The Bukowski party

In the article signed by Sebastian Kort titled “Vrouwen willen seks. Bukowski niet” (women want sex. Bukowski not) published in nrc-next on 4 March, I read about the project in progress of uitgeverij Lebowski (Lebowski publishers #LebowskiBooks): to re-publish all the works of Charles Bukowski. The first three books are about to appear, within March, and for this occasion the publishers are organising a party with chicken and beer, film projections and performances. The author of the article found this rather anti-Bukowski(an), thinking that the poet himself would hate the idea of so many people around him. However, just for displeasing the expectations, the party can very well fit in the spirit, I find.

Breaking the pattern of compulsory book buying whenever travelling, I felt cool about not buying any during my last visit in Athens; the house of my parents has still a lot to offer book-wise. But then again, poetry (just like art) saves lives; I walked in front of it; this edition not new not old either, not  Greek neither in Greek.

“Love is a dog from hell” appeared on the shelf and I had to open it. Page 139: “the meek have inherited… if I suffer at this/ typewriter/ think how I’d feel/ among the lettuce-/ pickers of Salinas?” … eye down the page … “some suicides are never/ recorded.”

I turned, page 193: “melancholia … the history of melancholia/ includes all of us…”

I don’t know if Bukowski hated parties or was sometimes bored of women and sex; he did though hate paid slavery but kept it up for 13 continuous years, while keeping up writing too; there’s your hero and a good reason to party; off to Amsterdam!

P.S.1 The quotes are from the edition “Love is a dog from hell” of 2003 by HarperCollinsPublishers, poems 1974-1977 by Charles Bukowski; a beautiful edition.

P.S.2 It is great that Lebowski publishers undertook such a project, but it will be in Dutch; I always preferred dual language editions, when poetry was somehow difficult; but here, it is clear as the sky(?); saying this made me curious again…

"Assimilated information/ 3" , acrylic on wooden board, 2009
“Assimilated information/ 3”, acrylic on wooden board, 2009

Testimonia is not art

The phrase came with an exclamation mark, first page in the book of guests at the Manifesta International Foundation, in Amsterdam; related to the open doors exhibition presented in their offices, titled “Rooms with a view”. Whether I agree or not with the statement, I firstly thought it was generally exclaimed and not referred to the specific exhibition. The works presented are visual works of some sort, like paintings, sculptures and such, placed in the office rooms; nothing extravagant.

It seemed that just by reading in the introductory text … “a presentation of works by artists who have a special view on the relationship between culture, the visual arts and society” … “Some of the artworks present a direct critical attitude towards politics and culture – both in a historical and contemporary context – while others more indirectly react to mutual influences and human behaviour in general”… a nerve got tangled, a bit like auto-effect to the specific repertoire.

But, to the defence of the works, the socio-political effect is secondary, if present at all; that is if you don’t read the accompanying texts. I preferred to leave the reading for the train trip. It happens though often, to wonder what is made first; the artwork or the texts.

P.S. 1 It must be the interview with the contract killer that did it, by Aníbal López … “whose work made a strong impression at the dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel”… ; which I did not sit to watch. In this case, I would say that art prevails, the work already exists in the form of a literature jewel called “In cold blood” by T.Capote (ok, the killers are not hired but rather spontaneous, so the opposite); there you have art because the information is assimilated and worked out, given to the public as a solid self-explaining  piece; and with the aspiration of fulfilling an art form.

P.S. 2 The interview is titled “Testimonio”, video 43’27”, 2012

“RVDV01-0686” by Rinus van de Velde, charcoal on canvas, 140x200cm, 2012
“Covered Horse” by Fernando Sánchez Castillo, bronze, 33x19x12 cm, 2011