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Posted inBooks

Wisdom Testicles and the Messy Process of Collaboration

At first glance, the exterior of Wisdom Testicles, a collection of collaborative works on paper by three artistic schoolmates, looks to be a relatively unassuming artist book. Setting aside its confusing title for a moment, it has the well-crafted and unique appearance of a handmade book. Smallish in size and easy to page through, Coptic bound with an open spine, it has raw, unfinished covers made of gray speckled bookboard. The cover of the book, however, on which a anatomical looking drawing of male genitalia has been printed, is provocative enough to immediately dispel any preconceived notions about the book’s modest appearance. The non sequitur nature of the title and cover succeeds in catching your attention, raising a certain amount of curiosity about what lies between the covers.

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112 Greene Street: The Soho that Used to Be

“It is rather inspiring,” writes Peter Schjeldahl in the New York Times, “that in an hour of political crisis this art (despite its makers’ eschewal of revolutionary postures) has arisen to make possible a project like 112 Greene Street.” The year is 1970. The place is Soho, until recently known as the South Houston Industrial District. Here an unemployed artist can buy a six-story cast-iron ex-rag-picking warehouse, and huge chunks of sheet-zinc cornice can lie abandoned on the sidewalk at a demolition site until another artist bribes the garbage men to drive them to his studio.

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Rediscovering a Moment in San Francisco’s Past

Earlier this spring, the de Young Museum exhibited recently uncovered work by photographer Arthur Tress. In 2009, while sorting through the belongings of his recently deceased sister, Tress found a number of prints and more than nine hundred negatives he had taken on a 1964 trip to San Francisco. In those pictures, the young Tress captured the collision of two major events taking place in San Francisco — the Republican National Convention and the influx of a large number of Beatles fans prior to the launch of the band’s first North American tour.

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The Tip of the Iceberg: My Reading of Frank Kuenstler (1928–1996)

I want to begin with a few salient facts and personal observations about the poet and filmmaker Frank Kuenstler. He is part of the same generation as John Ashbery, Robert Bly, Robert Creeley, Philip Lamantia, Denise Levertov, Frank O’Hara, and Adrienne Rich, and, to my mind, belongs in their company. Between 1964 and 1996 he published nine books. If we take his word for it, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t, he began working on LENS in 1952 but waited more than a decade before he began publishing his work. Partly this had to do with the twelve years it took Kuenstler to complete LENS, but I imagine other factors were also involved.

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What Didn’t You Do in the War, Daddy? Chickenhawks and a Few Good Books

Last week Mitt Romney reached deep into the Republican bag of stock postures to attack President Obama as weak in matters of defense and foreign policy. The macho posturing by chickenhawk Republicans (Romney, Rove, Cheney, Bush, Kristol, Gingrich and many others avoided Vietnam if not military service altogether) is an all-too-familiar and, unfortunately, effective right-wing tactic.

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Stickers: Stuck-Up Piece of Crap

Looking at Stickers: Stuck-Up Piece of Crap: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art, a history of stickers from various subcultures, from graffiti and street art to skating and punk music, two years after its publication, the book remains significant as the first major publication on Do-It-Yourself sticker culture; yet the book has also become outdated, as the sticker scene, at least in New York, has evolved past glossy, printed stickers.

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Art Cannot Provide a Way Out

In 2006, art historian Claire Bishop lit a fire under the collective seat of the art world with her Artforum piece “The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents.” It set off — as much as any essay in the hermetic and staid world of contemporary art theory can — an uproar. Her new book takes it a step further.

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Surrealism in a Minor Key: Recent Translations of Ghérasim Luca

Considered through Deleuze and Guattari’s somewhat idiosyncratic interpretive lenses, Ghérasim Luca is a minor writer — minor in the sense that he relentlessly pushes language toward its limits, that he deterritorializes it, that he transmutes it from a mere instrument of representation into an extreme style of intensities. This is to say that Luca should not be deemed “minor” in any canonical sense — quite the opposite in fact — for within Deleuze and Guattari’s system of thought, to be called minor is an honorific of the highest order. This is also to say that Luca should be recognized, once and for all, as a figure on par with the other so-called “minor” auteurs within Deleuze and Guattari’s pantheon: Kafka, Beckett, Joyce, Pasolini, and Godard.