gregory volk

 

fiction/prose

The two pieces included in this section weree selected to correspond with zingmagazine’s original conception: to be a forum filled with crossings and intersections, both within and between genres. Jean-Charles Masséra’s Authenticity, a highly idiosyncratic to the French freeway system, is an excerpt froma novel-in-progresss. His frist novel,Gangue Son, was published in 1994 by Éditions Méréal. Masséra, who lives in Paris, also writes extensively about art. Presently he is prepareing a catlogue essay on Vito Acconci. His text here was written in French and translated by Brian Holmes, an american writer and art critic who alos lives inParis.

Eileen Myles is a New York-based poet, fiction writer, and artcritic. Her work Ostaps’s Paintings, a lyrical conflation of art criticism and creative prose, arises from an extended trip she recently took to Russia and parts of Eastern Europe. Among her many published works are a collection of short stories, Chelsea Gilrs (Black Sparrow Press, 1994) and Maxfield Parrish: Early & New Poems, which appeared this year, also from Black Sparrow Press. An anthology of writing by women, The New Fuck You: Adventures in Lesbian Reading, edited by Myles and Liz Kotz, has recently been published by Semiotext(e).

Gregory Volk

 

Authenticity

Jean-Charles Masséra

[This excerpt of a fictional text, structured as a user’s manual or a guidebook to the French freeway network. It is not about this network, but takes it as a signifier of our contempoarary condition. Each section of the book mixes several different nkinds of instructions and guides we refer to every day (how to use your computor, how to be less tense, where to go, what to do, and so on), showing how they structure our wy of living, our way of being, of experiencing the contemporary environment: how to format the region you’re visiting. How the way you travel through France or use your credit card becomes the way you are. J.-C.M.]

Let’s make one thing cllear right away: there’s nothing really outstanding to stop for in France. But as a crossroads member of econimic Europe, France can offer you an enticing infrstructure of virtual and real exchnsges. Visit France for its high-quality network of transportation and communication. If you’re coming down from the North: a nice distraction towards Italy or Spain.

Excepting delays on weekends and holidays, the freeway network should allow you toavoid the wholecountry, north to sout, east to west, in just under ten hours.

If you leave the freeway network: A simpler and more attractive France

The more they explore, the more the more curious they are! So let ’em climb Alps, glide throught he outfiled sites, take a trip around the Arieege countryor visit the Roman arenas; and for the little oness, sand castles all up and down the coast. Certain sites are genuine theme parks. Their enjoyment is facilitated by a full-fledged policy of interesting the passengers and accelerating the speedsss of accessibility.

Interesting the passengers: what option to take?

The overall plan of attracion, now awaitng discussion in Parliamnet, provides for all the mechanisms of flow-control and hieghtens the participation of passengers in the activities of private enterprises.

Consumer goods sell faster when freeway passengers know know they can set aside aweekend ti findout about daily life in Burgandy in Gallo-Roman times, or where the pilgramage tours of Saint-Jacquesof Compostella spent the night. And instead of just leaving the sites as they were, why noy update them:Voseges-le-Detour, Saint-Pôle d’Attraction, Son et Lumiére-sur-Loire...Distributed in this way,the showcase regions should change from time to time anf thus could generate positive effectson employment. We can meet our goals, bu strengthening our economy, lightening the tax burden, introducing more flexibility into working hours, creatinga captioned context that can be put into glossy brochures and updated businesses specializing in architectural cosmetics whose expansesshould be trimed, or by the conversion into authenticityof al or part of the currently unprotected sites. Complinetary informationsal material exonerated by the opinions of specialists can be installed in the service stations and rest areas so as to inform you about the region you have crossed without stopping: RuralVision. Encourage the regions to make their own entirely free choice to bring their historical patrimony more fully into the leisure-time program, In this way they create a deliberate link between participationn in stimulating the local economy and participation in the prestige-building of our patrimony: as soon as visitor-interest levels fall below 5%, a new style of participating in the upswing can be broughtinto operation. In order that the full range of passengers can make use of the interest-systems and share in the results, the projected lawincludes dipositions to simplify France even more and clarify the existing history. Next historic exit: Rivieraland. The law insists on the necessarily arbitrary nature of interest, cuts out criteria of differentiation linked to the ancientness or the human factors of the area, and relies instead on clear criteria of exploitability and the presence of monumentsand visitable sites inclose proximity to the freeway.

