24/04/19 • Free Form : Claudia La Rocco & Anna Ihle

Pen Pals

24/04/19 • Free Form : Claudia La Rocco & Anna Ihle

Pen Pals

I didn’t plan on taking CAS up on the offer to write something about Stavanger; not that I didn’t find the city of interest — quite the contrary — but I’m wary of the sort of helicopter writing that results from someone being in a place for too short a time to gain any real understanding. I don’t want to read that stuff; and I’ve written enough of it (sorry) for this lifetime.

Then I met Anna Ihle. More specifically, I met her art, when I attended her solo show Bright Future Horizons at Rogaland Kunstsenter. I was tired after many days of travel, studio visits, teaching and lecturing … meeting lots of people in Oslo and Stavanger. I was on my way to a residency, alone in the mountains in Suldal, and my mind wasn’t marshalled for small talk with strangers at an opening. So I sat down in a back room where a video was screening, explicating Anna’s quest for gold in Norway. And I stayed. Something about how the footage meandered; the quixotic search by a group of ill-prepared and at times ill-tempered friends, set into motion by this person who was seeking something else entirely. The beauty and dailiness of it all.

It’s a particular type of magic, the way that art can all of a sudden set your mind in so many directions.

I couldn’t write about Stavanger. But I could write about Anna. Or, at least, I could write to her. Better yet, she could write back. –Clr 4/5/19


Oct 21, 2018, 7:17 PM

Dear Anna,

I hope this finds you very well.

It was so nice to meet you and have a few moments to chat; always such a weird thing to spend a few days somewhere foreign … at the time it can feel utterly real, more real than one’s “real” life (whatever the hell real means) and then it so soon becomes dreamlike…

Anyway. I liked being in Norway, I liked seeing your art, and I liked meeting you.

CAS says it’s fine for me to finish writing something about being there and your work and my lecture by early next year, and so if you’re still up for it I would love to do what I proposed and have a bit of an exchange over email with you, to go wherever we would like, and then to use some of that as part of what I write (of course you’ll get to see it first and to have veto power).

Of course California has so much to do with gold. And San Francisco is a gold rush town, boom and bust … now the gold is tech, and just like gold it doesn’t do most people much good. (Maybe this is the same for oil in Stavanger? Or maybe things there are more equitable?).

Have you been to California? I’m not from the West Coast, I’m from the East. Totally different. I often feel adrift here. Not as much as I used to. When I first got here 2.5 years ago I was directed to this book, among many, as a way of understanding the area. It starts as something of a comedy of manners, almost. And then it turns and turns; I found it at first tedious, then amusing, then engrossing and disturbing.

I was so glad to see that second video. And the images of the falcon (is it actually an eagle?). I have a thing for birds. They tend to be better company than artists. At least art world artists.

I would love to hear anything you have to say, about any of the above or anything else for that matter.



Oct 27, 2018, 8:06 AM

Dear Claudia,

good to hear from you. How are you? I’ve been excited to start some sort of email exchange with you. I’m including questions for you, answer if you feel like it.

Yes, travelling is strange. I recently met a woman, an art teacher I had more than 10 years ago. She advised me to make travelling feel normal, in order not to feel stressed or scattered by it (I had mentioned that I felt overwhelmed by travelling). I don’t know how that would happen in theory — to feel normal. Not get too excited, not feel too confused. Not too many conversations, perhaps. Something like that. It did, however, seem like a good advice. Do you have some personal guidelines for your own travelling?

Glad to hear you liked your stay. I loved your lecture. I would fall in and out of your reflections and it gave me a slightly more romantic view of my everyday life. Perhaps it’s this blessing of having a visitor, an outsider, reflect on the things I forget. I’m thinking (hoping) that this conversation will have a similar effect. I used to list «pen pals» as a hobby as a kid. Perhaps I will get back to that hobby. Do you have any hobbies?

