Aaron here today with Daryl Seitchik; The End of Paper Jam; Comics for Troubled Times; More Mould Map; Cursed, Accursed Books; KGB Comix Night; Sign up for the Correspondence Course, why don’t you?
Seitchik’s work has always addressed isolation, alienation and the nagging sense of anxiety that comes when one doesn’t feel like they fit into society. That sense of alienation in part addresses her status as a woman and the othering that is experienced on a daily basis, but there’s a more existential level to it as well. The classic problem of existentialism as a way of understanding the world is that it has absolutely no connection to ethics, the central question of which is “What do we do about others?” I might exist, but how do I connect with others, especially in a world where so many human relationships are what the philosopher Martin Heidgegger might describe as Zuhandenheit, or “ready-to-hand”. That is, we think of others as a means to an end and not unlike other objects in the world that have a certain function.
No More Paper Jams
Robin Enrico announced that he would be ending the bi-annual Paper Jam Small Press Festival after a 3-year run. This was a wonderful show, emphasizing small press work, featuring a different set of artists each show, free to the public, free to table at, it will be missed.
That said. If there is never another Paper Jam, I am proud of what my co-curators and I have accomplished. In many ways there might not need to be another edition of Paper Jam. In the three years since I put on the first the festival, there has been an explosion in the number of micro conventions happening in New York City. I see small press events happening almost every week now. Three years ago this was far from the norm. I could not ask for a better outcome. I would happily hand this torch in a new form to someone else to carry forward.
Situationist International Comics
James Barrett has posted a bunch of comics work from the Situationist International, an organization of social revolutionaries made up of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, prominent in Europe from its formation in 1957 to its dissolution in 1972.
Three detoured comics and an appropriated image from the Situationist International. These are copyright free if not used for the purposes of profit. Taken from “Leaving the 20th century: The Incomplete Work of the Situationist International”.
Speaking of SI, here’s an excerpt from ‘The Situationists and New Forms of Action Against Politics and Art’, by René Viénet, Internationale Situationniste #11, October 1967, translated from the French by Ken Knabb:
What we have to do is link up the theoretical critique of modern society with the critique of it in acts. By detourning the very propositions of the spectacle, we can directly reveal the implications of present and future revolts.
I propose that we pursue:
1. Experimentation in the détournement of photo-romances and “pornographic” photos, and that we bluntly impose their real truth by restoring real dialogues [by adding or altering speech bubbles]. This operation will bring to the surface the subversive bubbles that are spontaneously, but only fleetingly and half-consciously, formed and then dissolved in the imaginations of those who look at these images. In the same spirit, it is also possible to detourn any advertising billboards — particularly those in subway corridors, which form remarkable sequences — by pasting pre-prepared placards onto them.
2. The promotion of guerrilla tactics in the mass media — an important form of contestation, not only at the urban guerrilla stage, but even before it. The trail was blazed by those Argentinians who took over the control station of an electronic bulletin board and used it to transmit their own directives and slogans. It is still possible to take advantage of the fact that radio and television stations are not yet guarded by troops. On a more modest level, it is known that any amateur radio operator can at little expense broadcast, or at least jam, on a local level; and that the small size of the necessary equipment permits a great mobility, enabling one to slip away before one’s position is trigonometrically located. A group of Communist Party dissidents in Denmark had their own pirate radio station a few years ago. Counterfeit issues of one or another periodical can add to the enemy’s confusion. This list of examples is vague and limited for obvious reasons.
