Proteoscope » war of words The Blog of Proteus Gowanus Thu, 12 Nov 2015 16:51:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Signing off… Fri, 11 Jan 2013 17:21:13 +0000 With this post I am signing off on War of Words. Thank you Sasha Chavchavadze and Tammy Pittman for letting me play in the Proteus Gowanus sandbox for the last few months. And thank you as well to all of the participating artists and readers of this blog.

Out with the old…in with the new….


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Regrets. On second thought, make that Optimism. Fri, 11 Jan 2013 16:46:34 +0000 Some last words in the War of Words Regrets is the title of Stephanie Brody Lederman’s work that was in the War of Words show. And Regrets is the word I would use to describe the fact that I never got around to sharing all of the work in the show. But that’s about to be remedied with a bit of Optimism (the title of Reed Seifer’s work).

So, I’ll channel a little Optimism here as I squeeze in all of the remaining War of Words works. Why?eeessss!

Here we go (in no particular order)….

Lance Rutledge. Why?eeeeeeesssss! Painting. Lance’s website.

Stephanie Brody Lederman. Regrets.  Drawing/Painting on paper. Stephanie’s website.

Barbara Caruso and bpnichol. H. Artists Book. Presented by Granary Books. Granary’s website.

Reed Seifer. Works from the Optimism Project. Metrocard, Buttons, Print. Optimism website.

Rosaire Appel. They Went Back and Forth Until Dawn. Collage and unique artists book. Rosaire’s site and blog.

Anli Liu. No (Binary) and Yes (Binary). Mounted embroidery. Anli’s website.

Artifact of bookworm-eaten pages from the collection of Sasha Chavchavadze. Sasha’s website.

And last, but not least…

Pure Products USA. Fuck Snow Globe. Pure Products website.


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Reading Report Thu, 10 Jan 2013 18:11:45 +0000

Sasha Chavchavadze reading from “The Poets Duel”  as Wendy Walker, one of the event organizers, looks on.

It might be considered a tradition at this point. It being an evening of readings related to the Proteus Gowanus year-long theme organized by Proteotypes’ publishers/editors (and authors) Tom LaFarge and Wendy Walker.

I asked if they would do such an event during War of Words portion of the Battle year (knowing they couldn’t resist with a title like that). They came up with a great list of texts (see below) and found some wonderful readers very close to home (many who are members of the Writhing Society, the ad hoc literary group that meets most Wednesdays in the gallery to practice various forms of constrained writing).

And so, on very cold and dark December 15th a small group gathered to hear…

William Burroughs, “Word Authority More Habit Forming Than Heroin,” The Burroughs File (read by Angelo Pastormerlo)

Kurban Said (aka Lev Nussinbaum), Chapter 5, “The Poets’ Duel,” Ali and Nino (read by Gallery Founding Director, Sasha Chavchavadze)

Jane Collier, “To Parents,” An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting (read by Carrie Cooperider)

Paul Metcalf, “Bash Bish”, Apalache (read by Tom LaFarge)

Ben Marcus, The Flame Alphabet (read by Wendy Walker)

Anonymous, “The wicked who would do me harm,” The Rattle Bag, ed. Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes (read by Michael Flory)

Thank you Tom, Wendy and readers/performers for an inspiring evening of War of Words word-slinging. Bang!


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Out There (4) Tue, 08 Jan 2013 20:33:01 +0000

Mémoires by Guy Debord and Asger Jorn behind glass at the New York Art Book Fair.

Out There: in which we dig up War of Words related works.

What would have been the classic War of Words book (mentioned in the previous post) escaped our grasp for the exhibition, but it deserves a place here on our virtual bookshelf. Take a look. Mémoires (1959), by Guy Debord and Asger Jorn, was guaranteed to rub other books the wrong way with its sandpaper dust jacket. I spied it at this year’s New York Art Book Fair at PS1 behind glass and with a price tag of $3500. Also see a found image of the book opened to the title page.

Title page of Mémoires

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The Catching Up Post Tue, 08 Jan 2013 19:51:27 +0000 Would have, could have, should have written a bit more about the show and events. So now a little “catch up.”

Stills from Can Dialectics Break Bricks?

Events and Détournments. Keith Sanborn came by and screened “Can Dialectics Break Bricks?” a classic Situationist film by René Viénet and one of the few extant examples of détourned film. Keith is a scholar, curator, artist, media-maker and translator and he was the translator of the film. A bit about the event can be found here. For those missed the screening, the film can be found online at UbuWeb.

I invited Keith to screen this film because there was a thread in the exhibition that owed a bit of debt to the strategy of Détournement or was a nod to the Situationists. Carrie Cooperider presented My Romance by Gordon Lish: A Contradiction, a work-in-progress that used an old German comic book as the underlying structure upon which she created a “Western” where the action and story arc centered around the library in town and employed all sorts of literary references including Proust. Some dialogue:

“It’s Jesse James!!”
“The other brother of … Henry James!!”

My Romance by Gordon Lish: A Contradiction by Carrie Cooperider


The Correct Sadist by Terence Sellers, Interactive Version by Angelo Pastormerlo

Angelo Pastormerlo’s book/sculpture loosely recalled the sandpaper-covered book, Mémoires by Guy Debord and Asger Jorn. His transgressive book not only didn’t play nice with other books on the shelves, but it was a trick just to place on the shelf without drawing a bit of blood. Entry number 2 from Angelo was his typewriter sculpture Qwertesean Typewriter (shown below), a writing device which emphatically enforces the constraint of left-handed typing.