How to calculate the authenticcity level of the place you’re visiting

The maximum authorized authenticity level for the touristis 0.80 grams per square meter. French People in general consume less and less pure authenticity, whatever the region visited.The quantity of authenticity absorbed while visiting France can be figured with one quick calculation: surfae area of the region X ÷ N number of sites at Y density (approx. 0.80%) = quantity of authenticity. To carry out this calculationin any given case, rember these guidelines:

—In tourists regions, the explorable surface of each site is precisely determined: 1km™ for villages, 4 km™ for cities, 0,05 km ™ for distilled monuments.
—The “proof” rating or contentof a siteis simply two timesits percentageof authenticity: avillage measures 10 to 12% authenticity, a city 5%, while a distilled histroric monument attains 40% authenticity.

With an authenticity level of 0.80g/m™, approximately 6 hours will be required to eliminate the authenticity consumed. A village:9 minutes to visit it, 90 minutes to eliminate it.

0 g/m™: normal vision, field of touristic interst zero, perfect perception of the contemporary environment. 0.5 g/m™: the field ot touristic interest expands (lateral version), the eyes grow more sensitive to the bedazzlement of the site, the evaluation of the diiferent time periods perturbed by the successive restorations (steroscopic version). 1.2G/m™: the secondary effeects of the restorations multiply; double vision (yesterday superimposed on today), poor distinction of the original colors, etc. Over 2.0g/m™; pronounced inebriation, all sesorial perceptionhampered (reflexes,balance,etc.), may evenlead to hallucinations: Monet at Giverny.
Afte a certain time period, the number of stops at the sites reaches a “ceiling” where the effects of the authenticity are imperceptible. Renewed consumption of the ssitees results only in low-intensity, quickly fading effects. The effects of authenticity leveels diminish if consumption is contiued without “burning off” previous visits.Remeber to count the time spent between the visits. Piling up visits in time doesn’t leave any time to step back in time. Periods and styles simply blur.

The fact is, most visitors don’t know that visits without previous research just aren’t profitable. Visiting without researchingaccelerates the elimination of inexplicable details and thus augments the inability to believe in the site. Intense physical exercise has no effect whatsoever onnthe comprehension of the site, fro here again, excess details are eliminated, and the visitor grows more disinterested. Moreover, guides and brochures combinedwith a lack of historical perpsective can actually be dangerous. All research must be focused directly on the site. A visitor who has doen no researchwill pick up only a negligible quantity froma level of 0.5 g/m™. He or she can visit, but it won’t be very productive. Visitors who hve gulped down a few quick lines from a guidebook will hardly obtain anything more.

For a visitor of average education (a B.A. in the humanities), the degree of appreciation of a site featureing an authenticity level of 0.5 g/m™ can be calculated inn the following way:

degree of site appreciation = level of authenticity = 0.12

B.A.÷number of years after graduation

—0.12 what ?

A Protected France (Miniature France)

The local populations of the visitable regions are presented in context, in actual dwelling places installed just like they were, to give you all kinds of decorating ideas.

One thing must be rembered: after the tourist professionals have been through, authenticity doesn’t grow back. The second wave of prestige-building aimes to cut the patrimony away fromits environment before withering is definative.

