10 September 2020
Instagram is full of memes about how late Aquarians respond to emails and texts. As an Aquarius, I tend to only recognise aspects of my zodiac sign that are positive and flattering and that don’t make me look like a total jerk. But I must admit that I am a late replier and that I can often come across as a dysfunctional correspondent. I have tried to reason as to why but have come up with no conclusive reason.
Earlier today I have finally read your letters and felt various chills. Your letters are a gift—a gift of such generosity that I had not experienced in a long time. Again, as an Aquarius I find it difficult to open up to others and often when people are honest or reveal too much I act clumsy or directly feel blocked. But with you is different and the kind of distant intimacy that we are creating (I think) mobilises my creative energies. (By the way, what is your zodiac sign?)
You cannot imagine how interested I was in Julian Cameron’s writing method when I learnt about it in your letter—partly, because it represents everything that I’m not and that attracts me right away. So I have decided to test this system with you (or should I say, with me) and our exchanges. Starting tomorrow, and perhaps not every day, I am going to sit in front of the computer and try to write three pages without thinking or mediating my writing for good sense, although I will keep your letters in mind, at least as an echo or sensation.
Hope the week is treating you well and more tomorrow!—in writing and at our zoom meeting.
P.S. in reply to your note from 30 August introducing your sister Laura. I would love to meet your sister and be in Brazil, although the truth is that right now, with the situation due to Covid-19, the idea of travelling has put me back. [I do usually write Covid-19, rather than ‘coronavirus’. With the word coronavirus sometimes the dyslexic that is hidden in me comes out. (By the way, did you know that, in the middle of the pandemic, the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language determined that Covid-19 was a female noun? That is, ‘la Covid-19’, and not ‘el Covid-19’. It sparked some debate about how historically, often diseases have been feminised through language.) Returning to your sister Laure, if I were in Brazil with her, I would ask her if she knows Rita Moreira’s documentary film, Temporada de caça, 1988, which she probably does.
Here’s a link to the film—with English subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjan_Yd0C5g
11 September 2020
(very) partial response to your email to me of 31 august
re: Horses and mares
I was delighted to know more about the presence of the horse in your work, this was not immediately obvious to me. I was surprised to hear you were not allowed to have toy horses when you were a child. I was allowed horses, but I was not allowed Barbie dolls! As a child, I always wanted a Barbie doll, but I had to settle for a Ken doll and, to my delight, the Barbie cowgirl horse. It was a very beautiful, light brown horse, with long manes that one could comb with a small white plastic comb [the beginning of my own rite of passage to become as well a BEAUTY WARRIOR]. Actually, I don’t know if it’s entirely true that my parents didn’t let me have a Barbie; rather, I think I assumed that was not right for a boy to have a doll and I never got to ask for one. Instead, I asked for a Ken doll and Barbie’s horse as a pretext to play with my cousin Amaia, who is actually the one who had a Barbie collection—that I secretly envied. My cousin and I were the perfect play couple; she provided the power ladies and I would bring the male and non-human companions. Besides the horse, I also had Barbie’s giant poodle, which I remember came with various beauty accessories, such as matching dog collars and scrunchies. Barbie’s giant poodle was pure fantasy and the closest I’ve ever had to a unicorn. I also had a My Little Pony that I once stole from a department store when I was a full-fledged adult, but this is another story (maybe in another letter we can talk about the art of stealing).
P.S. in response to your brief note from 2 Sept. I cannot wait to receive the photo print of your large horse from 2018! That horse is my ideal of institutional critique; someone fierce with a big, beautiful heart and an even bigger handbag. I love the bottom sentence ’I prefer to ignore my enemies’, I feel fully identified. I don’t even think I have enemies. Don’t get me wrong; my attitude towards the world—including the arts worlds—is strong and I consider myself someone with very firm opinions. And there are three or four people out there who don’t speak to me anymore for my ideas and opinions (Xabier Arakistain being one of those:) But I’m not confrontational, and I don’t like wasting time with people who don’t deserve it. As you say, it takes a lot of energy. And we better reserve our energies to change the world, rather than trying to reach an understanding with people with whom we have nothing to do. I choose not to as a survival mechanism.
