On Psychogeography


Manhattan, fabric on wood, 18″ by 24″, 2014


Iceland, fabric on card, 18″ by 24″, 2015

When I first moved to NYC, I looked for a map. In London there’s the A to Z a handy small map book you can take everywhere. But that doesn’t exist in NYC, people just asking others which way is X street- tourists and natives alike. I really liked this approach to navigation and along with Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, it made me think of other individual approaches to map making.

Something I had been introduced to long ago was psychogeography, a concept of a map reflecting the pyschology of the city, created by an individual’s response to the city. No one’s two maps are the same, and built of the places we, as individuals, place importance on, rather than equally giving billing to every street/area on the map.

The term originates with Guy Debord, part of the situationist art movement, in 1955 and can be defined as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.”

It’s an idea that embraces drifting- the dérive-  exploring the city through a sense of wonder. In “Theory of the Dérive” 1958- Debord essentially created the manual of how to drift, “In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there… But the dérive includes both this letting go and its necessary contradiction: the domination of psychogeographical variations by the knowledge and calculation of their possibilities.“**


Guy Debord’s map of Paris “Psychogeographic guide of Paris: edited by the Bauhaus Imaginiste Printed in Dermark  by Permild & Rosengreen – Discourse on the passions of love: psychogeographic descents of drifting and localisation of ambient unities” ***

The film Robinson in Space, was one really great example of pyschogeography in London, filmed by Patrick Keiller, it’s rambleurs journey of all the places Robinson loved in London.

However, I was more inspired by the idea of individual’s maps, and the idea that these maps can also change over time. Personally, I have moved back and forth between London and Los Angeles -incredibly different cities in terms of culture, people, architecture, urban planning- and the ping ponging between the two, would always inform how I saw the other- both as a memory ( i.e a memory of L.A while in London) and as a physical space ( going back to L.A after having grown in London), the other becoming idealized and more foreign the longer I was away. L.A became a city within one of Marco Polo’s travels in Calvino’s Invisible Cities, described by hazy memories, often which looking back were probably more fallible than not.****

The maps I created are of cities I have lived in, or visited, some with an immediate response, some with a response of many years of overlapping memories, some as a time capsuled response to a particular year.


London, paint and sequins on organza, 29″ by 29″, 2016img_7103

Los Angeles, paint and sequins on canvas, 18″ by 24″, 2016img_7105

London II, paint, fabric, sequins, beads on wood, 24″ by 24″, 2014


For more basic info on psychogeography see here

For a great article of 2 British psychogeographers /writers- Ian Sinclair and Will Self see here

For another interesting set of psychogeographic skyscapes from Tokyo check out this

For a smell map of NYC see here


*Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography, 1955 by Guy Debord.

**Situationist International Anthology. Berkley: Bureau of Public Secrets, by Ken Knabb, 1995


**** for an interesting read on the Science of Memory- look at Pieces of Light by Charles Fernyhough, which examines how we create memories, and how we remember them, often falsely.

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Kaleidoscope Hearts


I’ve become a little obsessed with kaleidoscopes recently, I guess with the New Year upon us, the idea of seeing things through a new filter is interesting to me. And the idea that by rotating the way we perceive things- however minute the turn, we can change how we see them.

In this new political climate, especially, it seems important to figure out what we can twist and turn so that we are not just plunged into the darkness.

I started with this image of  Robert Longo’s- “Untitled (Throne Room)”,charcoal on paper,  2015-16, which was in the NYTimes recently with one of Jorie Graham’s poems and it touched me and inspired me to give kaleidoscope making a go.  If you don’t know of his work, he’s an artist working in charcoal to create photorealistic pictures and also recreations of other artists work, also in charcoal, which are just stunning to see.

The full article can be seen here



And then I moved on to old paintings and collages of my own-





For more on Robert Longo see his page on the gallery Metro Picture Galleries

There’s also a fantastic intro to his work in Kaleidoscope 

And here– from where the picture below was taken, which will surely be the inspiration for something else…


Robert Longo, Untitled ( City of Glass), 2009, Charcoal on mounted paper.

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Houses for Homes

Playing with scissors…


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Lucky Cards: creating tarot collage

The last few months have been really busy with work, and although it’s finally started to slow down, it’s also been really great in terms of forcing me to make my own creative pieces as an outlet.

