There have been four issues of MATERIAL in eight years—an annual in spirit, a bi-annual in practice, despite our best hopes. The story of each issue, as we can see now, has been about clearing a space: for the mixed-up, the un-thematic, the must-be-said. We started MATERIAL as a platform for the artist’s voice. Artists do write, write often, and often well. It has been our continuing pleasure to support our fellow artists in this written work, as they have supported us in putting out our journal. Below are excerpts from the introductions (what we call “proems”) of every printed issue of MATERIAL.
MATERIAL is a journal started by artists interested in the writings of other artists. We are a home for divergent opinions, uses, and appropriations of language, encouraging “speculations and appreciations, rantings if need be, phantasies, lectures, nocturnes [ … ] and inventions.”* We solicit friction and conviviality both, from a wide community of artists.
*The poet Robert Duncan (1919 – 1988), from an unpublished piece; quoted in Contemporary Poets, 4.
In our second issue, we’d like to address the theme of … themes. We are overrun with thematic presentations, groupings, motifs, ‘leitmotifs’, and we have grown accustomed to their palliative simplicity. Following a theme is a simple way to group and order. But it also condenses its subjects. Thematizing is like dehydrating food and then reconstituting it, by mixing such food items in finely-divided form with water and an aqueous dry mix containing a carbohydrate, forming the resulting dispersion into a predetermined shape, and contacting said shape with a gelling solution for a time period sufficient to harden the containing dispersion. We’re more for the unruly.
(It was caused by an improbable concatenation of circumstances)(there was a connection between eating that pickle and having that nightmare)(the joining of hands around the table).
Concatenation (c. 1600, from L.L. concatenatus, pp. of concatenare “to link together,” from com- “together” + catenare, from catena “a chain”) seemed an appropriate word for our editorial method. An unlikely assemblage of texts becomes connected through this process; uncanny linkages emerge. Wyeth appears twice. Performances interact. In this issue: voices that duel, voices that parrot, voices that hypothesize, translate, and meditate, voices that speak simultaneously. As Roland Barthes writes, we have assembled these textual events, as “pleasure in pieces; language in pieces; culture in pieces,” to build upon one another into something new.*
*Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1975), 51.
Exits, Yiddish, the beginning of a year, mayhem, compassion, negative taxonomies, sentences, obituaries, speculation, sleep falls, gypsies, nonsense—all subjects that describe an edge, a border that opens onto another terrain, a white space, as they say in the business blogs—the area between the boxes where, very often, no one is in charge. Here, where no one is in charge. Here, where the things you know are the things you at once do not—learned once, now learned again in another tongue.