I visited my best friend from high school who works in LA a couple of years ago. I would go for walks downtown, and cook while she was at work. Her work hours are so long. The film industry, where she works, is very male. I fantasized about being her housewife as an artist residency. Generally, we would only talk online, as I brush my teeth in the morning and she´s heading to bed right after work. The work life there is so far away from any sort of Norwegian work model I am familiar with. How did you feel about the work life in Scandinavia you got introduced to?

Thank you for the book! Stavanger is still quite slow, I think. In the sense that the gold fever has not found everyone’s eyes; not at all. I invited a senior vice president from a Norwegian bank for a studio visit. He was responsible for the start-ups the bank was involved with in the Stavanger region. I asked him about his own work schedule, and he seemed pretty clear that he didn’t embody this start-up energy himself.

Image from the exhibition Bright Future Horizons at Rogaland Kunstsenter (2018). The series “Mot Suksess” consists of used office walls, silk screen on felt, pillow feathers. The words printed are taken from a report on Norwegian entrepeneurship that was given to Anna Ihle by a bank CEO whom she had invited for lunch in her studio. The title is an alternative Norwegian formulation of towards success which also can mean against success. Photo: Erik Sæter Jørgensen

Birds: Yes, it’s actually a white-tailed eagle (had to wikipedia to find the English name for it). When the boat was driving into the fjord for our location, the driver pointed us to where that eagle usually hangs out. What kind of birds do you like?

I just started a residency in Maastricht, and I find my perspective of Stavanger is shifting quite fast.

That’s it for now. Sorry about my late reply. I kept thinking I was getting a cold, I still am thinking I’m getting a cold.

Looking forward to hear from you again.


Oct 30, 2018, 9:04 AM

I had to google Maastricht, and then naturally I googled Maastricht and birds, which led me to the eagle owl (M. is very well known for it, according to one site). Which tickled me, since we’re talking about your eagle, and since the bird that’s been on my mind is a burrowing owl (very rare here in Bay Area, just saw my first one). Anyway, it’s just after 8  a.m. and I watched all 8 minutes of this, with my cat, Ehu, as the picture shows. I always am delighted when she thinks what is on the screen is actually in the room with us. And then I get a little depressed at how much time I spend looking at this screen.

I have also been excited to start. I wasn’t excited to write anything for CAS until I thought of this; not because I wasn’t excited about your work (just the opposite) but because I had great fatigue around hearing myself express anything else about anything for awhile … maybe you get that, too? I suspect you do, from your videos. What, me again?? But I thought that it would be really good to be in conversation with you. And I was right!

What you say about romance and being an outsider reminded me of this tweet (super romantic) from Nathan Heller — I was actually going to include it in the talk and then it didn’t quite fit/I didn’t work hard enough to make it fit/have faith that it already fit: “Some of my loveliest moments as a reporter involve warm twilights in cities and towns where I’ve never been before.” Heller wrote an essay on San Francisco for The New Yorker that I quoted (I think, unless my nerves failed) in the talk.

So maybe yes we can say a hobby of mine is bird watching, which I started to do as a kid with my dad, though I am not serious about it, I am quite a dilettante (often go out without binoculars, always forget identification things after learning them, etc). Right now other than the burrowing owl I am into scrub jays and titmice (the name!). And also there was recently a coopers hawk in our backyard, which was exciting. I totally get the old man and birds thing.

Otherwise not really. I read, I go on walks, I spend too much time at the computer. I think I waste a lot of time, it seems necessary somehow.

When did you stop writing to pen pals? I only ever did that fitfully (in the grammar school sense when you got set up with an official pen pal, a stranger) but I do like to write post cards to friends.

It’s already stressful to think about feeling normal. I don’t really have any good rules other than trying to remember to wear compression socks (old lady) on long flights. Do you still feel overwhelmed by traveling?

Also what is changing in your view about Stavanger? That’s really very interesting, that statement.

Also also I can’t imagine inviting a bank senior vp to a studio visit.

Your LA story makes me think of this Chantal Akerman film, even though it doesn’t really relate. Well, to me it does. I love the idea of the housewife residency.

I’m ok, to answer your very first question.

