books on the radio

Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale That Society Has the Capacity to Destroy – Lauren Bon, 2005.

LA artist Lauren Bon issues a challenge. Photo by Azita Mirzaian.

Artists need to create on the same scale that society has the capacity to destroy.

This arresting quote from LA artist Lauren Bon caught my attention today when Kris Krug posted this photo via twitter.

I don’t know who created the cool neon sign that’s pictured above but the phrase itself seems to originate from an incredibly ambitious 2005 art project called ‘Not a Cornfield‘.

Not A Cornfield is a living sculpture in the form of a field of corn. The corn itself, a powerful icon for millennia over large parts of Central America and beyond, can serve as a potent metaphor for those of us living in this unique megalopolis. This work follows a rich legacy of radical art during the 20th century on a grand scale. I intend this to be an event that aims at giving focus for reflection and action in a city unclear about where it’s energetic and historical center is. With this project I have undertaken to clean 32 acres of brownfield and bring in more than 1,500 truck loads of earth from elsewhere in order to prepare this rocky and mixed terrain for the planting of a million seeds. This art piece redeems a lost fertile ground, transforming what was left from the industrial era into a renewed space for the public. The California Department of Parks and Recreation is currently designing the historical park this site will become. This design process has taken several years so far and is a difficult process both because of the many communities adjacent to the site they would all like to serve and because of limited funding. By bringing attention to this site throughout the Not A Cornfield process we will also bring forth many questions about the nature of urban public space, about historical parks in a city so young and yet so diverse. About the questions of whose history would a historical park in the city center actually describe, and about the politics of land use and it’s incumbent inequities. Indeed, “Not A Cornfield” is about these very questions, polemics, arguments and discoveries. It is about redemption and hope. It is about the fallibility of words to create productive change. Artists need to create on the same scale that society has the capacity to destroy.”


DIY Incendiary Codex: The Robert Chaplin Interview

Chaplin Vault 02In the vault with Rob Chaplin: to listen to our conversation click this link.

I’ve known Rob Chaplin for a few years.  Ever since he walked into Sophia Books – back when I was buyer there for art books & graphic weirdness – and asked me to take a few copies of Ten Counting Cat into stock for general sale.

10 CountingNo problem. After all, the writing was funny, the drawings were great and the design was bang-on.

It had everything that I wanted from a book: independent spirit, unique and well realized vision and a sense of humor.

So we took the books, put them in the shelves and displayed them in the window.  It didn’t take long for them to sell.

Part of the magic of Robert’s books is that he does all the work himself.  He writes, illustrates and designs each of his books.  Then he sends the files to Friesens in Winnipeg and they send him a couple thousand books a few weeks later that he then sells to people, bookstores, libraries, whomever.  It’s an act of fine art, true dedication to his vision and more than a little wariness toward the entanglements of the standard book publishing process.

Brussel SproutsRobert and I have a tendency to bump into each other a couple of times a year at various speakeasy establishments and nocturnal gathering places where we’ll sketch out plans for global conquest on napkins on the bartop.

When I was helping to plan Bookcamp Vancouver I knew that I had to include Robert in the program somehow.

He showed up in his trademark sweater with a backpack full of books.

Every time I turned a corner Robert was singing the rhymes of the Brussel Sprout or leading small groups of confused conference goers in the Oath Regarding the Existence of Unicorns.

It was hilarious.

I really like Rob’s energy, his enthusiasm and his desire to demonstrate his independent approach.  He’s out there slinging funny rhymes, perpetrating great design and generating new ideas every day.

I just can’t argue with that kind of dedication.

I’m really happy to be able to share this interview because we really get a chance to hear the fundamental breakdown of how Rob sees the creative/publishing process.  It should be like manna from heaven for anyone out there looking for inspiration or help in their own DIY book projects.

For more information on Robert Chaplin, Library Editions and sterling silver brussel sprouts check out his website.

Angels in the Angles: Opening Night at the Gallery Atsui

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I went down to the Gallery Atsui last night to check out the opening for the Angels in the Angles exhibition of concrete poetry.  It’s been guest curated by my friend Steve Calvert and he’s done a great job conceptualizing and showcasing the work of Donato Mancini, Christian Bok and Marina Roy.

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When I arrived at the Gallery I was impressed to see so many people crowded into the two rooms and spilling out the back door into the parking lot.  A warm and convivial crowd, as they say.  I met some cool people and made new friends and it was a really refreshing atmosphere.  I think that the show will be a huge success.

Angels in the AnglesX08The exhibition runs until the beginning of November so there’s lots of time to check it out.

Steve will be haunting the gallery space on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1-5 if you want to drop by for some added insight into the show and the artists’ other works.

For more information about the ridiculously strong conceptualization for this show please check out Steve’s intense “introduction” to the show on the Mechanical Brides website.  Also includes artist bios and info on purchasing prints.

Books on the Radio will be rocking an interview with Steve in the next week or so for broadcast on CJSF 90.1 FM.

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ANGELS IN THE ANGLES: Atsui Gallery Concrete Poetry Exhibition

Books on the Radio is happy to support this amazing exhibition of concrete poetry curated by Steve Calvert.

Featuring the incredible & beautiful work of Donato Mancini, Christian Bok and Marina Roy you can check out the exhibition at the Atsui Gallery from October 9 – November 3.

Check out the Bachelor Machines/Mechanical Brides site for more details.


As artists adapt to the growing insecurity of our national institutions, creative communities are presured to galvanize and grow stronger, more independent, industrious, and interdependent, developing means of production and trading networks in cultural and cosmopolitan pockets far and wide. In the absence of federal support, producing autonomously, even anonomously, we work for a future milieu which does not yet exist. Rushing in to fill the vacuum, exchanging ideas with a non-linear, open source, transhistorical temperment, we braid our conceptualizations beyond translation, openly hostile to that trust which has forsaken us… this utopia has been dreamed before.

Jeanette Winterson on Art, Imagination & Crisis

jeanette_wintersonI have always loved the work of Jeanette Winterson.  From the moment Sexing the Cherry jabbed me in the brain to when Art & Lies knocked the wind out of me on a flight from Montreal to Belfast to the sublime sexiness of Written on the Body.

Art Objects was like a holy book to me for years.  I’ve loaned every copy that I’ve owned to friends. A quick look at the bookshelf tells me that I don’t have a copy right now and that I should get down to the bookstore right away and rectify the situation.

I’ve been woefully neglectful of Ms Winterson’s work in recent years but seeing this little video gave me a jolt.  The video was made by a fan to augment this audio clip.

Let’s start with a brief excerpt.  The full text of the piece is transcribed under the video below.

“We know that we cannot go on living as we do and yet we go on living as we do.

Books, paintings, music, theatre are there to prompt us to think differently and to see life differently and when we free up our imaginative life we are free to imagine a very different kind of world and that is what is needed and we’ve never needed it more urgently.

In a world economy that depends on separations art asks us to make connections…”

To see the video and read the transcription click the little red (more…) button below…

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