At 11am on May 31st, 2014 local Philadelphia artists, historians, and residents of West Philadelphia’s Mantua community gathered for a funeral commemorating the life and death of 3711 Melon Street. Cause of death: “prolonged and multiple causes.” The writer of 3711 Melon Street’s obituary states, “Living things die when the infrastructure of life declines or disappears. It is no different for a house that draws sustenance from the infrastructure of safe streets, economic viability, home repairs, a stable population and city services.” The funeral of 3711 Melon Street, one of Philadelphia’s row homes dating from 1872, was part of a public art project organized by Temple Contemporary that connects the decay and demolition of 3711 Melon with a much larger conversation around urban development and struggling urban communities. A Funeral For A Home is the beautifully designed accompanying book for the project.
Reading the text is nothing short of an interactive experience. The book includes full page photos chronicling the funeral and community engagement around the project, images of original historic documents, a folded up newspaper clipping of the obituary, and a manila folder in which the reader will find a copy of the home’s original deed. The book itself is carefully and intentionally designed; a wonderful extension of a project that points to the importance of public art as a vehicle for building awareness and community engagement.
Broken up into four chapters and a conclusion written by Patrick Grossi, the project’s manager, the book’s contributing authors write about the history of the Philadelphia row home, the obstacles and importance of historic preservation in the face of urban economic disparity, as well as a detailed documentation of the planning and day of the funeral itself. Without submerging the unique history of 3711 Melon St., Funeral for a Home further contextualizes the project “within a spectrum of contemporary public art projects that seek to memorialize, re-imagine or remediate housing in the era of the post-industrial late capitalist city” (71). As Sue Bell Yank writes in the chapter “This House is Every House,” the project “prompts us to observe and push the boundaries of how we perceive what is happening in our own communities, how we address the future and the past, and how we recognize ourselves in the other.”
While reading Funeral for a Home, you begin to realize how the funeral is not meant to be an isolated event in time, but is a project that works to build new relationships and opens creative ways for using forgotten space. For anyone interested in public art, urban history, and community development, Funeral for a Home is a rich window into a project whose potential and lasting effects are still unfolding.
Be sure to also check out Funeral for a Home‘s online page to learn more about the project.
Earlier this month, Atticus Lish launched his first novel, Preparation for the Next Life at Book Culture on Columbus. Lish was joined in conversation with Lynn Lurie, author of Quick Kills and Corner of the Dead. We would like to thank both authors for taking the time to share their work and hope you enjoy the following Q&A with Lish.
How did you come to write Preparation for the Next Life?
Distress over post-9/11 America: the invasion of Iraq, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, hooding, waterboarding, indefinite detention, prisoner abuse, and the plight of undocumented immigrants caught up in immigration sweeps; combined with a morbid fascination with war and especially the effect of war on the psyche of the combatant; combined with two powerful sources of inspiration: the landscape of Central Asia–deserts, mountains, vineyards–and the landscape of New York, from the industrial outskirts to the extended immigrant neighborhood along Roosevelt Avenue–Jackson Heights, Corona, Flushing–and down to Ozone Park, Jamaica and beyond. A migrant’s view of the world–walking on the highways, taking buses, crossing the border–from one country to the next, from rural to urban, mountain to desert, life to death.
What are you currently reading?
National Geographic magazines, staring at pictures of amoebas. I want to read Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me.
Do you have a personal favorite book of all time? If so, can you share it and tell us why?
I don’t have a single favorite book, but one book that stands out to me as a true-crime masterpiece is People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry. Parry puts chills in my spine. The very title of the book, which is both perfectly logical and yet never fully explained, is an example of his gift for capturing horror.
Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to the publication of?
I regret to say that I am not up on what is coming out–I’m very uninformed–so I don’t know what to look forward to. I’m always looking forward to Joseph Wambaugh‘s next book.
What’s next? Any upcoming book projects in the works that you can tell us about?
I’m working on a second novel, but I’m going to respectfully decline to say anything much about it for now.
Can you tell us a bit about the history of King’s Review?
KR was founded about two years ago in Cambridge, UK, by a group of graduate students who shared the same frustration: the research we were doing on topics as diverse as climate change, modern political systems and the knowledge economy didn’t find its way out of the small academic circles in which they originated. The King’s Review was founded with the goal of using research and expert knowledge as a basis for exciting journalism. Since then the original idea of an online journal has developed further: besides our online presence, we are now publishing four print issues a year and sell them in shops in Berlin, London, Paris, and with you in New York.
In your mission statement, you say that KR “exists to promote accessible journalism underpinned by long-term, rigorous research.” Do you find that this goal is in response to a lack of journalism with these particular aims: to be both accessible and rigorously researched? Does today’s journalism too often meet only one criterion or the other?
The most recent trend in journalism, particularly online, has been about ‘accessibility’. Buzzfeed et al. are not doing more than filtering information to make it more accessible to readers. What happened to TNR last week shows how good that is for journalism. KR goes beyond this digestible, surface-level form of information à la ‘Here is the 5 most important things to know about Climate Change’. We understand ourselves as being part of the recent re-invention of long-form writing, which is now being published in places like n+1 and Medium, as well as in classic outlets such as the NYRB, LRB and TLS.