I am composing this email by jumping back and forth to your email and finding things to respond to. I hope it doesn’t feel too hectic. Sometimes (usually) when I meet someone and it feels very easy to converse with that person I get a bit self-indulgent.

Did you get a cold?

“how to create the framework for the life they are seeking” — this is so true, what you say in the first video, that people don’t know how to do this … I feel this a lot. Or maybe I do know (it comes back to simple things like get off social media, make my life bigger by making it smaller, pay more attention, be present, simple things that are hard) … but I don’t do them. (your friend S.! I think she came to my workshop and she wasn’t into it …)

I would like some day to see a white-tailed eagle. I like so much how ghostly the images are. As if this isn’t something that we’re sure is entirely real or was entirely seen.

And the text. Were the notebook pages your observations from when you were looking for gold?

Ok that’s a lot that i’ve written. I hope it’s not exhausting and yes, only answer what you want, or don’t answer/respond to anything and go off in another direction.

it’s really nice to be in conversation.


Oct 30, 2018, 9:13 AM

(ps the owl film is not without its charms but mostly just ridiculous, and essentially it’s two men debating. what else is new)


Nov 10, 2018, 5:17 AM

Dear Claudia,

thank you for your email. Letter writing is a good mode. Or emailing as this is. It´s been more than a week since I received your email, my cold is my excuse. Feeling good now, though. I will get back to you faster next time. What’s a good rhythm of exchange?

I haven’t seen the eagle owl. I put on the “men talking about owl” short film today while putting on my makeup. Been spending some days in the wood work shop, so I feel like having dark eyelashes even though I’m putting on work wear. There are trees everywhere here, and the sound of birds singing was a peaceful change. One day when I just arrived I went for a walk with a fellow artist and we walked through a park with lots of small birds in cages. Like a mini zoo next to the academy. This one yellow bird couple was very cute, I tried to document them but their cuteness didn’t stay on my phone.

When I first arrived here I didn’t have a bike, so I would walk to get to my studio. Now I’m biking and I think it takes me too fast. Today I’ll walk instead. Been cleaning the house, listened to some NPR and Norwegian news, quite pleasurable. Did you notice at all a difference between storytelling here and the US? I rather listen to American podcasts than Scandinavian ones. Scandinavian ones dealing with serious issues are generally so serious that I feel overwhelmed by negative sound design and emotions. With the American ones I’ve listened to I feel inspired by /interested in an upbeat personal tone in almost any theme.

You asked about a fatigue from myself; saying that you get tired of expressing yourself. I recognize that. But recently I’ve been thinking of how little I speak compared to perhaps 10 years ago. Don’t know why that is. But I know I don’t like repeating myself. And I don’t want to bore people. Due to this, I’m generally more comfortable talking on stage (!), because then I know that people know they have to listen for a while. As I’ve seen my own videos many times, I’ve recently been recognizing myself and my own language in this intensified reality-version of myself. That is not pleasurable.

Still from Bright Future Horizons

That Nathan Heller tweet is true to me, visiting any new place. Sometimes I feel embarrassed by the enormous degree of happiness a certain outdoor light condition can bring me in a second. How do you feel about being enthusiastic? Enthusiastic and female? Or non-enthusiastic?

Detail of “Mot Suksess”. Still from Bright Future Horizons printed on used office wall and tape with printed text. Photo: Erik Sæter Jørgensen.

Must say I feel a little jealous of your identification with old bird watching man. This relationship, or interest, in this animal. I don’t even have a cat. I met with designer Dasha Tsapenko this week, because I knew she had been researching different relationship models. Whether it’s polyamory, eco sexuality, a person spending more times with plants/ cats/ books or to normative models. As I’m a sucker for anything framed as a personal relationship, I figured I should try to broaden my (human) relationship perspective. This is some of my main research interest here, and I’m trying to figure out where I’ll go deeper into it.

