There is a dislocated loneliness in being unmoored, in drifting away from connections and places until you become stuck somewhere again. Andrew Zornoza’s Where I Stay, published by Tarpaulin Sky Press in 2009, is a both spare and sprawling interpretation of this feeling. His compact prose set to the rhythm of poetry is paired with stark black and white photographs capturing the scraps of the country seen by an unnamed narrator as he wanders the American mid- and southwest.
There is something of a duel narrative, with on each turning of the page another date and place appearing with a short, dense, vignette about what happened to the narrator at this point of his hitchhiking journey, then a captioned photograph appears on the side. Rather than either the text or the prose completely telling the story, the photographs, with their italicized captions, seem like detached comments on the narrative, possibly from a future reflection. For example, for “Oct. 14, La Pine, Oregon” he writes only briefly about he and a dog named Betsy who are both hungry beneath a “sun pasted like a white disk in the sky,” considering, silently, “the steam pouring out of the earth.” The photograph on the next page is mottled and sun-spotted, with just one line of text beside it: “I’ve lost pieces of things I want to remember.”
Something of the story is gone, for us, for the narrator, in the quiet drift of the story. And the story itself is only in fragments. You get the idea of a young man who twines guitar strings too tightly around his wrists, about the search for a sister who lost her mind and has disappeared somewhere into the landscape, and you get vivid encounters with characters like a man in Mexico with whom he spends all day in bed “trying to teach me Spanish” and then dreams of two lovers strangling each other with the aluminum cords that intersect their bodies, and the Marine at the Atomic Energy Commission Reservation in Idaho who describes the waste of nuclear power on the world. He writes early in the book: “The prairie was my cellar door. I had removed everyone I knew or the people had removed themselves. I replaced them all with a vast plateau, then mountains, dry desert, broken pieces of landscape that didn’t quite fit together. I found people in the cracks.”
While the photographs are often striking glimpses of a worn down American landscape like those Arthur Rothstein and Walker Evans sent back from the front lines of the Great Depression, it’s really Zornoza’s brief, but brutally complex, writing that compels you to keep tracing this journey to nowhere. However, it’s also a really strange and beautiful use of photography in experimental literature, one that shows how the subtle impact of images can add something to even text that evokes such powerful visuals. As he writes: “There are many things I have to tell you. I’d like to do that without speaking.”
Andrew Zornoza is reading along with writers Martin Hyatt and Luis Jaramillo at Strange Loop Gallery on March 15, 2013.
Coasting the Topography of South Asian Futurisms
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Sadaf Padder presents an exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
I’m a Florida Drag Queen and I’m Scared
I’m truly at a loss for what to do for work and what kind of life I can expect to live.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
An Artist’s Hopeful Vision of the Ocean
Indonesian artist Mulyana crafts a tactile, mystical world in which fish, whales, and coral reefs coexist with sea monsters.
An Introduction to “Afrogallonism”
Serge Attukwei Clottey explores Ghanaian culture and identity through discarded jerrycans and other found materials.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
A Ride With Liz Cohen
Nothing in the artist’s personal biography could predict that she’d one day become a car builder and bikini model.
LA’s Hammer Museum Wants to Be Seen
After two decades of renovations, the museum that calls itself a “well-kept secret” reopens with a mission to be more visible.
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
AI-Generated “Dope Francis” Fools the Internet
Many thought the picture of Pope Francis in a puffer jacket, created using Midjourney, was the real deal.
1,400-Year-Old Mural of Two-Faced Man Found in Peru
Historians hypothesize that the Moche paintings could represent artists’ attempts to experiment with portraying movement or narrative.
Miniature Worlds: Joseph Cornell, Ray Johnson, Yayoi Kusama
Through small-scale works, this exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York examines Cornell’s prominent role in the lives and careers of Johnson and Kusama.
Louvre Shutters as Pension Plan Protests Intensify
President Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 has sparked widespread demonstrations across the country.
They Managed to Mess Up an Art Heist Movie
There must be a lesson in Vasilis Katsoupis’s film Inside about the vacuousness of the art market or the claustrophobia of exhibition spaces — I just don’t care.