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Wednesday 18 March 2015

King of the Grifters

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Kenneth Goldsmith reading a new work The Body of Michael Brown, the autopsy report @kg_ubu #interrupt3: image via Paul Soulelleis @soulellis, 13 March 2015



cease and desist: image via Mongrel Coalition @AgainstGringpo, 15 March 2015

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HE ATTACKED OUR MESSENGER THE SHINING PRIESTESS WHOSE BOOK YOU BLURBED @AA_Bronson: image via Mongrel Coalition @AgainstGringpo, 1 March 2015

Massive Huckster POS Sucks Candy Bar, Sells Wrapper, Declares Self 'Avant' -- Yet Again! Elitist White Academic Fraudsters Eat It Right Up!
Poetry is all around us. Watch and be amazed by @KennethGoldsmith @Poetry_Daily @poetrynews: image via Louisiana Channel @LouisianaChann, 5 December 2014 March 2015

ffabschriftingriftenwerke at ConceptualCon

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GRIFTER -- Coming Up On @FirebrandRR @RippleMusic #Grifter #Metal #Rock #IARTG #SNRTG: image via Cailin Dana @CailinxDana, 3 November 2014

#Grifter and #DrHorrible toasting at @DragonCon: image via John Popa @JohnThePope, 31 December 2014

ffabschriftingriftenwerke aka griftergetawayvehiklismus

The Dream by Damien Hirst #conceptual art #art: image via History of Art @LearnArtHistory, 12 March 2015

The moment you are no longer authentic you become... the one... the only... King of the Grifters!

"The moment you stand up in front of people you are no longer authentic." @KennethGoldsmith #RISD: image via Sarah Kruse @Petite_Flaneur, 23 October 2014

Post-Internet Poetry Refuses To Act Its Age and Nobody Cares or Notices: Privileged Academic Practitioner Finds Self Irresistible All the Same: The New Yorker, 10 March 2015

I am a fraud. I manipulate. These are conceptual statements about myself. I am making them. I brought the poetry of cruelty into the twenty-first century. I do not announce or foreground its methodology. I just do what I do. Doesn’t everybody make poetry from the Web? So what? I am now holding a big soft white towel. When I stand in front of large numbers of white dummies in clean, well-lit performing spaces at elite universities, I slowly fold one corner of the big soft white towel at a time, then I slowly wrap the prone head of each person in my audience perfectly, so that the package no longer looks like a head, but like something square and misshapen, more like a box maybe, but not really, in fact it's the kind of shape which doesn’t call any particular object to mind: if there’s a generic form of a generic item, it’s about the size and shape of a head, but wrapped up. It might be my head, but it's probably not, because, as you can see, my head is attached to my body right now, saying these things, and every word I say is the result of a Google search.

Kenneth Goldsmith’s latest book is “Seven Trillion Excruciating Characters Typed In One Year.” He teaches poetry and poetics at the site of the former University of Pennsylvania
 His life mattered! #MikeBrown #NeverForget: image via The Subject @handsupunited_, 11 March 2015 Ferguson, MO

Kenneth Goldsmith remixes Michael Brown autopsy report as poetry: Jillian Steinhauer, Hyperallergic, 15 March 2015 (extracts) 

This past weekend, at a conference called Interrupt 3 at Brown University, poet Kenneth Goldstein read Michael Brown’s St. Louis County autopsy report as a poem. Goldsmith is known for his conceptual, "uncreative writing" practices, which involve working exclusively with preexisting texts -- altering them, remixing them, appropriating and repurposing them without credit to the original sources. This was the substance of his performance on Friday night in Providence: he read a remixed and slightly altered version of the official autopsy report for Brown, the teenager killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. Goldsmith called his new poem “The Body of Michael Brown.”

“There were some brief announcements and then Goldsmith got on stage,” artist Faith Holland, who happened to attend the Friday night presentation, told Hyperallergic. “He said [the poem] was something to do with quantified self, but otherwise there were very few introductory remarks. His reading was unemotional and relatively even and his feet moved rhythmically the entire time.”