One of the parts I loved about writing letters, is because I love handwriting. I still do. Nowadays in my studio, I write notes with a brush and watercolors, it slows down my writing and my thinking. But the letters — maybe it was too difficult to reply. I’ve never been good at gifts, and with letters — after a while I would get too lazy to send them. So I would just keep them. Slightly less pathetic than writing Dear Diary? Sounds better with Dear Catherine, Dear Latif, etc. Well sometimes I still send. But I think my ego is still strongly related to it. A few years ago I sent a love letter (unrequited) — and I was so satisfied with the letter that I had to photocopy it before I sent it. So I guess, at some level, it wasn’t really about this love interest after all.

I haven’t really thought about when I stopped writing letters, but looking back at it today, it’s completely obvious… hello internet. Sad realization, really, that I haven’t thought about it. Messages and emojis are quick and easy. Another reason to find a pen. I got my excuses ready though (I don’t have an envelope, where do I buy stamps, how to send a letter — that’s it).

I’ve almost always loved the place I’ve been living in, ever since leaving Stavanger in my teens. And the last two years I’ve lived in Stavanger I’ve been thinking of settling down there. Actually, I’m planning on settling down there. I listed all the pros and cons and I thought Yes, life is for me in this Norwegian medium sizetown. And when I live somewhere else — such as now — I think, Stavanger is definitely no center for …. (I don’t even know what to insert here). I know much of the value of being outside a center, but I know I have missed, and probably will miss all the things I can’t have. Maybe it’s me being away from my lover (Stavanger) and thinking this other one will make me a better person. So I guess when I live in Stavanger, it becomes my world in a sense. And that world is not a very big world.

Thank you so much for the Chantal Akerman film, I hadn’t seen it. Perfect! I am even more eager to execute my housewife residency now. The more I think of it, the more sense it makes!

Have a lovely weekend,



PS The notebook pages are from the participants on the journey, yes. Including myself.

Nov 10, 2018, 5:36 AM

… I just realized my weekend vibe is maybe too casual, too diary-like. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing.


Nov 18, 2018, 12:19 PM

as in how you dress or these emails or everything?

I can’t remember if this pertains to something you wrote in your long email

we’ll find out now


Nov 18, 2018, 12:49 PM

Hiii. Well obviously I didn’t get back to you faster. My state being on fire is my excuse; which isn’t a very good excuse, since the smoke means I have been inside a lot and should have been better at email. But. The head is not in the game. We have had the worst air quality in the world or close to it for much of the last week, because of unrelenting fires … California is now always in a state of fire. Combination of factors, none of them promising.

Anyway, I like that our rhythms are erratic.

I just was shown a picture of a rattlesnake incinerated in the blaze: it died striking at the flames, and so is frozen in attack mode. I mean …

How long a walk is it to your studio?

When did the idea of gold first strike you?

What have you done/will you do with the gold hunting materials?

What is your wood work shop?

Did you listen to the owl men (whenever I put things on I never listen, which is one of the reasons I have trouble with podcasts. I suppose with that reason I don’t need another. I can surmount it but it takes a force of will)?

Does gold still interest you or has it served its purpose?

I’m responding to this email by reading through it and then picking out things to say and then still reading some more till I feel a little overwhelmed. I think maybe I said that already in a previous email. Speaking of repeating ourselves.

I think that I like to be enthusiastic and I like to be around people who make me feel enthusiastic. This increasingly seems like one way to avoid dying years before we are dead. I am enthusiastic about writing to you, and reading your writing to me. It feels like a form of being alive.

I’m not sure I have thought about enthusiasm and femaleness … can you say more? It makes me think about those studies in offices, how men lean back and women lean in. That does not make me feel enthusiastic.

I keep meaning to say that I am getting something like $300 to write whatever it will be that I will eventually write for CAS, and I am feeling more and more that I should split this with you, since I think so much of what I write will be our exchange (with you getting to see it beforehand of course). The other thing I am thinking is we could just publish the exchange without editing it (though I feel like I shouldn’t say that or even think it oops too late because it will shift how we write maybe …). Anyway. All of this is to say: it’s a small fee but we should split it. Maybe we can do something romantic/dumb with the proceeds.

Outdoor light conditions. Yesssss.

