Journal

EN
05/12/17 • Residency : Julie Niemi

There’s no such thing as bad weather…

EN
05/12/17 • Residency : Julie Niemi

There’s no such thing as bad weather…

During her 2017 CAS Residency in Art Writing, Julie Niemi collaborated with a local printer to publish a booklet of informal writing and images. Taking the format of letters to anonymous friends and colleagues, the texts touch upon curatorial theory, personal relationships and memories, current political turmoil, and the quotidian specificities of her time here in Stavanger.

Dear E,

 

I am writing you from Stavanger, Norway. Yes, I’ve had Norwegian cured fish and yes, I’ve wandered seven miles until my feet felt like they were going to fall off. On the purpose of this letter to you, I wanted to tell you about something I started here that was inspired by your writing. When I landed here almost two weeks ago (for archival sakes, it is October 2017 when I am writing this), I began writing a stream of conscious journal. I’m on an art residency as a part of Contemporary Art Stavanger, a journal about contemporary art in southern Norway. The method of journaling was an instantaneous way to synthesize events that happened directly to me, around me, in front of me, on my periphery and at once, the everyday news and events that seem to happen by the day, by the hour, on a larger, national and/or global scale. (Do we journal in hopes of one day not being forgotten?) There is something interesting to me in the messiness of works in progress, of writing that is not perfect and doesn’t mask as being so, of releasing a zine that is rough and unedited, but will amount to a larger work or perhaps ends here and only ever circulates as-is. There’s a vulnerability to it and I’m okay with that if not terribly interested in precisely this process of what’s yet to come.

 

I’ve got to give a nod to you for the format I’ve presented here. On the plane, I was reading through Roman Letters, the essay “(on missing)” always shakes me for the fragile yet precise language used to describe the feeling that’s embodied with longing and from missing. Especially the part where you reference the absence of the person not there, as a way of asking if they saw the same thing you saw, as a way of perhaps escaping the loneliness by conversing with a ghost. To work through it and against it. I decided to borrow the format of Roman Letters in the texts below. I was interested in how to weave together a factual travel diary (things I saw, people I met, places I went) with more emotive responses to the world, my particular trajectory, and the influence certain people, especially since leaving Bard, have had on me. Writing and addressing letters seemed like the right format for my current state of distance because lately, I’ve been longing for friends at other ends of the world that have no current place in my immediate, everyday life. This is a way to understand distance, proximity, and closeness all at once and in no way the same. I no longer feel a sadness with distance, I think that anymore it is a familiar feeling we’ve all grown used to and indifferent to its expanse. These letters in someway, perhaps in their quickness and roughness, comment on that.

 

Onward,

Julie

Dear J,

 

I am writing to you on a Thursday. I’ve got the recent violence in the U.S. on my mind so I might jump in on a grim note here with thoughts following the mass murders last week in Las Vegas. I’ve needed time to process what happened, upon waking up two-hours people were slain at a country concert. I used to live in Vegas, did you know that? When I received the news, it was morning time in Copenhagen. Distance, the sort of distance that isn’t psychological or even logistical, but geographically, mentally, and linguistically, made it easier to carry on that day. Even if people were talking about it, I didn’t understand until the English words “Las Vegas” flowed forward. I’ve also gotten better at understanding gestures and speech intonations to gauge emotive responses, disposition, resentment, an array of feelings.

