Cecelia Condit

True and False Horizons

In imaginary landscapes where trees talk and frogs turn to handsome princes, my videos and photographs explore places where dreams and the natural world come together to create stories neither totally real nor entirely false.

Pizzly Bears are a new species, a cross between a polar bear and a grizzly bear. Only in extreme conditions would two different species mate, but as temperatures rise, grizzly bears are travelling north while starving polar bears are travelling south. As in all fairy tales, animals are a stand-in for humanity. This bear, though so adorable when small, is extremely dangerous when grown. Perhaps that’s true of all creatures, including us.

The images below are photographs constructed out of many shots of Lake Michigan, but they teeter on fantasy.


Cecila Condit – Concrete Structure – Out of Focus


Cecila Condit – Moody Sea – Out of Focus


Cecila Condit – Stonewall – Out of Focus


Cecelia Condit works in the language of contemporary fables and fairy tales. Recently, she explores landscapes and dream/scapes about species extinction and the lonely, silent world that would ensue.

Lisa Robertson

The Tick

On the evening of June 20, 2012, a Wednesday, I found a tick on my nape. I was at my desk absorbed in my work when I felt a slight creeping sensation beneath my collar. My left hand rose automatically to my neck as my right hand continued correcting some long-overdue text. I brought something tiny to the lamplit paper then recognized what the weirdly flattened thing was. It was not engorged; it had not yet attached itself. As swiftly and reflexively as I had grabbed it, my pen nib came to skewer the tick on the white page. Its legs gradually ceased squirming. A translucent black fluid oozed from the pinioned insect onto the paper. It was not blood; as I said, it had not yet bitten. It was not quite like ink either. All of this happened smoothly and instinctively. The nouns tick, nape, paper, translucence, pen, ink, offered themselves just after the action, but not before it occurred to me that the dark liquid I was observing was melancholic bile.

This is what I could recall of the humours as the tick died. They are the fluids that circulate through the body, connecting the shifting moods to a cosmologically moistened circuitry. Their collective origin is the liver; their particularities arise with their circulation through various glands and organs. The sanguine person is linked in a responsive relationship by a bloodlike fluid to air, and so is expansive in both body and spirit. Cholerous yellow bile is exuded by the gall bladder, in the skint bitterness of anger. The phlegmatic humour seems to move with the sleepy coolness of water or lymph. Only black bile, the fluid of melancholy, whose source is the spleen, has no observable correlative among the various human fluids. It is not like chyle or wax or tears; black bile is purely imagined. It is a spurious fluid necessary to supplement and correct the assymmetry of the other three, and thence to connect the cosmical human body to the four worldly elements. The element of melancholy is earth.

How had this tick arrived on my person? I have a dog; a flea will occasionally cross from her body to mine, and so might have the tick. Or the tick could have fallen directly onto me from the branches of the cherry tree where my dog and I had sheltered from a bout of rain during our morning walk. If it had indeed arrived on my person that morning, the tick had spent the long day making its way from my jacket or my loose hair to the bare skin of my nape. We had been eating cherries beneath the tree as it rained, my dog the rotting ones from the ground, me the low hanging over-ripe ones that were splitting in the wet summer. I did think of Rousseau and his cherry idyll as my dog and I ate, that passage in the Confessions where a cherry orchard in full fruit served as foil for a nascent flirtation. The young Rousseau, on his ladder or his bough, I can’t remember which, had tossed down cherries for two girls to catch in their out-held skirts. The style then being décolletée, some cherries missed their marks and caught in the girls’ soft breasts. If only I were cherries, Rousseau had thought, looking down from his perch at this colourful vision. Or so he wrote. I believed the claim was the retrospective one of the middle-aged writer; it was too tidy and humorous for adolescent lust, which could not have changed much between Rousseau’s time and ours. And enjoying my idle doubt I had continued to eat the burst-open fruits, spitting pips into the wet grass, or sometimes leaving them clinging palely to their stems on the branch, these cherries were so ripe.

I lifted my pen. The tick was now a smear. Near my desk, on the little couch I had abandoned to her use, my dog napped, groaning softly from time to time with a kind of deep satisfaction, or perhaps, I sometimes suspected, only to please me with this thought. I was familiar of course with Durer’s etching of melancholia, but my image of it was vague, darker even than Durer’s own chiaroscuro, and the only true detail I could bring to mind from the famous etching was the wrinkled or ruffled appearance of the sleeping dog’s ears, as if they were the crumpled inner leaves of Batavia lettuces, so unlike my own dog’s ears, which remained vigorously upward-pointing like tulip swards, even in sleep. I was curious to look closely again at Durer’s image. I rose to search for the only book in my library I was certain would include it, a fairly recent collection of the translated writings of the mercurial art historian Aby Warburg. I had ordered this book several years before, specifically to read the great scholar’s essay on Saturn and melancholy; and so it was because of my arcane interest in the history of melancholia that I came to learn of Warburg’s library, his atlas of memory, and the astoundingly compelling mobility of his thought. It was 10:35 and outside the solstice sky was just darkening. There was the occasional liquid trill of the season’s last nightingales to deepen the evening. I heard my neighbours’ shutters close.