In Brooklyn there were lots of men who would have competitions with song birds. They were often recent immigrants, often seeming to me to be very macho in presentation, and they spent all this energy on these dainty, delicate, gorgeous little creatures. In cages. At one point I was going to do a story about it back when I worked as a reporter. But I never did. More men with birds.

I’m very interested in this: “As I’m a sucker for anything framed as a personal relationship, I figured I should try to broaden my (human) relationship perspective. This is some of my main research interest here, and I’m trying to figure out where I’ll go deeper into it.”

If you feel like saying more …

The unrequited but photocopied love letter made me smile for days. The handwriting is much more satisfying than the typing, I agree, and also the speed of it, the materiality, the choices (what stamp, what pen, what type of card) and the finality of those choices (particularly the words). Though I did used to have quite extensive email correspondences with people. I used to really get a bit obsessed with that sort of narcissistic exchange: you’re connecting but … fully in control of that connection, or if not fully … I dunno. At the end of the day you’re only staring at your hands and the words they make.

(I am trying not to edit these much at all; sorry about that. It might not be a good choice.)

Where are you standing now, with regard to Stavanger? I think smaller, a certain kind of smaller, is the key to things being big inside. I think that’s why the internet is such a soul killer: everything is available, and so one’s internal resources wither on the vine.

My cat is right now climbing onto the Wurlitzer piano, making a lovely little song. She has curled up right in its center, on top of the wool blanket covering it. I’m not sure what it is about that space. Cats.

I think the songbirds the men kept were not meant to be kept — not in the poetic way, but it was/is actually illegal.


Being in Norway, in Suldal, I had the experience of things being very small, and how big that smallness could make my thoughts, my actions. Morning coffee on the rock outside overlooking the lake or really high above the lake … it became an event. It was cold and wet and I was surrounded by sheep shit and it seemed like magic. I am thinking of the water falling down the sides of the rock faces, how the streams intensified after days of rain, what had looked at first like lines of white chalk or ribbons began to undulate, to become legible as falling water. For once my computer was not the internet, meaning my studio was not the internet, and I wrote 6000 words of the novel in three days.

We want human relationships, especially romantic ones, to do too much.

Love (if it’s not too forward),



Dec 13, 2018, 11:22 AM

Dear Claudia,

I was slow in connecting – you are IN California, California which is burning. I hope you are well, that you are safe. Sad news. Not even really news anymore, always burning.

Sometimes I forget that the headlines are referring to the actual world.

Thank you, it was good to read your email. I’m re-reading now, sending a reply. It’s morning now, I just had breakfast with my flatmate, a breakfast which felt like an incredibly good studio visit. I live with Elisa, an Italian artist, a sharp and lovely person.

10 minute walk from Anna's apartment in Maastricht.

My bike lock is broken, number three in 3 months, so I’m considering it a sign, and I’m continuing walking to my studio. It’s a 30-minute walk. It feels faster than biking, even though biking only takes me 10 minutes. This is probably because I am so unfit.

A few years ago I lived in a small town in Norway and I found myself a lover in a town next to it. There aren’t that many buses going between these small towns, and I just missed one trying to return to my town after a weekend visit. Frustrated, because I had missed my bus, on a snowy day, I decided to hitchhike. There weren’t that many cars going by, but I figured someone had to feel sorry for this cold person, and help me get to a bus stop with better odds. A cheap and old looking blue car stopped, two scruffy looking 40-something old guys were in the front, I jumped in in the back. They were chatty. I told them I had visited my boyfriend (female strategy of feeling safer with strangers) — and of course they KNEW my boyfriend — and my plan to have a casual lover was over. I now had a boyfriend, much to my own frustration, and it was my fault. However, the other thing that car ride offered me, in addition to a boyfriend upgrade, was gold. The two men told me they had found gold the day before. When they told me, I thought they were crazy. I had never heard of people finding gold in Norway before. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I started researching gold in Norway. When I started my self-initiated residency at Innovation Dock, I decided to go for it. To find gold myself.

What have you done/will you do with the gold hunting materials?

Everything is in storage at the moment. Not sure where it’s going. Literally and conceptually.

Does gold still interest you or has it served its purpose?