The illegality of such actions makes a sustained engagement on this terrain impossible for any organization that has not chosen to go underground, because it would require the formation within it of a specialized subgroup — a division of tasks which cannot be effectual without compartmentalization and thus hierarchy, etc. Without, in a word, finding oneself on the slippery path toward terrorism. We can more appropriately recall the notion of propaganda by deed, which is a very different matter. Our ideas are in everybody’s mind, as is well known, and any group without any relation to us, or even a few individuals coming together for a specific purpose, can improvise and improve on tactics experimented with elsewhere by others. This type of unconcerted action cannot be expected to bring about any decisive upheaval, but it can usefully serve to accentuate the coming awakening of consciousness. In any case, there’s no need to get hung up on the idea of illegality. Most actions in this domain can be done without breaking any existing law. But the fear of such interventions will make newspaper editors paranoid about their typesetters, radio managers paranoid about their technicians, etc., at least until more specific repressive legislation has been worked out and enacted.
3. The development of situationist comics. Comic strips are the only truly popular literature of our century. Even cretins marked by years at school have not been able to resist writing dissertations on them; but they’ll get little pleasure out of reading ours. No doubt they’ll buy them just to burn them. In our task of “making shame more shameful still,” it is easy to see how easy it would be, for example, to transform “13 rue de l’Espoir [hope]” into “ 1 blvd. du Désespoir [despair]” merely by adding a few elements; or balloons can simply be changed. In contrast to Pop Art, which breaks comics up into fragments, this method aims at restoring to comics their content and importance.
4. The production of situationist films. The cinema, which is the newest and undoubtedly most utilizable means of expression of our time, has stagnated for nearly three quarters of a century. To sum it up, we can say that it indeed became the “seventh art” so dear to film buffs, film clubs and PTAs. For our purposes this age is over (Ince, Stroheim, the one and only L’Age d’or, Citizen Kane and Mr. Arkadin, the lettrist films), even if there remain a few traditional narrative masterpieces to be unearthed in the film archives or on the shelves of foreign distributors. We should appropriate the first stammerings of this new language — in particular its most consummate and modern examples, those which have escaped artistic ideology even more than American “B” movies: newsreels, previews and, above all, filmed ads.
“Penguin books-style pamphlets describe ancient lizard-people and mushroom parasites”
The Mould Map 6: TERRAFORMERS exhibition is reviewed by Jacob Charles Wilson at The Double Negative.
What’s clear is that the idea of the future has continually been presented and understood through publishing cultures. The concept of Terraformers itself resembles the design and aims of the British magazine Quest, or an issue of the radical ecological DIY magazine Whole Earth; drawing on hippy culture, late-‘60s technocratic solutions, and communist, feminist leanings. Given Frost and Sadler’s own backgrounds are in publishing, I wanted to find out why they decided that this issue should be an exhibition.
“Many of the artists whose comics and graphics we’ve published also work with sculpture, video, textiles or painting etc.”, they tell me; “works that don’t necessarily translate well or at all in print. Also, it’s been such a pleasure meeting people in the space. If they follow Mould Map, or have never heard of it, it’s just been a much more social project for us.
“On the downside, the longevity of a printed artefact is hard to replicate, which makes us quite concerned about documenting things properly, so we’ll be using photography, drone video footage and 3D scanning equipment to capture the show.”
Protect Your Library the Medieval Way, With Horrifying Book Curses
Sarah Laskow looks at Marc Drogin’s book Anathema! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses.
Given the extreme effort that went into creating books, scribes and book owners had a real incentive to protect their work. They used the only power they had: words. At the beginning or the end of books, scribes and book owners would write dramatic curses threatening thieves with pain and suffering if they were to steal or damage these treasures.
They did not hesitate to use the worst punishments they knew—excommunication from the church and horrible, painful death. Steal a book, and you might be cleft by a demon sword, forced to sacrifice your hands, have your eyes gouged out, or end in the “fires of hell and brimstone.”
Post-Thanksgiving KGB Comix Night
Co-hosted by Robyn Chapman and Robin Enrico. Sunday, November 27, 7-9pm, KGB Bar, 85 E 4th St, NYC.
Featuring readings by:
- A. T. Pratt
- Whit Taylor
- Steph Guez (better known as Stephanie Rodriguez)
- Robyn Chapman
- Bjorn Daniel Miner