Remember how we were a liberation army of two?
How this two was framed by a third who ensured our brattishness didn’t _______ even ourselves?
How ____ framed that burning year as a performance that could have so easily been another Burning Man fiasco, and that _____ our overinvested will to immolation.
That beauty belongs to ____ and ____ who willingly or resentfully.
Too fucking much. Another way to say idealistic.
No one has used that term for or against me since, trust me!
A few words scratched me. Clawed deep. Crawled under this skin and allowed me over these years to shed it.
Almost a decade ago. A sentence which gets under this skin of mine. This fresh skin.
Not the skin that wrapped me back then.
But that. Later.
‘Let’s burn this town’. That’s how we signed off our ‘asking’, to become editors of un 8.1 and 8.2.
I think this was the end of 2013.
_____said that, before which song?
Didn’t we then turn it into a super hypey naggy bitch boi call out? For writers.
One version was like 100 pages as it unravelled/degraded.
Our asking-mess spewed out real fast.
How to live up to that speed?
To modernism’s trade agreements: do this thing this way and it’ll shift the thing, production ‘n’ stuff, all the things!
We were asking for permission to break the format of ___.
To challenge the oh-so-boring documentary faux-journalistic sycophantic self important tone that most arts writing took back then.
Thankfully art writing is so terrific now!
We were asking for permission.
I was tired of ‘themes’. Neon lights so bright that the detail of the night sky is burnt away, and there is only one way for any sailor to sail on those seas, nothing but to crash against the rocks of aboutness.
This is also about money. Like _____. Looking. But different. Not yearning. This one is about _____. This is about nature. This one is about domesticity and motherhood. Aboutness. Great.
It felt like a black hole. Collapsing all readings to a singular point. Every biennale, exhibition and every magazine was ‘about’ something.
We, as workers, were pinned down, boxed in, with all possibility exhausted by some fuckwit who had the vision.
Did we do the same?
The first issue: I remember struggling against the board. It was hard to realise that we were not really allowed to burn much at all. You proposed printing a single physical copy, beautifully bound, which would be physically located. Nope. Ultimately, after a lot of arguments, wearing down people to exhaustion, that first issue ended up being pretty wild.
Our editorial conceit was that contributors were not allowed to use proper nouns, nor images.
We did want it to be entirely anonymous, but I think we capitulated and allowed the authors’ names in an index right?
I just looked, we also allowed the names omitted to be under the author’s name.
The index, a kind of bag of proper nouns.
I scanned that now as ‘a bag of nouns’.
We were not allowed to burn much.
We embraced the stapled form. Writing as a material thing.
The plan was that it should be read from the centre, and that only pages facing you as a reader would have text. The back of each sheet of paper would be just solid colour.
8 or 16 pages are cut from a single sheet of paper, so the colour was to tie these pages back to their shared parent sheet.
We put all the advertisements into the centerfold, and encouraged a physical reading, where you tear the pages out as you read.
I found this. I think it was some draft reply to the board maybe:
> NO HARDSHIP
________8.1 will be no hardship. It will work with and frame the structure of its construction in the most simple and honest of ways. It will be broken down as per this diagram. Its magazine-ness will come into being as an opening formed by the split weight of its facing halves. Reading will become then a thing done with hands, bringing a sense of the hand-ness into the magazine-ness on the table-ness.
Note: advertising is exempt from all provocations. We accept, we propose, this because, in its pre-emptive form/big ‘O’ Other mode, advertising is the fullest expression of our longing and desire. It holds us tight and keeps us trim and on track. We Obey. We just say ‘yes’.
It’s funny looking at how this issue translates online. Did we not want an online version?
Everything seemed so hard. Communication was almost impossible.
We were impossible.
Change was meant to be easy!
If only stoicism had been invented, then we would have known we should ‘do difficult things’!
But fuck! There was also this kind of positive wonder though.
Wasn’t the whole thing also driven by the wonder of talking and listening in a way that felt real and taking that to ___.
This came from our experience.
We were writing poems to each other. Like hundreds in the year or so before and in them we made a way of typing-speaking that held new things. Not be mirroring back ‘aboutness’, the subject we felt obliged to address but mutating forward and carrying new selves forward too.
Corny but it was 100% tru!
It was liberating and there were real things I was liberating myself from, and in a heavy way I guess.
