fallennation:

Who I Am & The Places I Am.

Where do you create? Do you live there or just visit sometimes? How important is creating art to your identity?

Pardon me if I have to cut a somewhat circumambulatory route to cut to the heart of this question, as the nature of such questions and answers are always labyrinths, and the process of hammering them into a straight line always takes something away. 

The medium changes but this, the space and people and final transcript in the form of a book, a painting, an album, is what I am, first and foremost. the space I work and play are more or less the same, they are where I spend most of my time. If you haven’t read me or heard me or looked and asked how the pieces relate, you don’t know me—which is fine. You don’t need to. But if you wanted to, that’s where you would find me. And nowhere else. I don’t have children. I’m an artist.

And doing years of conventions I met many artists, writers, musicians that were really important to me — some have become acquaintances, some even collaborators. That is the most meaningful thing to me, creating a world or character with someone. Almost every project I’ve worked on has on some level been about the relationship of myself and those I was collaborating with.

And that means more to me than I ever could on my own. The times I’ve lost those kind of connections, that’s something I can’t really speak to here. Suffice it to say that I can’t read over half of the books, listen to the songs, without—at one point or anothercrying. Or simply thinking of them and being unable to continue. 

As this isn’t the only way art can be approached, I’ve done some thinking about where it might have originated. It has always been quite natural to me, which is generally a sign that something began early. When I was a child, my father and mother were divorced. I was 4. My mother was an art therapist, and she started taking me to a Psychodramatist with therapeutic experience. For many years that was my therapist. And the ideology of art therapy around it. That has always been a powerful, unspoken part of my work and why I do it.

But it goes far beyond that. Let’s talk a little about specific spaces and what we do with them. 

Just out of college, I began working in a 2000 sq. foot space with friends—soon to be business partners—and that space, once a hunting lodge, became the first of several shared studios. “Orangeface.” I hadn’t at that point really found my voice, even to the extent that every project is about losing and rediscovering ones voice, alone or in chorus, you still build up a sort of toolkit, and at that point the only tools I had really were the approach of collage and a sort of burning sense that something would come of it all if I collected and reconfigured everything I encountered. That remains a part of the process, though again it shifts and adapts to the demands of each new space, each new person, each new project.

Later we teamed up with a group that had a 13,000 sq foot space on the base of the Hudson, and later, moved out to Southern California and converted half of the house we were living in into some kind of freakish project studio. More recently, I lived in a group apartment underground that you can see as the primary setting for Clark: A Gonzomentary. It was where we lived and worked together for a year or two. The place, the people, and the projects are one and the same in my mind. You can’t really separate them and expect to have the same thing. 

That’s always been what you do with space—you convert it into something that you can work with. Many Americans with an excess of space seem to turn it into some into some kind of artless, heartless museum. I’ve never understood that. Space means you can help house an art movement. And most of my life that work has been a joint project. It was not only how I came to know myself but the only way I’ve really known to know others. 

I can’t say if it’s temporary or the beginning of something different, but I no longer have an art work areabecause we don’t have a place of our own right now. Hopefully sometime in the spring we will, although my heart tells me it will nevertheless remain somewhat different. The solitary process is something else. You have more freedom but you can’t really tell where the walls are. It’s disorienting, and it becomes much easier to wander in the labyrinth and get nowhere fast. More than finding the physical space, that means finding the right people to begin a new chapter, and that is never certain. 

This is the fact that defines my life right now as “in transition.” I have a small corner carved out for myself, but I haven’t yet really figured out how to occupy it because my heart, mind, and body are all going different directions right now.

And that’s ok too. It’s just what Right Now is.  My point is it is in my studio that I discover who I am and also where I am in that story. The most notable way an artist can define themselves sometimes is by not showing up.

——

I wanted to share with you the last place I did most of my art work, and this is it. (Pictures above.)