 

So I’ve been stumbling my way through Stavanger, thinking about Las Vegas. Now one week has passed…Is it still present in the news cycles – on CNN, Fox News? I’ve been reflecting from a feeling of loneliness, but the kind of contentment and wonder that only comes being far away from the usual havoc and anxiety that one embodies just being a part of the fabric of the United States today. I recalled a text we read and one which had, for many months, profound influence on not just me, but may of us sitting around that long brown table in the CCS library on probably a chilly autumn day in early November, when the gusts of wind off the Hudson pierces tiny little holes into your skin. That day, we were reading Aime Cesair, Evan guiding us along as most of us sat quietly, heads turned downward towards the fake shiny wood of the table, finding words to cobble together response. Embodied with this distance I speak of, and the violence that continues to rupture and tear, I’ve been thinking about Cesair, writing from Martinique, where he was exploring the boundaries to and etymology of ‘colonizing.’ He wrote something along the lines of “a civilization that proves incapable of solving the problems it creates is a decadent civilization. A civilization that chooses to close its eyes to its most crucial problems is a stricken civilization.” This string of quotes ring a sense of urgency in my ears, gesturing to ghosts of the past that can stricken and tighten on the condition of the present.

 

But I am in Norway now, and I want to connect for a moment to the present. Many houses in Stavanger has an orchid peaking through lace curtains in the window. Last night, I glanced into a home in Storhaug on the long walk back from Kunsthall Stavanger to my residency by the water. I’d gone to the Kunsthall to see a show by a band called Ducktails, which coincidentally I’d seen the same set three weeks previously in Chicago to a sold out audience, in Stavanger to a room of forty. When I left, the town was quiet and sleepy at 10pm. I followed a group of people, Sami I’d met the previous day at the Kunstsenter, to a house nearby where we drank Jager and listened to techno music. When I left around midnight, it was raining relentlessly. There’s no way to truly complain about the weather here, it changes by the hour. And Norwegians always say: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” The cobble streets were slick and not suited for sneakers, I found this out the hard way by falling not once but twice. Don’t forget to wear your Wellies.

 

Stavanger seems divided by the street Pedersgata. I have marched up and down this street multiple times, taking notice to the etched houses dotted along the way. Lined with Ethiopian and Thai restaurants, the street separates the north from the south side, oil wealth from working class, if one can draw such distinct lines and divisions for the sake of generalization. To the east lies the neighborhood which, to my shudder, has been referred to in passing as the “Creative Ghetto,” or the area once filled with immigrants now experiencing a resurgence of artist-run spaces and studios.

 

This morning I had coffee with two women, Elin and Margrethe, who run Prosjektrom Normanns, an artist-run space that’s been around for seven years and exhibits local and international artists. I spilled water on myself and looked at sculptures by Oslo-based artist Ann Iren Buan. Large totems both horizontal and vertical made of chicken wire, plaster and painted a magnificent shade of blues, muddled whites, and muted pinks were made just for the space. Elin, Margrethe and I talked animatedly about project spaces, hosting, and struggling to keep it all afloat. In my case, student debt and cost of living, for them, new families and studio practices. Somehow it all seems related, connected by a strand of sacrifice and relentlessness to do the thing we want to do: create space.

 

I followed Elin and Margrethe’s recommendation to both the Maritime and Canning Museums, each housed in eighteenth century wooden houses. I love house museums and I only took a few photos. The integrity of the boats, of the hand that made the boats to the intensity of scale of 1:3000, did not hold up to the grainy images quickly snapped on an iPhone. But I did read everything. Did you know that in the 1870s, the canned sardine industry boomed in Gamble Stavanger? The now-renovated, upper-class white-washed homes adorned with vibrant blue doors, which today tourists snap their own grainy images of and peer in through the lacy curtains like voyeuristic vultures, were once the homes of migrant seasonal fishers – the main industry of the time. Since the late 1960s, oil has taken the lead which is visually noticeable by the off-shore drilling equipment visible to the eye on a clear day in Stavanger. Until commercial fishing died out in the late-1920s, fisherman would unload boats full of fresh salty herring and tons of sardines. Canning became an efficient way of preserving the latter and accelerated its way into being the main product of the time. Apparently you can still purchase prawns straight off small boats on near where I am staying, but I’ve yet to find out exactly where and when.

 

As I left the canning museum, I took notice that it was the end of the work week. The city was finally coming alive at 5pm in that sense where people are swiftly – but without a cognizant understanding of space – thumping into each other as they rush home to wives, children, husbands, partners, or head for the bar.

