Archive for the ‘BUILT’ Category


Monday, November 22nd, 2010

After laughing, coughing, cutting, burning, touching and screaming–breathe. Inhale the actions you live every day. Record your most familiar thought–the one you so often have but never do. This thought is a good idea. Trade it with someone for a piece of a second they wish to forget. Exhale your idea. Inhale their memory. Live in the piece given to you–imagining the entirety of the second that surrounds it–while its supplier holds your thought and makes it concrete.

2010 fall

“If ever a second of this footage is used without our consent, we’ll have to have another conversation.”

“I never signed anything, but promise the tapes won’t show up anywhere.”

Such dialogues often devolve from there. The moments we remember via the media we make are pre-commodified. That they should exist solely as artifacts of what Fluxus Movement founder, George Maciunas, described as “Non-Art Reality” is unbelievable. It confounds those who have made professions of spectacle and habits of profiting from it. Contracts, releases and agreements now define the digestibility of the experiences we consume before we so much as lift our forks to them. Maciunas described such commercial “bourgeois sickness” as EUROPANISM. He prescribed inclusive, democratic actions and editions as creative vaccines against it.

Fluxus participant, Yoko Ono, in her 1964 book, Grapefruit, playfully urges the readers of ‘COLLECTING PIECE II’ to place someone on a stage and examine them: weighing, measuring, counting, questioning, dismembering, burning and ultimately–recording. The question of what is to be recorded is open-ended–the performer, the observer and the process each equally valid subjects. The challenge in the seventh-step of ‘COLLECTING PIECE II’ is in making a recording with the same ambivalence expressed while counting and measuring.

Actively constructing objective recordings is difficult. Recordings are reflections of impressions etched on observers by a world perpetually demanding remembrance. Recordings are both the ways we’re bruised by the things we are and the burns that scar what we compulsively remember. The most beautiful recordings are those whose subjectivity screams so subversively that not a ripple of agenda disrupts the placid illusion of their objectivity.

THERE’S A SUCKER BORN EVERY SECOND is a 24-frame memory-scar–a silent one-second performance of ‘COLLECTING PIECE II’. In the guise of a series of freely exchanged t-shirts, SUCKER re-contextualizes a VISITOR-made recording to weigh the history of its subject; presenting her dismembered–24 times–while the conviction of her words is questioned and their meaning measured. SUCKER deconstructs a forbidden moment of Non-Art Reality in the interest of enticing its viewers to channel the radical energy of its subject’s work, Grapefruit. Inciting both thought and action while re-examining how willing a collaborative public is to participate in burning idols, SUCKER presents a conduit through which participants’ good-ideas are exchanged for conceptually commodified Yokos.

To participate in this free edition, visit http://www.vdny.net/sucker


Monday, September 13th, 2010

“Habib, you need to see this film. We have to start thinking about the posters. I’ll be in New York with a DVD–THE ONLY DVD–next week.” We met over sushi. I was instructed to watch and destroy the little piece of plexiglass within 24 hours. 24 hours later, armed with tin-snips and a nihilistic grin I clicked the hook of my speakerphone in the presence of a witness, destroyed the disc, discussed its contents and began thinking about the posters for Vincent Gallo’s new project, ‘Promises Written In Water’. This was late September of 2009.

Having seen, months before anyone, what was mutually agreed would become the most vilified project screened on the 2010 festival circuit was an honor. Having been asked to reflect its unflinching refusal to assume the role of anything remotely resembling what plot-device-dependent critics or attention deficient audiences consider ‘a movie’ was a privilege. ‘Promises’ isn’t a movie. I refer to it very intentionally as ‘a project’ because that’s what it is. It’s a psychological experiment. It’s the painting of a still-life rendered in extreme chiaroscuro that draws you in at a museum–the one you sit contemplating for 75 minutes while re-inventing the moment that inspired a painter to meditate upon a single frame of life for days, weeks or months before that meditation was considered a finished canvas.

Directors dream of the interactive film. They agonize over the technology to bring them there–acquiescing along the way to the lazy novelty of gimmickery like 3-D as a means to con some simulacra of ‘reality’ from the hackneyed concepts and overwrought exposition absent from a ‘real’ life rich in natural dimension and spontaneity. The efforts of Hollywood’s lo-com-denom-thinkers are for nought. The interactive film exists. It’s ‘Promises Written In Water’. Gallo’s already made it. Stop searching. Shut the server-farms DOWN.