Goldsmith read for roughly 30 minutes, and Holland said she didn’t realize he’d reordered the report until he reached the end. “It appeared that Goldsmith had just read the autopsy report in its entirety but the last line was, ‘The remaining male genitalia system is unremarkable.’ This was striking to me, and another audience member questioned why the performance ended on that,” Holland said.” Later I looked at the autopsy report online and realized that he had rearranged the material; in the original, reports of the Cranial Cavity, Spinal Cord, and Special Studies/Specimens Obtained follow. I remember distinctly that Cranial Cavity was read (particularly because of the line ‘The weight of the unfixed brain is 1350 gm’) as was Special Studies/Specimens Obtained somewhere earlier in the reading.”

According to Holland, the audience at the event was fairly small, perhaps around 75 people, and reactions to the reading were fairly subdued. A scheduled panel followed, but “it was clear that the [speakers] were caught off guard by what had preceded,” she explained. “Then the floor was opened up to the audience, who mostly offered mild criticism but repeatedly thanked Goldsmith for ‘bringing up this discussion.’ There was one woman who made an impassioned comment about how this was a ‘spectacle’ and it needed to be made meaningful in order to justify happening. She too thanked Goldsmith. The audience applauded. But the audience was mostly quiet, panelist Ian Hatcher remarked that he was uncomfortable going forward with what he had planned, and one of the organizers of Interrupt 3 finally suggested ending the event early.”

Despite the relatively small audience size and reaction, word of Goldsmith’s performance soon spread online, where people were much more vocal and angry, condemning Goldsmith for racist exploitation in the name of conceptual poetics...

The conversation surrounding Goldsmith’s performance ties into a larger one about the racial and ethical realities of conceptual poetry (Interrupt’s subtitle is “A Discussion Forum and Studio for New Forms of Language Art”). An anonymous group called the Mongrel Coalition has recently begun questioning the "colonial aesthetics" of conceptual art, and in response to the Goldsmith incident this weekend wrote a missive on its website. It includes this passage:

On Friday night -- in what was clearly an attempt to salvage the corpse of “conceptualism” -- Goldsmith made explicit a slippage that we (and others) have been bemoaning for years:
The Murdered Body of Mike Brown’s Medical Report is not our poetry, it’s the building blocks of white supremacy, a miscreant DNA infecting everyone in the world. We refuse to let it be made “literary”
Goldsmith cannot differentiate between White Supremacy and Poetry. In fact, for so many the two are one and the same.
On her own website, writer Jacqueline Valencia, who calls herself a friend and mentee of Goldsmith, offered more measured but still critical response:

Scaling back, I have to think about the poet as a vessel of messages. In this case, Goldsmith is the vessel of the data of the autopsy report. …
Now think of Goldsmith again as the vessel of that report. He is not black. He is not from Ferguson. He is not related to Michael Brown. Did he speak to the Brown’s relatives? If he didn’t are we to think that Brown’s death, because of that freely available autopsy report, are we to believe that Brown’s body is now freely available to the public? This is a black body that Goldsmith is rendering in his reading. That alone is the reason that concerned me. As a mixed woman with a black father who has had his rights (and life) questioned because of the colour of his skin, we both grew up subtly being told that our bodies belonged for appropriation. My Colombian dad is called negro in his homeland. I am still called negrita there as well. Negro there isn’t just the name of a colour, but it lives on as a derogatory term in Spanish. Slave labour is still alive and well for the blacks in South America. Black men still face great hardships in Colombia. Black suffering isn’t free and readily available to the public. Until the struggle is fought by those who suffer, we as people on the outside of it, must be allies and not silence black voices or speak over them.
Valencia goes on to say that she doesn’t think she can fully judge what happened on Friday night until a video or transcript of the reading is released. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely to happen. After seeing the tweet shown below (via Kit Schlüter @Dedreytnien), Hyperallergic reached out to professor John Cayley in the Department of Literary Arts at Brown and confirmed that the video will not be released, at the behest of Goldsmith, who apparently said: “I am requesting that Brown University not make public the recording of my performance of ‘The Body of Michael Brown.’ There’s been too much pain for many people around this and I do not wish to cause any more.”