I think it has served its purpose, at least for now. I’m keeping it on hold, but I think I will leave it.

What is your wood work shop?

Now I share it with other participants where I am working. All big machines and hand tools. Yesterday, Ron (wonderful wood technician), helped me put up a tarp in a corner outside. There, I can make a mess while sculpting a new work. My own private studio.

I have a bit of similar plan as you, reading, then writing. And yes, I do think we are repeating ourselves a little bit. So I wonder why someone would want to read everything? Does it make sense?


I continue this email more than one week later. I will send it now, even though I didn’t get through all the questions. Sending you a picture of my outside temporary work space.

Being enthusiastic is not a controlled state. It’s an emotional state, isn’t it? So I regularly feel embarrassed for being too enthusiastic, too excited. I was at a lecture by a female curator recently, and one of my colleagues found the curator too much. As in too enthusiastic. I found her refreshing in the best sense of the word. Perhaps a display of enthusiasm sometimes can make someone seem less serious about a subject matter.

You can do / we can do whatever with the proceeds. But doing something dumb or romantic sounds like the best option though! What did you have in mind?

Birds and men, I liked reading about that. Maybe someone else has written that story you didn’t write that time.

I will give you an update later this weekend about framing things as personal relationships. But I still wanted to send you this, as I’ve been so slow.

Reading about your post cards also made me think of how much I loved to write essays in school — first writing a draft quickly, and then slowly, slowly put down each word — as perfect and lovingly — as possible for a 12-year-old. Been thinking much about my art practice as a form of letter writing. Like that photocopied love letter. I collect my efforts, my brain, my love, my energy, my whatever — and then type it down with a certain precision. I send it off. And I think of it myself, either deadly embarrassed, or sometimes very content with what I’m capable of. How do you think of your own writing?

I am going back to Stavanger. My boyfriend and I will move into a studio apartment in an eco-semi communal- housing complex. But I need to figure out how my other worlds will be; I need to make space for this very small and very big. And more nature. I imagine I will live in Stavanger when I get old, so I think I will need more of the big, and more of the busy before I get really old.

We want human relationships, especially romantic ones, to do too much.

My mom has told me that several times. Or particularly; Anna, you want too much from your relationships. You wont get all those things that you want. And I refused to listen, but somehow now I feel less disappointed. I don’t know if my relationships are better, or just — I finally learned. I’m not even sure. I live far away from many of my friends, and I know I miss and idealize the relationships.

Please tell me more about what you meant by this sentence.

Love, (Love, is not too forward)


Dec 16, 2018, 4:17 PM

Hi again,

now it’s Sunday night, I figured I should drop you some lines about using (human romantic) relationships as a framework of understanding things that are not romantic relationships. With an endless number of conversations about mechanisms of relationships — and how long to wait for a reply from that specific person — one (I?) builds up a decent amount of experience. Experience that can, possibly, be translated into knowledge — that in turn can help understand other types of relationships. And perhaps bring the world a little closer, or, slightly clearer for a minute.

I did, however, realize while writing this — that I shouldn’t write more about this. I’m in the middle of figuring out new works that I’m not ready to share yet.

Sorry about making a promise I didn’t keep. It’s my second time today: Earlier I made a seitan roast (2nd seitan Sunday of my life!), and I was proud of my achievement and texted a friend that I would bring her some. By pure laziness (excuse: after the first snow fall of this winter last night it was horribly cold here) I changed my mind and I stayed inside.

I had a great Sunday.


Jan 5, 2019, 3:42 PM

Well. I’m writing you from Maine, my last night here. The Maine where I wrote a lot of the Norway essay where we met (or maybe only you met my writing, maybe I didn’t meet you before you left?), the Maine that is so much like Norway to me. So … this seems fitting. But now I have cut and paste all of what we have written previously into a document and I am writing straight into the document, which is different.