Back to horses. Can we also discuss mares? I wonder if you have ever heard of Chilean writer and cultural activist Pedro Lemebel (1952–2015). There was this documentary about his life and work from last year (or maybe two years ago?) that won the Teddy Prize at the Berlin Film Festival; if you are not familiar with him you should check it out. In a postfeminist heaven, Pedro and you would take tea together. I mention him briefly in my Keratin Manifesto, which you already know. I have also done some academic writing around his work. The influence of Pedro Lemebel’s persona and literary work exceeds Chile and it has been an established ‘object of study’ for at least two decades, both in Latin America and in the US. His second book, Loco afan: crónicas del sidario; [Mad Desire: Chronicles from the AIDS Camp] (1996) marked the beginning of the author’s international projection. As a writer he crafted a specific literary genre: the chronicles, short accounts about aspects of daily life in the poor neighbourhoods of Santiago where he came from; the texts originated in a radio programme in which the author collaborated (sadly enough, Lemebel’s only book available in English is his 2001 novel My Tender Matador). Me gusta Pedro for a number of reasons: I truly enjoy his writing. In moments of my life in which my readings have been subject to academic work and I barely had time or mental space to read anything other than theory and essays, his brief chronicles helped me to reconnect with that type of writing that comes out of the guts. I am also fascinated by his defiant and stylish attitude, seemingly superficial, towards life, and if I had more guts I would craft my public persona following his footsteps. If I ever got a tattoo, this would be his sentence: ‘sometimes minorities can use superficiality as a weapon’, across the image of a feather.*
Notoriously, Lemebel was also (together with writer and activist Pancho Casos) the founding member of the collective Yeguas del Apocalipsis [Mares of the Apocalypse]. Recently, a group of young Chilean researchers with the support of the D21 gallery that manages the collective’s state, have launched this web archive about the work of Yeguas—available also in English: http://english.yeguasdelapocalipsis.cl. The duo are pioneers in addressing the HIV / AIDS crisis in Chile, and their work has gained increasing momentum in recent years, being included in many museum collections and displays. Likewise, questions of race and ethnicity are not foreign to the work of Yeguas, or even to the later, individual work of Lemebel. I got to know the work of Yeguas more than a decade ago through my Chilean dear friends and colleagues Nancy Garín and Linda Valdés, with whom I have been developing the AIDS Anarchive project. The signature work of Yeguas is La refundación de la Universidad de Chile [The Refoundation of the University of Chile], 1988, an action in which the two activists, naked and mounted on a mare, rode across the campus of the University of Chile, still under the dictatorship of Pinochet. The main goal of the work was to denounce homophobia and political repression in Pinochet’s Chile. The work has been described by others as a reference to the equestrian figure of Pedro de Valdivia (1497–1553), the Spanish conquistador founder of the city of Santiago, as well as a citation of the exhibitionist gesture of the medieval legend of Lady Godiva. But most prominently, the work has been quite insistently described in terms of a ‘becoming animal’, a description in which little is said about the actual, mundane encounter between the equine and the Chilean activists, an encounter that has kept me busy in the past and what I have written and thought about, for example, in my doctoral thesis. (In my approach to the work I followed US scholar Ron Broglio’s (2011) suggestion that: “Thinking about animals means taking seriously the possibility that everything takes place on the surface.” As Broglio has explained at length, Western philosophical and cultural tradition has characterised non-human animals as inferiors, lacking interiority and depth of being, as mere surface.
Hence, to reconsider our relationship with non-human animals on an ethical level—including their representations—also requires reconsidering our relationship and negative characterisation of surface and what is considered superficial.
In that particular work, I love the fact that the collective rides a mare and not a horse. There are, of course, multiple layers of signification, including the meaning of mare [mare] in Chilean slang, in the sense of a promiscuous woman.
(*) On feathers: the everyday expression in Spanish ‘tener pluma’ (literally, to have feathers) is used for a feminine looking, sounding or acting male, and also for a female with a masculine aspect. In fact, Lemebel’s literary work is traversed by the image of the feather and subjects with ‘pluma’ (‘pluma’ in Spanish also refers to the instruments for writing or drawing with ink as well as to a writer’s skills and writing style). Have you ever drawn a horse with feathers? And a white flower with feathers? If so, I would love to see those!
By the way, I have never ridden a horse, although I did once ride a camel.
11 September 2020
I can’t wait till 12:00 today, so looking forward.
I am a Picses, born 17 March 1974 at 1:50 a.m. (I always spell the ‘fish sign’ wrong, but you know the one).