Cayley said the school would not normally release such video footage publicly without the consent of the guest presenter. He added, “We will document Interrupt 3 to the best of our abilities. As far as Goldsmith’s contribution is concerned, it’s up to him, now, what he does with his work. He read from a text that had been transcribed to paper, but we don’t have a copy.”

@chicanapoet1 They tried to bury us..."MondayMourning #Mike Brown: image via careful and curved @slenderbutter, 16 March 2015

Kenneth Goldsmith will not let Brown release the video of his reading at Interrupt: tweet by Kit Schlüter @Dedreytnien, 14 March 2015

@dedreytnien: "Kenneth Goldsmith will not let Brown release the video of his reading at Interrupt” WE can't take HIS work out of context: tweet via Daniela Olszewska @bloodyicecream, 15 March 2015 

@bloodyicecream @dedreytnien I'm curious why they are honoring this request: tweet via Shane Clements @fuzzagainstjunk, 15 March 2015

 @bloodyicecream @dedreytnien We're talking about an artist who built his career on using other people's work without their permission: tweet via Shane Clements @fuzzagainstjunk, 15 March 2015

@bloodyicecream @dedreytnien KG claims, "The document I read from is powerful. My reading of it was powerful. How could it be otherwise?": tweet via Daniela Olszewska @bloodyicecream, 15 March 2015

  • @bloodyicecream @dedreytnien If this is the case, you'd think he'd want the video released: tweet via Daniela Olszewska @bloodyicecream, 15 March 2015

  • @bloodyicecream @dedreytnien Exactly. And he did make statements saying more or less this which, mysteriously, have since gone missing: tweet via Shane Clements @fuzzagainstjunk, 15 March 2015 

    @bloodyicecream @dedreytnien Given all of this, it's a good time to reconsider some of his past statements and how much he believes them: tweet via Shane Clements @fuzzagainstjunk, 15 March 2015

  • @bloodyicecream @dedreytnien it would be in keeping with his poetics if someone leaked that video and the poetry community spread it widely: tweet via Brian Spears @briankspears, 15 March 2015

    @dedreytnien he's a real piece is shit, isn't he. So disgusted: tweet by Carleen Tibbetts @MadMorrigan82, 15 March 2015

  • #IAmMikeBrown
    : image via Bassem Masri @bassem_masricareful and curved @slenderbutter, 12 December 2014

    @chicanapoet1 "They tried to bury us..." MondayMourning #Mike Brown: image via careful and curved @slenderbutter, 16 March 2015

    'Partial Index Of All Possible Marks Made By Ink On Paper' #conceptual@ #art #Toronto: image via Evan Steenson @evansteensonart, 18 March 2015

    US poet defends reading of Michael Brown autopsy report as a poem: Conceptual poet Kenneth Goldsmith’s attempt to reframe the report as poetry has caused an outcry on social media: Alison Flood, The Guardian, 17 March 2015

    The American poet Kenneth Goldsmith has defended himself in the wake of heavy criticism following his reading of Michael Brown’s autopsy report in the form of a poem on 13 March.

    Goldsmith, who has published 10 books of poetry and teaches writing at the University of Pennsylvania, performed “The Body of Michael Brown” at Interrupt 3, a weekend-long arts event at Brown University. Brown was the unarmed black 18-year-old fatally shot last summer in Ferguson, Missouri, by a white police officer.

    The artist Faith Holland, who attended Goldsmith’s reading, wrote on Twitter on Friday: “Just saw Kenneth Goldsmith read Michael Brown’s autopsy report for 30 minutes and no one knew wtf to do with that.”