 

Love,

J

Dear L,

 

We exchanged texts yesterday on the different roles our friendship has taken. I looked at my phone and noticed how the little dot bubble appeared and disappeared as I nursed a beer. I was sitting in a bar somewhere in east Stavanger, preoccupied with waiting to hear from you again, which had its own scale of importance. I thought about the times we’d sit in your room, the sun washing over the space just so, and gossip about our day and the neverending to-do list of stuff which, looking back, was such an intense privilege: our only job was to be present and to keep asking questions. At the barn, the weaving together of time wasted and productivity was effortless. Since then, time has found a way to accelerate. Weeks seem condensed into what feels like a single day and my entire world is consumed with not being stationary, but a nomadism that nips at my heels any moment I stand still.

 

I’m glad I got the chance to know you, L. When we met, I think it worked so well because we often came at the world with such different strategies, and overtime, learned from one another a set of valuable new ways to approach situations, to work, to speaking, to trying shit out. In the last message you sent to me, you found just the right way to list the roles we’ve had in each others lives. The responsibility to one another scaled in labor and responsibility, to being strangers, collaborators, heart-to-heart soul sisters, zine-makers, wine drinkers, horse walkers, (then the horse died), dig your fingers in the dirt nettle-pickers, relationship advisors, chicken lickers, cooking partners, reading partners, dancing in the midnight moonlight worshipers, wood-burning stove fire-starters, sauna heaters, standing naked in the snow steamers, bathtub confidential pee-ers, palo-santo lighters, i got your back if you’re running late to class sisters, proofreaders, copy-editors, yoga in the library, book recommenders, exhibition suggesters, idea supporters, positive feedback-ers, someone to count on to tell it to you straight, sometimes complainers, hand-squeezers, airbnb’ers, procrastinating thesis writers, watching hbo series in bed snugglers, guests and hosts, pick up the phone anytime chatters, girlfriends for lifers.

 

Thank you.

 

With love and gratitude,

J


Dear L,

 

Today I walked along the craggy beaches of Norway’s east coast. Oozing and squishing, fluorescent greens and browns, rocks piled in mounds which still mark graves of men who sailed across the North Sea to trade fur and skins. I visited a small contemporary art space, Hå Gamle Prestegård, that hugged the coast, looking upwards to a white lighthouse with a red lookout tower. It was breezy; (this breeze carried sea salt) so when you licked your lips, the salt of the sea left a residue on your lips and it was all sexy at the same time.

 

I’ve been alone a lot here, and I cook and rearrange furniture, binge watch Netflix, and debate on going outside at odd hours during the night. I’ve found myself holed up in my own head often, finding ways to organize information and tasks and worrying about how to get from A to B. Last night I laid horizontal listening to a party happening outside my window, feeling at once a part of the gathering and at a distance (similar to how it feels when you pass out early at a party but still feel like you’re sort of still partying). I listened to the language as it whirled around Ace of Base and Abba songs and tried to hear and articulate just the way the tongue hits the roof of the mouth and how, at times, it sounded like they were going to to swallow their tongue just to make that Norwegian “OHHLLLL” sound. I am figuring out what to do with my mouth with this language and repeat to myself the Å sound, especially when I see the world “open” on the side (åpen) on the windows of grocery stores.

 

I’ve been meeting a lot of people, too. There’s a generation of artists older than us here, who I often meet early in the day for a coffee. This group somehow balances being an artist/designer/working person in the world with having a family, or just being single with a kid, really well. Coming from the U.S., I am at once in awe about it, but also have to check myself because this balance should be absolutely normal. I’m reminded of just how skewed my idea of relationships, sex, partnerships is and it sort of terrifies me in a very primal way. Today my horoscope read: expand your ideas about commitment. It wants you to heal the distorted philosophies you have created about the love you deserve. It wants to help you heal the parts of your heart that have been closed for business because of those that did not know how to show you love. I think I will take this advice. I’ve also met a group of artists who’ve taken me around to bars and parties. There’s no sitting around ever, no one sits still, there’s this constant activity whirling around of making or doing something while hanging out. Last night we experimented with DJing and spinning records in the storefront of Studio 17, a vibrant artist-run space facilitated by a growing group of at least five. The four of us danced in the space and it was lovely.

