tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Outpost Journal issue 01

Outpost Journal issue 01 by Manya K. Rubinsteain
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bookshelves: art, politics, artists-books

review of
Outpost Journal issue 01
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - October 3, 2011


I'm very pleased to announce the 1st of a new series of publications, Outpost Journal, for several reasons: FIRST & FOREMOST, from the "LETTER FROM THE FOUNDERS": "Creative communities are by definition diverse. While megacities like New York and London are pillars of the mainstream art market, thousands of smaller cities - outposts, if you will - across the world are teeming with rich examples of creative culture. These geographical frontiers and the people, organizations and communities they house are the focus of Outpost Journal."

Now, it's not really a surprise that I take exception to some of the language used in the above quote, & I'll get into that more later, but I do appreciate the spirit of Outpost's approach enuf to laud it! Back in the 1980s I sent a letter to the Mayor's offices of both BalTimOre (where I was living at the time) & NYC. This letter proposed a name exchange. I was so tired of the inferiority complex that BalTimOreans had in relation to NYC that I proposed that the cities exchange names so that BalTimOreans cd bask in the glory of being New Yorkers for awhile & New Yorkers cd get some humility. Alas, I got no reply from anyone in BalTimOre's government but I did get a humorous reply from someone in a cultural office in NYC - thusly 'proving' that BalTimOre probably IS a bigger shithole than NYC. Unfortunately, I got no further correspondence from the NYC official after I offered to bribe him w/ counterfeit money.

In other words, I'm delighted that there's a serialized publication dedicated to exploring the culture of smaller cities. If you think that you have to live in a tiny overpriced apartment in an overcrowded city w/ entirely too few trees & very few non-human animals in order to experience creative excitement, THINK AGAIN! NYC, eg, is a nice place to visit (sometimes) but you have to be rich to afford to live there in the conditions that are quality-of-life enhancing.

SECOND, the 1st city chosen for Outpost's scrutiny is Pittsburgh. Now, I live in Pittsburgh, I can AFFORD a reasonably sized house in a peaceful neighborhood, I don't have to work too hard to pay for it, I have TIME for my own projects - wch are the most important thing for my personal satisfaction.

THIRD, much of what they report about in the 'Burgh is either stuff that I know about & also, mostly, like, OR stuff that I'm not familiar w/ & wd like to know more about. So there. All in all, I'd say the issue is well researched & has enuf odd spins to it to appeal to me. They promote the City of Asylum project(s), the Brew House, the Waffle Shop & Conflict Kitchen, Just Seeds Cooperative, Tim Kaulen, Jen Cooney, Lenka Clayton, Vanessa German, pirate radio, the Mattress Factory, the repurposing of churches for creative purposes, William Kofmehl III, Bayernhof, & much more. What I wd've liked to've seen more about is Pittsburgh Filmmakers - wch is certainly one of the best things about Pittsburgh, by far. Also lacking is mention of etta cetera - a person whose work is of extreme importance from my perspective.

Pittsburgh was once a center of the steel mill industry. This led to heavy pollution. Substantial labor struggles eventually led to unions & subsequently to good wages for many workers. These led to better housing & living conditions. Then the steel mills went out of business. People started leaving the city for more economically thriving places. Some prominent figures in the city started worrying about how to attract new people to the city for its revitalization. They wanted to attract more young people. I think this started to happen but who's been attracted? In my experience, alotof younger people w/ very little money but a substantial amt of creativity & ethics & VISION have been attracted. It might not exactly be what some of the 'prominent figures' had in mind but it strikes my fancy just right. Unfortunately, maybe that's one reason why Pittsburgh was used as a citizen-suppression training ground for cops during the G20 in 2009.

In fact, there's so much about Pittsburgh that makes it great, both well-funded & DIY, that I cd barely begin to list it all. There're the anarchist created projects like Free Ride (a bike project), the Big Idea (an anarchist info shop), Book 'Em (a bks-to-prisoners program cofounded by the aforementioned etta cetera - [For a highly abridged promotional lo-fi version of my "Book 'Em" documentary (2000-2006): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U98LDX...]). These are all long-running DIY projects of substance. Then there're the museums like the August Wilson Center for African American Culture & the ToonSeum (neither of wch have I been to yet but I'm very interested in them!). As w/ any substantial city there's more going on culturally than I'm ever likely to learn about & far more interesting creative people than I'm ever likely to be able to meet.