    She told arts site Hyperallergic: “There were some brief announcements and then Goldsmith got on stage. He said [the poem]was something to do with quantified self, but otherwise there were very few introductory remarks. His reading was unemotional and relatively even and his feet moved rhythmically the entire time.”

    Goldsmith is a conceptual poet known for what he calls uncreative writing. His book Seven Trillion Tiny American Deaths Occur in Each Second of Every One of My Unendurable Academic Performances is a transcription of quotes from radio and television reports of national tragedies, including the shooting of John F Kennedy, forming a series of prose poems. “It knocks the dust off your family jewels, yet,” enthused The New York Times in a review.

    According to Holland, following his reading, the small audience of around 75 people “mostly offered mild criticism but repeatedly thanked Goldsmith for ‘bringing up this discussion’”. Hypocrisy is known to be reaching epidemic proportions in American academia currently.

    Once news of Goldsmith’s reading hit the internet, however, the reaction was less muted. Author and Bad Feminist essayist Roxane Gay called it “tacky” on Twitter, highlighting “the audacity of reading an autopsy report and calling it poetry”. The writer and professor Cathy Park Hong tweeted: “Kenneth Goldsmith has reached new racist lows yet elite institutions continue to pay him guest speaker fees”.

    “For Kenneth Goldsmith to stand on stage, and not be aware that his body -- his white male body, a body that is a symbol loaded with a history of oppression, of literal dominance and ownership of black bodies -- is a part of the performance, then he has failed to notice something drastically important about the ‘contextualization’ of this work,” wrote PE Garcia on the online arts magazine Queen’s Mob. “If, as he says, we are to look at this as conceptual art -– if we are to believe the audience is in charge of this interpretation -– then Goldsmith should accept the context of his performance. He should accept the pain his audience felt. He should accept that we might look at him and only see another white man holding the corpse of a black child saying, ‘Look at what I’ve made’.”

    “To be clear, Michael Brown’s autopsy report was powerful,” tweeted Holland. “It was also obviously problematic & I’m willing to bet intentionally so -- white man claiming this as ‘his new poem’ in white dominated space. But pairing graphic description of wounds with graduation photo of Michael Brown made it also an empathetic and political gesture.” She added that it was “not entirely” successful, as the “audience was happy it ‘raised issues’ but then was basically unable to discuss & event concluded early.”

    Goldsmith himself retweeted angry responses to his reading –- “Kenneth Goldsmith: art is not white appropriation of Black suffering. I condemn your cruel reading of Michael Brown’s autopsy report” –- also reporting with muffled sob that he had received a death threat on Sunday morning before posting a lengthy explanation of his actions on Facebook.

    "Of course he'd do that," commented one observer familiar with the smug, self-pleased yet highly competitive, arch-conservative academic "conceptual art" scene in the US.

    "The elaborate 'explanation' on Facebook -- perfect. Just like Kenny! Work it!"

    The work, Goldsmith said, was “in the tradition” of his previous book Seven Trillion Tiny American Deaths Occur in Each Second of Every One of My Unendurable Academic Performances. “I took a publicly available document from an American tragedy that was witnessed first-hand (in this case by the doctor performing the autopsy) and simply read it. This is like my shtick, you know? Like with Seven Trillion Tiny American Deaths, I did not editorialize; I simply read it without commentary or additional editorializing, or, for that matter, editorializing -- have I mentioned I don't editorialize?” he wrote. “The document I read from is powerful. My reading of it was even more powerful. How could it be otherwise? Such is my long-standing practice of conceptual writing: like Seven Trillion Tiny American Deaths, the document speaks for itself in ways that an interpretation cannot. That's why I'm explaining it.  It is a horrific American document, but then again it was a horrific American death, and I am a truly horrific fake, really.”

    Goldsmith added that he “altered the text for poetic effect”, translating medical terms into plain English and “narrativi[sing]” the words “in ways that made the text less didactic and more literary”.

