Last Drink Pre Order

September 25, 2009

Last Drink Bird Head, a neat anthology the proceeds of which go to ProLiteracy, is available for pre-order from Wyrm Publishing, at a 5 buck discount. Ann and Jeff Vandermeer are the editors, so you can be sure it is all quality stuff. Go here for details. 

To celebrate the occassion, I give an extract from my contribution:

Thick, soft, doughy muscles, body anointed with mustard paste; he was short with a sharp nose and hair on his back.

He wore neck-weights, did rigorous squats and plyometric press-ups and exercised with a thick length of bamboo to which a large stone was affixed. He ate pulses and fish seasoned with turmeric and drank chickpea water. 

Time is Memory, an Interview with Allan Graham

September 24, 2009

The following is an interview I did with Allan Graham, also known as Toadhouse, in 2003, for a Canadian magazine called Espace:

Allan Graham was born in 1943 in San Francisco, California and later moved to New Mexico, where he has lived for most of his adult life, exhibiting continuously at both galleries and museums, from Santa Fe, to New York, to Switzerland and Italy. His works are in several major collections, both private and public, noteworthy among them being that of the Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza, a public space created by the collector Panza de Biumo in Verese, Italy with the organisation FAI.

‘Non-conceptual.’ This is the first word that comes to my mind when confronted with the work of Graham. His art is not so much the art of the idea, as the art of what the idea indicates and what it cannot possibly say – visually or verbally. Whether it be the two bronze coffee mugs sitting alone in an empty room (TIDE: two ideas defining emptiness), the word-groups pasted as bumper stickers on vintage automobile bumpers (Toadhouse), or the wooden doors painted with a palette knife (Pre-hung: for those who suffer form), Graham consistently points to what is on the other side of thoughts and concepts.

‘Time is Memory’, last exhibited at SITE Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is one of his most interesting pieces and consists of, in Graham’s own words, “16 death poems by 16 Zen Buddhist masters, 16 zafus (meditation cushions) and 16 reading lights connected to a central hub which is then connected to a solar electric computerised tracker. The poems, zafus and lights form an oval or circle on the floor with the solar electric tracker on the roof of the building. Weather, light shifts and human consciousness create a sensitive flux to the room’s events. Rising with the sun, flowing with the weather and then setting into darkness. The zafus are to be sat on, the poems are to be read and change to be experienced.”

The death poems used in the piece were composed by the various Zen masters just before they died, and are Graham’s renderings from various translations that he has read.

The following interview took place toward the end of January, 2003.

Brendan Connell. A lot of your work, and obviously ‘Time is Memory’ in particular, has what I view as a Zen Buddhist theme. Many contemporary artists use the same type of ‘minimalist’ aesthetics found in traditional Zen Buddhist art. But do you think, visually, a piece of artwork can have the same sort of affect as say, a Zen Koan, – an enlightenment effect?

Allan Graham. From a Zen standpoint art is only the pointing finger. Multiplicity, simultaneity and connections that become too vast for our logic or reason to hold onto have been my ‘focus’ for many years. That is my connection with Zen. But it also occurs in say, Sufi (Rumi), even in the most resent science – a beyond-self related comprehension. Physical details in art are just the language. I have no loyalty to a style or subject but there are reoccurring loops that feel like a part of me, whatever I do. Read the rest of this entry »

A few films . . .

September 13, 2009

Ninja Gari (aka Ninja Hunt or Ninja Hunters): This is probably the best ninja film I have seen, shot in beautiful black and white, with the ninjas depicted much more realistically than in other films. Basically, the story is about a group of ronin hired to defend a castle against a group of ninja who want to steal a certain document. Great stuff.

Bullet Train: This was the film that the Hollywood film “Speed” got its plot from. Bullet Train is about a thousand times better though, as the terrorists are depicted in a very realistic way, and the cinematography is far superior. There are a few silly bits, but by and large this is a worthwhile way to spend a couple of hours.

Italian Secret Service: A very funny comedy staring Nino Manfredi. Apparently there is a dubbed version available in Enlgish, which I would skip, but if this is ever made available with subtitles that one should see it. The original Italian is very funny.

Zombi Holocaust: This is a really awful cannibal film. I can say, having seen a great many of these sorts of things, that this one is probably about the worst. Everything about it is bad, from the music to the acting. The jungle the adventurers are travelling through looks an awful lot like a park or a backyard in Florida. The grass has actually been cut with a lawn-mower, even though it supposed to be some island in the middle of no-where inhabited by nothing but cannibals and zombies. One would have a hard time finding a legitimate excuse for watching such a film.

Le sette folgori di Assur: Another bad Italian film. We are placed in I guess what is supposed to be ancient Babylon and introduced to Zoroaster and a boring plot line involving Howard Duff and kings and romance and gods. Worth a miss.