We are thrilled to have author Atticus Lish read and discuss his first novel, Preparation for the Next Life, at our Columbus store this Wednesday, December 10th, at 7pm. Lish will be joined in conversation with Lynn Lurie, author of Corner of the Dead, winner of the Juniper Prize for Fiction, and Quick Kills. Though both writers are based in New York City, critics have pointed out that their books read unlike any typical New York novel. In Dwight Garner’s rave review of Preparation for the Next Life in the New York Times, he admires Lish’s “intricate comprehension of, and deep feeling for, life at the margins.” And in Jesse Barron’s interview BOMB Magazine, he writes, “It’s been a while since we had a great novel about being poor in New York where poor did not mean broke. The difference between the two conditions may be how reasonably you can hope they’ll change, and Atticus Lish’s Preparation for the Next Life is a book about people hoping to change their lives in a city that will not let them.”
On a related note, Nicole Cliffe’s two part interview with Lynn Lurie in The Toast (check out part I and II), talks about how Lurie’s unconventional writing is influenced and complicated by her time spent living and traveling in rural South America. While volunteering with the Peace Corps in a remote village in Ecuador, Lurie recalls that in witnessing and experiencing intense social and economic inequality, she “had felt the weight of being less than, of being the other.” It is precisely the complex “status of the outsider” that Lurie explores through the narrator of Quick Kills.
For more information about Wednesday’s event, be sure to visit our website.
We were so pleased today when we opened a box full of hollyhocks, gladioli, carrots and beets, red roosters, crows, a few earnest foxes, and coffee cups, all printed on cards by Izabela Gabrielson. Based in Seattle, Gabrielson is a painter who depicts natural landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, still lifes, as well as adorable portraits of animals. Gabrielson works primarily in watercolor and ink, and all of the designs on her greeting cards are printed from original watercolor paintings.
Aside from her evocative and vibrant color palette, we love how Gabrielson leaves the sentiment of her cards up for interpretation. Placing each image against a plain white background, Gabrielson lets each creature speak for itself. On what occasion will you give someone a midnight blue crow? Or a bunch of winter beets?
For this Small Press Spotlight, we are featuring an interview with the three editors of Projective Industries, a small press that publishes beautifully designed, handmade letterpressed chapbooks. We would like to thank the editors for the interview and hope you will come visit our small press table, showcasing unique publications from Projective Industries as well as many other presses locally based in New York City.
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Projective Industries? When did the press first get started?
Kate McIntyre: Stephanie, you founded it in 2008, right? I became part of it in 2011 because I wanted to learn more about bookmaking, and wanted to be more involved in the small-press poetry community. It was after that that we started letterpressing the covers. Stephanie and I took some classes in letterpress and other printmaking techniques (on the simpler end of the printmaking spectrum) at Spudnik Press Cooperative in Chicago—which is where I’m from, and where Stephanie lives now. I moved to New York a little over a year ago, so now we’re a sort of transcontinental press—last year, while Stephanie was living in Tokyo, we were international! And Karen joined this summer, which is so wonderful.
Stephanie Anderson: Yep, the poet Sam Amadon and I founded the press in the summer of 2008, as we were leaving New York. (I went to Chicago, Sam went to Houston.) I think it was partly founded from the desire to keep in touch with our literary community in New York, which was starting to disperse. But I was also in love with the handmade, with letterpress — I had taken the Center for Book Arts’ emerging writers letterpress seminar, and I was much inspired by Ryan Murphy, who showed me his tabletop Kelsey, on which he made his beautiful one-off chapbooks. Of course, I didn’t manage to acquire a letterpress until 2011 or so, when a brilliant stroke of luck (and the poet Adam Weg) brought me one.
How did you arrive at the name, “Projective Industries”? Does the work you publish reflect what Projective Industries means to you?
KM: Well, Stephanie came up with the name, so her answer is the originary one. But I can tell you my own associations with it. I like the idea that we are an industry; that one thing chapbook-making does is make labor visible. And I like that it’s plural; we’re not doing just one kind of thing, either aesthetically or materially. And, while “projective” recalls Olson’s “projective verse” for me, I like to think that we’re projecting a little farther than that. The work we publish tends to be quite experimental, and the idea that the press is itself about launching (projects or projectiles, take your pick) and about futurity, rather than stasis, is important to me.
SA: I love Kate’s associations, and agree with them. Sam is to be credited with the name itself, I think; he and I made several lists — one column of which was the generic words we could have in the name, like “Books” and “Press,” and I was rather smitten with “Industries” because it emphasized the making of the objects and potentially gave us the freedom to make or do or create things that weren’t books, per se. But the “Projective” was purely Sam, and he was thinking of Olson. I also like the “project” embedded in there — and we do tend to publish chapbooks that are projects, in one way or another. The industry of the poet AND that of the bookmakers.
Karen Lepri: I’ll simply add that for me, the newcomer, “projective” includes the flashing up against a white background, a cinematic element that depends on the reader to organically take the work in and see-feel-hear it. Also, industries–plural! I imagine this multiplicity of makings, of processes that begin in other texts, conceits, forests, fields, threads, needles and so forth.