    “I indeed stated at the beginning of my reading that this was a poem called The Body of Michael Brown; I never stated, ‘I am going to read the autopsy report of Michael Brown’,” he wrote. “That said, I didn’t add or alter a single word or sentiment that did not preexist in the original text, for to do so would be to go against my nearly three decades’ practice of conceptual writing, one that states that a writer need not write any new texts but rather reframe those that already exist in the world to greater effect than any subjective interpretation could lend. Perhaps people feel uncomfortable with my uncreative writing, but for me, this is the writing that is able to tell the truth in the strongest and clearest way possible.”

    He ended his explanation with the line “Ecce homo. Behold the man”, the words used by Pontius Pilate when presenting Christ to the crowds before his death, later adding a follow-up Facebook post in which he said that he had asked Brown University not to make the recording of his performance of the poem public.

    "As of this performance, to which I've of course already claimed copyright, I now own exclusive world literary rights to the Michael Brown autopsy report," he added. "If anybody's got a problem with that, their people should talk to my people. Monday would be good for us, but I'm always flexible, I've usually got several slots open, even on short notice, provided of course the numbers look right to us."

    "They tried to bury us..."MondayMourning #Mike Brown: image via careful and curved @slenderbutter, 16 March 2015

    ffabschriftingriften -- at it again

    Racial controversy over poem ends conference early: Poem using text of Michael Brown's autpsy provokes anger at "Interrupt" conference: Andrew Deck, Brown Daily Herald, 18 March 2015
    Speakers specializing in poetry, fine arts and literary studies gathered at the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts this weekend to explore the impact of digital culture at the third “Interrupt” conference. But these conversations were largely displaced by controversy over poet Kenneth Goldsmith’s performance of a poem that uses text from Michael Brown’s autopsy report.

    The conference focused in part on “uncreative writing” -- the poetic style pioneered by Goldsmith, who attended the Rhode Island School of Design, teaches poetics and poetic practice at Penn and was named the Museum of Modern Art’s first Poet Laureate.

    With the unprecedented number of texts available in the digital age, Goldsmith focuses on refashioning preexisting texts instead of creating new ones. During his Friday night performance entitled “The Body of Michael Brown,” Goldsmith used the preexisting text of Michael Brown’s autopsy report.

    Goldsmith projected an image of Brown’s high school graduation photo and recited the autopsy report with only slight alterations, changing the order of the text and translating the medical vocabulary into layperson’s terms. He detailed explicit images from the report, notably the entry and exit wounds of the bullets, and ended the piece with the autopsy’s description of Brown’s genitals as “unremarkable.”

    Many audience members and other performers felt “profoundly uncomfortable” following Goldsmith’s performance, said co-organizer Francesca Capone GS, who is studying literary arts. Two other scheduled performers expressed reluctance to present, and so organizers decided to end the event early, Capone said.

    Many conference attendees criticized Goldsmith, a white male, for appropriating a black body for his poetry, thereby aestheticizing racial violence.

    “As much as 20th century art and literature would like to promote the erasure of the author, as Goldsmith does, he is enacting a history of violence and appropriation of marginalized bodies,” said Rachel Ossip ’15, a fifth-year student in the Dual Degree program.

    “This is linked to an author’s position and privilege, which cannot be ignored,” Ossip added. “Art should never be an excuse for racial violence.”

    Goldsmith chose not to participate in the discussion following his performance, said John Cayley, co-organizer of the conference and professor of literary arts.

    One performer began and then stopped her performance, walking off stage while saying “Never mind, I don’t know what I was thinking,” Ossip said. 

    Audience members’ reactions during the discussion ranged from mild critique to anger and condemnation, she said.

    Cayley and Capone said they had no prior knowledge of the content of Goldsmith’s performance, as they did not screen the text beforehand. They added that they believed they should place “confidence and trust” in all of the artists attending the conference, including Goldsmith.

    Cayley wrote in an email to Goldsmith, “neither ‘Interrupt 3’ nor Brown was in any way responsible for your choice of performance or for the reception of what you chose to perform.”

