Creative Publishings: An Online Exhibition

Over the past year, MC Hyland facilitated two online seminars instructing cohorts of writers on the art, theory and practice of independent publishing. Below are new works by nine seminar participants, exhibiting the breadth of practices and perspectives the seminar nurtures.

Featuring: C. Bain, Mandana Chaffa, Sherese Francis, Jaime Groetsema, Erin Honeycutt, Natalie Lawler, Jane Marchant, Tarnynon Onumonu, and Caterina Stamou.

Identity Contagion (2021)
C. Bain

Performance Lecture. Watch HERE.
Performance documentation of an experimental lecture delivered on zoom.
24 minutes and 25 seconds

“Identity Contagion” is a multimedia performance piece linking autobiography, queer histories, and imperiled species survival in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conceived as a closure exercise for a series of personal losses, fused with narratives of violence and survival of queer bodies and communities across history, this piece juxtaposes a sequence of images and video with a performative-experimental lyric lecture. Many of the images are appropriated, but some are made by the artist. At times the image-score is harmonious or didactic, with the lecture, at other times the purpose of the images is disjuncture. The piece aims to create connections between COVID-19, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the Black Plague, and other forms of bodily precarity, and relate those, in turn, to the self as site of empathy. This presentation of the confessional, the erased, the unsayable, and the shiftingly subjective nature of experience as a parody of an academic lecture highlights the problematic nature of the knowledge project, and the legacies of positivist, colonial relations to an objective truth that have dominated western thought since the Enlightenment.

This piece is both site- and temporally specific. It was conceived and developed for the condition of the art-worker being isolated, in a strange city which is actively haunted by its own legacies and circulating creative energies. It also engages deliberately with the condition of quarantine and social distancing, and is formally adapted for zoom. It was presented at the Only Verbs festival at CalArts, hosted by Gabrielle Civil and featuring work by imogen xtian smith, River Collins, and Seamus Pert.

Nowruz Journal (2021)
Mandana Chaffa

Online Literary Journal. View HERE.
Nowruz Journal is an annual online periodical of Persian arts and letters, encompassing fiction, poetry, essay, reviews and commentary, translation and artwork. Its first issue was launched in March 2021.

Binding a Divine Multiplicity Into One (2021)
Sherese Francis

Single-Hole Fastener Bound Book, Grout Grey/Steel Blue Paper
11 pages
5 inches x 7 inches

These three pictures show what will be in the final version of the chapbook. The first is a draft version of the book cover . Second is the sigil of Sherese Francis’ name, which will be on the back page of each poem page. Last is a picture of a couple of the poems that will be in the chapbook. Binding a Divine Multiplicity into One will be shaped like a tarot or oracle card deck and bound with a single-hole fastener to make it easy for readers to shuffle through the poems like an actual deck.

Mark Gonzales Archive (2021)
Jaime Groetsema

Artist’s Book
Stab stitch binding; waxed linen thread; cover stock given to me by Sol López; 32lb printer stock.
42 pages
4.25 inches x 5.5 inches x .5 inches

Mark Gonzales Archive is a work that addresses how archives collect, document, and represent counter-cultures. By focusing on the contributions of Mark Gonzales, a principal figure in skateboarding, this work is a space to think deeply about what constitutes the artifacts of this culture, ways in which cultural material aid memory, notions of technological mediation, and whether these objects can or should be collected by archives.

Frontispiece image of Mark & Tommy copyright Claudine Gossett Photography. Screen capture of ‘Classics – EMB Gonz Kickflip’ copyright Thrasher Magazine.

The Cactus Conspiracy (2020)
Erin Honeycutt

Artist’s Book
The Cactus Conspiracy is bound by envelope. Inside the envelope is included three items: an accordion pamphlet, an A1 poster from the exhibition ‘The Cactus Chronicles’, and a hand-bound, pamphlet-stitch booklet.
9.8 inches × 13.9 inches

A darkly comic nonlinear metanarrative combining personal biography and theoretical reflections on the work of French-Belgian poet/painter Henri Michaux (1899-1984), exploring the place of art, death, inspiration, the occult, and altered consciousness. Composed while the author completed her academic studies in the history of Western Esotericism, in particular on the work of Henri Michaux, this text interweaves narratives of her own life with her readings of the intense, otherworldly history, poems and paintings of Michaux and his search for a universal language. She situates this reading in the context of occult modernism through the ekphrasis of medieval alchemical visions in which the many instances of verbalizing invisible or immaterial processes would turn to analogies and similes to help convey the idea through comparison. The author narrates the experience of simultaneously studying Michaux in Amsterdam while preparing an exhibition of her work in Berlin, entitled ‘The Cactus Chronicles,’ consisting of blown-up photographs she and her father took of cactus trees while on a road trip to New Mexico when she was a teenager.

