Sternberg Press / e-flux journal
or Cream Psychosis
280 pp., 4 x 7 in, 10 b&w illus.
- Published: August 8, 2023
- Publisher: Sternberg Press
- Rights: not for sale in Europe or the UK
Over a decade's worth of essays: movies of America in parallax view.
“When an empire is lurching to a halt at its very end, it might be the moment when it begins, or is forced, to re-imagine its relationship to a national insanity.”
The lumpen and the miscreant walk a long, long way together into a bar. That bar is a landmass, is an empire, is an institution, a painter, is insistent laughter through death. Deep gallows (sometimes humor) built for survival. The lumpen are kin to that famous glom of the proletariat. The miscreant treads earth in overlapping circles.
For several years, the artist Mary Walling Blackburn has given name, shape, and complication to this lumpy lineage from whence she comes. This book of essays, written between the 2010s and the present, moves with near psychedelic precision across American time and its surrounding spaces.
It begins near the annals of the Arkansas Lunatic Asylum, March 1883. In the 1990s, a scholarship kid meanders with inescapable difficulty through Northeastern boarding schools. Conspiring sugar planters, descendants of missionaries, overthrow indigenous Hawai'i in 1893. A child learns how to split screens: hardcore film, documentary, destruction, and queer care in Times Square and in SROs in 1970s Salt Lake City. Archeological digs, nuclear plants, and horrors of predation collide. California crumbles through the decades into the smog and sea. In 2020, all over, protestors meet BORTAC-trained soldiers under skies choked with propellors and noxious propellants.
Facing a dying nation, Blackburn insists on showing volumes of teeming, vibrant, miscreant life. The essays and works collected here are movies of America in parallax view. A deep bucket list for surviving the lumbering empires and their long-range off-gasses. Reading the texts inside can be a wide-awake, meditative, sometimes gruesome trip. Existing alongside them is also outrageously enjoyable. No reader will be left unscathed!
Copublished by e-flux journal