Qwertesian Typewriter by Angelo Pastormerlo

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Yes or No? Sat, 15 Dec 2012 18:13:48 +0000 On indeterminacy, serendipity, fluxus, positivity and negativity—and how
I learned to love surprise.

Inspired by John Cage’s ideas of indeterminacy and fueled by the topic of “war of words,” I thought it might be interesting to organize a hive-mind piece that used just 2 words—Yes or No—in a virtual face-off. It was an experiment…a let’s-see-what-happens approach to curating.

When I ran it by director Tammy Pittman (who was also an inspiration for her Objects show), she thought it was interesting and so we sent out an open call .

A few days later I came across an image of an early Fluxus piece by Benjamin Patterson—a card which states simply: “please answer this question carefully”  and then there were two check boxes, one “yes” and one “no.”

I cringed. It’s been done already, I thought…or something very close to it.  But the truth is when you throw an idea out there and give up control, it will always come back anew with a few surprises.

Yes-or-No wasn’t what I imagined (but that was the point, no?) yet it inspired 55 artists to do what THEY imagined. And they did some amazing things…stop by the gallery and take a closer look.

Yes-or-N0 Artists

Row 1 Lisa Cirando, Jan Kruse, Anne Saunders, Lisanne McTerran, Tyrie Kauff
Row 2
Michael Flory, Wayne Kral, Teresa Von Fuchs, Susan Happersett, Jonathan Lux
Row 3
Emily Haydock, Donna Maria de Creeft, Sarah Bodman, Aarati Akkaped, Lily Angotti
Row 4
Dikko Faust, Fred Bendheim, Julie Harrison, Angelo Pastormerlo, Diane Bertolo
Row 5
Travis Schmeisser, Rachael Heinold (with Todd Beers), Jamie McPartland, Drew Pisarra, Paula Berge
Row 6
Molly Biance Gross, Anne D. Bernstein, Todd Beers (with Rachel Heinold), Vincent Lai, Matt Allison
Row 7
Rosaire Appel, Brendan Loper, Thomas Wilk, Elizabeth Whalley, Tom LaFarge
Row 8
Elizabeth Albert, Janet Tsakis, Tammy Pittman, Wendy Walker, Sarah Edkins
Row 9
My Life As A Collage, Paul Bravmann, Matthew Shelley, Eric Schurink, Alexis Myre
Row 10
T J Hospodar, Maria Schurr, Yorgo Vetter, Charlotte Hall, William Considine
Row 11
Manuela Paul, 0H10MIKE, Dustin Harewood, Lucy Edkins, Lauren Raheja

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Out There (3) Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:05:57 +0000 Out There: in which we dig up War of Words related works.

Dear Lucy — a letter to Lucy Lippard from Nancy Spero in 1971. So perfect…no further words needed from me.

The letter is from the Lucy Lippard papers at the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institute.






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Words. And plenty of them. Sun, 09 Dec 2012 15:26:33 +0000 (more on War of Words)

Opinionated. Cranky. Smart. Funny.

You could write a good deal about William Powhida’s work or you could settle with those four words and it would be ok.

Powhida’s work is the kind of funny that’s painful…as they say “the truth hurts” and he dishes it out in beautiful, jam-packed, cranky drawings that are awesome to behold. Most people love the drawings that slam the art world (while that very art world embraces them—oh irony). But more recently, he has expanded his circle and just about every place of power is fair game.

Detail from “Where Does Power Come From Anyway”

The piece in the War of Words show is a critique of power— political, cultural, philosophical—disguised as a field guide (money power, star power, consumer power, etc.) and presented as a drawing. A war of words, yes!

Take a look at the piece online (enlarge for details) and check out his tumblr or website while you’re clicking.


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Redaction (-ish) Mon, 03 Dec 2012 00:35:58 +0000 A short post that got lost in the shuffle as Sandy hit our shores (and basement):

If redaction is a conscious removal of words then we can add Ligorano/Reese’s melting ice sculptures to the list. The sculptures in question are hot-topic, push-your-buttons political words created in ice, installed in public locations and left there until their demise.

The latest of these were installed in public spots at both the Republican and Democratic conventions. The words this time around were Middle Class.

Of course we don’t have the ice sculptures in the gallery, but we do have a video that uses stop-motion editing to tell the story of the demise of Democracy, Economy, and Middle Class. If you can’t make it to the gallery, visit to view the videos of the most recent works.

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why?eeeessss! Mon, 26 Nov 2012 18:09:31 +0000 Yes, we’re back!

The lights are on. The heat is on. The show is reinstalled. Events are scheduled and happening.

And despite this virtual space not really being down, let’s just say this space is back too!

To the left (top to bottom), evidence that the show is back up: works by Stephanie Brody-Lederman, Lance Rutledge and Angelo Pastormerlo. More on these and other works/artists soon.

And please visit our events page for details about upcoming events: Film screening of “Can Dialectics Break Bricks?” this Friday, November 30th and a talk by David Bukszpan, author of “Is That a Word?” on December 1st. And more to follow!

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