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Instant Coffee Saturday Edition
Issue 16, June 14 2003 | ISSN 1499-5085
  • Saturday Edition Features
  • Graphique A. by Dustyn Vallejo Extra Special No. 41/TV Screen
  • Graphique B. by Anonymous Better Late than Never
  • Mr Brown
  • Tasters Choice
  • Ten Ten
  • Sanka
  • Feedback
    I'm about half-an-hour outside Toronto, heading south on the Q.E.W. and even though the trip ahead is slightly daunting and definitely indulgent the steady and calm rhythm I associate with a road trip finally washes over me in a wave of relief. Only fifteen minutes to the U.S. border and a slight anxiety rushes over me. No matter how prepared I am (up-to-date car insurance, driver's license, and passport; drug check completed, including cleared wallet, wiped cd cases and emptied ashtrays), I'm still freakin nervous. I was turned away once last year for an unpaid New York State traffic violation so I'm trying not to raise even the slightest of suspicions. I've dressed in my most unassuming clothing, no details, no style just slacks and a plain t-shirt. "Where are you coming from?" "Toronto." "Nationality?" "Canadian." "What is the purpose of your visit?" "I'm going to Buffalo for a poetry reading." I don¹t know. It just came out of my mouth. I'm waved by with no further questions.

    Within a few minutes, I reach the outskirts of Buffalo. Last time I was there, I met this bartender who told me about his one attempt to visit Toronto. He was born and raised in Buffalo and at the age of twenty-five he finally thought to make the hour and a half trip North. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for us, he got turned back at the border. He and his friend were both carrying handguns. As he was telling me this, I was thinking duh! and he continued indignantly "they were registered and everything."

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    Saturday Edition Feature

    1. Dear everyone at instant coffee

    I have a problem that i wanted to consult with you about. I'm a peripheral member of the visual art scene. I was recently at an event and was introduced to a m/f couple. I don't know any other way to describe it except to say they were so snotty to me as to deny my humanity. That's what it felt like. It wasn't any of you, I promise. You guys can be kind of aggressive with your opinions but never have I heard of you treating anybody like a speck of dust. I didn't even know the offending couple but have since discovered they are local art luminaries. This in itself is not intimidating or anything, I'm a luminary in my own field and love to hang out with luminaries and non-luminaries alike. But I am also a populist and anyone who can so easily treat someone they don't know like they are inconsequentional fluff makes me very angry. I understand that according to the four agreements of toltec wisdom I should simply not take it personally. That's fine. I can do that. But if they are treating me in this way they are probably doing it to others who haven't read the four agreements. In the same way that I would participate in an action to stop an abusive corporation, nation or individual, I feel compelled to try to address these social fascists. But how?

    Do i tell people what they've done and find others to commiserate with? That seems weak and we'll only end up nursing our bruised egos. Do i ridicule their work in public? That seems too transparent, everybody will know that I've been slighted and the couple will be perceived as victors. Do I just ignore them? Should we ignore George W Bush, Adolf Hitler, Tom Jacobek and other violators of human decency? Do I find an opportunity to return the inhumane rudeness? While I don't have a problem with 'sinking to their level' especially in defense of human kindness, I'm just not sure if they would notice or care. I'm tempted to use the strategies of greek philosopher Diogenes who pissed and masturbated in public, and simply admit some kind of defeat and act like a maniac in these people's presence, farting or burping in their faces, reminding them of my all-too-humaness as they protect their all-too-human noses from my odour.

    What to do? I'm not kidding. The other thing I thought of doing is just beating these people up, in which case I may need your help. Anyway, don't get paranoid, I'm not talking about any of you. But, for now, I would like to keep their identity under wraps as well as mine. You do know me but, for now, only as -

    respectfully yours,
    robert montgomery

    PS. If we decided to beat them up i will be sure to let you know who they are - we don't want to go around beating up just any Toronto art asshole. Why, that would clog up the entire summer. And we have more pressing matters.

    2. From: Culture Jammers Network (

    In the coming months a black spot will pop up everywhere . . . on store windows and newspaper boxes, on gas pumps and supermarket shelves. Open a magazine or newspaper - it's there. It's on TV. It stains the logos and smears the nerve centers of the world's biggest corporations.

    This is the mark of the people who don't approve of President Bush's plan to control the world, who don't want countries liberated without UN backing, who can't stand any more neo-con bravado shoved down their throats.

    This is the mark of the people who want the Kyoto Protocol for the environment, who want the International Criminal Court for greater justice, who want a world where all nations, including the U.S.A., are free of weapons of mass destruction.

