Spaces Corners at ICP Museum invites you to a book signing for A Spectacle and Nothing Strange by Ahndraya Parlato and ZZYZX by Gregory Halpern. Christian Hawkey will present a short reading from A Spectacle and Nothing Strange beginning promptly at 7pm.
A Spectacle and Nothing Strange
Irrational images flash through our minds all the time, in dreams and daydreams. Ahndraya Parlato’s work imagines an oscillation between these internal and external images, revealing the possibilities of different realities. Combining ten years’ worth of images, A Spectacle and Nothing Strange draws on Parlato’s experience being raised by a single mother who was mentally ill. From an early age, Parlato was put in the unique position of having to decide whether her mother’s observations and fears were real or imagined. These photographs allow her to move between various realities, acknowledging the validity of her mother’s world, while also questioning the boundaries of normal, abnormal, sane, and insane. A Spectacle and Nothing Strange is beautifully designed by Parlato and Michael Schmelling with text by Christian Hawkey.
The early settlers dubbed California The Golden State, and The Land of Milk and Honey. Today there are the obvious ironies—sprawl, spaghetti junctions, and skid row—but the place is not so easily distilled or visualized, either as a clichéd paradise or as its demise. There’s a strange kind of harmony when it’s all seen together—the sublime, the psychedelic, the self-destructive. Like all places, it’s unpredictable and contradictory, but to greater extremes. Cultures and histories coexist, the beautiful sits next to the ugly, the redemptive next to the despairing, and all under a strange and singular light, as transcendent as it is harsh.
The pictures in ZZYZX by Gregory Halpern begin in the desert east of Los Angeles and move west through the city, ending at the Pacific Ocean. This general westward movement alludes to a thirst for water, as well as the original expansion of America, which was born in the east and which hungrily drove itself west until reaching the Pacific, thereby fulfilling its “manifest” destiny.
The people, places, and animals in the book did exist before Halpern’s camera, but he has sewn these photographs into a work of fiction or fantasy—a structure, sequence and edit which, like Los Angeles itself, teeters on the brink of collapsing under the weight of its own strangely-shaped mass.
Ahndraya Parlato (born Kailua, Hawaii) is currently a professor of photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology, USA. In 2014 she published East of the Sun, West of the Moon, a collaboration with Gregory Halpern.
Christian Hawkey has written two full-length poetry collections, four chapbooks, and the cross-genre book Ventrakl (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). A new book, Sonne from Ort, a bilingual collaborative erasure made with the German poet Uljana Wolf, was recently published (kookbooks Verlag, Berlin). He translates contemporary German poetry, and with the German poet Uljana Wolf he translates the Austrian writer Ilse Aichinger. He lives in Berlin and Brooklyn, and he directs the MFA in Writing at Pratt Institute.
Gregory Halpern was born in 1977 in Buffalo, New York. He has published a number of books, including A (2011), Omaha Sketchbook (2009) and East of the Sun, West of the Moon (2014), a collaboration with Ahndraya Parlato. He also edited, along with Jason Fulford, The Photographer’s Playbook: Over 250 Assignments and Ideas (2014). He holds a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University and an MFA from California College of the Arts. In 2014 he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.