This is all wrong. It was not 10:35 pm, it was late morning, I was not correcting some unnamed manuscript, I was reading an essay by Emile Benveniste, my dog was not sleeping, she was whining softly near the kitchen door, calling for her deferred walk. I was taking notes as I read. The essay was the infinitely gorgeous ‘The Notion of Rhythm in its Linguistic Expression’. Each time I attempt to summarize this essay it reconfigures itself sinuously just beyond my comprehension. I feel for it something like a lover’s rapture. I say this knowing how overblown the sentiment will seem, but when in the first paragraph Benveniste tidily demolishes the conventional etymology of the word rhythm, disproving with a precision bordering on arrogance the long repeated belief that its Indo-European root is related to the natural-seeming alterations of temporality and the regular movement of the waves, at each reading my excitement is physiological and fresh. I know I am about to enter something unimaginably nuanced. He frees rhythm from nature understood as an external, environmental limit, and introduces me once again to the human abundance of form. But for Benveniste, following the atomist philosophers, form is not a limit either. Form is like a gestural passage that we can witness upon a garment in movement, a face in living expression, or in the mobile marks of a written character as they are formed by the pen. Rhythm is time, but it is time as the improvisation that moves each limited body in play with a world. Not necessarily metrical, it’s the passing shapeliness that we inhabit, and it both has a history, and is the history which our thinking has made. As I achieved the apex of excitement in my rereading of this beautiful document, attempting to grasp anew how a concept becomes quite literally a landscape (for only much later in the history of this word had rhythm come to articulate and even make perceivable the repeating or cycling patterns we attribute now to nature), I had felt the tick on my neck.

Now I wonder—had the tick begun to write with its bilious ink? What word was about to be spelled out blindly on the back of my neck? A tick is blind; it is also deaf and without even a sense of smell. I had read once that its only sensation is for heat. Dormant on some random foliage, where it exists only to await the sense trigger that we animals are, it drops towards the precise temperature of mammalian blood and nothing else. It lives and perceives only for the world our warmth constitutes. Like a melancholic fixing on some abstruse and frail detail to worry it slowly to a wound, once on the host’s body, the tick roams towards the barest, most tender and heated site. I had thought then about the inchoate pleasure of the arrival I had prevented, the punctum, but now I think about the phantom word I had forestalled, the unculminated nape marks of the spurious black bile.

In Durer’s Melencolia I a winged female with loose hair wreathed in small leafed vegetation sits on a low step, the weight of her leaning head braced by a clenched hand in the clichéd pose of thinking. Her elbow rests on her knee. The detailed folds of her full skirt suggest a slightly stiff fabric, perhaps linen, and where the garment falls over her seat or bench, the fine row of hem stitching is just visible as a faint relief where it slightly puckers the textile. The light is coming from her lower left side, from a source just outside the picture frame, and it reveals, resting against her hip, a chatelaine, the traditional belt worn at a woman’s waist to which she would attach her household keys and purse. Melencolia’s heavy skeleton keys are numerous in the image, and below them, at the place where her feet are hidden by the crumpled folds of the gown, is a fabric purse. Its crimped-shut openings are secured by three round buttons wrapped round with dangling ribbons or drawstrings. Melencolia glances upwards towards the right and her brow is troubled. Many scholars have discussed the meanings of the tools and objects that surround her—the sphere, the hourglass, Saturn’s magic square, the scales and ruler and hammer, the long serrated knife. They especially ruminate over the large geometrical mass to her right, behind which a ladder rises diagonally, bisecting the picture plane. The comet-like light in the sky is mentioned, the rainbow, and the gargoylish wisp of cloud that holds aloft the titular word. But I am unaware of any discussion or even notice of the tightly crimped folds of melancholia’s purse. It’s an accessory detail. Yet in this composition each component carries equivalent semantic weight; the ribs of the sleeping dog are no less meaningful than the fine stream of sand in the hourglass, or the flames in the distant brazier, or the rooftops of the far-off village seen through the rungs of the ladder.

