The Argotist Online
is the author of Situ (Black Sun Lit, 2018), Itch (RAW ArT Press,
2014), Null Set (Spooky Actions Books, 2015), and numerous chapbooks of
verse and aphorism, including Duration Knows No Law (ypolita press, 2016)
coming out in Swedish translation from Smockadoll Press in 2020. His full length
work of aphorism, plain sight, will be out from Roof Books in 2019, and
another work of lyric prose, Anon, is forthcoming from Omnidawn in 2021.
He co-edited three issues of the poetry anthology pallaksch.pallaksch.
(Instance Press, 2014-2018) and has had shows of his visual work in the US,
Mexico, Japan, Germany and Italy. His collections of photographs include Pipevalve:
Berlin (Lodima Press, 2017), Choshi (Littlefield's, 2017) and the
forthcoming Riforma Fondiaria (Contrasto, 2019).
is the author of over a dozen poetry books and chapbooks, most recently Poems:
New and Selected (Isobar, 2018), <<terrain grammar>> (theenk
Books, 2019), and, as editor, women : poetry : migration [an anthology],
also with theenk, 2017, which includes the work of 50 female poets currently
living in a country other than that of their birth. She is particularly
interested in poetry and essays by ex-pat writers, as well as feminist
avant-garde poetries, disability poetics and ecopoetics. Email is welcome at
Can we start with your conception of your 2014 book Itch?
said, I find both forms distinct in many ways too—some of which are delineated
above—and they differ in how they feel as practices nearly as much as
the differences between my experience of visual practice and work in written
talk about the images in your work Pipevalve: Berlin (2017). On page 107
you write: "I am able to keep at all times one foot in the dying world and
one foot beyond dying". Could you also explain a little bit about how the
text in the book is in dialogue with the images?
My visual practice as a photographer is always in series, always working
along similar lines to the sense of the repetition of forms in the written work,
and as such, the writing runs parallel to the formal constraints of the visual
practice, and visa versa. At the same time, the cycle of aphorism in Pipevalve:
Berlin (a cycle called Troth) is selected in particular for the way
in which it addresses a broad sense of the content of that particular series, in
addition to the way it describes my visual practice generally. The pipevalve in
question is a clean out for drainage pipes, cast iron, used in east Berlin
alone. They rot in an organic way, move in relation to the buildings to which
they are attached, and at the time of my capture, were barely extant, now almost
all replaced. They seemed outliers, residual and portentous at the same time,
and these are indeed the themes explored in much of my work, particularly the
aphorism—where the narrative voice assumes the same position, outcast but
unyielding; superseded but superior, if you will.
aphorism you quote above demonstrates this quite well.
this shift in the philosophical entelechy forces a distinct form of lyricism,
again not an unrelated or unrecognizable voice, but an exploration of different
meters and sound forms. In combination, these differences give Situ a
slightly more diegetic feel—more novelistic in certain respects—although
this likely seems far more significant to me than to a reader of my work(s). As
such, there is an almost slapstick character to the action—a term that I use
loosely—of Situ, as the 'hero' attempts to control his body in the
process of an exceedingly tortuous collapse.
Yes, that series is called Tokyo Tape, and captures stray bits of tape
and other adhesives found on the floors and platforms of Tokyo subway
stations—markings used to delineate areas of danger or construction, or for
general directional purposes, but which often remain after such uses have become
unclear or contrary to present circumstance, decaying in place. For me, these
bits of expression form a kind of hieroglyphic landscape, and as such became
extraordinary opportunities to engage in a formal, geometric abstraction through
the lens. I have shown these images widely, and I hope we will see a collection
out in 2020, but it's still in negotiation.
this visual practice very closely parallels my vision of poetic practice, with
multiplicity meaning resulting from compositional, material and semantic forms
of condensation, a coincidence of abstractions I think lens based art is
uniquely positioned to pursue. The chapbook you mention, Duration knows no
law (another version of which will be released in Swedish translation from
Smockadoll in 2019), is another cycle of aphorism, like Troth in the Pipevalve
book, and similarly presses against the formal repetitions of the photograph in
series. For me, work in aphorism always privileges an ethics, or poses the
problems that such privileging suggests. Both the aphorism in the Duration
and in Pipevalve will be a part of the full-length release in aphorism,
coming out from Roof Books next year, and forms the basis of an ongoing
explanation of such morays, through this kind of lyric philosophical fragment.
It is a project that has no end, only ongoing collection and re-aggregation—by
Steven Seidenberg & Jane Joritz-Nakagawa