Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guest: Amina Cain

Amina Cain will be a guest speaker to our class on Thursday, October 29. She is the author of I Go To Some Hollow (Les Figues Press <http://www.lesfigues.com/> , 2009), a collection of stories that revolve quietly around human relationality, landscape, and emptiness. She is also a curator (most recently for When Does It or You Begin? Memory as Innovation <http://linkshall.org/2009/09-pp-jan.shtml> , a month long festival of writing, performance, and video) and a teacher of writing/literature. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as 3rd Bed, Action Yes, Denver Quarterly, Dewclaw, The Encyclopedia Project, La Petite Zine, and Sidebrow, and was recently translated into Polish on MINIMALBOOKS. She lives in Los Angeles.

To prepare for her visit, please read the piece below, plus the following links and info:

Links Hall Artistic Associates program info: http://linkshall.org/o-aa.shtml and http://linkshall.org/o-proposals_aa.shtml

When Does It or You Begin? festival web pages: http://linkshall.org/2009/09-pp-jan.shtml

Reports from festival on Les Figues blog:

When Does It or You Begin? (Memory as Innovation)


Amina: I am made up of everything I remember, and of everything I don't. My memories don't make up the truth, but they make something. Last January I was in the audience for Method to Madness (curated by Kate Sheehy), another month long festival at Links Hall. I sat with my friend Rachel Tredon, who I will be performing with later this month, and watched the performances. Outside it was snowing, and inside Links it felt warm. For Twinkle by Nance Klehm, a starry night was made, and then inhabited, one oil lamp at a time. Spell Launcher and Love Has Brought Me to Despair by Rebecca Tennison and Aviva Steigmeyer brought me to...something...what was it? I felt so warm when I left. Couldn't writing events be like this too? This warm? This close to habitation?

Jen: Nine and a half years ago, I moved to Chicago. I didn’t think that I would stay here or anywhere. Time escapes. Waking up in the middle of a vivid dream and imagining the ending. It’s hard to remember exactly how I felt that first winter. My brother came to visit and painted the walls of my apartment red, blue, purple, yellow. The same building where I continue to live and create. Structures contain memory. For thirty years, art has been made at Links Hall. Something new and unexplainable. Sitting in the dark with groups of friends and strangers, we have experienced performance, readings, dance. Collective breathing that repeats.


Amina: It is a new year; this is a new festival; we are about to welcome a new president; I hope these are new times. For almost one year, Jen and I have been preparing for When Does It or You Begin? and it is almost upon us. I have started having anxiety dreams about the festival. In the first one, Jen and I quite awkwardly welcomed the audience. Tisa Bryant, who will be featured at the very end of the festival, came onstage at the beginning. What is a beginning? What is an end? Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night I think about the festival, go through lists in my mind of what still needs to be done. Anxiety. And also excitement. The truth is that I think the festival is going to be wonderful. I am grateful to have the chance to work on it.

Jen: I believe in beginnings. Through art, our ideas evolve. At this time and place, I wanted to bring together all of my creative communities. Writers, artists, performers, and activists. We are designing a version of the world we want to live in – everyone in the festival, who supports it and attends. This is a gift. The opportunity is equally overwhelming and phenomenal.


Amina: I don't want to forget to acknowledge the things I can't see or perceive, and, therefore, remember. What is a memory? Teresa Carmody, week three festival particpant writes, "A memory is a lying truth felt true." Do our memories make a place for us to inhabit? Can we inhabit truth? Can we inhabit lying? In the months ahead, Jen and I hope to collect writing from the participants of When Does It or You Begin? so that we can make a book. We hope to know where we are when we remember.

Jen: My memory feels part of me yet I can't control it. I often remember things I wish I had forgotten and forget things I wish I could remember. So, how will this festival be remembered? We have invited a team of video artists to produce creative documentation. Utilizing a variety of approaches, the end result will be to represent the diverse and complex concepts of memory through video. All completed video pieces will be screened at art spaces in Chicago and Los Angeles during 2009, ideally becoming part of a DVD project. Video artists include: Carrie Olivia Adams, Wonjung Bae, Ania Greiner, Jason Guthartz, Jeff Harms, Gretchen Hasse, Kurt Heintz, Todd Mattei, Amarnath Ravva, Bryan Saner, and Casey Smallwood.

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