My interest in humoural theory had to do with my recent move to a small agricultural hamlet. The windows of my cottage face east and west; I watch the sun rise and set over large fields, and often the farmers are out working in their huge modern tractors with the glassed-in cabs already as the day begins, or after it ends and I am in bed. I began to see that the landscape, like the sky, is at every point, at every minute, extremely active, never repeating. Insecticide is being sprayed, wheat is being threshed at midnight, one morning a white powder would appear dusted over the ploughed up rape field, in early autumn the wheat will be planted, frost on ploughed earth would change the character of the light. The huge, yellow, cylindrical straw bales would be irregularly scattered as far as the horizon, like some giantesque game of chance or lesson in constructive geometry. And the place of the sunrise will slowly swing from the dark massy smudge that was the oak forest in the mid-distance, to, in midwinter, the rusted roof of the agricultural shelter beside which grew the ancient and apparently abandoned cherry tree. When I walked my dog late mornings I would discover fruits I had never known of, on trees bordering the fields. Pêche de vigne that shot pungent scarlet juices as my teeth punctured the tough brownish skin; and tough medlars, which used to be called openarse, since their calyx end resembled a dark rectum, and which made for marmalade before the importation of citrus fruit to this continent; and the rowan fruit, which become sweet only once rotten, and which served the poorer people of this region for a kind of rough tannic wine. And the more familiar trees too, the walnuts and sweet chestnuts, and the wild rosehips, so that always I came home from our walks with my pockets stuffed, if I had not thought to bring along a little sack for my findings. And these fields and hedges that I walked among were the same ones I saw depicted in the paintings I would look at in the regional Beaux-Arts museum. Poussin’s fields and riverbanks were precisely the ones I lived among, and the same for the unknown minor painters whose works are so interestingly copious in the provincial museums. When some passing grippe overtook me, I felt it settle into my cells like a fluent weather, the same weather that changed the colour of the leaves of the cherry tree. And in the nearby little churches and funeral chapels, primitive frescoes depicted scenes from the book of Revelation, or the woman’s temptation at the fruit tree, and the rudimentary yet subtle pigments were made from the local river-clays and oxides. Landscape was the same as painting, and it was the same as time, and health, and the economy. I say the same, but what I mean is that all these things mesh to form a fabric, which, like a worn garment, moves, shifts, arranges itself in figures recalling the idiosyncracy and emotion of the animal face. The notion of a rhythmic cyclicity is an invented concept we deploy from a great distance to placate the intensity and vulnerability of time. I felt that here, ironically, given my foreignness and my oddity for my neighbours—for here I was, female, solitary, middle-aged, with prodigious accent, ancient automobile, expensive computer, and spoiled mongrel, writing at the edge of a field—here, where every distance was specific in its replete variation, and nothing ever truly repeated, my own melancholy had a home.

Benveniste, in his last seven years, suffered a stroke, then the loss of his speech, but not his presence of mind. He was often visited at the hospital in Créteil in the years between 1969 and his death by Julia Kristeva, who had been one of his students and younger colleagues. Kristeva describes his still joyous expression on receiving his guests; his face and his laboured ability to gesture with his fine hands (although not truly to write) were his only means of communication. She recalls specifically one afternoon shortly before his death. His sister had contacted her with the message that Benveniste requested her visit. He beckoned her to approach him more closely, and with a mischievous yet shy smile he began to shakily trace, using his index finger, some letters on the blouse covering her chest. She was flustered and confused and drew away with some embarrassment, upon which he leaned forward and attempted a second time to spell out his undecipherable message. She then hastily offered him a Bic pen and paper, and with some difficulty he traced out four Greek letters—THEO, in majuscule. This was Benveniste’s last written word. What did god mean to the great linguist and mentor in his speechless final years, written enigmatically upon his female student’s blouse? Was this THEO the meeting between unspoken, interior languages and subjectivity itself, between the subject’s experienced ‘I’ and the ‘you’ who necessarily received the affective enunciation, between the general capacity towards such an utterance, and the experience of the body’s limit, as she later thought? How can we imagine the involuntary seven-year silence of the linguist other than as a profoundly etched chiaroscuro? Was the writing of any word a permanent revolt against structural determination, a plunge into the infinite generosity of signification, the conversion of that generosity to an iconic name? What was her blouse like?


Canadian poet Lisa Robertson has published many books, most recently 3 Summers from Coach House, and the essay collection Nilling, from BookThug (both Toronto). Recent texts written for artists have been included in the catalogues The Blue One Comes in Black (Liz Magor, Triangle and Mousse) and Strange (Karl Larsson, Mousse). With Matthew Stadler she edited and annotated Revolution: A Reader (Paraguay), a 1,200-page performative record of living in the present. She lives in France.

An earlier version of this text was published in 2012 by Vancouver artist Tiziana La Melia, in a hand-distributed zine.

Joshua Simon

On Croissants & Architecture

Now in the global economy, coffee is grown across the entire subjugated Third World. When Starbucks sells a bag of beans, it’s always marked with the region from whence it sprang, making the consumer an imperial cannibal connoisseur.1
– Ian Svenonius

Croissants and sandpaper. Could there be more different things? In texture, in feel, in volume. Powder of flour, flakes of glass – imagine the first applied onto thin sheets of paper and the other made into a batter with sugar and butter, and then baked. Imagine touching these things. Now put them in your mouth. ‘Sandpaper is the only surface I can think of that I react to physically’, Nicole Wermers told me. ‘It makes me cringe and causes my mouth to go dry. My physical reaction is, I think, rooted in the fact that I detest the sound of its friction with other surfaces, especially other sheets of sandpaper, even the anticipation of the sound makes me feel uncomfortable.’

