the text and images below are posted from beijing, berlin, hong kong, new york, sado island and zürich. there are a few of us, and this is the space in between.

Register | Log in

nusantao and a trans-pacific dialogue with Chris Kraus

dirty south.

In a hypothesis developed by Wilhelm Solheim, the Nusantao Maritime Trading and Communication Network (NMTCN) is a trade and communication network that first appeared in the Asia-Pacific region during its Neolithic age, or beginning roughly around 5000 BC. “Nusantao” is an artificial term coined by Solheim, derived from the Austronesian root words nusa “south” and tao “man, people”.

the spread in many directions as “a kind of excuse to party, right“, T. commented, and W. agreed, even though she was disappointed that nobody was listening, and even though she wanted to find some theoretical right to party, like a Brechtian sausage.

There would not have been a French Revolution, as Marx stated, without the heroic illusions that natural law engendered. Of course, they did not become real, and what did become real of them, the free market of the bourgeoisie, is not at all that which was dreamed of, though wished for, hoped, demanded, as utopia. Thus now, if a world were to emerge that is hindered for apparent reasons, but that is entirely possible, one could say, it is astonishing that it is not——if such a world, in which hunger and immediate wants were eliminated, entirely in contrast to death, if this world would finally just “be allowed to breathe” and were set free, there would not only be platitudes that would come out at the end and gray prose and a complete lack of prospects and perspectives in regard to existence here and over there, but there would also be freedom from earning instead of freedom to earn, and this would provide some space for such richly prospective doubt and the decisive incentive toward utopia that is the meaning of Brecht’s short sentence, “Something’s missing.” This sentence, which is in Mahagonny, is one of the most profound sentences that Brecht ever wrote, and it is in two words. What is this “something”? If it is not allowed to be cast in a picture, then I shall portray it as in the process of being (seiend). But one should not be allowed to eliminate it as if it really did not exist so that one could say the following about it: “It’s about the sausage.” Therefore, if all this is correct, I believe utopia cannot be removed from the world in spite of everything, and even the technological, which must definitely emerge and will be in the great realm of the utopian, will form only small sectors. That is a geometrical picture, which does not have any place here, but another picture can be found in the old peasant saying, there is no dance before the meal. People must first fill their stomachs, and then they can dance.

W.’s trauma of not being heard was a structural problem as much as a genetic defect, more recently amplified by contemporary notions of #fomo, post-maturity and the simple fear of being lost and forgotten and useful to no one.

S. was then of an age where she thought about age at least eight times a day. Having spent parts of her life in New York and LA, she knew where she was “from” didn’t much matter. When she was a student at Wellington High School, S. recalled being told by the head English teacher, a salt-and-pepper-haired man in baggy black-and-white tweeds who’d published critical essays on D.H. Lawrence, that because of her emigration from the US at such a formative age, she had no nationality and therefore, despite her interest in literature, could not be a writer [see further at 版本 version 3.0]. Which is to say, S. had lived through various eras including the demise of nationalism.

Unfortunately nationalisms have not really died if we are still looking for these genealogies of belonging, southern girl, and you empathised with O.’s alienation even though he talked about love and hate in a way that made you hate him. later, W. made a transnational gift of O.’s art object produced by W.’s semi-anonymous collective, her shy prefaces leading T. to make fun of W. because of her need to make a “finished product”. These are all various forms of trade and transaction, not so dissimilar from the way that cultures and identities and forms of belonging happen over time, across oceans. so while W. becomes a businesswoman she finally realises that her roots are not merely ethnic as much as gender-specific and class-based, contaminated, kind of like ‘dirty south’.


“Southern Girl” by Rahzel feat. Erykah Badu, from the 1999 album Make the Music 2000

Posted by 丫 | reply »

fragments of fungi imperfecti

#To Whom It May Concern,

In the Thai language, the phoneme “hed” can mean “เห็ด mushroom“, but in the northeastern Isan dialect it can also mean “เฮ็ด do“. #RADIOHED will broadcast intermittently both on air and online from Bangkok beginning Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 13:00 UTC +7.