    Interview with János Sugár
    By Geert Lovink

    The Hungarian artist János Sugár produced a stunning short video piece about the popular technology of the Kalashnikov machinegun. He used still photos from mainstream news magazines that are displaying the world's conflicts and morphed them into one, with the Kalashnikov gun as its continuous centerpiece. I heard about the video from the Dutch sociologist Johan Sjerpstra who explained to me why such a minimalist, almost non-video might be interesting in such an overproduction of images. Sjerpstra saw the piece for the first time in Mexico City at "Without emergency exit" exhibition of Centro Multimedia. Sjerpstra was fascinated by the press photos showing the Kalashnikov that turn into each other. The centre of the morph is always the gun. He also noted how special the sound is: the work of a famous jazz drummer, Bobby Previte from NYC, who played once a jazz drummer in Robert Altman's movie Short Cuts. According to Sjerpstra the music track of The Typewriter of the Illiterate is a perfect mixture, a real sound morphing of the sounds of a machine gun and a typewriter. I interviewed János Sugár after a private screening of the tape in Sydney.

    GL: How did you come up with the idea to make a video piece about the Kalashnikov?

    SJ: I always collected particular images. I call it 'collecting analogies.' For instance, I take a picture whenever I see a broken shop window, or a religious graffiti, or a piece of furniture on the street, etc. I like those series of images, connected only by a similar detail; it represents a special kind of a narrative. For me it is all about the foreground/background issue: what we consider important, the foreground is only a pretext and with the passing time the former background becomes more interesting. Besides taking pictures with my camera I collect press images for the same reason. Among many other topics since the beginning of the 90s I started gathering images of people wearing or using the AK 47 gun I was amazed by the fact that sophisticated weapon systems were never used, they were built, and they were carefully dismantled later on. They boosted national economies and the Americans won the Cold War with them. The development of sophisticated high tech weapons systems has had an enormous impact on the economies and politics of the world, but, thank God, they have never been really used. What has actually been in constant use since the late 40s is the Kalashnikov machine gun. In fifty-five years the approx. 100 million Kalashnikovs have been built and killed much more people than the atomic bomb. Its silhouette became the symbol of revolt and the favorite logo of freedom fighters and terrorists. In Burkina Faso the Kalashnikov for some years was in the national coat of arms. Mozambique has the Kalashnikov beside an open book and a spade in the national flag. In 1995 I had already a large enough collection, but I had no access to the proper hardware. I started morphing the images, but it looked too clumsy and complicated. Only six years later technology, accessible to me, had developed to such an extend that such a simple work could be realized.

    GL: Could you tell us something about the history of this world famous machine gun?

    SJ: The general history of the machine gun is also interesting. When engineering helpfully solved the technical problem of a fast killing machine, it was considered so immorally savage that for a while it was used only in the colonies, just at the end of WW1 was the machine gun used at the European battlefields. The analogies of the machine gun to the film camera are also obvious. Paul Virilio writes about this in his famous War and Cinema book. Nowadays the infamous AK 47 (later AKM) is a fetish, a cult object, and a successful design piece. Right besides the Jaguar E type the Kalashnikov should be on display in the New York MoMa's design show, and in an instant with this two objects we depicted the 20. Century. The technical specialty of the AKM is its simplicity and efficiency. It has only a few parts; even a village blacksmith could repair it. But its other specialty is maybe more important: as a part of the Soviet power politics, it was licensed to clone, as the IBM PC; it was produced in twenty countries (including Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Israel, Egypt) and the Kalashnikov made a bloody carrier as the poorest people_s master key to the history. The soviets discovered the distribution of unrest. Need a gun? Here you are. Like selling drugs in the front of a school. With one loading one can kill twenty people, and in societies where ambitions cannot have other safety valves, it is an option for expressing oneself. In Uganda you can have it for a chicken, in Angola for a sack of rice. It is the Esperanto of aggression. Aggression is a status symbol, even in the poorest countries. Somalians have a familiar proverb: "I and Somalia against the world, I and my clan against Somalia, I and my family against the clan, I and my brother against the family, I against my brother." Around 50 Million AKMs are in use around the globe.

    GL: What do you know about Mr. Kalashnikov himself? Do you see it as a symbol of Soviet power?