• National Parks: decontextualized spaces specializing in the preservation of flora and fauna for youth educationprograms.
• Regional Nature Parks: Nostalgic spaces including a plan of tourist attraction and Disneylandizing tendingto retard industrialization aand tourists.
• Protection of Historical Patrimony: Restoration business matched with a seduction program spin-wshing the original state until bleached perfectly white.
• Registerd Monuments: Buildings (judged on a scale of differences from the average urban environment) protected by curiosity signposts and a tourists attractionplan complete with Disneylandizing of exterior wall surfaces tending to retard apporval of demolitionpermits and the tourist.
•Registered Sites: Landsscapes(judged on a scale of differences from the average environment) protected by curiosity signposts and a tourist attraction plan complete with Disneylandizing of the topsoil tending to retard industrialization and the tourist.


—Translated from French by Brian Homes


 

Ostap’s Paintings

Eileen Myles

There’ some traffic scraping by occasionally, the yawn of the city &Ostap’s rattleing plastic, undressingpaintings in the room I used to livein. I’ve seen them before. One day, actually the 21st of June, Jennifer & I came over to meet Ostap’s father, Arkadii Dragomoshhchenko, the poet, who had just returned from the States. There was food coming(plok) and the whole gang was there, much wine & there was a need for entertainment. We watched some videos of Arkadii& Ostap in Berlin at some big exhibition, they’re both funny guys, sort of a father son act. Then there was a tape of Arkadii in Moscow witha whole bunch of poets meeting a cultural minister. Fianlly we saw Ostap’s Paintings. Just part of the show. They were huge and he dragged them out one by onelike a clown.

So now I’m sitting in this little room in the back of the apartment, waiting to see them again. You want landscapes or protraits? Both. The landscape has a yellow sky, gobbing paint, a brighter yellow skidding across a more orangey—funneling down to the horizon. It’Petersburg stuff (I’m referring to artists’ and poets’ almost compuslive urge to quote this city) but Ostap’s are bith the wrong colors & the wrong mood. The bridge, black and pink, like azipper that separates the reflected city from the uppermost ”real” also looks like a belt around a bloated belly. The rough bondage of some right hand docks is making sure the picture isn’t utterly square and insists that we (the viewer) are standingthere in our body. This one, he says, after dragging out five more, was first . You mean your first paintig. Yes. I do this three year—I don’t speak Russian and Ostap’s English, though more than adequate, feels like a physical effort we’re making together. I finally get that he was doing portraits, then he did this still life, a pink ball next to a white ashtray with a blue berry casting a shadow and another berry just above. And all his things cast graphic shadows like superman streamers. The background, the table, is yellow. After three years I see that this is sky (the table) implying that “this ” realization led to the landscapes with their heaves of brazen yellow.Oh I see a tiny white dot in the yellow & it has a blue traacer too. It makes sense now to return to his biggest painting, the central landscape—a confabulation of roofs and pipes, domes, clock, towers, all again in hard Moscow colors. This kid’s ambitious. The mean blue green sky holds the city like a thug. Leaning against another painting,a father & child, a man gazing off into the future of no camera. This portraiture as monument.Like a painitng of formal photogrphic potraiture but serious glint of the historical has been draped over the personal so the bald man holds his bald babay and the child wears a blue dress & his collar is yellow and the folds in the arm of theman’s brown coat & the boy’s blue dress are uniform material as if the colored paint wer bronze. And this is a painting made in the city which has more public sculpture of “great men” per square foot thanany other city in the world. So who are these two? Later Ostap told me th e baby was Arkadii, his father. From a childhood painting four decades old. With any amount of pordding, I find that everything is a joke. That’s its pleasure, its meaning. We move on to a simple landscape (sandwich) near a river, with pipes and stuff. Industrial landscape. The pipes which hold almost half the canvas are musical, lyrical, fromed in white & the industrial view is a hand church.A tiny icon. Like a postmodern prayer.

