Joanna Pallaris is an artist working primarily in analogue photography.
Her intuitive, personal work and observations of nature search to reconnect to the anima (soul) of all things.
After graduating from Camberwell College of Arts (London) she studied Gum Bichromate, Toning and Wet-plate collodion.
Joanna spent 2011-2019 living in a remote dwelling without electricity in the mountains on the Amalfi Coast; a modest existence which allowed her to immerse herself in, and capture the raw beauty of, nature.
Taylor Mathues was born and raised in New Jersey and currently resides in Glen Gardner, NJ. She attended Mason Gross School of the Arts and graduated in 2015 with a BFA in photography. Since then her work has been on display in multiple group exhibitions across the US and Europe. In 2018, she had her first solo exhibition where she exhibited her most recent body of work titled It’s Happening Again. Her work takes you along her healing journey and explores inner struggles with darkness, anxiety, and the unknown. She is heavily influenced by artists such as Francesca Woodman, Marianna Rothen, and David Lynch.
Following the success of Handheld Press’s 2019 best selling anthology Women’s Weird, they will be publishing a second anthology of classic Weird short fiction by women authors.
It will be published alongside James Machin’s anthology of classic British Weird fiction, British Weird.
Women’s Weird 2 will contain thirteen remarkably chilling stories originally published from 1891 to 1937, by women authors from the USA, Canada, the UK, India and Australia. Featured stories will include:
❑ Lettice Galbraith’s ‘The Blue Room’ (1897)
❑ Barbara Baynton’s ‘A Dreamer’ (1902)
❑ Katherine Mansfield’s ‘The House’ (1912)
❑ Bithia Mary Croker’s ‘The Red Bungalow’ (1919)
❑ Marjorie Bowen’s ‘Florence Flannery’ (1924)
❑ L M Montgomery’s ‘The House Party at Smoky Island’ (1934)
❑ Stella Gibbons’ ‘Roaring Tower’ (1937)
Melissa Edmundson’s introduction will explore how the evolving Weird tradition was interpreted using colonial settings, and focus on how Weird fitted naturally into the careers of writers like Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) and Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm) who were not normally considered exponents of supernatural fiction.
Women’s Weird 2 is due to be published on 27th October 2020.
Pre-order today via their website
“Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner”. Neil Gaiman
Short stories felt like a thing of the past. I always read novels, I had dabbled in short stories before but I never quite felt the urge to continue collecting them.
During this pandemic my attention span has faltered and novels have been read in parts and not as complete set pieces. I have dabbled, abandoned and finished books that have left me deflated. The idea of a short story suddenly felt appealing and maybe I could venture into another world in time for dinner or in my case it was breakfast.
My new routine was to get up early, make tea and sit down and read. This came into play a few days ago when I picked up The Houseguest: And Other Stories by Amparo Davila. Life as I knew it had faded into the background and there I was in a very strange and peculiar world.
Amparo Davila was born in Mexico in 1928, as a child she would become fascinated with books and would go on to write her very own stories that touched on the fantastical and the uncanny including this collection The Houseguest: And Other Stories published by New Directions.
Within The Houseguest, the stories often move between pure horror and psychological disorder. We are not sure if the supernatural is responsible for the misfortune of its characters or is it the case that the characters themselves are disturbed in some way? This kind of storytelling opens up the narrative, it allows us to lead the way and come to our own conclusions by picking up the clues as we go along.
This particular device is obvious in the first story Moses and Gaspar. These creatures we imagine are cats (although I couldn’t tell you why and many others believe they are at first) but as the story unfolds we begin to question them, we question what they are. Her ability to throw predictability out of the window is wonderfully macabre of her and for those who love to use their imagination will enjoy these tales immensely but may leave you feeling rather haunted.
The Houseguest and Other Stories by Amparo Dávila was translated from the Spanish by Audrey Harris and Matthew Gleeson
Alejandra Pizarnik was born in Buenos Aires and began to study philosophy and literature at university but left to pursue a dream of poetry and painting.
She created a body of work that would touch on major themes such as isolation, childhood and death. She would go on to produce several books of poetry, prose, drawings and essays.
