16 August 2020
It is so hot here, and has been so hot, for days, that waiting for the heat to subside I feel like I’m with a sort of emotional hangover…
Just fairly short for now. I am very excited that you sent me something in the post. In the next days I will be sending you another one of my books Profeminist WHITE FLOWERS to please give to Jeleton with my many greetings. I want them to have one.
I had heard of them before and was even vaguely familiar with their work. I can’t remember the exact contexts where I heard about them but I felt drawn intuitively to their energies.
So much to say, but I have a deadline and a few appointments next week before that deadline so want to take a bit more time to answer your first email back to me about my Perdu poetry foundation letter and about the copy of my book I sent you.
So, please bear with me, I hope to have responses to you by the end of / this time next week. Megan Hoetger, who originally wrote you from If I Can’t Dance to ask you to participate in this exchange of ours, asked me for an icon for their database to click on to access our correspondences. Please find my suggestion to her attached, it’s a drawing I made around 1998 when I was 24 and have only just now brought into public via our archiving with IICD / If I Can’t Dance. It’s a desperate work positioning me firmly in the art world as a personally ambitious artist.
I am HIV+ since 2006. In the first few pages of my book Profeminist WHITE FLOWERS this is stated—it was totally by accident that this appeared so easily accessible in the beginning of the book. I had no idea it was there in print until people started to comment on it after I had sent the book to them. I’m on combination therapy since around 2011 and am now living with an undetectable viral load. Lots to say on this topic but will leave it for my next responses to you.
My husband Robin whom I am together with since 1996 is Dutch, and yes I speak fluent Dutch and even work as an adviser in Dutch to the Mondriaan Foundation. But it is a complicated country to integrate into, I will go into detail about that in the upcoming responses as well.
You will never disappoint me. What you have sent so far makes me very happy and gives me ideas to communicate also in pictures, my messy studio and workdesk, etc.
After about the 20th of August I expect to give this exchange of ours ever more time.
For now many many greetings and much thanks,
SMW, ‘Call Me or Die’ (1996), Thought Drawing, A4 size in frame, liquorice-scented black marker on paper.
22 August 2020
Scanning of both sides of a plastic comb bought by Aimar in the Old Town of Bilbao as a trashy gift for Sands.
24 August 2020
Just a short note because I keep forgetting it these past days… I sent Jeleton a signed book of mine c/o your address in Bilbao! Could you please give it to them? Thank you!
I will write more soon. I just barely met my deadline last Thursday which is not really normal for me. I thought I had writer’s block which never happens, and then I went through my 30 pages of stream of consciousness text / typing (how I always start to work on written projects) and copy / pasted something together which I think I like even more than the Perdu letter!
This new text is for www.metropolism.com a Dutch art magazine who commissioned me to write a letter from text as a self portrait for a feature they are doing on artists they feel are vital to the fabric of art/life here in NL. I feel / felt honored. And wanted to do it justice. I wrote about corporeality and competition. If only I could ‘make my world’ through writing / typing it! :)
Hope this finds you very well. And till soon again.
25 August 2020
Thanks for your note. I’ll wait for the book for Jeleton and make sure they get it. Jeleton are Jesús and Gelen. She (Gelen) currently lives in Mexico City on a postdoctoral fellowship for an art and community project with women in prison. Jesús lives in Barcelona where he runs the bookstore-coop ‘La Caníbal’. Most probably I will be in Barcelona at the end of September and I’ll give Jesús the book in hand.
I’ve been also wanting to write you a note to tell you that my little postal letter to you left Bilbao only a couple of days ago. I’m very slow lately—this is not an excuse, it is just a recognition of a fact. I have been in the middle of this new relationship since the beginning of the year that gives me a lot but also takes a lot from me. For example, it has seriously affected my concentration levels, which is not necessarily a bad thing and I’m finding some pleasure in working through dispersion. Let’s say that I’m adjusting to a new me :) In a future letter, I might use you as a love counsellor as I’m sure you can give me good advice! Another reason why I didn’t put my letter in the post before is that, when I received your book I thought about sending you Jeleton’s short-guide in return. But the local art bookstore is closed for the holidays and I won’t be able to get a copy until next week. I’ll send it to you in the near future.
I have continued reading your book. After your last message, I decided to go to the first pages and follow a certain order. I appreciate the energy of your writing. In fact, I envy it. My writing is more self-contained, because I myself am more self-contained than you. I have never practised autobiographical writing; for example, I have never kept a journal when I was younger. And yet, I’ve always been a fervent reader of biographies, partly because of my mythomania—I could spend hours talking about the summer of 2000 and the amount of biographies of Warhol and his troupe that I read that summer, starting of course with ‘From A to B and Back Again’.