My idea for the dumb/romantic thing is that we could each use $150 to commission one of our artist friends to write/make something for the other person and send — so you would get something from someone in my world and vice versa. And $150 is not a super lot, especially if it’s for some big and onerous project, but it’s a nice little amount to make you do something small and pleasing. I think I would like to have $150 given to me by a friend to make something for a stranger. And I guess we could give them this exchange so they would have some place as a starting ground — this could be their source material. I can think of a few people already.

I had to google seitan to remind myself what it is. Congratulations! And for staying inside, that’s such an important thing to do sometimes. It makes me think of a US choreographer and writer I like a lot – Susan Rethorst – writing about being in Finland (I think) for a residency in winter and becoming housebound, the particulars of that experience, what it does to a people, a person. (Also to realize when you shouldn’t talk about what you are making; that it needs to stay protected/unnamed a little while longer in order to be made. I will look forward to what it is.)

There is snow on the ground here, but just a little. I keep going outside and taking the same picture/short video of this little tidal inlet outside my parents’ house (the house where I grew up from fifth grade on or so). Here is one of them:

We want human relationships, especially romantic ones, to do too much.

I guess … I think we are very lonely generally inside of Western society (can one say “Western society” does it mean anything? Well, in my little corner of Western society let’s say), and then when we find people, partners, we invest such a lot/too much in them. Then we get disappointed when things aren’t “perfect” or when we aren’t “happy”; and then, the worst, we look to/blame these relationships instead of examining ourselves. I feel my tendency to do this in my current relationship, but I am trying very hard to resist it and I think I am succeeding in various ways, or at least I have the maybe circumstantial evidence that it is the first truly good and fulfilling relationship I have been in (past errors were in large part mine though there were a couple of standout assholes).

Art practice as letter writing practice: yes. I often think about my various writing projects as being made for a few (or even one) very specific persons. I do think of them as love letters usually. Narcissistic love letters sometimes I guess. For awhile I was structuring a lot of my texts as letters but then that became too habitual. And so …

There is so much more to say. But I think I leave it here. And you can decide whether you or I have the last word. (And then if you do agree to having this published I can do all of the tedious editing stuff, you would just have to tell me if there is anything you wrote that you don’t want me to include. OR if you decide you don’t want any of it I will do something. Else. Obviously.)

I’m glad love was not too forward.


Claudia La Rocco is a writer whose work frequently revolves around interdisciplinary projects and collaborations. She is the author of The Best Most Useless Dress (Badlands Unlimited), selected poetry, performance texts, images and criticism; and the novel petit cadeau, published by The Chocolate Factory Theater in print, online, and live editions. La Rocco’s poetry and prose have been published in such anthologies as 6X6 #34: I Like Softness(Ugly Duckling Presse),Imagined Theatres: Writing for a theoretical stage (Daniel Sack, ed; Routledge), and On Value (Ralph Lemon, ed; Triple Canopy). Her work has been presented by The Walker Art Center, The Kitchen, The Whitney Museum of American Art, et al. She teaches and lectures widely, including at Princeton University, the School of Visual Arts, San Francisco Ballet, and Tokyo’s Dance New Air festival; and has bylines in numerous publications, including Artforum, BOMB, East of Borneo, and The New York Times, where she was a dance and theater critic and reporter from 2005 to 2015. La Rocco founded the social and online criticism collective The Performance Club, and is editor in chief of SFMOMA’s art and culture platform Open Space.

Anna Ihle has in recent years made works of art that explore the meaning of labour in our times. She sculpts in stone, carves wood, pans for gold and invites others to discuss their work processes. Ihle has studied at the art school Konstfack in Stockholm and at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. Her works have been shown among other places at Konsthall C, Uppsala Konstmuseum, Art Lab Gnesta, Spriten Kunsthall, RAM Galleri, Kunstmuseet in Nord- Trøndelag, Kunstgarasjen and Photo Gallery. Ihle has been chosen as ‘Stavanger Artist of the year 2018’ and has (2016–2018) been a part of the working board of Studio 17. She’s a board member of Kunsthall Stavanger, and member of the Norwegian artist unions NBK and UKS. She is a participant at the Jan Van Eyck Academie 2018-2019, Maastricht, where she is exploring the complicated structures of working life further.