In the way croissants and sandpaper are paired together they embody – almost in the literal sense of the somatic experience of the body – what negation is. Inflated dough and a carving tool, greasy fluff and a device for shaping negative space, food and building hardware, lifestyle and labour. Nicole Wermers’ Croissants & Architecture sees the fronts and backs of sandpaper sheets juxtaposed randomly on a split screen with photographs of croissants shot in various situations, mainly outdoor cafes in different European cities. The sculptural nature and formal properties of the pastries are emphasised by the seriality of the images. As the artist put it:

Croissants’ typical inflated crescent shape is constructed by rolling and repeatedly folding a triangle of dough. The visible volume of a croissant is somewhat misleading as it is hiding a lot of layers forming air pockets inside; a well-made croissant crumbles into next to nothing when subjected to pressure. The visible volume of the croissant seems proportional to the amount of energy value croissants have.

Thus, although existing only as two-dimensional images, Wermers’ sculptural interests are clearly visible in her piece for Out of Focus through the suggestive juxtaposition of materials. Indeed, the shape and tactility of each in relation to the other intensifies the qualities of each as an object. Through their mutual negation in this setting, their physical features are heightened. This technique of montage by the artist constitutes their presence as oppositional and at the same time complementary: the sandpaper’s sparkling particles make the croissant’s shine seem oily.

As is the case with Wermers’ sculptures, here too the object has a concrete relation to reality: it is both a participant in the world and a marker of a certain condition. A metonym if you will. Her sculptures show an un-readymade quality, by which the authored artefact is reporting on the world from which it came and in which it is displayed – forms of living, spatial usages, standardised proportions, lines of distribution, production protocols and marketing strategies. The artist’s own introduction to croissants has to do with the changing realities of 1980s peripheral West Germany. ‘Outside of France’, she says ‘croissants can be considered lifestyle pastries.’ They can be defined therefore as a symptom of ‘globalised taste’, as she calls it. This globalised taste she is describing relates directly to the way our cities have changed. Wermers is very clear, in her work, about where her interests lie. Her practice is invested in contemporary urban material realities. That is how this pastry we treat ourselves to becomes such a charged object in her Out of Focus project. Yet the croissant is, of course, a sample of an outmoded formation of the good life: ‘croissants are actually passé’, Wermers admits. The macaron craze might be a more recent example of franchised French treats transformed into globalised taste, but the croissant – now displayed on the counter in most local cafes in the West, resting like a bloated invertebrate – epitomises the tremendous spatial and social crisis we have been experiencing in relation to housing for the last 30 years. For, since the introduction of croissants as a standard globalised taste, our cities have felt the growing tide of organic stores, superfoods and health stores, Instagram foodies and the food-stall revival, in addition to all kinds of marathons and cycling races – together they synchronise bodily metabolism with the processes of urban gentrification.

Proust’s Madeleine cakes are famous for taking him back to his childhood memories, but our croissants transport us to someone else’s dreams of condos and urban development. Their taste brings our fantasies of a good life back to the realities of accumulation by dispossession, which surround us. Sandpaper, on the other hand, is part of the object category of tools, and, Wermers points out, as such creates negative space by removing matter. It involves a form of production by reduction, constructing by detracting. The late-Soviet computer game Tetris presents this logic perfectly: players gain points by eliminating lines. In our urban reality, where destruction is profitable, we call it gentrification. Wermers’ croissants confront us with how everything behaves as real estate now, and in so doing echo Fredric Jameson:

Today all politics is about real estate. Whether you think of the question of Palestine, the settlements and the camps; or of the politics of raw materials and extractions; whether you think of ecology and the rainforests for example; or the problems of federalism, citizenship and immigration; or whether it’s a question of gentrification in the great cities as well as favelas and townships, and of course the movement of the landless – today everything is about land.2

The enormous new buildings erected in cities all around us are not homes. They are currency. Money that has to be materialised somehow: wealth accumulated and stored temporarily in concrete and glass. These empty buildings represent the imaginary stability of unsustainable markets that put these buildings themselves in a state of constant speculation. The debt we are subjected to through mortgages and other financial devices, makes every single thing around us, as well as our living spaces, a form of negative space. If we think of education, housing, health, transportation, communication and culture – from being services that are paid for or are subsidised by our taxes, they have become privatised commodities. This does not mean that we can do without them, but rather that now they are life-taxes: routine expenses we are subjected to even before entering the employment market. We get into debt in order to enter the employment market. Debt is the anti-matter that allows for matter to appear. In Marxian terms debt is anti-value through which value is produced. Therefore, objects are debt in the form of a thing; they are anti-matter materialised. In Wermers’ Croissants & Architecture, both croissant and sandpaper perform, through their physical attributes, the notion of plasticised debt. The generator of negative space and the inflated structure of an air pocket both seem to embody this idea of the thing as relying on debt – anti-value.