It was exciting to know that one of the sources of the energy behind your writing, and your book, are the diaries by Eva Hesse. Coincidentally, I briefly discussed her diaries the other day with a friend, on a car trip to San Sebastian to see a performance by the Basque artist Jon Mikel Euba—someone who belongs to IICD’s extended family and whose relationship with writing is more technical than energetic, which interests me equally. I am not quite sure whether I have read Hesse’s diaries or not. I probably went through them in English during my college years, but I can’t recall—as Pierre Bayard suggests, insofar as reading is the place of evanescence, it is difficult to know for sure whether one has read a book or not. Eva Hesse’s diaries are not translated into Spanish but excerpts are mentioned by Lucy Lippard in her biography of Hesse, which is translated.
My friend shared with me a little quote from the Hesse diaries mentioned by Lippard, apparently from the entry corresponding to February 28, 1967, which ends with the following sentence that prefigures the moment in which we all are now, including you and me: “detached but intimate / personal”.
26 August 2020
Thanks for contacting, and welcome back! Indeed, a full publication of the results of our epistolary exchange at the end of September does feel soon. Here I speak for myself, although I have the feeling that Sands will agree, so far our joyful exchanges are serving to identify and delimit a possible field of themes, sensations, to further venture ourselves into. But I do not feel that we are following a single thread, nor that we have delved into anything major yet.
Although perhaps, weaving that network of possibilities is in itself a valid form of exchange and our goal should not be to ‘deepen’ or ‘delve into’ anything.
In the recent past I have wondered about the discomfort that the words we habitually use to speak of research and knowledge production—to deepen, to penetrate, to unearth…—bring on in me. These are words that drag centuries of violence and oppression along with them. Instead, I have advocated for the possibilities of staying ’on the surface’, and for the opportunities that attending to what things already say on the surface, without necessarily holding to them or deepening into them. Sands: does any of this resonate with you?
Going back to Megan’s proposal, the possibility of starting at the end of September and adding elements from there through the fall seems like a good plan to me!
Next week I’m pretty busy but I can be available for a zoom meeting with you on Thursday, 3rd of September morning or afternoon. Let me know if this works for you.
31 August 2020
Please see Word document attached. I have a lot of questions for you about language, countries, the Global South, Chile, etc.
but want to get this off to you today and I have given all I can give now energywise…
Hoping this finds you very well!!
The ‘Pie Bible’ pdfs here are referred to in the email / letter / Word document.
Messiness is my forté if you haven’t yet noticed! I learned about about structured messiness from Carolee! Spontaneity from Hannah, Rigor from Adrian…
‘Probing’ is a bit of an idiotic word, apologies. I have as it happens an anal HPV treatment scheduled, or more a medical ‘procedure’, this Wednesday in connection with my HIV. Not looking forward… :(
But I’ve had these before. It’s usually pretty routine.
On a brighter note, I have decided to make Aimar a Youtube music video playlist with ‘Sands Music’ to include on the If I Can’t Dance Studio online platform with our epistolary exchange :))) I am quite excited about this… I thought of Spotify but for general access and various reasons Youtube seems most appropriate.
28 August 2021 (letter from the other day)
Addendum (see letter from 29 September 2020 for full text):
31 August 2020
You could see this as a p.s. to my letter from the other day. I can I think come across as offensive and callous, privileged, smug even. I am not sure. I am doing my best to give you everything (mainly confusion and frustration and willful passion) which I always try to do to give people all that they might need in dealing with me in any way. Like stating which pronouns I use I guess (he, him, his).
More soon. In excitement.
Your letters and what comes with them is perfection.
Elke Silvia Krystufek might have found me too intense but these (Austrian / ) Viennese artists are so up their own asses… :) (I mean this in a tongue-in-cheek way…VALIE EXPORT and I have a certain history too… and VALIE’s friend Kirsten Justesen www.kirstenjustesen.com in Copenhagen).
See attached for what this refers to… x
Bit tired after an intense medical day have to leave it at this for now…
p.s. first excited surface response to your much appreciated physical letter (email subject)
SMW, ‘Institutions Are Questionable’ (2018), Horse Painting, approximately 300 x 150cm. Studio shot. acrylic paint on fabric. Photo print gift of work for Aimar.