The photos were taken with a disposable 135mm camera, and with the lapse of time, she no longer knows which photos were taken by her and which by her father. In line with the significance in several mystical traditions on the number seven, the author’s father dies seven years after the road trip on which the photos were taken and the exhibition takes place seven years again from the time of his death. Following the axiom that the first ‘novels’ were spiritual autobiographies, she feels as though she has stepped into something she begins to call the ‘Cactus Conspiracy’ in a unique blend of biography and engagement with the history of Occult modernism and the search for some kind of esoteric truth.

Alabastradas (homenaje) (2021)
Natalie Lawler

Artist’s Book. Watch HERE.
Digital print on uncoated paper, long stitch binding with silk thread.
16 pages.
11.5 centimeters x 7 centimeters x 0.25 centimeters

Alabastradas (homenaje) is an homage to two turn-of-the-century Latin American poets, Delmira Agustini and Alfonsina Storni. This illustrated artist’s book weaves their verses to examine color language, mythological whiteness, feminine purity, and impure agency. It cites three poems: ‘Tú me quieres blanca,’ by Alfonsina Storni (1918); ‘La estatua’ by Delmira Agustini (1908); ‘Nocturno’ by Delmira Agustini (1913).

An Extraordinarily Condensed Pocket Encyclopedia of Botany of the San Francisco Bay Area (2021)
Jane Marchant

Artist’s Book
This is a work in progress, and currently only in digital form. The end product may use nettles to dye the paper the perfect shade of green.
265 pages
4 inches x 6 inches

Studying encyclopedias as far back as Pliny the Elder’s, through the 1800s to modern-day field guides, I am writing “An Extraordinarily Condensed Pocket Encyclopedia of Botany of the San Francisco Bay Area,” taking the form of an antique encyclopedia. Through 35+ plant entries found in the garden I grew up in and a neighboring regional park, I tell the story of how my parents met, had three children, and got divorced; when my father moved out, our garden died. But this is more than a coming-of-age memoir—it is a story of reconciling one’s identity as a mixed-race woman whose mother hid her racial identity from her children, and whose ancestors passed as white. Metaphors of disease, roots, and inheritance run through my “Encyclopedia of Botany,” as I realize that it was not the garden that connected our family—it was my mother.

My artistic practice combines scientific and historical research with traditional memoir and poetic techniques, as I meditate on memory, nostalgia, and truth. As my book progresses, each plant entry begins to experience entropy alongside the family and garden, at times breaking into stagnated poetics. At once a memoir, field guide, and work of cultural criticism, I am creating an interdisciplinary work of book art. Accompanying the plant entries (which function as chapters) are botanical plates that resonate with the overarching narrative, and their mediums include pressed flowers and analogue photographs I’ve created. Each plate is framed in an antique border, keeping in tone with the encyclopedic aesthetic. Additionally, maps of the garden and neighborhood enrich the visceral quality of my narrative.

Darker Girl Manifesto (2020)
Tarnynon Onumonu

Watch here
Black Construction Paper and Ink
12 inches x 18 inches

Darker Girl Manifesto is a self portrait and poem which serves to uplift and center Black Femmes who traditionally find themselves on the fringes of society. It pays homage to the broadsides of Dudley Randall’s Broadside Lotus Press and sings a similar tune to that of “the darker brother” in Langston Hughes’ “I, Too, Sing America.”

Darker Girl Manifesto

I am the darker girl
Relegated to a small corner
Ridiculed since antiquity
Pitted against continental other
Always the lesser of the better
I am the darker girl
Floating in the astral plane
Stretched far beyond breaking
Only redeemed by the rising Sun
I was only taught to nibble edges
Never eat from center
Never be the center
But you should know
Darkness provides lush fields for growth
I stumbled upon grace
Just above my head
And thank God I found it
Trudging through this muck
Navigating seas of blinded sight, distorted memory
With only golden thread to guide me
Dropped down from Heaven
But Heaven can wait
My work is here
Despite the ache

Visual Poems (2021)
Caterina Stamou

Digital print on coated paper, saddle stitc
32 pages
5.8 inches x 8.3 inches

Both as a writing process and a conceptual utterance, these visual poems were fueled by an ardent desire to cope with feelings of anxiety and loneliness inclicted by the pandemic. As a way against and out of a system which is incapable of taking care of us all, these poems came as a comfort within the search for a new language that activates itself from inward and experiments with visual, abstract and gestural expressions. This process lasted for over a year during the first and the long, second lockdown in Greece. All poems have been made with the use of materials (pens, pencils and markers) that were available on my desk while art supplies stores in central Athens were closed. Through these poems I opt for creating a visual art whose impetus exceeds financial capability, a language open for the schematic and the absurd and a writing so in love with itself that contemplates and progresses beyond logocentrism and conventional modes.

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