I got a little fixated on the Tarot cards. Niki De St Phalle’s  Tarot Garden in Italy that a good friend’s mother showed me years ago in Switzerland, when I was going through a really rough spot, has been a huge influence on me, and then 4 months ago I started reading Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies, a kind of modern Cantonbury Tales, with stories illustrated by drawing tarot cards, and told without words. I also read Rachel Pollack’s The Tarot of Perfection, another collection of stories all inspired by the cards, and which talked more about the history of creating stories with tarot, including Calvino’s process when he wrote The Castle of Crossed Destinies. All of which induced these

10 wheel of fortune11.Justice8. strength copy15 the devil9 the hermit 5. hieroplant copy 7 chariot copy 0 The fool6. lovers copy  3 empress copy  1. Magician copy2. the high preistess copy 12the hangman 13 death 14 Temperance 17 the star 19 the sun copy20. Judgement16. the tower   18 Moon 21. the world

For more on Niki De St Phalle’s garden here

For more on Rachel Pollack see here

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For Storms and Hurricanes

“Do the times make the artist or does the artist make the times? Both at different times are correct—I guess. Some times got Shakespeare others got Pope, one period got Lady Murasaki and Sei Shonagon at the same time. What can you say about a period that got stuck with . . . me. I really wanted to be great but the times didn’t need it of me. The times demanded my failure. I wanted a nice apartment to hang my pictures in, a drawing room somewhere above the din, and found the war was going on in my brain. I hitchhiked up Olympus and it turned out to be a volcano. How can I know what’s politically correct? I didn’t have time to stop and think whether what I was doing was right; I had to make my history quick because there would be no future, merely a gossamer world blown about on the zeitgeist, till zeitgeist, the wind of the times, is blasted away by kamikaze, the wind of God.”*

Rene Ricard- Art Forum Nov 1982

Reading a magazine last week, I came across an artist I had never heard of. Probably because he’s most famous as a art critic rather than an artist. Self described as a poet and movie star* Rene Ricard joined Warhol’s factory with small parts in “Chelsea Girls” and “Kitchen”, after pouring over one Warhol’s flower paintings at the ICA in Boston. As he tells it, “To support myself as a kid, I was a model at art schools around Boston. When I stopped working at 2 P.M., I’d walk up Newbury Steet, which is where the art galleries were. One day, I was at a gallery run by a friend and she said, “Rene, there’s something you’ve got to see over at the Institute of Contemporary Art.” I walked in, and there was a painting by Andy Warhol, the flower painting. It was orange, yellow, fuchsia, red, and green, and it looked enormous. Paintings weren’t that big at that time — this was ’64 — and, while looking at it, I evolved a theory about it. Andy had made a painting that was essentially flawless, but it was an actual painting. So he had this green background, and orange, yellow, fuchsia spots which were kind of pushing forward — they looked like they popped. I had never seen anything like it. I was in a trance. The guard tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, but the gallery’s been closed half an hour.” I completely planned out my life looking at that painting. **

As an art critic and essayist he was instrumental in the starting the careers of Julian Schnabel, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.  “As a critic, he only wrote a bare handful of pieces, but they were major events.”****

His life was decadent and self- destructive, happily squandering away a $10,000 gallery advance in a day at the Russian Tea Room and on Jean-Paul Gaultier underwear, which he washed, and left drying in the sun where it was stolen. By nightfall he was penniless and at a homeless shelter. ***

“Just as his life could vacillate between glory and squalor, his poems- which he eventually took to painting over his own or others’ canvases- are all heart-break and defiance, ruined love and declarations of an independence he insisted on even when he sat at the best tables.”****



“I’ve seen beautiful things. I’ve been around so many years; how did I get to be so old. I’m pretty beat, and scarred like a whale from a million harpoons, but I’m still in the swim, y’all, I’m still out there. Oh I’ve seen so many waves. You ride it and when it crests you keep your balance or you get washed up. So I keep in the swim, go with the current, try to keep a sense of where I can land, sometimes swimming against the tide when I feel it’s getting too far out until one day I’ll drown or get stranded on the beach.”*

* from a biography in Art Forum


** From Interview Magazine


*** from the Brooklyn Rail Memoriam by Raymond Foye


**** New York Times Magazine, Dec 28th, by Luc Sante


For more there’s a really great interview/conversation with him here:




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The Battle of New Orleans


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Word Play

I just discovered Kate Tempest. And even though rap isn’t normally my style of, I’m kind of in love with her lyrics. Her bluntess. And frankly the skill of those rhymes.

I also discovered the video for Give from her band The Sound of Rum,  and I love the text… so here you are. You’re welcome.

More you ask?

Well, start here-

with The Brand New Ancients, performed at Battersea Art Center, which won the Ted Hughes Innovation in Poetry Award, and then you’re on your own.

Videos from:


Foe more info on Kate Tempest

see http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/04/kate-tempest-rapping-changed-my-life



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And then there was nothing

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On Language

A little while ago I came across an interview with Rosalee Goldberg, queen of performance art, she was talking about text and poetry, and the audience that witness both, “some love language in itself, and some the written word. Theres’ a language that is read aloud and there’s a language that’s listened to. There’s language in the mouth. Language that’ is tasted. language on a wall, language in space […]”.