    SJ: I have seen him a couple of years ago in a German documentary. My impression was that he is a rather nice person. He said it is the Germans fault that he became a weapon designer, the Germans had such a machine gun and the soviets didn't. He comes from a peasant family of 18 children, he went to the war (to the Great Patriotic War, as they called it), and in 1941 as a 22 years old wounded tank commander made the first sketches of a new weapon in a military hospital. Later the experts refused his first prototype but he was sent to Moscow to study. He did not mentioned there that his parents were exiled by Stalin, and one of his brothers was in a forced labour camp for nine years. And he spent most of his life as a weapon designer living in anonymity in a closed off military area. In some of his early interviews he made after 1990 he speaks about his concerns being a weapon maker, feeling somehow guilty, but as he became later a celebrity he consciously avoids those issues. With his son he produces mainly hunting weapons, and useful goodies, as lawnmower, fire extinguisher, sprinkles; and the newest, NATO compatible, 5.56mm AKM.

    GL: The title of the piece, Typewriter of the Illiterate, is amazingly precise and tells half the story. Where did you find the title?

    SJ: I found it in a German newsmagazine. Der Spiegel used it as a motto in an ad for a book of Barry Sanders, professor of English at Pitzer College, author of: A Is for Ox, The Collapse of Literacy; and the: Rise of Violence in an Electronic Age and The Private Death of Public Discourse. He said that the gun is the typewriter of the illiterate, or something like this, because I had to translate back from German to English, since I couldn't find the original source. I like the poetical absurdity of this extremely simple and precise definition. Sanders claims that the contemporary erosion of our interior space he claims that the contemporary erosion of our interior space - where the reflective life occurs - accounts for the decline of private ideas and decent public discourse. Why has our culture become increasingly violent? The falling apart of evidencies of identities creates agressivity, and literacy supplies not just criticism, but empathy too.

    GL: Would you relate the widespread use of the Kalishnikov with a rise of a global civil war, a conflict of 'all against all'? Do you see any use of the machinegun-type of art? I'd relate the Kalashnikov somehow with remote conflicts. But then. the gun was used extensively during the 90s Yugoslav wars. That's pretty close to Budapest. How near is the Kalashnikov?

    SJ: Maybe the gun itself not, but the concept of the Kalashnikov is very near. In the Western hemisphere we have a broad choice of handguns, Kalashnikov is only the solution for historically unbalanced places, as one have to use a Landrover in Africa, not a Ferrari. The interesting is that the Kalashnikov fits into the process as a once special and expensive product gets cheaper and cheaper through the mass usage. The watch was a rarity and now you can have it in every corner. In this sense the Kalashnikov, as the ultimate attention generator, is a similar consumer product, an element of a certain lifestyle. We live much more in 'an all against all' situation than ever because the final frontier of all consumer products is the single individual. Everyone has to have one photo­video camera, telephone, etc. on his/her body. We are individually fragmented communication centres, and a gun is indeed one of many possible direct communication accessories.

    János Sugár studied in the Department of Sculpture at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest from 1979 to 1984. Between 1980 and 1986, he was actively involved in the exhibitions and performances of Indigo, an interdisciplinary art group led by Miklós Erdély. His work includes installations, performances, as well as film/video. He has exhibited widely throughout Europe including at the Documenta IX, Kassel (1992), Manifesta I, Rotterdam (1996). Since 1990, Sugár has been teaching art and media theory in the Intermedia Department, Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest. He completed an Artslink residency at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1994, and fellowships at Experimental Intermedia, New York (1988 and 1999). His films were screened at the Anthology Film Archives in New York in 1998.


    János Sugár 2001, digital video, 8 Min

    (Written for the Sarai Reader 3, published in Delhi/Amsterdam:


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    Excuse this mass mailing, not something I normally do... but I am happy with the feature in this week's Village Voice about General Idea... take a look!

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    Tasters Choice

    The Breakfast Hangover Remedy
    This recipe, which has been handed down for generations of party goers who, having been drinking and dancing all night, all of a sudden fancy the idea of breakfast without its usual morning constrictions.

    1 cup black coffee
    1 bottle brandy, at room temperature
    2 medium free-range eggs
    3 rashers back bacon
    2 pork sausages
    1 lambs kidney

    Start by sampling the brandy to top up the alcohol level. Take a large frying pan and heat gently. Check the brandy is still OK. To be sure that is of the highest quality measure one level cup or 35floz and drink.

    Roll up the pan and put your sleeves on the cooker at a medium beat. Get some butter and toss the kidneys once in the butter and then toss the kidneys out of the window. Cry another tup of Randy. Beat the bowl in the eggs until the bowl is light and fluffy then put the bowl over your head. Check the brindy for tonsisticy. Sift the bacon and keep warm - a jumper over your evening gown will do.