Wermers’ Croissants & Architecture for OoF coincides with the publication of a book by the same title (published by Motto Books), where her croissant photographs are paired with randomly inserted, actual sheets of sandpaper, which will eventually destroy the images and the book from the inside, thus making it an object that operates as a perfect model for both gentrification and online labour. While working on her Out of Focus piece, Wermers began collecting sheets of sandpaper from different decades and different parts of the world; a kind of sandpaper archive. The back and the front, the levels of coarseness and softness, the places they come from – all made these assisting tools into actual objects. As your computer monitor, phone or tablet screen is basically a lamp, the sheets of sandpaper on your screen now, while you are visiting Out of Focus, may lack their tactile qualities. But the continual process of rubbing that they perform on the objects they are applied to, seems to be repeated by you right now through your fingers and eyes – on your mouse mat and touchscreen. It is not by chance that your workstation is also your entertainment outlet. Our job is to absorb surpluses of production. Our attention, our abilities to socialise and the fact that learning how to read and write is still covered by our taxes, all become immense resources. The business model of online corporations is to profit from monopolising these human capacities and the value that they generate. The Samsung vs Apple patent court case, for example, revealed that it is not the technological inventions that are in dispute between these two communications giants, but rather the feel of the product – the interface of locking the touchscreen, for example. The case revolved around the bodily gestures of users; the choreography of the palm of the hand. This makes these products first and foremost ergonomic performance devices. In Croissants & Architecture, scrolling is put directly in relation to sanding. And the logic of subtraction, which is what this form of labour is about, is being brought back to us through the screen. The repetition of scrolling is part of a whole set of postures and actions we do around our networked computed units. These are not only new ergonomic choreographies of labour, but – like the subtraction by the sandpaper and the gentrification marked by the croissant – they impoverish us.

  1. Ian Svenonius, ‘The Bloody Latte: Vampirism as a Mass Movement’, in The Psychic Soviet, Chicago: Drag City, 2006, p. 39.
  2. Frederic Jameson, ‘The Aesthetics of Singularity’, in New Left Review 92, March–April 2015, pp. 130–31.


Joshua Simon, director and chief curator at MoBY-Museums of Bat Yam. Co-founding editor of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa based Maayan publishingVera List Center for Art and Politics fellow (2011–13). Author of Neomaterialism (Sternberg Press, 2013), and editor of Ruti Sela: For The Record (Archive Books, 2015). Recent curatorial projects includeFactory Fetish’ (Westspace, Melbourne, co-curated with Liang Luscombe), ‘Roee Rosen: Group Exhibition’ (Tel Aviv Museum of Art, co-curated with Gilad Melzer) and ‘The Kids Want Communism’ (year-long project at MoBY, in collaboration with State of Concept, AthensTranzit, PragueSkuc gallery, LjubljanaFree/Slow University of Warsaw; and VCRC, Kiev). Holds a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Douglas Stewart

Croissant Verbs


















Douglas Stewart has long been interested in food (eating and making), architecture and design. He has designed and consulted on a number of private homes, kitchens, restaurants and bars. He enjoys experimenting with pastry, amongst other things. He lives and works in London.

Deirdre Fraser-Gudrunas

I spend most of my days in intimate relationship with plants. I am currently thinking about the common names of plants, why they acquire the names that they do, what they might be called in other languages and our relationship to history through these names. Common names are presumed to come from common people, ironically in the ages before literacy became widespread — so they would have been names that were very specific to an area. Sometimes the names seem arbitrary (they are certainly arbitrary to the plant) and other times convey information about it. I have come up with a list of imaginary common names of real plants that I know (or perhaps don’t know), in the spirit of Leo Lionni’s Parallel Botany, an absurdist field guide. I have found these new names in the process of working, out in the field touching and gathering the plants that I am familiar with. Just as Antares (the protagonist in Reto Pulfer’s piece for this instalment of Out of Focus) adapts to every environment and proliferates himself everywhere by mirroring, common weeds ask: do names allow a thing to be known, or not alone? 


Uncommon Names


Problem Flower
Tiller’s Leaf
Whisper Grass
Dropsy Root
Cow’s Pepper
Moon of Florence
The Sigh
Scarlet Willow
Topeka Brier
Joke Poppy
Broom Oil
Mending Grass
Queen of Malady
Hat Reed
Blue Crab-orchid
Dagger Lily
Chimera Mandrake
August Strawberry
Helix Moss
False Spoonberry
Bastard Oak
Crinoline Sumac
Mercy rose
Sea Tomato
Night Pansy
Wild Cornseed
Lazy Clover
Oracle poppy
Chrushgum tree
Blood Tobacco
Sphinx Trillium
Chocolate Balm
Dusty Farmer
Marsh Cotton
Sally’s Rocket
Lightning Mustard
Cringe Lettuce
Yukon Tea
Drought Vine
Grass of Many Colors
Barber’s Comb
Royal Agony
Bitter Molewort
Small Sourstick
Onion Straw
Tangent Weed
Poor Man’s Pepper
Fat Hen
Wall Rocket
Field garlic
Queen Anne’s Lace
Sweet Flag
Balm of Gilead
Sugar Maple
Lamb’s quarters
Wood Sorrel
Wild ginger
Lemon Balm
Oxeye Daisy
Dame’s Rocket
Wood Nettle
Sheep Sorrel
Bee Balm
Fiddlehead Fern
Buck’s Horn Plantain
Autumn Olive
Prickly Ash
Black Nightshade
Water Mint
Anise Hyssop
Nodding Onion
Swamp Rose
Witch Hazel
Shagbark Hickory
Labrador Tea
Dog Violet
False Solomon’s Seal
Wild Opium
Queen of the Meadow
Sweet Fern
Black Walnut
Prickly Gooseberry
High-Bush Cranberry