 

One outstanding observation I’ve made when meeting and hanging out with people here has been the quality and length of conversation (I remember this, too, when I spent time at Louise Dany in Oslo, that time I gave a lecture on my thesis that lasted five hours!). I’ve had conversations here last for many hours, not interrupted by “needing to get back to work” or “needing to run off to another event.” If anything interrupts this ebb and flow of conversation, it’s usually me. Another observation I’ve been making “in contrast to” the U.S. but I’ve really found myself wondering and asking myself, especially after that 1.5 hour-of-talking mark, “Should I excuse myself? Do they need to get back to work? Or is this totally okay?” I’m not used to not having a place to be, to be sort of floating through a city that is not my own, no agenda except for what is in front of me. It’s such a luxury and one that I want to hold onto forever. I’ve taken long walks across bridges with curators, had coffee in three studios over the length of six hours, overly caffeinated and excited by 4pm, not getting to sleep until 3am, car rides, boat trips across fjords, and rainy day zine planning sessions.

 

But I had a point about conversations that connects back to you and a positive approach to wasting time: the duration of conversations here remind me of how you and I could talk for hours while we were at Bard. We would sit outside and laugh for hours, but at once, in all the joy we had for being just bored and yet drained together, we could wrack our brains over the next idea for a project and what exactly Fred Moten meant by “in but not of” in the Undercommons, or if our writing “made any sense?” (“does this make sense? What am I really trying to say here?!”) I hold onto this sense of time and remind myself of its value, its anti-capitalist stance that didn’t even need to be defined as such because it just so very much was what it was: wasting time. We lived by the example of who we wanted to be and it just worked. Currently we are sharing the same timezone and it pains me just a bit that I can’t see you this time, now, while here. But all the same, I am sending you my love from Northern Europe.

 

J

Dear A,

 

Did I tell you I’m moving to Milwaukee? It’s new to me, too. It’s been especially interesting processing this decision and in a way, “trying on” the new hat of living and working the Midwestern, United States while in Scandinavia. I find myself referencing familiar Midwestern attributes here as a point of reference like the cheese hats worn during Green Bay Packers games, sprawling dairy farms, and also the Kohler toilet plant, which also ties nicely into the narrative my next left journey where I will be working as an Assistant Curator at the Kohler Arts Center. I’ve been finding that, the older I get, and perhaps more importantly, the more I move, the harder it is to declare a real “home” or to articulate where exactly “I am from.” I’ve found it’s best to speak of locations and an aspect of “home” through chunks of two years and do the best I can to construct some sort of cohesive narrative: “I am from Oklahoma. I was in Chicago during my formative early-20s, I did LA when I was trying to figure out how to be a ‘real, working adult,’ (whatever the fuck that means), in Upstate New York to figure out who I am (like this is ever resolved), and now going to try it all out in Milwaukee. Does that make sense?!?!” It doesn’t make any damn bit of sense to me, but hopefully I am fooling some people.

 

One of the things that stands out here are the cruise ships that stand higher than the highest building in Stavanger. I woke up early today, a Sunday, and took a walk around the city center. At 9am, not a single soul shared the sidewalk with me. There was an eeriness to the silence – a silence that reminded me of the omnipresence of Christianity and the undeniable influence it has on most of Europe, where Sunday is honored as a day of rest. Taking this away from the context of Christianity and in light of best labor practices, it really is decent to give people Sunday off. At the crossroads in town where the white house’s shift to an assortment of blues and greens and reds, I did pass one man clad in Norwegian flags, carrying a bucket and squeegee on his bike, distorting his face into “ooos” and “aaas,” thrusting his tongue in and out and most notably, baaing like a sheep as I walked by. Although I felt a wave of disturbance, something about this freaky break from the quiet vibes in Stavanger on a Sunday felt totally normal. This was the first odd character I’d seen since leaving the states.