The beauty of ‘Promises’ lies in its coarse simplicity. It’s simple because, with two exceptions, the anchors that make movies movies have been removed. It’s not that they never existed. They existed. They were consciously *removed*. The project wants nothing to do with digestiblity. It wants to be the fiber to wring the putrified celluloid waste from the creases of your mind and frankly, it doesn’t care if you can’t be bothered to see how psyllium makes that trash you consume just a little bit better for you. It doesn’t care precisely because it *IS* interrogative. It asks you to lend it your vulnerability–to use it as a mirror by which its constant and active retrieval and reconstruction of memory can become your own. It demands that you reflect with it upon the most absurd corner love has ever backed you into and that you impossibly throw that moment on the table, not as a memory, but as an object–EXACTLY as it existed as time–or how your stuttering mind wishes it ought to have happened. If the project fails to resonate with a viewer, half of that failure is rooted in the viewer’s own narcissistic inability to empathize. The other half of that failure is rooted in the viewer’s never having submitted to the wild winds of senseless, unconventional love. Primal interactivity. The viral film.

The documents branding ‘Promises Written In Water’, like the project itself, refuse to be movie posters. Each print is hand-burnished letterpress on unreasonably-fragile proof-weight newsprint. The letterpress blocks are roughly jigsaw cut from cheap, warped poplar and etched in such a way that only imperfect registration is assured. After rolling a soy-based ink atop the nearly 4′ x 2′ wood-block collage and rubbing the prints out one-by-one, they’re hung on a clothesline to dry for at least 3 days and then individually trimmed to size. The prints rip, dimple and dent with even the most precious of handling. Gallo calls them ‘paper-collectibles.’ I’m making exactly as many as we need–of these one-sheets and of the much-larger, more-complicated 2-sheets.


Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

This is the sibling sculpture to the female sex-traffic victim neon. Surprisingly—or maybe not—abducted boys who aren’t trafficked into rough-trade are generally indoctrinated into militias, armies or guerilla groups as child soldiers. I guess the pragmatism of that enterprise seemed to me a more shocking reality to illustrate than some easy homopedotableaux. That children are ever-increasingly racked as surplus resources to exploit and dispose of in the dumpsters of brothels or the mountains, jungles and deserts of countries in conflict is intriguing.

It’s intriguing because just as commonly, America’s becoming a stress-shocked, prescription-doped, permissive parent. It collectively glances away as its teens are enmeshed in sexually-coercive relationships where a notable trend of forced-breeding as branding starts blipping away on statisticians’ radars in beat to the cadence of the marching boots of plane-loads of teens drip-fed into the military’s surge-stream. Coercive breeding and American hegemony as opportunities for children to method-study an emotional atrophy once—maybe, hypocritically, still—considered so savage in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Near/Far East and South/Central America are now little more than extra-curricular pursuits American parents overlook on the busy agendas of their own children.

Additional info on They Grow Up Fast here.

Dimensions are around 80″ x 24″ x 30″.
3-stage neon sculpture on child’s school desk. Edition of 4 plus artist prototype.
Price available by request. The GIF below is animated
(depending on your browser, you may need to wait around 30 seconds for the animation to begin cycling).


Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I don’t have the attention span for creative blocks. I procrastinate my way around them by inventing newer/quicker projects to cough-up with Heimlich-like thrust. The first of what’ll be a two to four-issue stretch of M.D, F.A.C.S. Poetry Zine was my most recent heave of creative bulimia.

I was born on the Upper East Side of New York City. I’ve lived there most of my life. The neighborhood has the same perverse magnetism that homeless men shitting in phone booths, crime scenes, multi-car pile-ups, serial killers, bottled siamese fetuses and pregnant crack addicts have. It’s a Morrissey fan’s wet-dream–a wilted daisy to tear flaccid petals from–all the while mumbling,”she hates me. she hates me more.” The Upper East Side’s a bottomless banquet of pop-corn vulgarity and beer-battered decadence, and the shame I carry knowing that I’m an alum of the Madison Presbyterian Day School is enough to make me want to gift every anxious mommy-business-card-toting, wait-list-play-group-attending mother in the ‘hood an Hermes-boxed, stainless-steel razor blade for Christmas. That, or… write a zine.

M.D, F.A.C.S. is my trophy room. After a 2-week safari–armed with only a pen, a book of cloakroom check tickets and an intimate familiarity with the migratory habits of the garishly wealthy–I’d accumulated the shorthand genomes of a dozen botox-rigored corpses in dire need of taxidermic attention. Two-dimensional pen and ink busts upon Haiku pedestals would be the aesthetic. Each set of trophies would be displayed behind a vitrine bearing the tools of the hunt. The entire exhibition hall would be cloned 200 times–stapled, folded, chopped, signed and numbered.

Neighbor, won’t you sniff my sawdust and hides? Please?