And there was sadness and wildness in that, all at once, and we performed at the ____. We had hundreds of pages of poems and we read them to each other and we heard our voices and we drank whisky and I lost my bag but then ____ found it.
And art writing was a place I felt I had made a new self in and it seemed right to use that forum.
What I’m saying is that we wanted to extend the freedom we had found in how we spoke with each other.
Oh, and on this, there was that thing that ___ said:
‘The author’s name serves to characterise a certain mode of being in discourse: the fact that the discourse has an author’s name…shows that this discourse is not ordinary everyday speech that merely comes and goes, not something that is immediately consumable. On the contrary, it is a speech that must be received in a certain mode and that, in a given culture, must receive a certain status’.
A part of us wanted everyday speech and for the magazine to dissolve in and out of being, to appear and disappear.
For me it was _____ who held me, and those _____poets, the conceptual poets too. Looking back makes me cringe a little bit, as this conceptual and formalist approach to writing felt so political to me at the time, however, perhaps ____ echoing through me, they are so ___ and ___ yeah yeah _____ and _____ and ultimately just really safe. Low stakes.
A cleverness that forgets the body and lived experience, and can just alienate people. Now I’m more cynical about claims of radicality.
Our second issue, we flipped, from hard constraints to no constraints. We split ___ into 8 little mini-issues and let each contributor become their own editor. We had no constraints. Our editorial for the issue was its own little magazine.
It was a lot of fun.
It was about territories that.
The magazine is a bordered space. Do with it, and in it, what you will.
Some pretty scary ____ libertarian stuff maybe in hindsight but (or same same) also a basic sub-let situation. In relation to that there’s that line in _____‘good fences make for good neighbours’. It’s more radical than is usually supposed, cos ___ is not for it. He’s kind of quoting it, ironic, maybe.
Us, we wanted the fences cos we didn’t want the hassle.
We resigned editorship towards authorships.
We were all burned up.
People could choose liberation or double down on some artistic superego vibe if they wanted.
Those terms scan weird now, but we didn’t think there was a beyond to power as such, just that, well, one could maybe try to think a bit different about where a freedom might be, even in the moment.
We didn’t know how to achieve that, pragmatically, at that time. Not under an auspice. A magazine.
Should we have left it all alone?
Cos at this time we also did the project ________ . You made a website where people could get sent the poems we’d been sending ourselves, relative to the times we sent them to each other.
My theory is that project set us free as our talking started to loop into other people’s lives, and then, well, out of ours.
It was mechanical, going on without us.
So was that piece of yours that had the two phones screens and the entire text of yr relationship with ____ running on it.
The mechanism taking the place of the people. ____ was also a mag-mechanism and we should have seen that.
Kept our matches in our bags. Oh, this cliched of wu wei.
(The power supply broke, I had to repair it the other day as it’s being exhibited again…)
In most ways the energy I, we, we all had, never turned into anything.
Which makes me realise too late the alchemical nature of our fantasies.
And the clawing words? You said to me once. I am sure there was a beer in your hand. That you did not understand why we artists let You judge Us. I don’t anymore.
Another is when ___ quipped about the hours of labour that we all collectively do in applying for grants and that the collective labour is likely worth way more than the money that is distributed. What if we just refused. Instead put our fire towards being together rather than competing. I do not want to return to the knife fighting over scraps.
What if we just got a job?
I am a “senior” software engineer now and paid money not to care.
I wish I could offer some deep read on how arts writing has shifted and changed in the _____ context over these years but tbh, art writing is not my jam, the investment did not return, and I think I defaulted.
___ for me is a thing I was proud of, although _____made me realise that we trashed a format some people were deeply invested in.
Rereading the brief while sitting in the ____ hotel in ____. Solo beer, returning to ____ after a time — walking the streets alone, the echo of another life, some strong markers remain, around which the rest has shifted, relationships dissolving, no longer feeling at home or settled, unsure of almost everything.
WTF am I doing with my life?
I cannot return.
This is not my life anymore. ____ has a kid.
Then there is us, you and I, a moment where we were so close then time and distance, that magazine. I miss you in my world, the neurotic poetic energy.
WTF is ___ to me now? Or you now? What was it then? What does it mean to have a long form relation to a magazine?
Anyway, remember how we were in fact no kind of liberation army at all. Just really really fucked up and trying really really hard not to properly combust?
While lighting ourselves on fire and using ___ as kindling? xx