TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT October 2005

TOP TEN

Cathy Wilkes

Cathy Wilkes exhibited her installations of painting and sculpture last year at Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin, and the Kunstverein Hamburg, and, more recently, at the Scottish pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2005. Her new film, commissioned for this month’s Frieze Art Fair, will be included in the 2006 Berlin Biennial.

  1. ALENKA ZUPANCIC, THE SHORTEST SHADOW: NIETZSCHE’S PHILOSOPHY OF THE TWO (SHORT CIRCUITS) (2003) Zupancic’s work is mind-expanding beyond the usual limits of a theoretical text. She examines the “event” as defined by Nietzsche, emphasizing the unorthodox way the philosopher used language—which would still be considered reckless today. The chapters on his concept of “midday” are amazing: When the sun is at its highest point, shadows move on top of objects, and this is the moment of “splitting”—when what is real and what is represented (the shadow) are indiscernible from one another. “Sobriety!” she affirms, is demanded by the subtleties of everyday thought.

  2. WALTER SICKERT, LAZARUS BREAKS HIS FAST: SELF-PORTRAIT, 1927 In this fascinating work, the Camden Town Group painter portrays himself as Lazurus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. A new morning after death! To paint this possibility with such intimacy must have come from the depths of Sickert’s soul. Alone, Lazarus bends feebly over his spoon; he is just visible somewhere in a dry mixture of rubbed paint that affords the canvas a weird sensuousness. It is a painting of the inseparability of suffering from one’s internal life and contemplation.

    Walter Sickert, Lazarus Breaks His Fast: Self-Portrait, 1927, oil on canvas, 30 x 25". Walter Sickert, Lazarus Breaks His Fast: Self-Portrait, 1927, oil on canvas, 30 x 25".
  3. VALERIE WEBB AND VALERIE BETH WEBBER Valerie Webb used to play with Sunburned Hand of the Man and other bands. When I met her in 2003 outside a gig she was playing in Dundee, Scotland, she was also a research astronomer studying Mars. I found her to be inspiring company. Such was my enthusiasm for her and her albums The Trickle Down Theory of Lord Knows What (2003) and Rare Wood (2004) that when I came across Dimly Lit Wildlife (2003), a book of poems by Valerie Beth Webber, I immediately ordered it. (Only to realize later that it wasn’t the same person!) Webber has also published “c,” “f,” and “j” in an anthology titled Playground Forcing Hearts Ensemble (2003). Her poem “j” begins:

    sometimes I want to ask you
    just what the fuck you think you’re doing in my bed
    with your mouth suction-cupped around my cunt

    Two Valeries in my life where once there were none!

  4. MARY KELLY, “DAILY SCHEDULES” FROM WOMEN AND WORK: A DOCUMENT ON THE DIVISION OF LABOUR IN INDUSTRY, 1973–75 Kelly listed the schedules of over 150 women who worked in a metal-box factory in South London. I have a photocopy of the schedule of twenty-one-year-old Joanna Martin, a mother and full-time shrink-wrap operator. The work is still radical today because it demonstrates the complex sexual divisions of labor in such a ruthlessly diagrammatic way.

    Mary Kelly (with Margaret Harrison and Kay Hunt) Women and Work: A Document on the Division of Labour in Industry (detail), 1973–75, photocopy, 11 x 8 1/2". Joanna Martin’s daily schedule. Mary Kelly (with Margaret Harrison and Kay Hunt) Women and Work: A Document on the Division of Labour in Industry (detail), 1973–75, photocopy, 11 x 8 1/2". Joanna Martin’s daily schedule.
  5. JOAN COPJEC, IMAGINE THERE’S NO WOMAN: ETHICS AND SUBLIMATION (2002) This book faces the unbearable seriousness of ethics from the perspective of psychoanalysis. Copjec boldly discusses the idea of “grace” in Kant’s Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone. “The ‘spiritual’ gift of grace, then, does not lift us out of our finite, bodily being,” she writes, “but ‘infinitizes’ it, invades the body with a deregulating pleasure that awakens it from its corporeal torpor.”

  6. VALIE EXPORT, ACTION PANTS: GENITAL PANIC, 1969 Export cut the crotch out of her jeans and walked through the rows of a kinky cinema, taunting the audience to look at the “real thing.”

  7. ROBERT FRANK, BRATTLEBORO, VERMONT, DECEMBER 25th, 1979 A woman, naked, with her arm raised in an easy stretch looks straight at the camera. A TV is on; it glows but shows no picture. There is some other furniture, chairs and things, a lot of space around her and above the objects. The words scratched into the surface of the photograph read 4 AM MAKE LOVE TO ME, 4 AM MAKE LOVE TO ME. This is one of my favorite pictures, ever.

  8. DAN SANDIN, FIVE-MINUTE ROMP THROUGH THE IP, 1973 Sandin’s film looks like a mystical ceremony, revealing the possibilities offered by the new-media artist’s invention: an analog computer optimized for processing video information. Sandin freely distributed the instructions on how to build his Image Processor, so fervent was his desire that people use it to make art.

    Dan Sandin, Five-Minute Romp Through the IP, 1973, stills from a black-and-white and color video, 6 minutes 30 seconds. Dan Sandin, Five-Minute Romp Through the IP, 1973, stills from a black-and-white and color video, 6 minutes 30 seconds.
  9. RACHEL ROSENTHAL, THE AROUSING (SHOCK, THUNDER), 1979 Rosenthal’s smiling, ghostly visage fills the screen in this startling film; her eyes are black and unreflective which makes it weirder still. She describes her early life, her growth into consciousness, and the self-imposed violence of her effort to conform. Rosenthal recalls a story from her childhood of a boy who was “made to live in a sort of jug that distorted his features and his limbs, and after several years he emerged as a laughing man, his expression always and under all circumstances a monstrous and horrifying grin.”

  10. THE VACUUM A brilliant, satirical, political, cultural, and, best of all, free paper published in Belfast by Factotum since 2003. Apart from the scholastic range and vitality of its contributors, I laugh out loud when I read it. I especially love Richard Kirkland’s essay “The Erotics of Ulsterness” in the Sex issue, but I also love all the regular columns, particularly “Bloomer and Keogh Investigate” and “My Beef.” As of press time, The Vacuum editors were taking the Belfast City Council to court, contesting its suspension of the paper’s funding and demand for an apology for moral and religious offense. This is the first time that the freedom of speech article in the European Convention on Human Rights has been used to contest such decision-making by a city council. Visit www.sorryday.com for more information on the case.