M.D., F.A.C.S. HAIKU ZINE VOL. 1: Upper East Side Women

mdfacs cover
mdfacs note spread
mdfacs haiku spread


Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Every step of WASTE has taken considerably longer to complete than I’d hoped. I’m finally starting to letterpress finished books on laser-cut, grommet-bound canvas pages. Printed Matter should have at least a few early copies in the next 2 weeks. Upset with how much time each book takes to make–and the resulting book price associated with those hours–I decided to do something to at least make the content of the book accessible to people who might not otherwise want to shell-out for a spendy edition.

I made 50 MASSIVE newsprint xeroxes of a first-proof collage from the hand-burnished prints I pulled off of the woodblocks. That basically means that the artwork represented in this edition is, in some cases, substantially different than the artwork that’ll be in the final book. I’ve made a number of revisions after having seen these proofs. So, in effect, this poster is an artifact of my book-making process.

The posters are 36″ x 72″ in a numbered edition of 50 and have obi wrappers to keep them rolled. The obis are all coffee cup hand-protectors I’ve been pulling out of the trash and spraypainting with a stencil of the WASTE logotype. Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, 7-11 and an assortment of other random local coffee houses are represented in the re-purposed cardboard wraps.

Printed Matter has them here for $30. If you contact me directly, I can sell you one for $20 in NYC or $25 shipped in the US.

waste poster edition


Saturday, November 21st, 2009

I can’t believe I released this thing almost a year ago and keep forgetting to mention it. I posted about Volume 1 of BUT THEY DON’T BLINK last year. That volume was a series of 5 hand-painted posters addressing the hardships facing families in what remains today, an uncertain job market. The relevance of many of the tableaux depicted in that volume has been amplified by events having occurred since its release.

Volume 2 OF BUT THEY DON’T BLINK tackled the decaying US social safety net. Now, more than perhaps last year when it was released, do the tableaux in this volume bear weight. Beyond this administration’s rhetoric and circumlocution–very few of the topics discussed in the first 2 volumes of BUT THEY DON’T BLINK have been substantially addressed. The issues broached by BLINK still plague a massive percentage of Americans. Instead of embarking on a long-winded diatribe about those issues, I’ll just share the images I drew:

but they dont blink pages 1 &2
but they dont blink pages 3 &4
but they dont blink page 5

Each of the 3 volumes of BUT THEY DON’T BLINK consists of 5 individually hand-painted 18×24 inch posters, a block-printed mylar cover and a removable, screw-bound, plastic and cardboard spine. The folios are each signed, numbered and rolled into hand-printed kraft paper blueprint bags. Volume 1 & Volume 2 are available from Printed Matter for $60 each. Volume 3 is in production.


Friday, September 25th, 2009

It feels like I’ve been working on this new book forever. Par for the course, I guess. FORE took me 10 years to finish. A year after delivering the first two volumes, I’m still waiting on politics to deliver the final volume of BUT THEY DON’T BLINK. WASTE is different, though. It’s a different sort of forever–a forever from another place.

I wanted WASTE to be all about potential energy. It’s a collection of scrap illustrations and studies for sculptural work I’ve done or am presently working on. I forced a ridiculous tale of explosive potential atop a curated set of 12 sketches, xeroxes, stamps and collages. “Not enough,” I thought to myself. “This has gotta be a more outlandish game.” So, I begged for and stole some lumber. I got a cheap, used 10-Ton bottle jack. I got some scrap steel.

Two sleepless weeks after collecting things and 4 or 5 months after pulling the story together, I’ve built my own letterpress on which to print the book. I tracked down scrap canvas in the form of sail-maker scraps, military tarps and painter’s drop-cloth (could still use more of any of this if anybody’s holding…). The canvas all gets laser-cut into specially shaped pages. The story gets pressed on ’em. The pages get grommeted together and a lot of waste delivers on its potential.

I’ve not yet decided on the edition size, but I know it’s being split up 75%-25% between two flavors. One’s gonna be a bit more expensive and use special ink. The other’s plain-jane jet black. That said, the amount of time it seems it’ll take to generate each book means it’s looking like this sadly isn’t going to be an inexpensive edition. Each hand-pressed, 12-page, 11×17, laser-cut, canvas book will likely be between 100-200 dollars. The caveat here is that the book can also be made to “do things.” More on that when I launch the edition in November…

Here are the very first proofs off of the woodblocks for the first two pages. I’ve never used a letterpress before, so I have no idea what I’m doing, but it actually seems to have worked–even on this crappy utrecht newsprint. A bunch of grumpy whiners on printing forums seemed to imply that using anything larger than a 9×12 block in a homemade press won’t work. To the whiners out there–fuck you. It works. Build the press frame out of steel and use a more robust jack along with a platen design that considers pressure application to your target-size block.
waste by visitor first two page proofs