Posts in Essay

Thoughtful meditations and personal or critical musings inspired by visual art, moving images, and subjects including — and not limited to — pop culture, poetry, urbanism, social economics, politics

Nothing That Meets the Eye: Double Trouble

06.23.2015  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

“Nothing That Meets the Eye” is a series of essays in which I think through the aesthetic and affective fallout of some of the odder, ubiquitous, and more stubborn byproducts of our culture of copies, reproductions, and fakes.

It is only fitting that I end this series back where it began, in the presence of Elaine Sturtevant’s work. This time I’m in Los Angeles, at LACMA’s installation of Double Trouble, the MOMA retrospective I first caught back in December of last year.


Nothing That Meets the Eye: Notes on Clones

06.03.2015  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

“Nothing That Meets the Eye” is a series of essays in which I think through the aesthetic and affective fallout of some of the odder, ubiquitous, and more stubborn byproducts of our culture of copies, reproductions, and fakes.

“Taste has no system and no proofs,” writes Susan Sontag at the outset of “Notes on Camp” (1964). “Any sensibility which can be crammed into the mold of a system, or handled with the rough tools of proof, is no longer a sensibility at all. It has hardened into an idea . . .”


On Being-Hated: Conceptualism, the Mongrel Coalition, the House That Built Me.

05.20.2015  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

What does it mean to even be somewhere, be someone? My name is Trisha Low. I’m 26 years old and haven’t yet hit my Saturn returns.


Nothing That Meets the Eye: Cheap Imitations

05.13.2015  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

“Nothing That Meets the Eye” is a series of essays in which I think through the aesthetic and affective fallout of some of the odder, ubiquitous, and more stubborn byproducts of our culture of copies, reproductions, and fakes.

In my last post, I discussed how artist biopics ironically rely on painstakingly crafted stunt doubles of their subject’s most famous pieces in order to consolidate the romantic image of the artist as lone genius. Despite the suspension of disbelief that lets us overlook, say, the fake Vermeers in Girl With a Pear... More

Nothing That Meets the Eye: Not Pollock

04.24.2015  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

“Nothing That Meets the Eye” is a series of essays in which I think through the aesthetic and affective fallout of some of the odder, ubiquitous, and more stubborn byproducts of our culture of copies, reproductions, and fakes.

Everybody has that feeling when they look at a work of art and it’s right, that sudden familiarity, a s... More

On Being-Hated: Ron Athey, Whip-Its, Envy.

04.22.2015  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

I know these posts usually start with something coherent, like where I am or where I might be going. How I want what I want when I want it, that sort of thing. Maybe it’s weird for me to assume that any of this might be interesting to you, voyeuristically or whatever. But god, I’m so tired I’ve gotta be honest. I did a lot of fucking drug... More

Objects Sublimated to Things

04.15.2015  |  By

The Thing, founded and run by artists Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan, is “is a periodical in the form of an object. It’s like a magazine, except that each issue is conceived of by a different contributor and then published on a useful object.” Four times per year, subscribers receive an iteration of the journal. Over the years those object... More

On Being-Hated: Damien Hirst, Alli Warren, Kissing the Wall.

04.08.2015  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

Let’s start with where I want to go. I don’t know where I want to go but it’s definitely not here. I’ve just quit smoking for the second time in my life and everything’s just one undifferentiated mass; I don’t know where I want to go, but it doesn’t matter. I just know that staying here means I can’t sleep — that I’m lucid &... More

Nothing That Meets the Eye: An Introduction

04.06.2015  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

Patricia Highsmith’s short story “The Great Cardhouse” (1963) centers on Lucien Montelhuc, a wealthy art collector whose passion is hunting down only the most expertly done forgeries of Old Masters, finding “bona fide masterpieces […] too natural, too easy, too boring” …


The Edge Effect

03.30.2015  |  By

unexpected projects is a collaboration between Jenny Salomon and Jen Stager. In this series, they interview other collaborative teams in the Bay Area to find out what their projects and processes are all about.

In Conversation: Selene Foster and Christopher Reiger of BAASICS: Bay Area Art and Science Interdisciplinary Collaborative Sessions

W... More

On Being-Hated: Werner Schroeter, Erika Staiti, “Community”.