Based in Southern Ontario, Canada, Deirdre Fraser-Gudrunas is the sole proprietor of Vibrant Matter, a business providing hand-foraged wild edibles to Toronto’s foremost restaurants. Her approach to food and art combines sensory plant knowledge with an emphasis on cooking as a point of access to community. Some past projects have included interactive dinners with artist collective Terrarea; a still-life garden planted with the artist Swintak for the AGO; a position as head chef at Don Blanche, an off-grid artist residency that uses wood stoves and improvised cooking locations to feed up to 80 artists at a sitting; as well as leading guided walks on discovering the micropolitics of edibility.

Her instagram is @vibrant_matter

Martin Clark


(Click on image to proceed)

I always have a dozen or so books on the go. Some I read from cover to cover, usually novels, some I dip in and out of, moving backward and forward across pages and chapters. Some of my books I’m part way through, on the way to the end, I might never open them again once I’ve read them. Others, I’m forever in the middle of, never to finish but always to return to.

The books I’m reading stack gradually, rising from tabletops, floors and desks. Their simple proximity and the incremental development of their layers suggest connections, associations and new directions – a slow stratification of ideas and interests, precipitating like stalagmites. All they need is time and a kind of studied lack of attention.

For Out of Focus I’ve scanned the pages of these books, the place I’m up to. Some of them I’ve already read more than once; some I’m halfway through; some I’m opening daily; others haven’t been returned to for a while; but they’re all definitely on the go – unlike my other books that stand upright on shelves and simply aren’t in the same way. The only thing not represented here are the numerous magazines and journals that always punctuate my reading – they wouldn’t fit on my scanner.

Martin Clark

Martin Clark is Artistic Director at Tate St Ives.

Gretchen Egolf

An actor performing a play often finds himself with only a half-written line. The playwright has written the first half of the sentence and then something happens to prevent the character from completing it; he gets cut off by someone else’s words or actions, he gets distracted, he faints, he gets slapped, etc! It is the actor’s job however to know what the character was going to say. He needs to know where that thought was headed if he hadn’t been prevented from finishing his sentence.

I began wondering what it would be like if we only read the second halves of these sentences – if we only know about the unfinished bits which the actor (me, in this case) has made up. Does it present a kind of shadow play, as it were, to the existing one? Does it form a parallel world in which these characters say things they sometimes wouldn’t? Does it reveal things (an underbelly of the play, perhaps?) when we just see the remaining thoughts which were never allowed to be spoken?
What is this other half, on its own? Is it simply a reflection of a story, or is it a story in itself?

I’ve created the finished unfinished sentences of the play AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY by Tracy Letts. It is the story of an Oklahoma family which reunites after its patriarch disappears toward the beginning of the play and later is found to have killed himself.

This particular playwright happens to use lots of unfinished sentences, overlapping, and cutting off of other characters in his use of dialogue, which made this an ideal play to work with.

Gretchen Egolf is an American actress who splits her time between theatre, film and television. She lives in New York (and occasionally Los Angeles).



August: Unfinished

The characters:

Beverly, the father (once a poet, now teacher)
Violet, the mother (addicted to prescription drugs)
Ivy, daughter (still lives nearby, always unhappy until the recent secret affair with Little Charles)
Barbara, daughter (moved away, the strong one)
and Karen, daughter (moved away, unlucky in love and recently found Steve)
Mattie Fae, Violet’s sister (and we find out Ivy’s mother, from an affair with Beverly)
Charlie, Mattie Fae’s husband
Little Charles, their son (can’t do anything right, lover of his cousin Ivy, who we later find out is his half-sister)
Bill, Barbara’s recently separated husband (he is having an affair with a student who isn’t much older than his daughter)
Jean, Bill and Barbara’s 15 year old daughter (vegetarian, pot-smoker, smart ass)
Steve, Karen’s fiancee (attempts to have sex with Jean, prompting Johnna to hit him over the head with a frying pan)
Johnna, the Native American woman Beverly hired before killing himself (quiet, knows what’s going on, can deal with anything)


(A three storey house.)

(Beverly talks to Johnna. Violet enters.)

… the sibberware?
… Did you pullish the sibberware?

