My problem with community art

After Kevin and Kirsten came to visit us in Detroit and we talked about art I wrote this piece
that will be published in Proximity magazine and was published in LA too…

It is called
“My (The) Problem with community art…and why Williiam Burroughs eat Superflex any day of the week”


Dear Carol, Dear Iris

sources, the covers

sources, the covers

Dear Carol, Dear Iris

extract from the mail-exchange of Carol Jackson and Iris Kensmil

Dear Carol,

Nice to hear from you.  How are you doing??
Sorry for me being silent after your last mail. Several things happened here that left me no
spare time.. a.o.. My father past away a month ago.
I’m   working on a installation with portraits of soul singers. My plan is to show this in
Co-Prosperity.I saw some of your work which is about music as well.I thought that our cooperation
could be that we create together a space with imaginary about music, or theater, cabaret,
literature etc etc, Everything to manifest a certain vivid culture can come together.
But each of use uses her own language and medium.
All the best

Hey Iris-
Yes!  you are welcome to stay here...we have 3 cats(!) so I hope you aren't allergic. 
They keep to them selves. I’m planning to show the "I'm still awake" sheet music 
series I made after initially viewing your work.  I can display it in a number of 
ways...ideally I'd get an old upright piano in there and set them on that as if ready 
to play.  Short of that, maybe a booklet, simply on the wall, or silk-screened 
copies for takeaway. 

Hi Carol,
Your idea with the piano sounds exiting.

Hi Carol,
As I’m not so strong in English, I read your remark about being away from events and trends and ideologies in the world as positive. My work is not “social” in that sense either.
Only later I realized that with “drifted away” you give that development a negative meaning. We should talk about that, I think. For me is important in your work that your colors are strong and strange in a way that has association with “exotic” ( I know this word is impossible to use any more in the arts); and how you combine different materials in a composition that is nevertheless a statement about painting. In many works of you the size and composition adapt itself to the materials, what makes it lively.
I think that it is not so important whether the theme is directly “social” or not, it has to be inspired by something important enough, that it. I understand that performing feels “iffy” I never did it. But it would be great is you can do it. (and please forget about my bad idea about music on the opening). I hope to hear more of your (provisional) plans soon.

Hello Iris-
It's refreshing to see such strong political work. Fearless even in concept and 
execution!  It's hard to find in the States these days. Much art here has been 
divorced from representation and metaphor entirely.Your work made me aware of 
how the political content had been getting less and less present.Still there, 
but obfuscated.  But then I suspected it was the use of signage, a craft 
aesthetic and the use of nostalgia to re-inform the present. So I have 
begun a series of sheet music covers I've been only  considering doing entitled 
'I'm still Awake".In your Installation Then They Marched (2008), The True 
Meaning (2008) and Their Spirits (2008  with Mr.President off to the side, Obama
looks so lonely (spatially) compared to the group in the main area.  I like that.
It seems to refer to the often forgotten 'to be contd' aspect, despite the 
victory, of black emancipation.
Carol Jackson

Handshake Games

Handshake Games

Posted on July 17, Author: Caroline Picard


In greeting one another there is an expectation.

You put your hand out with the expectation it will be received in a reciprocal clasp. Some kind of up-down-shake is expected.

They say you can learn everything about a person based on the way in which he or she shakes a hand. Is it a limp grasp? Is the grip premature? Does one’s partner, like a politician, grasp both your hand and your elbow? Yet, in order to measure someone’s shake, one must participate in the action of shaking and therefore allow oneself to be measured.

With this in mind, an artist and friend, A.E. Simns developed a handshake game. He created an index of handshakes, along with accompanying diagrams. One handshake can lead to another, for instance that same politician just mentioned can be countered with “The Dirty” (where you wiggle your middle finger in the palm of your opponents palm as it clasps yours), which can then lead to subsequent responses.

I have included some examples from his index below. The first video included above is another example of a handshake (unfortunately the volume is low, so please be sure to turn up your headphones).

“The Bitch Smack” where you are to take your partner’s hand and smack it, very quickly and very hard. The icons surrounding the figured are indicate the appropriate “feelings/sensations” inspired by this shake.

18. The Comrade

A shake for friends and enemies both, this handshake to be used in such instances where you desire a firm intimacy. The Benefactor puts out a hand, eyes bright and hard and smiling. The Beneficiary takes said hand, and with rhythmic precision both Benefactor and Beneficiary use their remaining and respective hand to reach in and grasp the other’s elbow. In deceptive times a special knife (known as a knuckleswitch) has been worn which, when set off by a pressure pad on the palm, flicks out and shivs the opponent. Thus, just as this is a celebratory shake for friendship and loyalty, it can also stir up the panic of death.

19. The Rifle

Like The Comrade with a little more play, upon grasping The Benefactor’s elbow, pull the whole arm of your opponent up to your line of sight and cock it, as though it is a rifle and you are aiming to shoot something behind your opponent’s back.  The Rifle is an excellent anti-asasination solution toThe Comrade, when assassination is suspected. The Rifledeflects any knuckleswitch without acknowledging suspicion for the other. It sends a message of protection and has been used as a secret handshake to demonstrate loyalty in darker times. To that end bother Benefactor and Beneficiary can execute The Rifle on one another simultaneously, thereby creating a metaphorical fortress of defense.

20. The Cold War

In which no hands are shaken, but both individuals stand across from one another, staring with unrelenting gazes.

Brainstorm: Adelheid and Saskia in Düsseldorf

June 2, 2011, Meeting Adelheid and Saskia in Düsseldorf

ideas for exhibition