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HOW I DISCOVERED AMERICA by Stewart Home
It is a banality to state that the discovery of America is an ideological chimera. America was not discovered, it was always both here and there. And here I must make a distinction between the Americas (a geographical location), and America (a concept, not a place). Although America cannot be separated from the horrors of slavery, and while America should not be imagined without the triangulations of the Black Atlantic, as a state of mind America necessarily exists here, there and everywhere (America is always and already manifesting itself as "Amerikkka"). America is many different places, but the America that particularly interested me as an adolescent was simultaneously the America exposed in films such as Super Fly and Cleopatra Jones (that is to say the America of Willie Mitchell and James Brown) – and America as the modernist utopia of an avant-garde reacting against the horrors of Nazism (that is to say, in theory the America of Andy Warhol and William Burroughs, but in practice the America of McDonalds and Disneyland). America is always both within and without you. America is a poem by Allen Ginsberg. America is the counterculture, and the counterculture (particularly the American counterculture, and Americanism when used as a synonym for globalisation and/or patriotism) is and was invariably deformed by libertarianism. All of anarchism is to be found in the idea that it is possible to live differently in this world. The America I discovered was only a train ride away from London, it is also Summerland (the sleep of reason, a kind of living death).
For me photography is most alluring when both the person behind the lens and what is being photographed self-consciously manifest their subjectivity. Travelling across "Britain" to discover "America" is only one of the many ways in which such subjectivity might remake the world in both photographic and material form. This then is the difference between pastoralism and psychogeography. The psychogeographer (and photography is only of any interest to me in so far as it is a form of psychogeography) knows that the world cannot be recorded, it can only be remade. The pastoralist, on the other hand, wants to believe that everything that is fabricated pre-existed this fabrication, and that it will "endure" "forever" because it is in some way "natural" and "real". The pastoralist is incapable of properly articulating the difference between a William Morris wallpaper and a Jess Franco film, and will always prefer the reactionary idealism of arts and crafts to material science in the form of proletarian postmodernism. Truth is process, pastoralism stands for stasis and death.
I had been intending to subjectively remake myself in and through a series of photographs of "America" taken in "Britain" for some time before I fabricated the interventions inscribed here. A friend who’d just undergone a cure for heroin addiction sent me a partially used disposable camera. I exposed the rest of the film, and then became paranoid about the pictures I hadn’t taken, thinking they might be of almost anything, and were probably in some way disturbing (they certainly couldn’t "represent" my "brend"). It was months before I got the film developed, and when I did it transpired that the earlier exposures were largely blank (a classical example of "avant-garde" iconoclasm). I then bought another disposable camera and took further pictures. This time I took too many photographs because I had a whole roll of film to subvert, and rather than using everything I’d taken, I got to pick and choose – which allowed me to use half the pictures and abandon the rest (a rather nasty and "artistic" business). In a less than ideal world the photographs that follow would be reproduced twice, once in colour and once in black and white (the effects are at times strikingly different). This then is the world we must destroy – a world that does not allow me to be a polymorphous pervert in the morning, a horny handed son of toil in the afternoon, and a critical photographer at night (flash effects really aren’t my thing). "Defend" "America", shit on the stars and stripes!
Stewart Home, "Washington D.C." August 403 MKE.
The spatial field of a drift may be precisely delimited or vague,
Just as urbanisation destroyed the sacred groves of the ’original’ Druids,
Religious and social questions are handled according to the traditions
It is not enough to accept Lucifer as the only possible source of Light. In
Darkness and obscurity are banished by artificial lighting and the
In the nineteenth-century, a Scottish property speculator named
Four miles of street frontage in the form of terraced housing were given
We, the deputies of the principal College of the Brethren of the Rose
Cultural plurality as a form of continuous becoming, where identity is
Before winter comes, a passionate union must be established.
Isis is the wife of Osiris.
Nothing is unknown in heaven, nothing is known on earth, the kingdom
My friends we are organic bodies.
The Mudchute is an artificial mound made of river silt dredged from the
Everything you show me, I, unbelieving, hate.
