PRINT December 2014


Bruce Hainley

“The essential signification I attach to my poetic activity,” Michel Leiris wrote in his journal in 1941, war soon everywhere, “is that of a refusal.” The autiobiographical Manhood (1963; first published in 1939 in French as L’âge d’homme), he continued, was “the negation of a novel.” Keep in mind this noble lineage of refusal and negation (luxury goods) when handling Derek McCormack’s incantatory contaminant The Well-Dressed Wound (pas de chance). Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln hold a séance to contact their recently dead fashionista faggot son, Willie; ghostly, AIDS-y mayhem ensues with spirit runway shows, oozy seroconversion. Martin Margiela’s the devil, “King Faggot.” His basted gauzy label, its empty “double quotes” stitching, becomes blister, “cum rag,” Civil War bandage. Language blanks out.

Elegance is refusal. Today’s branded creative “innovators” and cultural “disruptions” make me want to puke. Dr. McCormack’s Rx: rage, and more AIDS. Spread dis-ease. Put the “pus” back in opus, while semiologically tugging at fashion’s (and history’s) seams to release infected semen: Invisible ink still stains. Staunch queens “read”—being read causes (from the French, lire, “to read”: [nous] lisions) such marvelous lesions. Lesson: Most books are dead. Being dead is so very now. This tiny tome (a time bomb, a tomb) is to die for and radically alive.

Bruce Hainley is a contributing editor of Artforum.