Posted by 丫 | reply »

writing oneself: the institute for spatial experiments


It could be said that these stammering movements begin egocentrically, not unexpected, as an awkward, unskilled dervish of thoughts, curiousities and flying trajectories (from me) of things trying to find their place. In other words, I am writing myself in this conversation, between you and me. What we do not know about one another has a context embedded in a structure known as art, or the institution, or the awkward banter of appointed meetings. I write myself in concentric circles that could fly through you or past you, and you may do the same, depending upon what could be put into words, where words may embody bodies and bodies circle around one another.

There is a book somewhere called Speech Matters, and in it an artist parenthesised as R.G. wrote this for his biography:

What is a biography, if not the markings of certain habits, born here, did that, a sentence or two about the ideas or questions one is concerned with, details, places of study, cities lived, a list of ‘accomplishments’. How to punctuate and elaborate a habit, until it breaks, cracks open, begins to stutter, bleed, set itself afire, and disappear into a crowd. She said, a word or two different, a small mark, to say, nothing more intimate in saying no, stopping, refusing. Why not have this book write a biography of itself. Why not a language give an account of its life. Here I said this. Here it did that. Here she died, at this date, at this time, at this place. Here she was, when everything came together and folded. Here she did this work which would never live up to anything but what an other would make of it. Where to find this other?

I have seen other versions written elsewhere. If we meet, of course it’s only one of any possible.


Posted by 丫 | more »

notes from the yangtze (holdings), HIT, strike, limited


It all started with an image, though one that really came into a so to speak light before it even existed. One sees, firstly. Punctum as a form or attention, filter or framing device——an interruption in the act of seeing which triggers a refraction where association is the flipping upside-down of the mirror as much as a natural stream of thought. Oh. Constantly grasping at words. Try to describe flows, try to pick up words that describe people: 散文诗人, the great essayist, experimental folk maker. One is never enough, of course——artist, writer, activist——but if i could describe to you a process instead then perhaps i wouldn’t have gone through it all in quite the same way anyway. Words destroy me, time passes, and in the meanwhile we play a few games.

It all started with a seasick steadicam. It was the bane of those first few weeks of working, becoming one of those challenges that one cannot give up on simply because you’ve already wasted too much time trying and cannot bear to let go in vain. And those many hours spent walking back and forth the third floor flat tinkering with an orange handsaw arm, PET bottle caps and various metal washers came out of a whim, really, based upon a beginner’s rereading of The Politics of Disappearance and moving around in Hong Kong. Movement, restlessness, sitting at a desk overlooking noisy Shanghai Street looking for the right troubleshooting video to make the damned steadicam work as it should. Sitting as restless as distraction, the wrong videos lead to other flows, like centripetally-spinning eggs scrambled inside the shell and shanzhai effecting tilt-shift optics with video and image-editing software.

And we continue to work within that distraction, as if the Cantonese version of looking (眱) already directed our eyes askance, the Scheimpflug principle was made physical as if we were moving throughout the city while laying down. Or seeing through a viewfinder, especially when mounted on a seasick steadicam held at waist-height. Tilt-shift is a subtle change in perspective, and your weak limb makes everything feel more distant, passive but with uncertain intention like sleeping next to someone with their back turned to you. I wonder if feeling distance from these images makes one more of a subject or less of one.

He says, “I am thinking. What if the body were not important?

We keep walking along an overpass, and she comes to match our pace on my right, listening. She interrupts him at one point, and when she closes her statement with, “Maybe it’s an over-interpretation“, her body moves away from us while keeping the tempo.

Later while they are opening up the furled black banner in her arms, I say to him, “In principle, we should be free. But with the body there is possession. And with possession there is the basis for all socio-political conflict.” We stop at an intersection, in the middle of the street. Some people sit down.

It could have all started from there. He had warned me about getting arrested, but for all the supposed escalation it starts raining and traffic is restored. Everyone shoots images of everyone else. The three-man police film crew make a tilt-shift view, their camera perched on a gaffer pole above the crowd, one with his hands following gently on the shoulders of the gaffer. Everyone is in close proximity; the third is close behind.

She writes, for instance, “the Polis, properly speaking, is not the city-state in its physical location; it is the organization of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together, and its true space lies between people living together for this purpose, no matter where they happen to be.” The “true” space then lies “between the people” which means that as much as any action takes place somewhere located, it also establishes a space which belongs properly to alliance itself.

