Tag Archives: collage

Lanternfish Press to publish my second novel

2 Apr
Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Celestial Fantasy with Tamara Toumanova), ca. 1940, collage and tempera on paperboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, 2002.58.36

I am so very delighted to share that I’ve just signed a contract with Lanternfish Press for my second novel, to be published sometime in 2022. Some of you following this blog may be familiar with bits and bobs from the book, which for many years had the working title Paralegal, and which tells the story of a diorama artist working as a paralegal during the economic crisis of 2008, in the same building in which the Bernie Madoff scandal explodes. (Binnie, the protagonist, is influenced by the surrealist artist Joseph Cornell, hence the choice in art for this post. This particular collage also been my laptop wallpaper for ages…) The project received early support from 4Culture and the Jack Straw Writing Program, and it’s so exciting to shepherd it on toward existence in the world!

ETA: Here is the official announcement from Lanternfish Press!

How Do I Fit This Ghost In My Mouth?

8 Sep

From Geoffrey Farmer's "The Surgeon and the Photographer" at the Vancouver Art Gallery

From Geoffrey Farmer’s “The Surgeon and the Photographer”

I’m grateful to have caught “How Do I Fit This Ghost in My Mouth?”, Geoffrey Farmer‘s exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery this weekend. I had never heard of Farmer, and I was entranced. “The Last Two Million Years” is a collage sculpture that takes up an entire room, comprised of hundreds of figures meticulously cut from a found Reader’s Digest encyclopedia of the same title. I was awed not just at the amount of work that went into the installation, but the impulse to pin down layers of ephemera–not only tiny details in a vast history that feels impossible to contain but also the fleetingness of the found book itself, which stands eviscerated as you exit the room.

The Surgeon and the Photographer” gathers images in a similar though more surreal manner, creating Dadaist characters from used books salvaged from a closed down used bookshop as well as fabrics. The sculptures are called puppets, suggesting one might inhabit them, give them voice and stories, and they’d be rich and complex stories indeed. Somehow this piece recalled for me a bizarre puppet movie I once saw as a tiny person, sitting alone in the attic in front of our old knobbed television tuned to a UHF channel. Faceless wooden mannequins sat chained in tubs of water and turned their heads, vaguely squeaking but unable to talk. I was utterly mesmerized and alarmed and had no idea what I was looking at.

The most thrilling installation for me was “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black” — an eerie room filled with moving sculptures made of old movie props (lion heads, snakes with blue light bulb teeth), a haunting soundscape (bells, chimes, wind), and lights that shift from green to red to blue so that when it finally becomes white, the colors of the objects are almost a shock. The room is programmed to last the duration of an entire day, and I was very tempted to try and experience it for that long.

Alas, we did not spend the entire day there. After leaving the museum, we encountered a zombie-themed wedding and wondered if the square outside Vancouver Art Gallery has a similar function to New York’s Union Square. On the beach by English Bay, at sunset, we saw someone make enormous soap bubbles that shrieking children and adults alike chased to pop. We found a wonderfully curated independent bookstore called Pulp Fiction (I picked up The Dud Avocado and M picked up Wanderlust), and we watched a man train an enormous pit bull puppy on Kitsilano Beach with the help of beautiful red husky, and we gorged ourselves on Ukrainian, Malaysian, and Italian food. We also found time to just sit still and read. And, thanks to Geoffrey Farmer and all kinds of other stimuli, I wrote a poem, possibly the first I’ve written that I actually kind of like. Maybe I’ll even send it out. Art wins!

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