 

I took a tourist boat today to the furthest nook of Lystenfjorde, a fjord in southern Norway. For three hours, my face was battered by northern winds, the boat gliding through seafoam green waters between tall granite cliffs formed by glaciers too far back to fathom except by attributing a scale of time to to the “Ice Age.” The spectacular thing about these fjords is that at a certain point, the depth and distance between each rock shelf culminates in a certain meeting point at the end. Where humans obsession with growth and infrastructure has intervened to create a town and a dock which overlooks the whole beast of rock, cliff, and water. When arriving on these old village shores, nested between these cliffs, to is to look back at the journey you’d just had from a point designated for this activity. The human hand on these Norwegian fjords is subtle, but strategic in the way in which they are viewed and photographed. I find the whole ordeal fascinating.

 

After the boat, I met a curator named Mirja who runs Studio 17. Everyone I’ve met has been so open and friendly and just casual, it’s been really easy to navigate and get to know people in such a short amount of time. Mirja and I drank coffee and wandered by the tiny storefront, nested next to Kunstsenter Rogaland, both spaces covered in graffiti. Did I tell you I am running a reading group at Studio 17 on Wednesday? I was asked to choose a text related to self-organization and artist run spaces so I looked into Chris Kraus’s writing on Tiny Creatures in Where Art Belongs. I wanted to discuss space through a case study, rather than lofty theoretical jargon on curating – there’s too much self-reflexivity on practice in contemporary art, I couldn’t contribute to more of the same. While we walked around and across a large bridge spanning the entire width of Stavanger, Mirja told me of the centers programming, her travel between here and Finland, and the difficulties of organizing in a city far removed from a center of culture. One must consider shipping costs, accessibility, travel in far more pragmatic and necessarily DIY strategies of transportation and reach. Being in a regional space and organizing proves time and time again to be a difficult task, regardless of where in the world you are.

 

Thinking about this now in my sleep,

J


Dear M,

 

So on ‘self organized spaces.’ At first, I wasn’t sure where to start. Since leaving graduate school, and even when in graduate school, I’ve avoided many texts that self-reflexively studied or commented on practice as a way of over theorizing what it is we, I, like to do. Perhaps it goes against this impulse I’ve always had to just do it, try it out, and if it fails, so be it. But I think there is room on the other side of things to certainly consider what it is you’re doing before you’re so thick in the weeds it’s hard to understand how you got there and even what “it” is you’re even doing anymore…

 

Anyway, I’ve always acted primarily on intuition, and even a sense of ease: on what is available to me at that given time, and what resources may or may not be at hand – what money I have in pocket. On what is left over, wasted, and yeah, just available. I’ve been attracted to running things out of my home in order to create not just an art space, but also a place to share food, to vent, to be angry, to look at art in progress or process, to think about practice, to read, just to think. I am helplessly people oriented, social, extroverted, and learn by people and myriad of networks, connections, ideas, passion, critique, support, community, and so on that they bring with them, and those that I meet, bring to the table in terms of curatorial and creative work. It’s about a ‘social network’ for me, without sounding too cheesy or like that terrible movie that came out some years ago about Facebook. But it’s true, and there is much that can be learned by listening, talking, and following people and networks through. This inherently has become a central point of my practice, and a forever interest in ‘hosting’ or what it means to host people and ideas in a given space and with a certain amount of time. Creating this space is a way of living and breathing my own sense and idea of being a political person in the world. It’s how I survive and I am brainstorming ways of how to replicate this in Milwaukee, when I land in a new city in about three weeks. Y’all are seeing me, listening to me, at a tremendous crossroads in my life. Reading this text for the first time in a few years, I related to this brief historical perspective of Tiny Creatures as one that I picked up as my own, in my own way, with a project space I ran concurrently with doing the whole grad school thing at CCS Bard. I called the space the Barn, named uncreatively for the space I inhabited, along with my roommate, Lola Kramer, that was, in fact, a barn.  