… drugstore, or the beauty shop, or wherever you need to go.

Indian hooouuuuuse whoa-man.

(Violet exits.)

… I want to give you something.
… so early in the morning.


Scene 1

(Ivy, Mattie Fae, and Charlie in living room.)

… from time to time, between them.
… that you introduced them, because technically that’s just not true.
… not once did I ever hear anyone call her “Shrinking Violet”. That’s something you made up years later.

… and take a match to it and sit back and roast yourself a marshmallow.
… everything I say!
… goddamn difference, does it?
… I will set light to whatever you were stupid enough to leave behind faster than you can say, “Where’re you goin’ with all them old eight tracks?”

… Mattie Fae, and you know it – if I was gonna leave, don’t you think I’d ‘a done it years ago?
… I read books!
… aren’t required by trade to read books.
… goin’ on and on about books.

… they had a lot more goin’ for them.

… like Little Charles.
… they both have.
… he’s got some complications.

… on my lower back.

… I said I don’t want to!

… all down my back.

… can really affect them.
… everything around.

(Violet enters.)

… C.J. would have been a train wreck of a sheriff.
… is what he was.

(Violet and Ivy exit.
Johnna enters.
Johnna exits.)

… you know damn well that’s not what I’m doing.

(They exit.
Violet and Ivy enter.)

… it’s too late.

… it was a hat.

… a million years ago.

… you just didn’t understand him.

… a loser.

(Violet and Ivy exit.
Barbara and Bill enter.)

… guy.

(Jean enters.
Mattie Fae and Charlie enter.
Violet and Ivy enter.)

… let it alone now!

… Mom – I thought we said I’d help with that.

… rather easily these days, it seems.

… don’t worry.

… actually, no reason why he couldn’t.
… it’d be easy enough.
… if Violet wants us here, we should stay.

… for everyone.

(Johnna enters.)

Scene 2

(Barbara, Bill and Violet)

… ate them and then …

… then?

… you know that one from my great aunt?

… why?

… like Bill says – probate.
… like you always do – that’s why I never told you.

… Did you go?

… I figured he’d just reappear like he has before.
… it would …
… and …

… out of the ordinary about his behavior?

… Mom, what’s so hard about that?
… I have never tasted apple pie that good!
… Mom, just don’t start.

… when did you last write??

… and Christmas.

… let’s just get back to what we’re doing here.

… wanty – ted, where you wanted to doe.

… weeks.

… age, maybe leven or ten and no biboobs.

… when you’re on your medication.

… this is not the time, calm down.
… right now, it’s a stressful situation.
… some things are best left unsaid.

… and you know it.

(Bill exits.)

… I have a prescription, I need them.
… dramatics.

… through that again.

… just as fast as you could.

… wasn’t able to get away at the time.

(lights up Johnna in attic
Jean enters)

… don’t mind but I’m not sure you should do it here.

… what I’m doing out there.

… I see.

… don’t care.

Scene 3

… having never had a successful book.
… admiration.

… from memory like that.

… just as an artifact.
… with anything?
… about all the things you’ve already attacked me for.
… too, there’s no place to put it all.
… here.

… without turning it back on you.

… so I can’t win here!
… anything.

Scene 4

… the Sheriff’s here.

… do you mean??
… wow.
… you can go ahead.

… not very good at it.
… is just awful.

… don’t think I can do this … don’t know if I can do this.

… did this to himself?
… is there a way of knowing?
… what do you mean by that?

(Violet enters)

… deez naaz?
… and then you’re here, and then you’re here, and then you’re here, wha’s nah here??!!


… and things like that.

… or was it some other one?
… I’m really happy for you.

… and your whole plan goes out the window anyway!

… honestly Karen.

… thoughtful and sensitive and just … together, you know?

… am I? You are.
… I’m sorry. Yes.

… is based.
… were. Um, no, that’s not right.
… are I guess.

… I mean, she’s a mess.

(lights crossfade to …)

… Ivy, for godssake.

… look at this. He’s got a nice expression on his face.
… isn’t this one nice?

… it just seems so sudden.
… I’d feel foolish wearing that.

… it was a city somewhere, where was it?

… Ivy, I’m trying to give you some.
… City, 1964 it would have been.

… you just don’t like it is all.

… oh you’re right, it says it right there.

… where do you get your ideas?

… you don’t have to be rude.
… continually berate me?

… that would be good for him.

… with my own two hands, I swear.

… that.
… closed-minded.
… understanding or supportive.

… as his face.
… put it in.
… for a woman to wear to a funeral.

… and I don’t know if you want that.
… I don’t know if that’s really appropriate.

… What does that mean?

… Appropriate?
… Don’t say that, sweetheart, come on now.

… a flat stomach.

… this is ridiculous!

… had an easy time of.

… a MAN?!

… other time.
… that’s what you said.

… all because there’s suddenly a MAN in the picture – it’s pathetic.
… I never should have said anything. I don’t want to talk about it.