For some reason I’ve been having problems articulating what I what to say lately and so I thought it might be interesting to write about language. This quote alone made me want to add to the lists of types of languages there might be.
Firstly, it made me think of Tim Etchells, from the performance group Forced Entertainment, who wrote about his process, in the essay, On Performance Writing. * He too, has a list of texts (which in this context could be interchangeable with language). His list starts with,
” 1. A text to be whispered by the bedside of a sleeping child
2. A text to be yelled aloud by a single performer in a car park at dawn
3. A text to be left on the ansaphone of strangers.
4. A text to be spoken while fucking secretly the partner of a good friend
5. A text for a megaphone
6. A text to be used as a weapon “
The list of texts continues, each in a way, a recipe for a new performance, a new way of creating, through language.
 Forced Entertinment’s performance work in general uses language to confuse or make the audience define their own context for what they are experiencing- and it is often very contradictory. For example, in Emmanuel Enchanted every performer has multiple signs announcing their characters, such as A DRUNK MAN SHOUTING AT THE MOON, QUEEN OF NOTHING, LINDA ( OUT OF LUCK), or simply LIAR. Part of the performance was “the act of arranging and rearranging units of infomation, be they textual, visual or spatial so that new patterns, implied narratives and meanings [could] emerge,”* the signs clashing, or having nothing to do with the language the performers were saying. Language that is slippery, Language which contradicts itself. 
Their work has a quality of secret diary entries that are said aloud, particularly in Club of No Regrets, in which one performer is lost in the woods, talking to herself- language not meant to be heard by another human being- there’s a confessional quality to it . Another two performers are bound and gagged, while interrogated, and a series of telegrams. Language that only emerges under duress.
It also made me think of Mel Boucher, still currently at the Jewish Museum in New York. His paintings are thesaurus entries, language that’s in pieces and needs to be put together to be fully understood. 2014-08-02 16.38.45
He also has a series of ‘portraits’ made of compositions of text- visual text.
His one of Eva Hesse takes the structure of one of her words and uses it to create a visual framework for the language.  Language that is defined as a composition, Language in a visual cage.
Unknown    12
This in turn lead me to look at the Ruth and Martin Sack near archive for visual and concrete poetry.
How do you define visual and concrete poetry? 
Wikipedia, says ” Visual poetry is poetry or art in which the visual arrangement of text, images and symbols is important in conveying the intended effect of the work. Confusingly, it is sometimes referred to as concrete poetry, a term that predates visual poetry.”** Often it’s referred to as text- based art.
In this archive, I came across Jeremy Adler, whose words are truly Language as painting, language as another layer, another varnish, another wash of colour, that adds texture, but not necessarily understanding.
Language torn, damaged. Language as a fragment. Language to be whispered in the wind.
I realzised that is something I’m quite interested in my own work, language as a clueLanguage as a series of dots waiting to be connected. Language that is mutable depending on the audience-  that means something to one person and completely something else to another.
Language that you follow like marked trees up a mountain.
Language where the signifier might not create the sign, undependable language.
This idea reminds me of a book, The Raw Shark Texts by Stephan Hall, a novel in which the protagonist is forced to somehow turn a bottle filled with scraps of paper, on which the word ‘water’ is written on each, into water to be able to swim in it.
Language that you have to believe in with every ounce of your being for it to become true. Language you can swim in.
Isn’t that Salmon Rushdie’s Sea of stories? It was one of my favorite books as a child. Salty tales, morals, fables, myths, fairytales, old wives stories, all muddling in the vastness of the ocean of the stream of stories,
“… it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one … currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity. [Each] coloured strand … contained a single tale. [The Ocean held] all the stories that had ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented. The Ocean of the Stream of Stories was in fact the biggest library in the universe.”***
 Language that drips through your fingers, language to swim in, language that nourishes.
And then there’s always those words that colour everything around them, or those words so ripe they burst into flavour and contaminate everything around them. Language as a pigment, a soothing elixir. The greats- Shakespeare, T.S Elliot surely are elixirs, Roselee Goldberg’s Language to be tasted.
I think I’m fascinated because I sometimes lack the ability to create meaning out of the string of words that foams at my mouth.  Language like a pinned butterfly, that never really wanted to be caught in the first place.  We dubbed them ‘word days’ in college. If people knew me well, they could figure out the dots, connect the thoughts. Because sometimes it was a more painful process than not. They still occur when I’m stressed, tired, or just feeling nervous. I just live with them. And my sign? THE GIRL WHO COULDN’T SAY WHAT SHE WAS FEELING.
See Language as a confession. Language that paralyzes.
* From Certain Fragments by Tim Etchells
*** pg. 71. Haroun and The Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
for more on Rosalee Goldberg see
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Things to make when it’s raining.

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