With Julia Cameron’s book The Artist Way if you hand write the morning pages then 3 sides of A4 paper (so, like front, back, front of another piece) and if you type I do 1 1/2 A4 pages in a Word document, this is a method I decided to use myself (she thinks handwriting is best, I wanted people to be able to read what I wrote!).
Here is a search with some links, you might be able to download the book for free (but as always, be careful with things like this) or maybe even buy the book it’s quite interesting, just btw, I have no idea if it’s been translated. I would be curious…
I just forwarded the link to the film you sent the link to to my sister, and I will watch it myself soon, I did not know it.
All so interesting, what you write, as always. Reciprocity is one thing, but I spill over like a waterfall in my writing and speech but I always do that with care, and appreciation that each person responds in the way that suits them. I have a deep respect for this, the variations in creativity that we all have, the prism, the spectrums. Ron Athey the artist in Los Angeles told me that I letter I had sent him made him blush with “too much information”; (I think I told him in detail about the ways I shit to prepare for anal sex or so).
our are a fantastic correspondent imo. Your messages are perfection and perfectly timed. Please never worry about length of time or frequency of response. For years I was used to being ignored completely as an artist and person in the art world/s. This fluctuates still. I have developed a thicker skin and levels of patience with others / the world and most importantly with myself.
Around the age of 20 I made a whole series of what I call ‘Thought Drawings’ on business stationery that I had made. I had not intended to draw on the stationery it just spontaeously happened when I realized I wasn’t using it for ’business’. One of them said, one that is now with my parents in Topeka, Kansas, “The More Patience I Have The More Fully I Live Lifes”. Here is an example b/c I cannot find that particular image now…
More soon / see you at 12:00!
xSands In Gratitude As Always
SMW, ‘My Life is a Search For Like-Minded People’ (1996), Thought Drawing, A4 size on business stationery SMW, fruit scented marker on paper in frame.
11 September 2020
Dear Sands and Megan,
Our meeting this morning was a joy. I think we could spend a weekend together.
Below is the caption for the image we are planning to publish as an opener for our room in the Studio. I’ll probably want to revise the description before posting it, but for now this is it.
Wishing you the best for the weekend.
Digital photograph of Aimar’s desktop sent to Sands as an email attachment on 15 August 2020. Contents, clockwise: a USB stick of varied content; pink paper sheets with notes on an art and fashion working project; an unopened, neon yellow envelope from a mail-art project curated by Eliel Jones for Cell Project Space, London; a round stone picked up this summer on a beach in Suances, in the Spanish region of Cantabria; a dedicated copy of Sands’s book Profeminist WHITE FLOWERS, with the following dedication: “all blessings in all paths + ways”; scallop shell, typical of the pilgrimage of Compostela; photo print showing a sculpture composed of a clothes rack covered in construction netting and a large, red cornucopia by emerging Basque artist Dogartzi Magunagoikoetxea (Aimar’s partner at the time of writing this caption); pens and Post-It Notes with accumulated tasks; Aimar’s left hand touching Sands’s book.
**Aimar p.s. email: *Profeminist WHITE FLOWERS !!!!
13 September 2020
I have just finished putting the final touches on the email to Megan with all our correspondence thus far. It’s a messy folder as usual, but I tried to save everything, I didn’t want to spill one precious drop…
Here are some promised bits and pieces for you: https://assets.moma.org/d/pdfs/W1siZiIsIjIwMTkvMDcvMTAvOTJ3cGQ3eTc0dV9XZWJTYW1wbGVfUGlwZXJfQ2F0YWxvZ3VlLnBkZiJdXQ/WebSample_Piper_Catalogue.pdf?sha=c39dfb81bc9d6efe
Please see ‘example page’ 111 in this document for the Adrian Piper work in our collection. Notice the caption, and it’s misspelling of WASSINQUE INC. ;)
Here are Adrian Piper’s archiving tips to me from an email in 2012:
I didn’t know Laurie Parsons, but I did know Lee. However, Lee would not speak to me, as we met during the time when she was refusing to speak to women.
Neither Socrates nor Aristotle had a Ph.D., and they both did just fine.
25 square meters = 269.10 square feet. Many thanks for the amazing photos of your space. Some of it is great, but the messy parts are completely freaking me out. In the best of all possible worlds, you hire a professional archivist to help you organize it. If that is not possible, you can begin by
(1) sorting the contents of those shelving racks into a series of little piles on the floor, chronologically ordered by year. Anything that is not a completed artwork (e.g. books, papers) should be in a separate pile for the same year.