    Criticism of Goldsmith’s performance erupted on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in the wake of the event. Goldsmith tweeted that he had even received a death threat.

    In a March 15 Facebook post defending his piece, Goldsmith wrote, “It is a horrific American document, but then again it was a horrific American death.”
    The absence of “editorializing” allows a document to speak “for itself in ways that an interpretation cannot,” Goldsmith also wrote on Facebook.

    As the controversy further ignited online, Goldsmith wrote on Facebook Tuesday that he requests that “Brown University not make public the recording of my performance … There’s been too much pain for many people around this and I do not wish to cause any more.”

    Saturday’s scheduled events proceeded as planned and included a presentation on “ffabschrifting,” a new artistic movement that brings attention to the form in which texts are presented. The day also included a presentation from Johanna Drucker, professor of bibliographical studies in the department of information studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

    The conference concluded Sunday with an open discussion that included prepared responses from attendees. In the wide-ranging conversation, Goldsmith’s performance became a jumping-off point for a discussion of underrepresentation of people of color in poetry, fine arts, higher education and the “Interrupt” conference itself. Despite “tremendous efforts to diversify the program,” organizers’ inability to do so reflects the issues of diversity in the arts, Cayley said.

    Rest in Power young king! #MikeBrown #Ferguson: image via ShordeeDooWhop @Netaaaaaaaa, 11 March 2015


    TC said...

    Expected no comments on this. After all why would anyone outside a cabal of mutually interested fakers want to attempt to defend their cabal -- they don't have to, after all. Nobody's taking their perks away.

    The usual weak kneed back channel responses dribbling in on this, nobody of course saying anything -- why would those compromised by the need to remain or become pertinent on the scene want to dare getting caught saying anything in public about one of the pinhead kingpins.

    One guy who's been publishing Goldschumutt for years and says he totally loves him and remains an enthusiastic supporter no matter what ($$$$$ talks!), writes, evidently in defense of the fact Goldschmutt can't write poetry, [he] "doesn't particularly like poetry", which I found interesting -- a guy enriching himself off exploiting a medium he doesn't particularly like. Now if he'd have the nerve to find something he absolutely hates, and exploit that -- snickering and sneering with smug superiority all the way to the bank -- that might begin to get interesting. Requiring a little injection of... what, energy, maybe? But no, just the same boring superior continuum of b.s., weak shots at soft (The New York Times) or dead (Mike Brown) targets...the easiest of the easy, for the easiest of all crowds, the already bored-to-death bought-situation inmates of the arts industry bubble.

    Small wonder the splash of a big ambition fish in a small pond hasn't made larger waves -- Geltschmuck's an embarrassment to everybody but his vast network of limp schleppers.

    No reason why anyone who doesn't hold shares in the moribund arts industry in this dying empire should wish to be involved in it, anyway.

    And a word to the timid souls who troll the backwaters -- next time save the secret sharing, puh- leeze!

    It's just more sharing of Nothing.

    It's impossible to say anything about a bubble from inside the bubble.

    Mose23 said...

    It's the old aestheticization of politics, isn't it?

    There's a great bit in the recent Adam Curtis documentary where some young British Council tutor (fresh from her masters) tries to persuade a group of Afghan students of the value of Duchamp's urinal. Not sure if it's accessible in the US.

    TC said...


    First, to get the chaff out of the way, there are people who might have been disposed to take KG's totally disingenuous anxious whiteboy blubbering about death threats seriously, this article ought provide some palliative care:

    One American Death Threat and Disaster: Dina Rash Guzman, The Rumpus, 17 March 2015

    And then -- yes. Variations on the Duchamp urinal now seem to be a necessary starter-kit portfolio item in the standard-uniform trick box of art fakery. One replica in every university art museum everywhere on earth.

    As to your point about the aestheticization of politics -- my attempt at a reply turned into this.

    You're a better reader than I am a reader or writer, nobody is good enough to deserve nor should be vain enough not to appreciate that.