 

As I am speaking to you, and as I’ve been reflecting on over the last few months, I hope to work on creating infrastructure and sustainability in whatever it is I do next in terms of “self-organization.” But for now, what I know is a sort of model that Chris Kraus chronicles in the article I brought to the table tonight: “You Are Invited To Be The Last Tiny Creature” from her 2011 collection of essays, Where Art Belongs. I find myself to returning to case studies as pedagogical devices: what learning by observing those who’ve done it before you, by interviewing and hearing out models, and by gathering a collection of conversations on a topic. In the case of the text I choose for this exercise, Chris focused on documenting the short history of Tiny Creatures, a DIY space in LA from about 2006–2008, as a case study for independent spaces under the shadow of the ever impending capitalistic reality of gentrification.

 

An interest in people as an entry point to and for self-organizing, curating, and practice really clicked a few years back when I found out about the writing and work of Chris Kraus, and specifically this essay. Her primary methodology when writing, is through people and through following through on those connections and sources, which can occasionally get murky and the truth blurs. And how she delicately inserts a specific time stamp by referencing those events that happen on the outside periphery of her subject: in the case of this text, the Bush years, Abu Ghraib on page 10. This reference, and in the next sentence, referencing the immediate concerns of the Tiny Creatures collective, is an acknowledgement of the scaling of time. In this case, gentrification in LA: the immediate sign of highrises shooting up in an area that was once poor and of an immigrant minority or low rent artist space, to now the threat of being priced out of the space out, which is at once a larger, political concern, but at once more difficult to manage in terms of government regulations. Like many of Kraus’s writings, too, there is always this sort of romanticization of a particular time and historicization of a particular group of people.

 

Use value and debt also runs key to the theme of this article. There is a minor obsession with prestige – whether that be an MFA or a BA from an art school – and how this higher education gives access to a particular culture or art world. It seems Kraus’s position, or opposition, is in the way Tiny Creatures always sat outside of this hierarchical structure of an art world, of the MFAs and BAs, instead, as Hedi El Kholti underscores in the essay: “When you’re an outsider, Culture retains an element of strangeness. It’s a learning process, you have to make it yours, and this brings an element of surprise to your choices.” It’s attributed to the spaces investment in a DIY strangeness, or in the collective’s act on impulse and ease. I wholeheartedly relate.

 

More on this soon,

J

Dear A,

 

I am late at responding to your letter from the day after graduation (May 2017) when, to paraphrase, you told me it was time to move on. I don’t think those were your exact words, but I never had a chance to thank you for that letter and tell you what a profound emotional and practical impact that little letter had on me. Although I am not moving to LA, new adventures in new places are on the immediate horizon.

 

For now, I’ve been doing a series of studio visits in Stavanger. Yesterday I got terribly lost leaving a risograph studio, &soWalter, that felt like miles away from the city center. I should’ve taken Benjamin’s advice and walked, but instead caught a series of buses going the wrong way. At the riso shop, I spent close to two and a half hours talking about this zine in your hand, that this letter will have a future in, among other things collaboration, collective work, alternative schools, etc. One question I will underscore here is why do designers have so many alternative schools? Is it because of the use value in design? Learning from collaboration? As a means of taking time away from life to focus on a new skill or refine an old one?