You can see less audio equipment in this setup because I’ve been doing that less. And removing some of to make room was like the final admission that it was a real decision. The guitars hung for years after my first divorce, mostly a reminder that until I made something new with someone new those instruments were nothing but an altar to the pain I was still holding on to. When I joined a new band it was a rebound relationship. Started to clear the air but ultimately I think too much of who I was when playing music is STILL somehow owned by my ex for it to be something that I’ve learned to reclaim.

All the same, music has brought me so much joy making it with certain people but it was all about those relationships and finally it caught up to me that I never found new people that could go to those spaces with me in a meaningful way.

I fled that for years — those abandoned guitars, the hundreds of hours running scales imagining getting back on the horse, again in front of an audience so it is REAL.

Instead, I wrapped up two final albums and that was it. Those albums were light hearted in a way but also deeply tinged with the relationships of those involved, again it was about us, and for instance when the percussionist OD’d in the bathtub and wrote a poem while blacked it, that became the lyrics to Eye of Set.

Close the chapter, turn the page. Next studio I’m hoping to have a “real” drawing table again and integrate it with my wacom.

——-

It would be a long and possibly tedious task to unearth all the stories behind the making of all the projects I’ve collaborated on. But a few have come to mind and maybe you’ll find something interesting in the recollection also: 

Join My Cult!, the first book I wrote, was defined by a circle of friends still asking who we were, still teens some of us. I made sure everyone involved in the scene contributed something even just by inspiring a character in the weird, intentional train wreck that was.

404 Documents, Bradley the Buyer lived with me in my then tiny studio space and we recorded and mixed the album that went hand in hand with the book we wrote together. My least known and maybe sometimes favorite book, because it cuts straight to the heart of his relationship with himself, and also my relationship with him at first - her first met me as this occult author, creator of Join My Cult, and I brought that mythos to him and his frustration and anger maybe had a new language to express itself in. But in the end, Adam, the protagonist of that book, gives up everything in his life, or has it ripped out, because those things were all false veneers. And it ends with him, like the protagonist in Pi, wise now but completely broken by the blunt force trauma of truth.

And that is exactly what happened to Bradley, the real man turned fiction turned man again, when he went into the hospital, trying to take out his eyes like Oedipus.

If you want to be my friend, or have some vindictive need to inflict pain, that’s how you’d do it. You would make art with me, and do it with everything you have and then I’ll give it all I have as well. And it will be awful, it will be glorious, it will be like the lead in the Kalavala, three ugly lies that all tell the truth. Sometimes I’m not even sure I’m alive without those things. I’m like a tube that dispenses paint.

And right now I’m having a hard time keeping on track, which is something completely new to me. Completely fresh. Like all new things it’s scary but maybe there will be growth on the other side of this. Maybe all this new self doubt and anxiety is the sharp edge that belies a new truth, waiting to be exposed.

I’ve been reaching out silently, feeling around in these spaces, because I don’t know what is next and really that means I don’t know WHO is next. What group of creatives? What muse or lover? What new physical challenge? that will be where I find it. And it will be, ultimately, where it is lost.

So this last space. It was supposed to be my Safe Place. I don’t mean that figuratively, I mean from trauma and my own growing sense of failure. The weight of that is so heavy some days you want to hang yourself just to lighten the load. But I didn’t. I came there at the request of my best friend. The one I said I trusted over everything else. You have all read Greek tragedy. You know where this is going.

Chronic pain and PTSD were my real collaborators when I worked at the little studio shown here, every piece defined and limited by nerve pain and mood swings. I learned to work with it. Like everything else I learned to make THAT a part of the piece. It’s all over Words of Traitors.

So he and I wrote the screenplay Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning. Planned it all out, broke up the scenes and got to work. Writing with him was always even more like architecture than any other collaborations. And that’s a good thing. We learn from working with others. That’s how it works. I don’t believe in the solitary artist is an island myth. I personally adapted the script we made, which was optioned but never made, into Fallen Nation: Party At The Worlds End, the book. But that book, as much as it is about other things for strangers, is at its heart about our relationship. All the strengths and weaknesses of us as people come out when we make a world together.

