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February 2010
 
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Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:28 pm
I'm not appearing at the Performa Biennial. Twice.

I have a slightly oblique relationship with The Performa Biennial, New York's performance art jamboree. Zach Feuer, who hosts my New York art shows, suggested I apply to the first one in 2007. So I put together an idea for a comedy act called Bob Newart, a development of the art-related joke routines I was doing at the Whitney Biennial in 2006. The basic idea was that Bob Newart is a comedian whose material is so unfunny that he "dies on stage" every night, becoming a sort of sacrificial redeemer of the comedy world, dying so that other comedians don't have to.

It turned out we'd missed the application deadline for Performa07, so that idea got mothballed, and Bob Newart was stillborn. Elements of him live on in my Unreliable Tour Guide act, seen most recently at MUDAM two weeks ago and -- arguably -- in The Book of Jokes, which is partly about how far you can push the limits of jokes. (Latest review of The Book of Jokes is in The Quietus, here.)

I did, though, sneak Bob into Performa07 through the back door, inserting a series of whispered jokes into a show curated by Mathieu Copeland at the Swiss Institute. I covered that in a Click Opera entry called Making Swiss people tell jokes. Sample joke: "A man walked into a doctor's waiting room and the room blew down. "I thought you were a waiter", said the man. "I lost patients," said the room." Funny? Not funny? Not quite sure; it came to me in a dream.

This year I'm also not in the Performa Biennial. Twice. Aki Sasamoto will be performing at The PROMPT, a night club or "futurist variety theater" set up by Michael Portnoy in the White Slab Palace at 77 Delancey Street (November 11th to 15th), and I'll be absently present in the form of spoken instructions designed to alter and intervene in her performance. When we performed together daily back in May, the idea was that I was physically present (dressed as a kabuki stagehand), yet Aki ignored me totally. This time that's reversed: I'm absent, but Aki pays close attention to what I say. I act a bit like Eno's Oblique Strategies: my mp3 instructions are shuffled in iTunes and emerge randomly, influencing her actions in real time.

"Performative publishers" Dexter Sinister are also sneaking me into Performa09 through the backdoor via their FIRST/LAST newspaper event at BLANK SL8 in the Port Authority building on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 41st Street. From November 3rd to 22nd Dexter Sinister will be publishing six editions of a guerilla broadsheet newspaper and distributing them across the city of New York. The newspaper will be filled with contributions from guest writers, and will reflect on the unstable condition of contemporary news and related medias.

"Taking the form of a broadsheet—the original, large-format, single sided newspapers first produced in Europe in the 17th century—the six newspapers produced during the project will be distributed both in folded form and as flat sheets for public reading in various locations around the city." There'll be a new issue of FIRST/LAST every Wednesday and Saturday, and it'll be printed in an edition of 3000 copies and given out free.

Now, the beauty part of this project is that the Port Authority building Dexter Sinister are using as their hub is directly opposite the New York Times building. So the first thing that came into my mind, when they invited me to contribute (and knowing they love doubling, shadows, ghosts, illegitimate mirrors of official channels, Pynchon's alternative post office, and so on) was that I should re-write my column for The New York Times, The Post-Materialist (2008-2009), as "The Ghost-Materialist".

And so, across the road from its original point of dissemination, The Post-Materialist will become The Ghost Materialist, a column which takes the New York Times columns I wrote and adds lots of weird new information in the form of questionable facts, unreliable lacunae, fizzing static, markup glitches, weird non-sequiturs, google fluff, rampant fantasia, limericks, jokes, ectoplasm, and eerie voices from other worlds.

I can't think of a more exciting way of not-appearing at Performa. Twice.

29CommentReplyFlag


(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 11:53 am (UTC)

You have a beautiful penis. I would love to see it erect.

lots of love
J.R. Ackerley


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)

Why thank you, JR.

Unfortunately only North Korean maidens of extreme chastity and ideological rectitude are currently able to see the missile in its full show of strength.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC)

Getting it out a film festival? Dear me.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 12:34 pm (UTC)

You look so much like Helge Schneider (German musician/absurd humorist) on that picture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MBqLS5XD5o


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC)

This guy?



I was hoping more for a sort of Heino look:



Edited at 2009-10-19 12:42 pm (UTC)


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC)

Hah! Close resemblance, too!
I think it's the suit and the curly wig that make you look like Schneider more than Heino in the picture in this post. At first glance, I was convinced this'd be an entry about him in some way. Can we anticipate a cover of "Karamba, Karacho, ein Whisky" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kM-v5ShRyUo) soon?


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)

How can you dick around making unreliable non-jokes when there are so many people starving around the world?


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)

This commenter has two thirds of a valid point. The Teenies are a serious decade, going on a quest forward into pure painting in search of altermodern provenance. By July 2011, zany fantasia and “anything goes” just make people ill.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC)

Given the dire circumstances you so rightly point out, the very least I felt I could do is make sure the jokes weren't funny.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC)

It would be a grave mistake, though, to underestimate the power of the imagination in the search for better worlds. I think the idea of a parallel Post-Materialist column in a parallel New York Times has a bearing on the future just as the parallel Scotlands in my Book of Scotlands do. The Post-Materialist column already integrated an ethical, even moralistic, perspective on things like sustainability, and the Ghost Materialist columns will, I promise, push that even further. It's not so much "anything goes" as "how far can certain ideas go when you take away the constrictions imposed by more conventional ways of thinking?"


