of words starting with the letter ‘b’ – being blown by a beautiful blonde with big breasts and that that would echo somehow the verb/wish – ‘be’ from the first section, so to have some kind of ‘coded’ message. and in relation to poetry and photography…that they should also just be in the sense that a poem wants to be and a photograph/image wants to be..

i guess im ‘building on’/trusting the contingency of language..in form and in essence in the sense that contingency is something applicable to propositions and i see art as a proposition. maybe that is the necessary link we need in order to come back to our original question – what is the relation between art practice and writing..

 

VerySmallKitchen: One characteristic of texts that position themselves between art practice and writing seems to be an immersion in the possibilities of a form or genre which is simultaneously a utilisation of its possibilities/effects and a commentary upon those –

 

Ohad: i do consider all of this discourse as one which is on a meta level yes definitely. i think the kind of poetry i am most interested in is ars poetics and i guess that im interested in connecting poetry as the highest form of literature to a possible highest form of visual art, perhaps that would be painting or some other form of image-language (beeld-taal in dutch)? so im dealing here with comparing these two systems, the system of language to the system of art via a meta connection, yes.

 

VerySmallKitchen: But these multiple levels of (self-) awareness are not necessarily shared or even identified by a reader.  Perhaps that explains texts that require performance or discussion to be “completed” in some way, either as “afters” or by inviting notions of script and conversation into their own page forms –

 

Ohad: (thinking out loud) is an incomplete text one that does not have con-text? do we need a text to have a ‘con’ in order to justify it or can it just be without having an antagonist to ‘fight’ against? a preposition (con) to complete the proposition? does a text need a context in order to be self-aware? does its self-awareness require a context in order to be comprehended? does a text need to be comprehended?

maybe this is a quality that we can borrow from visual art which does not necessarily require to be comprehended in order to be enjoyed..maybe such is the form of the ‘artistic’ text? maybe con-text as such is something we can start to imagine doing without. i mean this in the sense that everything is context. everything is going against the text. that is why it wants to be, to be on its own, to exist on its own terms (like the reference by rilke) to exist.

the text is the protagonist and the con-text is the antagonist. maybe that is the duel of literature..that is the pity i find in story of the eye by bataille.. it is followed by an unnecessary ( in my opinion) contemplation by roland barthes and susan sontag who will creep their way into whatever interesting text is out there..

… i think a good way to deal with this is indeed through performance, especially as regarding to voice, and the sound the text and reader make whilst reading it – indeed a more physical form. perhaps that is the reason for all the explicit physicality, stereo-typical sexual representation, i.e the politics of representation at the end. the politics of representation here is in fact a politics of repression in which the voice is being repressed by an all encompassing Über-con-text.

… some final thoughts about things standing on their own..perhaps we are attempting here a challenge to what is believed to be unachievable in contemporary art..an object standing on it own..a self contained object..

 

VerySmallKitchen: But despite all these processes/ideas the post still concludes with a stereotypical heterosexual male sexual fantasy/ porn image-

 

Ohad: what is a classic porn image/ male fantasy? im sure there are million different kinds of fantasies. why are we forced to think that there is one iconic, original, solid male fantasy. the nature of fantasy itself is in the multitude not the singular..dreams and fantasies are lucid. maybe we are dealing with challenging the classic definition of a male fantasy?

maybe the ‘pornographic’ section at the end is dealing with the deconstruction of the original/monolithic text/male fantasy as such? maybe that is where porn and poetry meet..? i guess you are right in pointing out that we do have some gender issue on our hands. how to deal with that? maybe in the next post?

 

VerySmallKitchen: Thinking about blog traffic I was considering the relations of our ideas on language and art practice to “beautiful blonde big breasts sucks” as google search terms… should this be part of our concern?

 

Ohad: the google search terms is part of our inquiry i believe. google is the all encompassing context which the texts we are dealing with today take their oxygen/raison de etre from.

 

 

Post 1 is here. More about Ohad’s work is here.

 

 

 

VSK RESIDENCY OHAD BEN SHIMON (1): 14 NOVEMBER 2011

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2011 at 6:44 pm

 

 

-You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

-I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the
beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

-These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they
are not original with me,
If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing,
If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing,
If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.

(Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself, 1855)

 

 

I am at a park.
I am at the queen’s park.
I am at the park of the queen,
but I don’t see the queen.
I am told she is in the palace.
I see the palace.
I see the palace garden.
I see the guards of the palace.
I see the gardeners of the palace
garden.

 

I see the birds in the park.
I see the flowers in the park.
I see the winter trees in the
park.
I even see the mist in the
queen’s park.

 

But I don’t see the queen.

 

 

 

The Queen’s Painter Prize is about obscurity.
It is about the obscurity of the queen and the obscurity of the painting, {and the relation (indexical)
between the queen and the painter}.

 

 

 

Am I the obscured writer?
Am I a Camera Obscura?
Am I in the obscured kamer?
Is the kamer obscured from the rest of the world?
Is it a hidden room?
It is.
And from the darkness of the room comes light.
And the light is right.
And ‘the right’ writes.
And ‘the wrong’ remains obscure.
The obscured writer is ‘the wrong’ writer.
And ‘the wrong’ writer is always right. Always.
The obscured writer writes
with an obscured pen.
The pen is obscure.
The whole trick of writing is how to obscure the pen.
The whole ____ of _____ is how to obscure the ___.

 

See?

 

 

VerySmallKitchen writes:  The following notes are edited from emails between Ohad and VerySmallKitchen in November 2011.

 

OHAD: I have been playing with a few ideas in my head about my possible contribution to VerySmallKitchen..they center around my desire to figure out/’re’-search (even though I am a bit skeptical of the term ‘research’) the space between writing and contemporary art practice (including mainly performance and photography).

(Thinking out loud)

As a starting point I would situate the discourse involving writing and art practice, on the issue of Categorization at large..I mean to say..I think both writing and art practice as fields of interest, have a kind of dialectical character which begs the question of the attraction between them. Writing as a category may refer to 2 main ‘things’ – Writing as a noun, the ‘thing’ that is written, and Writing as a verb, which designates the ‘activity’ of writing…and of course the ongoing debate regarding genres, cross-genres, etc.

Contemporary art practices are also obsessed with categorization, with art historical references, art movements, mapping-outs, delineating, etc…and also in the more traditional artistic practices the obsession with object oriented art production…hence the connection I would speculate between thing (writing) – object (art practice).

A question to myself – Is writing really a medium or is it an inscription onto a medium?

 

 

I’m not exactly sure I understand what it means to be an artist in residency on a website…but I could tackle that question in my writing in a kind of self reflexive manner..For each post I would write a diary entry from a very specific and limited time/space…it would then be a kind of performance which I’m writing from… image and text as two separate and yet parallel language systems…

another more interesting option I’m thinking of now is to limit the space even more.. down to the level of an object… investigating how my presence on the object influences my writing..suggesting a diffusion of the subject-object dichotomy..how my physical contact with the object influences my writing… You could see it as a taxonomy of a sort.

 

 

I see these texts as drafts in the sense that they are instantaneous, like a sketch, of the moment. Usually drafts would mean something on the way to somewhere else, but for me this kind of drafting is more of the present, its not leading anywhere, only to its own reason to be.

 

 

More about Ohad’s work is here.