 

I’ve been visiting Tou Scene, a multi-purpose space in Stavanger for music and houses artist studios. The building is from the early twentieth century: red brick with white woodwork accenting windows and unit outlines. The inside has been drastically renovated to hold 20+ studios. It feels a bit like a school gym – if you drag your sneakers, the floor squeaks (similar to that funky apartment building in the middle of Tivoli where Lauren and Martine lived last summer). I followed a series of woodcarvings to the door of Anna Ihle’s studio, where she was working on a series of angelic figures for a body of work that, in her inexperience with woodworking tools, will comment on notions of Protestant work ethic. The diligence to work through a task, to not stop, to master carpentry and other modes of production and labor associated with the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth centuries. Ihle’s work had such a subtle humor in it, mostly having to do with her process, and I wondered how she would bring that out in the finished piece. Would the wood angels look choppy and disfigured due to her lack of experience with tools, chainsaws, and probably patience? She told me they were to lay horizontal on Ikea sofas.

 

Tonight, in Stavanger, I am going to an opening for a moving image biennial, called Screen City, on a boat, the MS Sandnes. Beginning in the 1950s up until the mid-1970s, the boat served as a night ferry along the historical Night Route between Sandnes/Stavanger and Bergen. From what I understand, the ship route was established at a time when the only connection to and from each city (Stavanger in the southwest, Bergen just five hours directly north) was by sea transportation, which you still see everyday with ferries heading far north almost on every hour. Now the MS Sandes stayed stationary in Vågen, the Stavanger harbour, used as a main tourist attraction and for special events and parties. I love the boat as a main source of transportation here and it’s completely necessary on the west coast. There are just too many tiny islands which people move throughout using a boat that can be docked along the harbor.

 

But I wonder how you are? I’ve been thinking about our time together this August in New York City. We were able to waste time together because that’s what those final days before the semester starts are for. I’ve been wandering for months, I am looking forward to having a home again. To having a place to store my stuff. I am not looking forward to building up a home again. To buying a couch, a bed, pots and pans. Only to probably move again in another two years. real estate is fragile, mobility is necessary. I am looking forward to hopefully seeing you soon. To hear what you’ve been thinking about. Are you, too, still thinking about letters? I wish we could eat chocolate cake together soon.  

 

J


Dear P,

 

When scheming new publishing ideas and the role of a generalist magazine, but with a political bend, thank you for this quote:

 

“…I was often asked, why hadn’t we gone to the other side, too, and made an objective film? My only answer was that a documentary filmmaker has to have an opinion on such vital issues as fascism or anti-fascism — he has to have feelings about these issues, if his work is to have any dramatic or emotional or art value. And too, there is a very simple fact to consider, that when you are in a war and you get to the other side, you are shot or put into a prison camp — you cannot be on both sides, neither as a soldier nor as a filmmaker. If anyone wanted that objectivity of ‘both sides of the question’ he would have to show two films, our film, and a film by a fascist filmmaker, if he could find one.”

– Joris Ivens, 1969

 

I’ve been thinking more about this quote since I last wrote in a bit of a frenzy. Taking a stance is absolutely necessary but also inherent in the content I wish, and hopefully you wish, to organize, disseminate, and write. Personally, I am struggling with my writing lately, almost trying to “find my voice.” I’ve been keeping a daily log, but struggling to find that equilibrium between the weaving of the personal and essence, the pain, the shit that is surrounding all of us right now. How is it to be done? I am finding some comfort, however, in the hopeful format of the quick zine and will continue this practice of quick writing and a slightly quick format and production….

 

And I’ve been on my last straw lately with the politics in the U.S. I’d reached my limit long ago, sure, but especially with more mass shootings, religion again getting in the way to women’s rights to birth control, and the slew of other shit that happens on a daily basis. Distance – but often that kind of distance, for me, that comes with language and geography that is so unlike what I am accustomed to (and my love of travel is at the core of this) – has anchored some clarity with the work that I need to be doing. I am grateful to be going back to the midwest, it’s going to be a fucking fight.

 

J

 

Texts by Julie Niemi

Design by Benjamin Hickethier

 

Printed at &soWalter in Stavanger, Norway on the occasion of the Contemporary Art Stavanger Art Writing Residency, October 2017.