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)

But the exciting next level is right under the bonnet of convention. An endless array of 'alternatives' has been fun, but what are the new higher messages, the new core? Is 'liberal' the same kind of liberal in the 21st century? Importantly, when we have Year Zero - do we impose it on postmodernists, modernists and pre-moderns? Or do we prioritise never-ending legacies?


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
weren't funny

You have a lot of competition Nic.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)

A billion people around the world are starving and you're wasting your time posting comments on a blog?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:23 pm (UTC)

Yes, that's the recursive criticism of the comment above, the one determined by Humperson's Third Law of Meta. The trouble with that is that it gets lost in meta. I think the ethical point raised is a good one, but the answer has to be that contemporary art does deal in ethics, all the time. It's just that it deals so freely and experimentally with topics which can all-too-easily fall into pragmatic stalemate and handwringing cliches that it can sometimes seem remote and abstract and wanton. Nevertheless, art's ability to think things currently unthinkable elsewhere is crucial.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
Humperson's Third Law of Meta

3. No critical statement is exempt from its own strictures. Every statement which seeks to summarize and critique a pre-existing statement (in other words every statement except for those in the mysterious "world of origins") will tend to exemplify, in itself, the things it deplores in the original statement, thus opening itself up to the same critique, and so on, recursively. And incrementally, for a summary of a statement tends to exemplify its faults more succinctly and intensely.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

I think we can safely ignore Humperson, though: If I've correctly understood him, his critique of critique itself exemplifies the critique it is critiquing, therefore rendering it utterly nonsensical. Essentially he falls into the same trap all fundamentalist relativists fall into - they require an illogical get-out clause for their truth that all truth is relative. Thereby invoking a necessarily infinite chain of meta-truths.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

I would respond to this comment if it weren't for the fact that Humperson declared, in his sixth law, that all statements calling for other statements to be ignored can safely be, themselves, ignored.

So I am going to act as if nothing has happened. Did somebody speak? I heard nothing.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

Did somebody speak? I heard nothing.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

I was privileged enough to get to know Norman Humperson in the last years of his life (he was step-uncle-in-law to my then wife). He once showed me some notes for a book he was working on that he sadly never completed. By that time he'd renounced his earlier work, and he was convinced that the "second Humperson", as he called it, would ultimately bridge the continental/analytic divide. His thinking by then betrayed a deeply nihilistic anti-phenomenalism. Perhaps one day the Humperson estate will see fit to publish these notes.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

Hmmm. I remember being force-fed Humperson's Meta for my communications course in the mid-eighties. It must have dated considerably since those days of high postmodernism, though. Do they still teach Humperson now?


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

Ah, you take me back to the 1980s, when questions about a question's fashionability were still fashionable!


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

Humperson is no doubt deeply unfashionable now, but I would recommend at least his last paper for the AJS which I think has never been anthologised. Already in the mid-nineties his was philosophising the end of postmodernism, and presciently, it seems to me. First, he prophesised that there would come a time when everyone knew that postmodernism was over, but no one could characterise what exactly had died and where exactly that left us. Humperson called this new age of anxiety "the era that dare not speak its name". Secondly, he said that initial theorising of the new age would, ironically, be relentless backward-looking. Political theorists would see a return to Marxism. Literary theorists would posit a return to critical realism. Photography would be seen to return to narrative descriptivism, etc etc. This "new " modernism, itself of course the last spasm of postmodernism, eventually ushered in... well I don't know if I can do justice to the retro-Nietzchean nihilism of the later Humperson, but I recommend you track down the paper.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

I think the greatest blow Humperson struck to postmodernism was his insistence that, if we remove the time element, nothing is prior to or post anything. In the "world of origins" everything exists simultaneously, and has always existed. The only trouble is that the "world of origins" is closed to us. I like to think Humperson is there now, though.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

Well yes. That's where The Hump's retro-Nietzscheanism comes in I think, there's something of the "eternal return" in this.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

Never heard of Humperson, but he sounds interesting. Is he British or American?


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

He's Scottish.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

Humperson was born on February 29th, 1933 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to immigrant Scottish parents.



It's frustrating that Wikipedia still refuses to put up a page about him, but somehow I think Humperson would have been chuckling into his beard about his "non-notability".


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 03:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Humperson's Third Law of Meta

Thanks. I will investigate.


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milky_eyes
milky_eyes
milky_eyes
Mon, Oct. 19th, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)

I've seen Aki with and without you... I enjoy more WITH you actually. Much better... (is that a diss? I love her stuff) So its quite fun to hear you will be involved.

and hey... I read the waiter joke on your fb page... first thing when I woke up and I have to admit its quite the weird joke... not exactly bad... mostly weird.

does anyone remember 'hitchhikers guide to the galaxy" ??? vogon poetry?
it was supposed to be so awful that... something... I forget... but funny.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogon




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