My stupid ass made that move 200 miles north most of all because I didn’t understand that we would never collaborate again. For most of the time it was because he made the commitment to be a father to many children and have more still and that is something that leaves no room for the impractical dreams of a failure.

I know, that isn’t how it was, I’m not a failure, and how needy of me to expect attention like that from a best friend. I am needy. I give all but I also ask it. I can do less but then we can’t make stories together. We can have coffee. And that seemed alright enough for a while. It was for me. Clearly wasn’t for something else.

At the end, I was pushed by circumstance into having a ptsd trigger event, where thankfully I maintained enough control to not hurt myself or anyone else. But after he called me “crazy,” and implied that when other people had written me off for that, they may have been right to do so.

So when I see this picture of my work space all I see is a 20 year long friendship that seems to be over and I don’t even know why.

The only thing I can do is make a new space and say: is there anyone else out there that wants to be my friend? If so, this is how we do it.

Not to paint it as a sunny scene. History shows one or both of us might go in a mental hospital afterward but that’s just the price of creating fictional worlds that aren’t meant to serve as an escape really.

Pans Labyrinth was an escape for the protagonist from HER trauma, but it is not for those tasked with creating it.

I’m at the point in my career now, with enough under my belt that I can look and see what the deal is. My task is to get harder, or at least not less soft, as I wait for the right time to bring the hammer down.

3 months ago 3 notes

Artists and Photographers Wanted

talesfromwhenihadaface:

Read this is if you are an illustrator, comic artist, painter, photographer, etc interested in multi-format visual storytelling: 

Read More

4 months ago 6 notes
5th
December
23 notes
Reblog
fallennation:

Apocalypse is literally about revelation. Those that have lived through an apocalypse may become haunted. They live in a kind of dream of the past. The shapes and shadows that cling to the wall when your world is blown to ash. 
We all live in apocalyptic times, and we are all struggling to reclaim who we were before the last revelation stripped us of our most beloved lies. Someone who has lived through the disappointment of a successful revolution knows this well. Gran never let me forget.
Before she passed, she taught me nourish my dream selves with metaphor and symbol. “That way you won’t grow hard and brittle,” she said. I thought she looked pretty brittle herself, and worried about her health, though I’m not sure she noticed. She always seemed surprised at the gradual betrayal of her body. I wonder if her dream self was still seventeen, virile and taciturn. Pissed off at the world like all the rest. Mothers told their daughter of the wild woman who entered those woods and never returned. They say she lived with bears, born a second birth amongst their bones in the warm womb of their burrow.  They said so many things, it is hard to know which has any truth to it. But I can say that many nights I have awakened in the middle of the night from the low rasping of breath, from the musty scent of the forest. 
When I was a girl, gran told us that birds are the carriers of dead souls. How many friends, how much of her family had been carried away by those fluttering shadows? 
Nadja had odd stories, always for everything, but when you’re a kid you listen to these things, and she had such a glow to her back in those days when she would spin a tale and had  an audience. She also lived through the holocausts in Ukraine, she would shriek in her sleep and chomp her teeth blood red, and this—well it’s not nice to say but the other children called her a wicked witch. Because I had been named after her, then, I was by some child-logic also a witch, and like much older witches, I spent much of my time alone. 
She wasn’t wicked, but otherwise, I think they were right about us both. Children see more than we give them credit for, they just don’t know very much. (By the time adults have filled their heads with nonsense, they often have neither sight nor knowledge.)
When Gran Nadja told stories of birds carrying people’s souls, I took this very literally, as children are prone to do. I tried to imagine how this might work exactly. I drew contraptions on napkins, and Nadja would cackle when I would ask her questions — how big was a soul? — how many could a single pigeon carry? —
And, most concerning of all: what kind of world these “souls” might be taken off to.
It should come as little surprise that my first life encounter with death was with Nadja herself. (She of the dried flowers and mysterious note.) So she had tried, in some way, to prepare me for her passing, and because I was so young and she so old, it’s like the two ends of the ouroborus. We can almost understand one another, and while much is lost in translation, it is between the very young and the very old that a certain kind of myth can perpetuate itself, whereas between the mouths of two individuals in the midst of life, very different stories prevail. Timing, like I said, is everything.