—Judith Butler, “Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street

When you look up tilt-shift photography on Wikipedia, you will find an image of Hong Kong viewed from Victoria Peak, as if that particular perspective and reference were made for that kind of displacement; distortions require further tweaking before we realise that the spaces of camaraderie encompass kilometers and the ones around them hone in the millimeters of a lens during public conflict. Focus shifts while waiting in civic procession: a boring walk, intermittent conversation, a hand-painted sign. She asks how we can change the circumstances. It is uncertain whether or not the question is real, let alone try to imagine jouissance or our own semblance. Keep on walking, they say, there’s nothing to see here.

Posted by 丫 | reply »

preliminary notes on ice house street


#今天学了什么# Realising today that we’re only speaking in colours, collaborations “no bad, only un-good”——meaning we work hard to reserve judgement, critique, oh, inauthentic observer, otherwise catty once becoming “a life-long association that would change the world”.

At the end of August, 1844, Engels passed through Paris, en route to his employment in Manchester, England, from visiting his family in Barmen (Germany). During 10 days in the French capital, he met Marx (for the second time).

Collaboration means meeting on occasion, sometimes intensively, we laugh at the easy jetset, asking lots of questions in diversion, desiring of the “tranquility of knowledge”. But that wasn’t it. This is non-knowledge, collaboration in colour, yes, Anastas/Gabri, Bester/Kishop or WoofShop, comparative studies as variations on a what, what you want, define and argue, get lost searching for the sea, in Elements, continue softer, what you want.

Would the ‘urban entropic conclusion’ require a certain withdrawal from the social, identity radii, we’re not obligated, her islands, come out only for exposure and/or discomfort. Rearrange the flat, morning study sessions, a cheap coffee maker and a broken electric stove. But it wasn’t really broken. Engage out of what you know, engage to counter what you know; they look similar, maybe, but stylistically…approach, a rationing, an investigation. What is continuity, in the end (har har har), but the careful arrangement of objects and the nice surprise that he even noticed?

Posted by 丫 | more »

What can a phrase such as ‘natural course’ mean anymore in a time of such intense production?

At one point during one of our discussions, Jad mentioned something about the need to build systems and structures so that we can break free from them. At the time i did not agree so much, perhaps out of mere exhaustion (the dialectic), and maybe also there has just always been some part of me that desires to find out how far we can just let things go, or to understand the limits of tolerance.

Phasing works in a similar way, though taking a walk in the city makes a clean set of variables into a dirty game. The phase is an easy, fun experiment; it breaks out of itself predictably but still fascinating to listen to — self-contained by reception. But it seems difficult to consider any form of reality anymore in terms of such structure; what is always lies next to and around itself, everything is multiple. Perhaps it’s simply a poor understanding of mathematics, but I never know how to discern exponentiality from noise. Circling now (the dialectic), it’s another form of fascination — like listening to sound upon sound. Or maybe it’s simply the idea of being attentive to the things that have always been there.

This is an audio recording combining several journeys traced from an original route shared by Maral Der Boghossian, who has visited her father’s shop in Bourj Hammoud two to three times a week for over 25 years. At the time of this writing, not a single participant after Maral has been able to successfully follow the audio to reach the shop, and this reveals certain weaknesses in the structure of the game, but I guess it’s also just letting things follow their natural course.

Participants in the recording: Maral Der Boghossian, Jad Baaklini, Paul Gorra, George Haddad, Christophe Katrib (accidentally powered off), Céline Khairallah, Lynn Kodeih, Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga, Lina Sahab and the blacksmith around the corner from the tree that Maral’s grandmother planted some 40 years ago.