In her 1959 journal she wrote:
I would like to live in order to write. Not to think of anything else other than to write. I am not after love nor money. I don’t want to think nor decently build my life. I want peace: to read, to study, to earn some money so that I become independent from my family, and to write
Taken from: Where the Voice of Alejandra Pizarnik Was Queen By Patricio Ferrari July 25, 2018
Influenced by the French symbolists, her work was dark and its diction was full of fragility, isolation and violence. Her work spoke of loneliness and of being alone. The violence of beauty and the beauty of violence often intertwined, enveloped in melancholy – her collection of work is one to be treasured.
Bibliography via Poetry Foundation:
Pizarnik published several books of poetry during her lifetime, including: La tierra más ajena (1955), La última inocencia (1956), Las aventuras perdidas (1958), Árbol de Diana (1960), Extracción de la piedra de locura (1968), and El infierno musical (1971). She also published the prose essay “La condesa sangrienta” (1971), a meditation on a 16th-century Hungarian countess allegedly responsible for the torture and murder of more than 600 girls. Pizarnik’s work has been translated into English in the collections Alejandra Pizarnik: Selected Poems (translated by Cecilia Rossi, 2010) and Extracting the Stone of Madness (translated by Yvette Siegert, 2016).
In the echo of my deaths
there is still fear.
Do you know about fear?
I know about fear when I say my name.
fear in a black hat
hiding rats in my blood,
or fear with dead lips
drinking my desires.
Oh, yeah. In the echo of my deaths
there is still fear.
NM Design is the multi-disciplinary studio of Nuno Moreira, specializing in creating books and other cultural objects. He creates visually stunning artwork and direction for books and his own artwork and photography has roots in surrealism – we spoke to him about creativity, childhood and where he finds ideas.
Firstly, tell me a bit how you got into the work of photography and art direction.
As it is obvious, both of these practices rely on the construction of an image as its basis. For that reason, they are somehow parallel and contaminate each other all the time. Throughout the years I’ve been trying to merge the commercial work of book/music design with my artistic practice of photography, painting and manual collage. With some projects this is easier and more natural to accomplish, I can reuse pieces directly from my archive or entirely develop them from scratch, with other projects it’s utterly impossible due to time or financial constraints. I tend to observe that as years go by clients come to me more because of a certain style and understand where I come from and less because they want someone to execute ideas for them. And that is, of course, a very positive aspect because it underlies a notion of trust and the basic understanding of hiring a professional in the first place.
Answering more directly to your question, photography appears in my life as a way for expressing things I have a difficult time articulating using just words. Images have that ability to show but also to intrigue and stimulate the imagination by not revealing much and that’s what interested me in the first place.
I got into photography as a teenager and honestly, I didn’t know so well what I was doing when I started. I was sort of experimenting a lot with the equipment and trying to fall upon some sort of accidental image that would have a certain ambience and project a certain cinematic mood. What I remember well is that the first images that spoke to me were of a very intimate nature, the light was low and it was mostly about form and the space that the body occupies within it. It’s very curious to look back because I still feel fascinated by what the body can represent and what it so naturally hides beneath the skin. This is particularly apparent in my books “ZONA” and then in a more refined manner in “She Looks into Me”. I like the idea of working with photography and using the least obvious resources of this practice. That is, to produce images that do not have foundations strictly of this medium. It pleases me to work with as few elements as possible as it allows for more concentration on what lies in front of the lens: the body, the atmosphere, shapes, light and above all the theatre of shadows it all creates. It is very important in what I do that the image is just the starting point for thought and imagination. At least that’s what I aim for with all my work, that the final pieces can hold the enthusiasm and strength to spark any kind of fiery thought in the viewer.
When did you first realise that creativity was going to be your chosen path in life?
As far back as I remember I always enjoyed being alone, surrounded by books, in a private bubble with my things. That could be just reading and reflecting, or simply observing things around. Phenomenology always interested me. I think that was a good indication of what the future held in store for me. Then I have to say I always felt life to be insufficient and creating art was always a way for me to escape reality and surprise myself. I truly enjoy to be lost in the pathways of creation. It’s like being inside a labyrinth; I forget I exist. I forget about everything – and that is great. It is a solitary activity, but I quite enjoy it. Creating art is the closest thing I know to truly reliving childhood.
Almost every day I force myself to draw, write, paint and assemble works on paper. It still is a process of discovery and constant curiosity. I believe any creative person is by nature a curious and observant individual and that’s what drives him/her to pursue the work at hands.