I cried for hours at the funeral. It was the first time I can remember crying, and the last time for many years. My young life had really been an echo of hers. I thought I was crying because I had been left alone. I didn’t yet know the real reason for those tears. 
(Draft for “Tales From When I Had A Face.”)

fallennation:

Apocalypse is literally about revelation. Those that have lived through an apocalypse may become haunted. They live in a kind of dream of the past. The shapes and shadows that cling to the wall when your world is blown to ash.

We all live in apocalyptic times, and we are all struggling to reclaim who we were before the last revelation stripped us of our most beloved lies. Someone who has lived through the disappointment of a successful revolution knows this well. Gran never let me forget.

Before she passed, she taught me nourish my dream selves with metaphor and symbol. “That way you won’t grow hard and brittle,” she said. I thought she looked pretty brittle herself, and worried about her health, though I’m not sure she noticed. She always seemed surprised at the gradual betrayal of her body. I wonder if her dream self was still seventeen, virile and taciturn. Pissed off at the world like all the rest. Mothers told their daughter of the wild woman who entered those woods and never returned. They say she lived with bears, born a second birth amongst their bones in the warm womb of their burrow.  They said so many things, it is hard to know which has any truth to it. But I can say that many nights I have awakened in the middle of the night from the low rasping of breath, from the musty scent of the forest.

When I was a girl, gran told us that birds are the carriers of dead souls. How many friends, how much of her family had been carried away by those fluttering shadows?

Nadja had odd stories, always for everything, but when you’re a kid you listen to these things, and she had such a glow to her back in those days when she would spin a tale and had  an audience. She also lived through the holocausts in Ukraine, she would shriek in her sleep and chomp her teeth blood red, and this—well it’s not nice to say but the other children called her a wicked witch. Because I had been named after her, then, I was by some child-logic also a witch, and like much older witches, I spent much of my time alone.

She wasn’t wicked, but otherwise, I think they were right about us both. Children see more than we give them credit for, they just don’t know very much. (By the time adults have filled their heads with nonsense, they often have neither sight nor knowledge.)

When Gran Nadja told stories of birds carrying people’s souls, I took this very literally, as children are prone to do. I tried to imagine how this might work exactly. I drew contraptions on napkins, and Nadja would cackle when I would ask her questions — how big was a soul? — how many could a single pigeon carry? —

And, most concerning of all: what kind of world these “souls” might be taken off to.

It should come as little surprise that my first life encounter with death was with Nadja herself. (She of the dried flowers and mysterious note.) So she had tried, in some way, to prepare me for her passing, and because I was so young and she so old, it’s like the two ends of the ouroborus. We can almost understand one another, and while much is lost in translation, it is between the very young and the very old that a certain kind of myth can perpetuate itself, whereas between the mouths of two individuals in the midst of life, very different stories prevail. Timing, like I said, is everything.

I cried for hours at the funeral. It was the first time I can remember crying, and the last time for many years. My young life had really been an echo of hers. I thought I was crying because I had been left alone. I didn’t yet know the real reason for those tears.

(Draft for “Tales From When I Had A Face.”)