… going around with!

… I told you, I’m not!

… oh pretty please?
… just throw us a bone, sweetheart!!

… let it rest.
… don’t know … know … pretty sure I am.

(they exit, lights crossfade to STEVE BILL JEAN)

… but it’s a hornet’s nest, let me tell you.

… not much really.

… is pretty sticky terrain.

… think anyone ever told me.

… and our business is to keep that money safe.

(Barbara enters)

… wait til we’re home?

(BARBARA and BILL exit)

… hair.

… doing??
… I said.
… what are you, deaf?

(Karen enters)

… didn’t I say that?

… she’s too young.

… she’s fifteen.
… right?

(lights crossfade to)

… I feel awful I wasn’t there.

… he wasn’t one to sweat the small stuff.

… happens …
… I really fucked up.
… already.

… what are you talking about?

(they enter house)

… of death or grieving?

… though – you can see it anytime! What’s so special about some old movie?
… her to learn when there’s no role model.
… father.

… because you’re both adolescents.

… that’s not fair.
… fucking high and mighty.

… your sins?

(all enter)

STEVE               LITTLE CHARLES              IVY
… every time        … I missed the funeral.     … I swear.
                    … Mom!

… no.               … Little Charles.
                    … actually.

… take this off?    LITTLE CHARLES
                    … was blinking 12:00.

                    MATTIE FAE
                    … the pathetic details.

                    … now.

                    MATTIE FAE
                    … for Chrissakes.

                    LITTLE CHARLES
                    … and I am SO sorry.

                    … than bein’ on time.

                    … the car?

KAREN               IVY
… don’t do that!    … here?

(lights up on IVY and LITTLE CHARLES, front porch)

… worse.

(they rejoin the others)

… on the sideboard?
… say grace, please?
… deal to say grace.

… don’t really want it.

… estate sale?

… herself.
… she doesn’t eat any meat.

… moral reasons of some kind?

… fur.

… what’s it called?
… and I think something else.

… in it.

… beautiful.

… from the peanut gallery.

… brown stain on his backside!

… about half and half, Irish and German.

… delicious!

… was hoping you could actually, Mom.

… plenty before.

… Charlie?!

… a fair bit of it, yes.
… what looked like some new poems he was working on.

… there are some changes.

… it’s not the time, Mom.

… you were talking about?

… back then.

… really do disagree with that.

… Charlie, please!

… love Ivy.
… forgot something.
… need to get some air.

(he exits)

… leave me alone.
… not now.

… damn truth!


Scene 1

… her history?

… then, you remember this?

… maybe we could make an effort.
… stop it!

… are you guys gonna get a divorce?

… years, Karen.

… bit of caretaking, just as much as you.

(VIOLET enters)

(Karen and Ivy exit)

… some kind of assisted living place?

… pretty evil shit before now.

(lights crossfade to)

… puttin’ it on for background noise.

… bunch of ignoramus pussies.

… not my business.
… not really my place.
… beats.
… being his mother and all.

… will you listen?
… listen to me.

… true.

… your father and I had an affair.

(Steve and Karen enter)

… watch some tv.

(Steve and Karen exit)

… are making this up for some reason.
… true.
… one night stand??

… will just never be as good as his father.

Scene 2

… don’t fall.

… I don’t think I want to do this.

(Johnna enters)

… doing!
… there!
… it!

(others enter)

… here?!

… just fooling around.

… right now, young lady!

… wait!!

(Jean runs off. Bill follows.)

… minute, Karen!
… he’s not going to just get away with this!
… I see there’s no talking to you right now.

Scene 3

Scene 4

… awful.
… funny, isn’t it?
… necessary.

… I can’t tell you how often I have thought about you.

… ugly.
… don’t know what I am right now.

Scene 5

… just let it lie.

… to.
… someone I could truly love and who loved me.

(Violet enters)

… you aren’t the boss of me.
… just let me talk to my mother.
… I have something to tell you.
… tell you something!!

… I’m warning you.

… stay out of this, goddammit!
… a lesbian.

… that’s enough.

… can we just talk calmly please?
… shut the fuck UP.
… and I are in love.
… I need you to listen now.
… what are you talking about?
… saying??

… I’m sorry.
… I was trying not to tell you.
… listen to me.

(IVY exits)

… both a little out of sorts.

JOHNNA                              VIOLET
… Not with a bang, with a whimper.  … and then you’re gone, and then
                                    you’re gone, and then you’re gone …

Adam Chodzko

Adam Chodzko – Out of Focus

For his contribution to Out of Focus #1, British artist Adam Chodzko presented a different pop-up advertisement on the homepage every week for three months. These advertisements were made by the artist to promote small, ‘offline’ businesses in a suburb of Athens, where he was staying at the time. They are the kind of businesses that wouldn’t normally have the financial means or inclination to advertise themselves, so Chodzko was not only bringing the marginal into focus in his work, but was also surreptitiously doing these businesses a service they will likely never be aware of.