I’ve always had an affinity with the subversive, experimental, obscure and transgressive side of things and creativity seems to go hand-in-glove with that sort of attitude. The creative field is an immense area full of marginalized individuals for all the good reasons. I don’t think you can be a literate, informed and culturally educated person, with your personal views, and still cope with politics and the type of world we live in. It’s just not compatible. And I believe that’s one of the functions of art: to help stretch the limits of perception, increase critical thinking, change general opinions and hopefully produce a kinder and more conscious reality.
However, my inclinations towards creativity could also have occurred because of stealing so many books from the school library and stumbling upon Sade, Nietzsche, Darwin or Camus at a such young age, who knows?
Creativity is in every child and as we grow older this can be replaced with academia and then the art we thought was so important is usually called “a hobby” or “extracurricular” rather than being a fundamental part of our growing up. Did you grow up in a creative household?
I didn’t grow in a creative household nor do I have any siblings with similar preferences. Strangely, we didn’t have many books at home nor do I remember ever going to a theatre or a museum with my family. These are all acquired tastes. I felt somehow alone in this regard but it was not necessarily a bad thing because it forced me to find my path and quickly learn things by myself. In a way, it perhaps pushed me early on to be better in what I wanted to do and somehow separating what I wanted from what I was not interested in. On the other hand, perhaps this was also one of the reasons that made me want to be an adult quickly and have my own space, because I wanted to construct things with my own criteria.
I agree that everyone has the potential for being creative at something but that doesn’t necessarily make them relevant or interesting. It’s important to nurture creativity since a young age and create a safe setting for it to flow naturally but it’s also an area where one can’t force things too much. We all know creativity is a shy animal and comes from indirect thinking.
I sometimes give classes and tend to allow plenty of space for students to be free and come up with wild ideas of their own but at the same time it’s obvious that some of them are not triggered to work without a set of boundaries and a clear destination. It’s nonetheless evident that there is, generally speaking, a lack of free time for everyone (kids and adults) to just play and do nothing. I see this now very clearly with my young son, there is a big demand from society to keep kids constantly entertained and on the loop of learning something new or engaging in some sort of activity, and sometimes just playing and discovering things at your own pace is good enough and stimulating. We shouldn’t feel guilty of doing nothing. Free time has become the holy grail of modern society and perhaps it should be the base for the whole thing.
I read you studied cinema, was it your intention to get into film?
No, it was never my intention to be a filmmaker or work in the industry. I started to work at a really young age because my main concern was to have my own life and be independent so I never went through the luxury of daydreaming about being this or that. When I made the decision of taking a degree on Cinema it was out of sheer love for the art form and wanting to learn more about it, I knew from the start I would never work in the area, in fact, I was already working as a graphic designer at that time. Having said this, Cinema is still a big fascination for me and of course I learned a lot from it that can be applied directly in what I do with photography and design.
As an artist – where do your ideas come from?
These days, ideas mostly come from looking at my own books and pieces. Artworks that I feel are aesthetically pleasing and captured the right degree of atmosphere and tension. These are mostly works that still puzzle me and leave questions unanswered. I look back at these pieces and question why do they work, what makes them open to dialogue, intriguing or engaging. It’s a somewhat autistic thing to do but it helps me solidify a style of my own and understand better what my work is all about.
In my understanding, art originates from art and without genuine thoughts and emotions, without real solid ideas, it simply does not exist and find the strength to keep going. Hence, I’m only interested in creating images that are prone to thought and reflection so I look for these aspects in my work and in other artists I admire. Fundamentally, what matters is how we perceive the world, images and people and what vibration these create within us. The effect of an image should resemble a tremor; it should shake one’s ground and leave lasting impressions.
As someone who is self-taught, what advice would you give those that want to get into photography/art without formal training or education?
The good aspect of not having a formal education in any area is that it allows you to be more free in your approach to that practice. Perhaps you will not be so concerned with failing or trying new methods, because indeed everything is new. The bottom line is we all should be engaged in doing something relevant and that we enjoy with our given time. If it’s arts or any other cultural or intellectual activity just engage with it, in any way, shape or form. As the saying goes, practice leads to perfection and one only knows their qualities by trying, playing, failing and trying again afresh.
Who would you say are your main influences that have inspired you over the years?
My influences come from a heavy diet of literature, performance, music and cinema. These are the things that have always interested me and I keep returning to. To name-drop a few: Artaud, Bataille, Bergman, Camus, Tarkovsky, Scott Walker, Borges, Murnau, Lispector, Calvino, Nico, Pessoa, Bellmer, Burroughs, Kazuo Ohno, Cesariny, etc. to these I come back regularly and they never disappoint me.