You know, I was just on the tram coming here & there was this girl all dolled up for work and she was asked by a man with a pad and abadge if she had a bus pass or had punched her ticket. I watched her go from brash to tense: finally she was led off the bus. It seems a vestige of another world. Local details hover, ready to go either way. In Ostap’s portraiture two guys glowing green uniforms lean over a tablet, a piece of writing. Some masculine awe surrounds their habits Does awe = light? The leaves overhead are framing this detainment. It’s like a romanticization of a routine power play. A green ar holds a lady;only her head shows framed inred and the wheel in the corner of the canvas seems caught between merely radial and the emblematic. She is Kabuki, still. So are the men in some fashion, yet they are actors, holding the fort of society, whatever is meant by that at aany given moment, they are the measure of its practices.

The body of another woman is seemingly severed, Jeff Koons like, at the waist, by the black waterthat fills the tub. Pipes glow ina Cubist fashion. The spigots are heavily shadowed inblack. Her left arm probably reaching, holdinga a hose goes off the canvas just beyond the crook of her arm. Her right hand is too damn bi, holding the edge of the tub, which is good.

There’s a kind of hulk on a chair. His muscles are hewn in tawney orage He is clearly mute strength itself, in a moment of reposefromhis own vulgar power. Yet he leaves as if to hear. He’s a circus character ona chair. Small crude teeth. An ugly red backgroundconitues the feeling of garish. I wanted to do a person who was alandscape.So I did this, then I did only landscapes. Two things, landscapes & people.

He trotted out five more. At first they were kind of flat to me. Red, black & ochre. Men, bald men. He showed me a still lifefrom ana art magazine of what looked like sundials in red. He showed me a print from an art history book of figures on vases posed against vivd black. Or was it red? No, it was a black & white book. Men in sunglasses, moments of poinitng, posing,gazing. These still arren’t my favorite works. The number eight comes up in a few of them and visually it’s hard a figure that hols a lot, the two connected ciphers sharing a space with the two bald men. One wears sunglasses. There’s flock of red cloudsin the black sky. In another,birds that look like checkamrks. Batik trees. A japanese sun sitting in such a constant redness that only its flat baseconstitutes horizon. Between two men sits a fat domino, on the table, ten shoulders high. These paintings are stiff, but kind of nice designwise. They seem like a few ideas for a deck of cards strewn through the rest of his work.

We struggle to understand about one painting—a landscape which has a gorgeous yellow tower on the left—it looks scratched with black but really it’s light fighting to be. All of these, he begins to explain, in electirc light but this one. He repeats this again and again.I’m not getting it. There was no electricity in studio. I paint in morning.Oh, of course—it like night and the line of buildings, sun, and the caves of colr surrounding seem carved rather than painted. The painting kind of asks what predominates when their color, light orange yellow blue hits the salve, the horizon of building tops, or river. Well who knows. This part is ripely inarticulate, taking the St. Peetersburg blue, and bringing it down to a solid embankment of darkness—not mechancholy but surface. It’s a computer idea to play with register itself, to use not just the blur of objects but the blur & hopelessness of light—the precious distinctions of which make time and yet the eye continues clanging at the world and its shapes.

These are ayoung man’s paintings.I feel their containment fiercely. I went to Moscow and saw the streets crowded with sailors in striped shirt drinking of vodka and yelling whoa. The landscape is symbolic. I’m lookingou the window. It’s my duty, I think to smoke the cigarette that is making me sick. Instead of shooshes, outside I hear a slam and then a motor running. His vison of Russia I think is quite new. Through the video screen, a pornagraphic landscape, obscene electric color. Not natural light. Once you”ve tasted a drug it’s impossible no tot touch it. Out the window in the kitchen I see a shadow of a small structure on a roof. It’s a dark greypiece of light’s furniture. In the chink of drinking tea I’m questioning this view. Even electronic influeence is a way to take the past, the overload of artistic furniture, a view, and let it be alive.

The phone rings and Ostap comes crashing froward to answer it. He walks around with a cordless phone much of the day.

 

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