03.23.2015  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

Let’s start with where I can’t go. I could have one lover, maybe two; I could text someone I don’t know from the Internet and meet them on a street corner, kiss them when we don’t yet know each other’s names. I could stand on the same street corner, abandoned callously by someone else’s lover, weeping. I could get an email from someone ... More

Other Half Orbit

03.16.2015  |  By

We met with Ingrid Rojas Contreras and Jeremiah Barber in the gallery of their current joint exhibition Lo real maravilloso at Mission Cultural Center to talk about their ongoing collaboration. Ingrid identifies primarily as a writer and Jeremiah as a visual artist; however, their connection and collaboration of more than a decade blurs boundaries ... More

On Being-Hated: Banks Violette, Pharmakon, Karaoke.

03.09.2015  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

Let’s start with where I am. It could be anywhere. I’m on a train to Philadelphia, I’m on a plane back to New York. I’ve just moved to Oakland. I’m wearing a pair of fingerless leather gloves and there’s a slim choker around my neck loose enough that the buckle’s constantly slipping over to the front.


Matisse’s Couture Closet and “La Conversation”

11.17.2014  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Essay

Jared Ledesma

In 1938 Henri Matisse completed La Conversation (The Conversation), a vibrant exploration of color and design on canvas featuring two female models clad in couture. This painting, along with many other works in SFMOMA’s Matisse collection, was the focus of my research in preparation for Matisse from SFMOMA, which was on view at the... More

BOOM: Turfing Inspiring The World

09.29.2014  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

My first two posts on Oakland turf dancing emphasized some of the sites where turfing takes place, or is subsequently shown: from the art gallery, to the Oakland Ballet, to the stages where Johnny Lopez’s TURFinc battles take place. That is, turfing is visible in a number of known venues for art. But there is another site that is critical to this... More

Taking Up Room On The Floor

09.22.2014  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

The RIP videos made by Oakland turf dancing crew Turf Feinz appeared in 2009-2010, commemorating recent deaths of young people in Oakland. It’s been four years or more since most of them were posted, which in turfing time, like internet time, might as well be forty. However, many, if not all, of the dancers in those videos are still dancing in O... More

The Sketch Artist: Paul Clipson’s REEL

09.17.2014  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Essay, Field Notes

Judy Bloch on movie love masquerading as obsessive duty in REEL, a book from filmmaker, and longtime SFMOMA projectionist, Paul Clipson.

The tiny 35mm film frame (twenty-four pass by per second), in its singularity, evokes all of the big screen’s satisfying fullness. No small screen (say, television or computer) can hope to equal this lovely, fr... More

BOOM! Turfing Against the World

09.15.2014  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

In 2010, the annual juried show at Southern Exposure was titled BOOM! Thinking back on it now, I love that curator Astria Suparak called it BOOM! It was a little melodramatic for a few rooms of generally non-explosive works of art, but prescient in a way. BOOM! – the beat comes in and everybody moves.  BOOM! – fireworks and their long echoes a... More


07.31.2014  |  By

What is without reason, is monstrous. What is with singular reason, is monstrous. What ignores reason over a singular, driving motive, is monstrous. What is reasonable will get you from the top of the steps of your home, where you tie your shoes and feel the first breath of the day’s weather on your skin, to a table across town that sits near the door of the place where you do business, but this will never be anything anyone would pay to see on a screen. Only the monstrous is entertaining and profitable.


The State of Refuge in Vancouver

05.15.2014  |  By
Filed under: Essay

This text appeared originally in Fillip 3, in slightly longer form:

At the Lobby Gallery, Erica Stocking exhibited Single Room Occupancy. She built a mid-level luxury hotel room in an empty space behind the gallery wall. The Lobby Gallery serves a duel function as the actual lobby of the Dominion Hotel, a boutique hotel on Abbott Street just North of Cordova and West of Carrall. It is just tucked into Gastown—the historical district which designates itself from the surrounding Downtown Eastside with brick sidewalks, wrought iron guard posts a... More

James Franco: To Barf or Not to Barf, That Is the Question

04.26.2014  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

As the saying goes,  if everybody hates you, you must be doing something right, right? So what happens when both of the top art critics in New York slam your work on two different days, delivering a one-two knockout punch? It’s enough to drive most artists to suicide!