SO WHAT DO I OBJECT TO IN Outpost's "LETTER FROM THE FOUNDERS"? "While megacities like New York and London are pillars of the mainstream art market," [so far, so good - although I'd like to see criticism explaining more thoroughly what this means & why being "pillars of the mainstream art market" isn't necessarily something to aspire to] "thousands of smaller cities - outposts, if you will" [actually, I wdn't - "outposts" for what? I think a little more critical language wd've been helpful here - "outposts" are subsidiaries of main places, usually frontiers for invasions - wch is part & parcel of why the bigger the city, the more it's dependent on outside areas for food & supplies - what wd happen to NYC if no farmed food were accessible? Pittsburgh isn't an "outpost", it's a center in & of itself that doesn't particularly 'need' megacities] "These geographical frontiers and the people, organizations and communities they house are the focus of Outpost Journal." [Pittsburgh is NOT a "geographical frontier" - not even hundreds of yrs ago when it WAS an "outpost" for European imperialism & colonization]

& that brings me to what might be Outpost Journal's biggest weakness: despite its having some savvy as a political-activist-emphasized-artwork publication, it's so heavy on the DESIGN side that, sometimes, deep content falls to the wayside. THIS IS NOT A JOURNAL W/ AN EMPHASIS ON INTELLECTUAL RIGOR, IT'S AN ART PUBLICATION THAT'S TRYING TO MAKE ITSELF INTERESTING TO LOOK AT. & I think it succeeds at that, at least, ADMIRABLY.

This is beautifully produced, a great deal of love & care went into making it. It also cost more than they're selling it for SO I HIGHLY RECOMMEND GETTING A COPY OF THIS WHILE YOU CAN!! This is a collector's item of value for more reasons than I'm going into here. It's truly remarkable.

FOURTH, I'm the "Secretly Famous" person presented in it. 8 friends of mine, old & new, answer some pretty basic questions about their perception of me. Who? Doug Retzler, who I've known since about 1969 or 1970, a guy who's made some of the most interesting work I know of who's STILL UNDERAPPRECIATED & largely unknown after 40+ yrs of dedicated activity; Charles Brohawn, who I've known since about 1975 & who was one of the 1st people I collaborated w/ - now somewhat known as a member of "The Tinklers"; Paula Gillen, who I've known since 1977 or thenabouts & who was a photographer I worked w/ at the time - we've recently rediscovered each other & started working together again [see "Colony": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AgvRX... the representative of the Attic Archive, who organized the 8th International Neoist Apartment Festival in London in 1984, where we 1st met in person, & one of the neoists I continue to still feel closest to despite our physical distance; Florian Cramer, who I met in 1991 & who's as rigorous an intellectual as I'm ever likely to know & a neoist extraordinaire!; Hyla Willis, the violinist & cyberfeminist who I 1st met & collaborated w/ in 1997 & who's been a joy to know ever since; Erin Oh, who I met in the mid 2000s & who I hope to continue to have a long friendship w/ [see our collaborative "Vocabumemory" here: http://vimeo.com/27447569]; & last but not least, Amy Catanzano, the poet/poem who I only met in 2010 & w/ whom I've shared many a good time since [see "Amy Catanzano discusses her book "Multiversal" with tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZeZuC...].

Alas, I'm referred to as "The Artist Known as tENT" instead of NOT calling me an "artist" (as I prefer) & using my full name: tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE (as I also prefer). Oh, well..

All in all, a truly remarkable publication & a great premier! I eagerly await whatever their next cities chosen are & might just visit them! After all, I've been to London & NYC - but I HAVEN'T BEEN TO Providence, RI (where this originates from).
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 21, 2011 – Finished Reading
October 3, 2011 – Shelved
October 3, 2011 – Shelved as: art
October 3, 2011 – Shelved as: politics
October 3, 2011 – Shelved as: artists-books

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