April 2011, Beirut

Posted by 丫 | more »

展览题为“如何独处” The Title of the Show is ‘How to Be Alone’

1// 《但愿我能为您描绘得更好》第二期里献给友子的歌: “菜单/那么今夜何处是京都/猫咪马琳”(演唱者:“声音向导”乐队,声音介入部分:何颖雅何京蕴) From the publication iwishicoulddescribeittoyoubetter number two, for Tomoko: “Menu/So Where Is Kyoto Tonight?/Mullin The Mog” by DirectorSound with inserts by Elaine W. HO and Anouchka van DRIEL
2// “解手与生产”,尝试为高灵口头翻译Paul CHAN的文本  “Pee and Production”, trying to orally translate a text by Paul CHAN to GAO Ling

3// 爸爸骑着摩托, 儿子坐在后座上打着快板, 我们一起在儿童电影夜场喝了点酒,家作坊2010年  The boy comes home with his father playing kuaiban, we had been drinking at the kids’ movie night, HomeShop 2010
4// “你好呀,劳伦斯老师!” 这段对我外婆的采访录音是1991年我中学历史课上的家庭作业——“口述历史”,我妈妈也在“其间”。 “Hellll-o Mizz Lawrence!” An oral history project, my grandmother, mother and me, 1991

5// 五岁的我,在数数和唱歌  When I was 5 years old, counting and singing
6// 我在购买的迷你SD卡上找到了70多首歌,从中选了十首歌并通过数码处理,把它们的节拍统一成每分钟120拍(特殊感谢Ryan KING在数码处理) Music found on the micro-SD cards purchased to create this work, whereby among 70 songs in total ten were chosen and digitally synced at 120 beats per minute (processing courtesy of Ryan KING)

Installation part of The Third Party: How to Be Alone (or nowhere else am i safe from the question: why here?), on view at Platform China, 11 November 2010 – 24 January 2011

Posted by 丫 | more »

THE WORK (for 絵美 and a friend of hers, and for everyone amidst iwishicoulddescribeittoyoubetter)

How could this be institutionalised? In describing, putting the words to entities, in finding vocabularies and knowing where to look, we are trapped already. How couldn’t we be? Should I write such that you never understand; should I make work that never needs to be seen; should anything other than question marks arise?

Is this a work? Would we rather toss it all off to a little game, scoff at those who take themselves too seriously, never be so ridiculous as to consider the nests of “art” and “life”? Are the words one is using as important as the to whom one is speaking? “What is the work of man?” And why not say it, invest oneself with intention, make the attempt? Flail? This is not an institution, as could it ever be, with time, with the fulfillment of certain criteria of Work. We are tied to a production as always, since before we were aware of it, since we were animals. And the guillotined bumblebee, as Agamben asks, is he as busy as ever, do we continue amidst work, does time fly when…?

Should anything other than question marks arise?


Should the work be defined by a trade, a certain amount of craftsmanship, the ergon of man, a list of projects and venues to which one must be flown? Does work define our activities or does activity define work? Why should vita contemplativa be placed above vita activa in a society with no God? Is this the captivation of the bumblebee, are we productive enough, should we make particular dialogues in work-group fashion? Because if I play, or if i dangerously mix words like “art” and “life”, like you know, when

Every afternoon he goes there to see a big painting for two hours, and he says, ‘I’m doing the work to see the work’. That’s ok, I think it’s no problem. He did another work where he pays for three months of traditional Chinese music lessons, on the erhu.  – 马永峰 MA Yongfeng, Forget Art

Can a situation be Work? Our particular arrangement to one another, did you try that out, were you networking? Is the amount of control in any given situation a Work? Is control a result of the fact that there is no one around to help us, or that we are ‘mere’ fascists? Is the controlled situation a place of God or science or politics? Why do you question, why go beyond captivation? What did you question, what did you create, where did you control the situation and where was spontaneity a lie? 艾未未 AI Weiwei calls it the “vocabulary” that “can also be the total meaning of the concept”; Pierre Huyghe says a one:to:one ratio of idea:to:form. These are control experiments, perhaps, but not without the certain seepages that blur the distances between the Work and our ethics, our politics——our everyday. We take ourselves too seriously. In the fullness of the situation, yes. And yes, he is right, we could not presume it to be so before its occurrence, where there is thus the very small moment when the lack of control has perchance to touch upon the work’s going beyond itself. An eventfullness…

Have we said too much already? Really, should anything other than question marks arise?

Are these thinly veiled treatises, and what have you really got to say?

Stopping oneself… (slow, slow loading, please be patient)

Posted by 丫 | more »