From the Project Blog
I tried to summarize this moment in Samuel Delany’s 2012 novel Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders but I couldn’t. I find a deep resistance to summary in the essential matter of Delany’s work because all the details seem so important. My effort is more of a sports radio play by play of two pages than a summary.
Eric and Shit are life partners in an open relationship, which is also a narrative structure of interrelated paths in this novel. Shit is intent on trying to withdraw money with his ATM card from a bank far away from home, something he thinks should be illegal because the ATM machines, don’t know him. Shit asks Eric to do the transaction, and confirms his pin. They stop at a Sovereign. What’s that Shit asks. It’s a bank, Eric answers. Shit, in a childlike but philosophical way, illustrates how we could glide through this absurd electronic network of data storage, automation, and money. Shit doesn’t need the money; he just wants to see if it works.
I peered through a steamy window of a Lower East Side gallery last winter, barely able to get in through the door, being in the audience’s non-space. A submissive performer was receiving commands from Marissa Perel’s feather, which moved like an erect wand.
Marissa Perel is always expanding what one might assume queer work to be. She is a defender and an explorer of this word so that it is expanding, untrackable almost. Perel’s instinct is one I trust. I think she is truly up to something. Her performance piece from 2012 Yentl unleashed all the repressed sexploits of Isaac Beshevits Singer and Barbara Streisand’s girl turned yeshiva boy. She has taught me that it’s not what the word queer means but how it is moving presently among us.
Youmna Chlala’s work, which spans book art, video, writing, installation, and performance is invested in what she calls a “simultaneity, which feels like a truly contemporary condition.”
Memories involve the home, and time stretched over distance just as much as it is stretched over years. In this setting comes this warning: “Be careful what you say, it will be recorded, you said, cautious of writers.” Leading us to the question, who is recording and where? Beware the unexpected perspective, Chlala taunts. Empty your pockets in to mine. Can a child be playing back a “recording” many years later? How does a warning echo in the shape of returns? The caution of what you say being the crystallization of the curiosity. Or the script foreshadows the transgression. The recording seems friendly and transgressive. The Paper Camera, as a title, and a means of collecting language, elicits a riff on the most high-tek spry camera, where the technology is now accessible and adaptable to absorption. It is foldable which makes it portable. Chlala is focused on being “at home” with the most intimate view.