Writing As Event
In an ongoing investigation of the space between public and private, call and response, writing on and being written, Les Figues regularly curates and hosts writing events and forums. Writing becomes a performance, an engagement, a point of participation.
Here are some of our writing projects, past and ongoing:
REMAKING YOUR NEW IMAGE THROUGH COLOR & LINE
2013: As a project of the Los Angeles Reanimation Library, Les Figues Press created and published a reanimated version of Your New Image Through Color & Line. This 1981 book, written by Gerrie Pinckney and Marge Swenson (directors of the Fashion Academy in Southern California), recognized that “today’s woman is often juggling a career, family life, and involvement in home and community,” and that “if you look like a winner, becoming a winner is easier.” Using a tool-box of pre-selected writing constraints, the Les Figues team of writers and producers re-imagined this text for today’s busy image-maker over the course of two days. What is the difference, if any, between an image made on the page, though a book, or with a body? The team explored the social construction of image-making as performance and creative act. The project culminated with the publication and performance of the text.
The reanimation team included: Amanda Ackerman, Andrew Wessels, Chris Hershey-Van Horn, Coco Owen, Harold Abramowitz, Janice Lee, Matias Viegener, Michael du Plessis, Saehee Cho, and Teresa Carmody.
2012-ongoing: Los Angeles writers, readers, and book lovers are invited to help us annotate the entire Les Figues catalog. At community book fairs throughout the year, select Les Figues titles are available for writing in and on. We welcome questions, concerns, footnotes, flights of fancy, illustrations, new narratives, and more. We find that inviting people to write in our books is much more fun—for us and them—than to simply stand there, selling stuff. Plus, Les Figues staff, interns, and authors can’t resist annotating the books as well. It’s a strange catalog we’re creating: Los Angeles writes books.
More annotated pages on Give A Fig.
EXPLANATION AS COMPOSITION
2011: As part of Not Content, Les Figues hosted Explanation as Composition, a project exploring the ways in which texts—as narratives—operate within and around a gallery space. Explanation as Composition began with a collaborative social writing event in which fifteen writers used materials in and around Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) to draft source material for audio tours to made of the space. UNFO collaborators Amanda Ackerman, Harold Abramowitz, Teresa Carmody, Kate Durbin, and Sarah Shun-lien Bynum used material generated that day, plus more, to create six audio tours of LACE, each tour offering a different narrative experience.
Writers included: Amanda Ackerman, Harold Abramowitz, Kate Durbin, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Teresa Carmody, Aimee Bender, Allison Carter, Mark Z. Danielewski, Carribean Fragoza, Veronica Gonzalez, Janice Lee, Harryette Mullen, Janet Sarbanes, Anna Joy Springer, and Stephen Van Dyck. The Explanation as Composition audio tours are available on PennSound.
Collaborative Social Writing Event, Facebook
2011: Elizabeth Hall invited five women to respond to the Les Figues title Feminaissance. In her introduction to the project, Hall writes: “Nearly a year ago I asked five women writers to respond to the Les Figues title Feminaissance without placing any limitations on the content, length, or form of the response. During the next eight months I all but abandoned the project to work on my graduate thesis, a history of the clitoris in list form. The most common reaction when I told people my thesis topic was: didn’t somebody do that, like, in the 1970’s? I heard complaints similar to those leveled against Feminaissance: ANOTHER book about women, sex, and oppression? So frequent were these responses, I began describing the clit project as simply a ‘study of small things,’ a joke I found all too funny.”
Elizabeth Hall | The Clitoris and a Partial History of ‘Tiny Revolts’
Allison Carter | This Happened To You Because
Evelyn Hampton | Revolt
Claire Donato | Whilst Straddling A Speaker Who Has ‘Located Her Voice’
Amy King | Beware, Said Woman Ahead
Tisa Bryant | A Light to See By: A Credibly Rough Response to Wanda Coleman’s ‘Striving to Be a Man: Gender-Altering Forces in Post-Feminist America’
2010: As part of Not Content, Les Figues hosted Unnatural Acts. Taking its name from the historic collaborative writing marathons led by Bernadette Mayer and others in NYC during 1972-73, Unnatural Acts explored themes of hunger, war, and desire through public acts of collaboration. The project began with two days of installation and performance by Amina Cain and Jennifer Karmin. On the third day, a group of ten writers/artists gathered to write together over the course of eight hours; the writers included Harold Abramowitz, Tisa Bryant, Amina Cain, Teresa Carmody, Saehee Cho, K. Lorraine Graham, Jennifer Karmin, Laida Lertxundi, India Radfar, and Mark Wallace. By the end of the day, the writers had filled a space on the wall of the gallery with their collaborative texts. In a daily ritual inaugurated on the fourth day, the outline of a new person’s body was traced onto the bodies of text until the exhibit closed three weeks later.
2010: Elizabeth Hall invited six writers to respond to Urs Allemann’s Babyfucker. In her introduction, Hall writes: “When Babyfucker won the second prize in the 1991 Ingborg Bachmann Competition, it became one of the biggest literary scandals in recent years. Some cultural critics claimed that the book was ‘inexcusable’ and a ‘sexual perversion.’ Over twenty years later, those are still words associated with Allemann’s text. As such, I had to be careful when soliciting authors for the blog project—asking only those authors who I knew would not be offended by the invitation.”
Elizabeth Hall | Babyfucker Blog Project: an Introduction
Jon R | Scoring Urs Allemann
Amy Catanzano | U+F+O+L+A+N+G+U+A+G+E+Y+O
M. Kitchell | Notes Towards Urs Allemann’s Babyfucker
Lily Hoang | Disgusting Desire: Urs Allemann’s Babyfucker
J.A. Tyler | A Textual Harold of Urs Allemann’s Babyfucker
Jessalyn Wakefield | Urs Allemann’s Babyfucker: A Reading