And does it ever happen that a couple who have separated decide to
Know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
One more effort, iconoclasts, and you will destroy the reigning culture.
Wine will make a man a linguist, it will teach him Greek in two hours.
You’ll never see the hacienda. It doesn’t exist.
The changing of landscapes from one hour to the next will result in complete disorientation.
To the North East, there is an alignment with St Anne’s Limehouse, a
You see, you hear, you smell, you touch, you walk, you think, you
A rational extension of the old religious systems, of old tales, and
This new vision of time and space, will be the theoretical basis of all
Originally published as a black and white pamphlet titled "Info Pool No.6, 2002 How I discovered America by Stewart Home".
There is also an Info Pool online version of this available here
Vermeer II (a solo exhibition by Stewart Home)
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Some of Home’s pictures show housing built for American servicemen working at an intelligence installation; but most have no connection, however tenuous, with the ‘actual’ USA. The implication is that psychogeography need not insist on a connection between interior and exterior environments, a return to the practice’s first principles that recovers its imaginative and critical potential. Home’s approach, which resembles the old tactic of navigating one territory with the map of another, deploys an apparently radical subjectivism to focuses the reader’s attention on the (philosophical) idealism of America itself, a simulacral Kingdom of Heaven-on-earth.
Some would consider this approach politically suspect, of course. Psychogeography has often been attacked as anti-materialist, bourgeois and idealist. Home seems at once to flaunt the idiosyncracy of his ‘viewpoint’ and deconstruct the notion of there being a ‘psychological’ subject to whom this view could be ascribed. Those wondering if psychogeography’s increasingly gentrified conceptual by-ways are still worth visiting will find, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, that there’s no place like Home.
A Cavalier History Of Surrealism by Raoul Vaneigem as 'J-F Dupuis' (translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith)
Some Recent London Art Shows, January 2007 Blog
Across the hall from David Smith was "Flowers & Questions: A Retrospective" by Fischli & Weiss, two Swiss artists with all the talent of a retarded ameba. According to The Tate their work is an: "exploration of the similarities between high and low culture, the spectacular and the mundane, is characterised by a playful sense of humour. In focusing on the understated, the mediocre, the unmemorable and the pointless, they show us a world of inconspicuous wonders." Actually they show us a vision of utter tedium, that art is dead baby, and we need to burn the museums.... Fischli & Weiss are the sort of people who give post-modernism a bad name. So you have a load of banal photographs of supposedly dramatic scenes composed from sausages, cold meats and common household objects. Watching paint dry is more interesting. Also at the Tate Modern were various helter skelters installed by a well known German "artist"; as shoots they were fun, or at least I enjoyed the higher ones, and since I blagged free tickets to everything it was cheaper than going to the fun fair. And as for these shoots being "art", as Up Against The Wall King Mob put it way back when in the sixties: "the death of art spells the murder of artists, the real anti-artists appear..." Downstairs was "Media Burn", an exhibition "critiquing media, politics and art itself". This was built around the mid-seventies Ant Farm film "Media Burn" in which a car is driven into a bank of burning television sets. Nice image and some of the media coverage included in the video is funny but the film goes on way too long. The rest of this show isn't worth looking at.
Elsewhere "Indica" at Riflemaker Gallery was undoubtedly more interesting as a social event at the overcrowded opening than as a show. Indica is a legendary London Gallery of the sixties that intersected with the counterculture and showed the likes of Yoko Ono, Liliane Lijn, Takis and the Boyle Family. Works by these old stalwarts were mixed with younger artists exploring similar psychedelic territory. There were some good pieces but it didn't work for me as a whole, and I'd have rather seen the recreation of a single Indica show than this attempt to simulate the vibe of the place, something that could only work at the opening. Meanwhile at Gasworks in south London "Lapdogs Of The Bourgeoisie: Class Hegemony in Contemporary Arts" was a group show with a wonderfully unfashionable title. A subtitle like that is bound to let you down, and the exhibition had a lot more to do with art than class, but at least it provided a nod and a wink in the right direction.
Collector's File - Gilbert & George
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