4 months ago 23 notes
3rd
December
3 notes
Reblog
fallennation:

“What was the point in trying to reclaim a lost past? If we look back we’d end up like Lot’s wife.” 
But sometimes you reach such an impasse that the only way forward is to go back. It’s one of the peculiarities of some people that for them everything is backwards. For those wired in reverse, we already know how the story will end — and who doesn’t? death, despair, loss — but we want to work backwards toward a halcyon beginning, a Garden of Eden bordello. But the road to the past is asymptotic, so not even Atlas can bear the burden of truly fresh starts. 
Every day the past takes a more, like a homunculus perched atop your diaphragm, gloating over your fitful sleep with a broken smile. The ugly little dwarf. He’s breaking you down. Filling your head with daydreams of that backwards Eden that gradually makes the approaching death seem more pleasant — and more likely — than sex. There isn’t any other way out of this thing. Beginnings are forever out of reach, but if you’re lucky you can land yourself a nice middle. 
And heaven help you if you find it in a lover.

fallennation:

“What was the point in trying to reclaim a lost past? If we look back we’d end up like Lot’s wife.”

But sometimes you reach such an impasse that the only way forward is to go back. It’s one of the peculiarities of some people that for them everything is backwards. For those wired in reverse, we already know how the story will end — and who doesn’t? death, despair, loss — but we want to work backwards toward a halcyon beginning, a Garden of Eden bordello. But the road to the past is asymptotic, so not even Atlas can bear the burden of truly fresh starts.

Every day the past takes a more, like a homunculus perched atop your diaphragm, gloating over your fitful sleep with a broken smile. The ugly little dwarf. He’s breaking you down. Filling your head with daydreams of that backwards Eden that gradually makes the approaching death seem more pleasant — and more likely — than sex. There isn’t any other way out of this thing. Beginnings are forever out of reach, but if you’re lucky you can land yourself a nice middle.

And heaven help you if you find it in a lover.

4 months ago 3 notes
21st
November
423 notes
Reblog
When I Had A Face And Other Bardo Tales, …now in progress…

When I Had A Face And Other Bardo Tales, …now in progress…

(via nocturnia)

5 months ago 423 notes

fallennation:

Heart sewing. 

6 months ago 3 notes

fallennation:

Cover concept (for story in progress). Clipped off at the bottom. It’s a train. 

6 months ago 3 notes

fallennation:

Scans from the Words of Traitors notebook. 

Going to be drafting new stories for the followup to the limited edition, and fine-tuning the art a great deal. The collage elements have been painted and drawn over, the final part of integration will involve wacom tablet illustration — although I want all of it to have a feel to it of being a sort of mental scrapbook… subconscious imagery, much in the way that the stories themselves are all liminal tales. 

6 months ago 1 note

fallennation:

Finally taking the time to scan in some of the images from the Words of Traitors sketchbook, rather than photographing them with a camera. I’m still not particularly happy with my scanner… may need to get access to a pro scanner for this task. 

What’s the point? I’m starting to cull together all the new material, with the idea of returning and retooling the “limited edition”, pitching a complete, final edition to publishers with a broad enough artistic vision to include such an unusual project. Here’s to hoping… 

6 months ago 4 notes

With a couple of the 50ish pieces from the Words of Traitors art show. 

The limited edition of the book is still available on Amazon. 

6 months ago 2 notes

(via sjmiqev)

7 months ago 7,275 notes
25th
September
2,534 notes
Reblog
Party At The World’s End

Party At The World’s End

(via ramzyfatale)

7 months ago 2,534 notes

(via daddyfuckedme)

7 months ago 13,529 notes

danceabletragedy:

inside by GorchakovArtem

(via ramzyfatale)

7 months ago 3,886 notes
25th
September
2,903 notes
Reblog
Love this piece. Immediately calls to mind a part in Story of a Lifetime that I’m horribly stuck at. May be time to guzzle coffee tomorrow and go through images until something sticks. 

Love this piece. Immediately calls to mind a part in Story of a Lifetime that I’m horribly stuck at. May be time to guzzle coffee tomorrow and go through images until something sticks. 

(via ramzyfatale)

7 months ago 2,903 notes