The question is, do you go down for the count or do you to get back up and try to keep fighting? Jerry Saltz went so far as to say that George Bush is a better artist than James Franco. Roberta Smith pleaded for someone  to get him to stop making art.

Sure, maybe Franco is... More


04.03.2014  |  By

“The game is a machine composed of interconnected mechanistic devices. These devices facilitate bad faith interaction… A con or snow job is the site at which X preys upon the hopes, fears, and anxieties of Y for ulterior motives and/or personal gain. The machinations which vehiculate this manipulation can have wide effect—ranging from the ... More


03.27.2014  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

At the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, filming a soft drink ad in front of a crowd of fans, a pyrotechnic malfunction ignites the singer’s hair causing second degree burns on his scalp and face. The case is settled out of court and the settlement is donated to the Brotman Medical Center, which is rechristened in honor of their benefactor. The President invites the singer to the White House to give him an award for his support of charities that helped people overcome alcohol and drug abuse (the First Lady’s pet cause). Inspired by ... More


03.17.2014  |  By

Hard sunlight bullies through smoke and soot. Something awful is burning all the time and a haze mutes even medium distances into old photographs. Our town is shrouded in perpetual smoke that fades red to an 1890’s sepia, and clouds any blue to a dusty gray. Muted colors make us feel like we’re in some scratchy old movie. That in turn slows everything down. Traffic lights halt movement for almost all of a Linda Ronstadt song even when there’s nothing to wait for. Birds seldom fly and when they do they don’t flap. They circle the ... More

Your Day is My Night

02.07.2014  |  By
Filed under: Essay


“. . . dawn, always new, often superb, inaugurates the return of the everyday.”—Henri Levebvre

“the house protects the dreamer”—Gaston Bachelard

“. . . the non-I that protects the I.”—Gaston Bachelard

Coming into culture is also coming into discipline. It begins with trying to get newborn babies to s... More

A short essay on form

12.11.2013  |  By
Filed under: Essay

A form amassing. A signal sent and received. An object for use. Form is force. Form behind. Form in a world of radical positivity. Form is leaking. Form learned from limits. Force is form. In this way, form is passive. Form is seen. Light reflects from the surface of form. Form which reforms then dissipates. Form which strikes then flees. Form whi... More


11.19.2013  |  By


A road trip to San Francisco to see Prince perform from the Controversy album. Morris Day and the Time are the opening act. The audience is 99 percent African American, and dressed to the nines. Dancing with arms thrown up; we’re in church. Our minister preaches: I’ll Jack U Off!
In May, I have my first gay sex. We warm up with vodka, orange juice, and his collection of every David Bowie video he recorded off Friday Night Videos. FNV is an ho... More

Stop Hating on the Genius of Miley Cyrus

09.02.2013  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

Most people don’t realize just how much Miley Cyrus has been suffocating under the international brand built by the Disney Corporation. Remember—they portrayed her as an innocent, apple pie–loving American wonder child that could do no wrong.

They invested millions upon millions of dollars in that wholesome purity—in the middle class f... More

How to Be Invisible Online (for Artists)

08.07.2013  |  By
Filed under: Essay, Projects/Series

Because artists tend to express unpopular political views they get lumped in with witches, heavy metal musicians, Communists, terrorists, satanists, or whatever seems to be warping the minds of our youth at the moment. Think of Ai Weiwei, Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, Jim Morrison, The Dead Kennedys, The Dixie Chicks, Andres Serrano, N.W.A., ... More

The NSA Is Watching You Watching Porno

06.26.2013  |  By
Filed under: Back Page, Essay

Obviously the NSA is the ultimate voyeur.
Obviously the NSA knows about every porn site you have ever looked at.
Obviously the NSA knows you sent some pretty mean and emotionally messed up e-mails to your ex-wife.
Obviously the NSA knows you check your e-mail eighty-five times a day.
Obviously the NSA knows you check Facebook 150 times a day.
Obviously the NSA knows you scan the Craigslist dating section all the time.
Obviously the NSA knows your cell phone is just a sophisticated tracking device that can also be used for phone calls and textin... More