“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.” -Philip K. Dick
Perhaps we consider reality the place where it is safe to dwell, where we believe we know what to expect. What happens when that reality is tested, when things around us become so surreal that we begin to wonder whether we have misunderstood some fundamental principle of the world all this time or whether this new reality is truly something out of the ordinary? The trick of reality is that, no matter how much we rail against it, how much we try not to believe that it is indeed the very fabric of our existence, it is immovable. Reality does not budge for us. We either learn to accept it or reject it.
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is a writer living and working in Baltimore while working on a book project. Sycamore’s current book, Sketchtasy, flowed forth after Sycamore finished writing an autobiography. The stories for the book come from Sycamore’s experiences in Boston during the mid-1990s and the gay club culture there. What came through during the writing was the trauma that touched upon every aspect of this experience in the context of a world that often does not look kindly on lgbtq culture. Following the eruption of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, the 90s ushered in a new generation in a sense, those who, rather than losing all of their friends to the disease instead came of age during that time of prodigious loss.
While living in San Francisco around the age of 19, Sycamore came across many writers and others who became heroes through reading obituaries. One such writer is David Wojnarowicz whose book Memories That Smell Like Gasoline is read by Alexa, the protagonist of Sketchtasy.
Reading is an act of comfort for Sycamore’s protagonist. Through reading she is able to access a kinship that she cannot achieve in her own reality. Movies, on the other hand, while sometimes comforting, can also stimulate trauma for Sycamore’s character. Reading offers both a salve and an opening of the floodgates through the lives reflected in the books she reads.
Sycamore is the winner of the 2014 Lambda Award.
At present, she has a recently finished manuscript titled The Freezer Door as well another in progress at the moment.
For Sycamore, writing is “the best way to be high.”
To hear more about Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s life and work, and to find links to her work as well as her book tour, visit our page and listen to the complete interview.
Jo Confino is a journalist and photographer living in New York. His day job is journalism but his great love is photography. His practice involves simply pounding the streets with the eye of a photographer and documenting what he sees. Confino usually captures his images in one shot on the spot, preferring to capture the immediate moment and then let it go.
Journalism tells the reader about the world the live in, Confino explains, and while photography does this in a way, he likes to train his camera on objects that are in decay, those things that most people would dismiss, giving them value by placing attention on these things. In a sense, he gives love to objects that no one would love.
Confino’s photographic wanderings sometimes take him to industrial areas in Queens and Brooklyn where he investigates every corner he finds. Many of his photographs, too have been taken within a one mile radius of his home in Manhattan. The very nature of New York City means that something Confino photographs one day may not even exist the next. He loves to capture this constant cycle of growth and destruction that characterizes the city he calls home.
In the past, Confino when through a phase of collage making. One such collage was of the sidewalks of SoHo. He says he never intentionally sought out many photographs of the same things but can recognize a pattern when one happens to emerge in his photography.
Some of Confino’s more recent work are photographs that look like paintings. Viewers are often fooled into thinking that they are looking at a painting when in fact they are seeing photographs of various objects. Through this and many other iterations, Confino challenges our perception of reality.
Confino’s wife is a full time architect who has informed his knowledge of art in enormous ways.
To hear more about Jo Confino’s work, his experiences wandering in New York City and more, listen to the complete interview.
A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:
Reality is not a friend. Rather it is a constant and erratic companion whose misadventures we have no choice but to witness.
Books to Read
What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is recently read Maggie Terry by Sarah Schulman. Jo Confino has been reading Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg.
Apexart is accepting proposals for group exhibitions. Artists, curators, writers and creative individuals of all types are invited to submit their ideas for consideration. The selection process is anonymous and randomized so that each proposal receives equal attention. Submissions are crowd sourced with a jury of over 300 individuals from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. It is important to note that proposals cannot exceed 500 words in order to be considered. All experience levels are welcome to apply. For further information and to submit a proposal, visit the website. Deadline is October 31.
Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.