Then there’s the incredible impact of dreams and the immense world inside everyone’s head, the private spheres we all inhabit but never share. This is a huge area of interest and study for me. The language, vibrancy and philosophy of dreams. Dreams are the perfect construct of an illusory sphere. An allegorical stage with many reflecting mirrors. One has to keep the door open at all times to see what comes in.
Are there any new projects you have coming up that you wish to share?
Just a few months ago I published a small artist book entitled “ERRATA” that fortunately sold out very quickly, it was a very special project. Now I’ve been slowly writing and gathering ideas for a forthcoming artist book and there’s a few photo series on the making which eventually form another book in the future. I encourage your readers to check my website for more news and take a closer look at my books and artworks. If something sparks interest, feel free to reach me. Thank you for the interview and for allowing me to ramble on.
Biographies are a difficult subject. We always have three sides – the author’s side, the subject’s side and the truth. It’s journalism, it’s drama, it’s biased and sometimes it’s the real deal – you just don’t know what you are getting.
This particular biography is a centennial re-printing of a 1993 book written by Neeli Cherkovski to coincide with Bukowski’s 100th birthday. The book is printed by Black Sparrow Press (Bukowski’s first publishing press) and features a brand-new cover with a fantastic portrait of the great man.
It is very enjoyable; it is much more of an intimate portrayal of the man rather than the usual reporting of hard drinking poetry writing Hank that we are always treated to by writers that have never met him. This book came closer to understanding Bukowski as a person more than any other biography I have read on him. Of course we could read his poems, pull them apart and digest his books to get to the real nitty gritty biographical details but this is Charles Bukowski – the myth maker extraordinaire. What is real and what is fiction?
The book is detailed and recounts some of the most important parts of his life that made him who he became from the days of going to the hospital for his skin condition, the torment he received from his abusive father and the years of working at the post office all pull together to tell a tale of how Charles Bukowski took pain, rejection and fear and created some of the best work this world has seen. It is an incredible life and it is incredible how far he came and the relentless nature in which he pursued his dream to become a publisher writer.
The voice of the book feels authentic as Cherkovski was a friend of Bukowski’s from the 1960’s when they hung out together, drank beer, talked about literature and co-edited the Los Angeles zine Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns. He helps to dispel a few myths, throws a few anecdotes in there (which there are plenty) and would be a good starter for someone who is just getting into his work and wants to know about the person behind the typewriter.
It is a great read, very funny and enlightening but take from this book what you will, I certainly took from it an even greater love for the Hank and I learned a few others things I didn’t know along the way. He awakens a sense of “devil may care” attitude in fellow writers and his quote “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us” has never felt so poignant.
“The Lady …
The lady is a humble thing
Made of death and water
The fashion is to dress it plain
And use the mind for border”
― Elise Cowen
I often wondered, what ever happened to some of the women of the Beat Generation? They may have written and they may have sat next to Ginsberg in a café or sat sipping liquor next to Kerouac but what lurked inside them? Some of them have obtained the muse status, the one that aids the art yet is frowned upon as the creator. Deep down these women had fire in their bellies and poetry in their souls and it was dying to come out, dying to be heard. Elise hated the fact that becoming a successful writer like the men around her could be an impossible task.
Her lifelong depression was certainly reflected in her poetry. Her work was very real, very haunting with a free form structure. It felt distant yet so personal and relevant. During her short life, Elise didn’t have any poems published and it is very sad to learn that only a small portion of her poetry survived and some have appeared in various collections thanks to a friend of hers.
In 2014 a volume was put together from her only surviving notebook, titled Elise Cowen: Poems and Fragments, edited by Tony Trigilio.
In 1962 she was admitted into hospital due to the deterioration in her mental health but soon checked herself out; she went back to her parent’s house where she committed suicide. Elise was just 28 years old.
Recognized only for her associations in the Beat movement, her writing went unseen. After her death her parents burnt her work, its content disturbed them with its references to sex and drugs and they didn’t want it going public. To burn the very words that seep from a writer’s soul is to destroy it altogether but her poetry still lives on. Her parent’s decision to burn her work is quite disgraceful but like a phoenix, she certainly did rise from the ashes even if she isn’t around to see just how many people enjoy her work.