(2) Then within each year, sort that year’s pile of artwork into sub-piles, according to medium. (if you want, you can also sort that year’s books and documents piles into sub-piles, e.g. books: fiction, history, etc.; documents: correspondence, essays, etc.)
(3), Then, since everything is now on the floor and the shelves are empty, examine the shelves to see whether you have enough space and shelves to assign a year’s worth of artwork to each shelf. If not, readjust the shelves so that you do, and/or go to Ikea and get some more shelves. You might also want to get bookcases for the books and and document files for the papers.
(4) Organize the shelving cases in rows and fill the shelves in chronological order, starting with the earliest work first on the top shelf working down or bottom shelf working up.
(5) Label each shelf by year. If you have more than one shelf for a year’s worth of artwork, also label the shelves by month (e.g. 2001 January–March, 2001 April–September, etc.).
(6) Assign a number to each shelving case and a number to each shelf (e.g. shelving case #1: shelf 1.1, shelf 1.2, etc.; shelving case #2: shelf 2.1, shelf 2.2, etc.) and add that information to the label on the shelf (e.g. “3.4. 1996 March–June”).
(7) Get Filemaker Pro and create an inventory: play with it, get to know it, and decide what categories or fields you want to sort your work into (e.g. title, date, medium, caption, location, etc.). The location field should include the shelf label information, so that you can look up each work in the inventory and find out where it is located in the shelves.
This program will also work for all the books that are now in your bookcase, and the paper documents that are now in your filing system.
If you do this one step at a time, you will have an amazing sense of accomplishment each time you complete a step. And by the time you get to the end of it, you will feel really GREAT.
I’ve just sent you the documentation from 6 March this year (our first process event at the Rijks) and some other fun bits and pieces for now, via WeTransfer.
What was your anecdote about Ron Athey???!!!
So very curious. One of the only male artists (gay, queer) in the art world/s living now who I can truly stomach… :)
Here is a ‘Horse Cloud’ image of what is hanging in the Rijks studio now, and an image of ‘Carolee / Sands Magic Hair Pyramid’; + 3 x ‘Working 2000’ works as a memorial to Carolee and my relationship. I think of Erykah Badu’s song ‘Telephone’ as I am on an old style phone calling up to Carolee… (in my imagination, I was actually talking to a salesperson at Ronald Feldman Gallery in NYC buying a Hannah Wilke work).
I’m leaving the both images huge so you can see details. I had these works printed and fabricated. It’s real gold leaf in a hand carved frame, all frames are quite special here, I love framing / having things framed!
More soon, off to email Megan our folder of correspondence!
Left: ‘Carolee – for Carolee Schneemann (1939–2019) produced in the of ‘Gift Science Archive’.
Right: ‘Horse Cloud’ (c. 2014–2020), accumulation of drawings organized by Megan Hoetger, Radna Rumping, Amalia Calderón and SMW at Rijksakademie van beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, 2020 in frame of ‘Gift Science Archive’. https://rijksakademie.nl/en/residents-alumni-advisors-team/sands-murray-wassink.
13 September 2020
dear aimar, here is the documentation from our first ‘process event’ VALUE: WHAT IS TRASH? WHAT IS TRASHY BUT VALUABLE on 6 march 2020 at the rijksakademie. and some black and white self portraits from a series of 60 trying to look like hannah wilke in ‘s.o.s. starification object series’ from the 70s, and a photo sculpture in the collection of the stedelijk museum from 1996 called ‘I’m proud of myself!’. the b/w photos are from the year before, 1995 when i was still at https://www.de-ateliers.nl.
I’m Proud of Myself.jpg
SMW, ‘I'm Proud of Myself!’ (1996), sculpture with 10 x 15 cm C-prints and salon table. Collectie Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
‘Identity Shots or Before Robin, After Hannah Wilke’ from a series of 60 self-portraits, self-shot by SMW, 1995.
Documentation from ‘Gift Science Archive Process Event #1: VALUE’ (2020), workshop at Rijksakademie van beeldende Kunsten, 16:01 (color and sound) with editing by Robin Wassink-Murray. https://ificantdance.org/gift-science-archive-process-event-1-value-what-is-trash-what-is-trashy-but-valuable.