    Put the sausages in the black coffee and cook at room temperature for ages and ages. Grease the oven and turn the frying pan upside down at 350F. Test the brindy again. Mix on the turner or anything else and add the cooked sausages. Give up on breakfast, test the brondy again and go to bed at last.

    There goes the old adage, "to avoid a hangover - stay drunk."

    Ten Ten

    1. Conference in the Rockies by Cecilia Berkovic

    From May 6-10, The Banff International Curatorial Institute at the Banff Centre for the Arts facilitated "Obsession, Compulsion and Collection -- A Symposium on Objects, Display Culture and Interpretation". (Very) simply put, the symposium attempted "to explore the human impulse to collect" and "seek to locate, decipher, interpret and contribute to its meaning."

    For five days, I listened to panels with names like "the Anatomy of Impulse", "All That Remains: Collecting Trauma, Memory and Waste Management", "Culture as Collectible", "The Ephemeral Collection: Collecting the Immaterial Object" and "Pretty Good Access: Objects in the Matrix".

    This five day crash course in all things collectible left me feeling exhausted, exhilarated and smart.

    Although there was a bit too much emphasis on the "collecting" part of the conference and barely anything on obsession and compulsion, the Big Rock Candy Mountain Residency participants more than made up for it. With artists creating detail-intensive work like paint-by-numbers made out of coloured, chewed up pieces of gum, I felt like obsessive-compulsive wasn¹t being completely ignored.

    Following are four highlights from my week in the mountains, followed by a list of things some panelists/participants learned at the conference.


    1. Listening to David Wilson's presentation about his infamous Museum of Jurassic Technology. ( Wilson has developed such a cult following that a friend asked me to try and get his autograph. A perfect keynote speaker to start the week off.

    2. Meeting Lisa Neighbour. Having liked her work for so long, it was nice to finally put a face to the name.

    3. Ngahuia Te Awekotuku's presentation called "A Disgusting Traffic: The Colonial Trade in Preserved Human Heads in New Zealand". Presenting in what may have been one of the strongest panels of the symposium, this Maori academic and activist filled the auditorium with something far stronger than words. An amazing, charismatic speaker.

    4. Halfway Across The Country: Emptying Thrift Stores on the Trans Canada. Junkstore Magicians Allyson Mitchell and Christina Zeidler exhibit their road trip thrift scores at the Banff Centre's Other Gallery.

    One thing they learned at the conference:

    Robin Arseneault
    Mostly Artist & Once-In-A-While Curator, Currently Calgary & Soon To Be Edinburgh
    The Things I Learned In Banff:
    1. Obsession: Get the gossip in the bar, visit several tables
    2. Compulsion: Don't say too much in the bar, only insinuate
    3. Collection: Always order another drink in the bar, then see point #1

    Sigrid Dahle
    unaffiliated curator, Winnipeg
    Over the years, me and my culture-producing pals have spent countless conversations and numerous projects imagining, arguing, writing and performing the integration of art, ethics, politics and life. But it wasn't until this conference that I recognized just how painful and intellectually invigorating the realization of this dream could actually be. (Maybe it was the shock of having all my domestic needs catered to - room cleaned, nutritious meals cooked and served, luxuriously thick bath towels provided - for five whole days.) In other words, in Banff I bumped up against a blind spot in my own curatorial practice. Lately, I've been reading and thinking a lot about defective sight and "visual aids."

    Chris Kraus
    writer, Los Angeles and upstate New York
    What I learned was that the Canadians are serious about conferences ... 142 attendees taking notes on all the papers, it was like Japan, where people sit up razor-straight for hours listening to people speaking languages they don't even understand ... Everyone was very friendly, it wasn't snobby like these things can often be. Sigrid Dahle's summary of the Abattoirs by Artists show at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon was particularly impressive. Also, there was snow, and large animals, and talking to Bill, Jo Anne and many others, I learned a great deal about Saskatchewan, the mythic prairie.

    Donna McAlear
    Independent Curator and Critic, Cultural Policy Analyst, & Museum Consultant, Baton Rouge
    The Banff International Curatorial Institute's (BICI) symposium Obsession, Compulsion, Collection: On Objects, Display Culture and Interpretation packed in panelists with a lot to say about current and distinct practices in visual culture. The week¹s panel sessions saturated the mind and body. Two weeks later, I retain an overwhelming impression of practices so very disconnected in time, place, age, gender, race, media, ideology and knowledge. This is precisely why it was great to be there. The best events are illuminating and challenging. BICI brought informed people together, many of whom would not normally have a chance to meet, share and consider. BICI knows that such exchanges of intellectual reflection are vital for cultural workers to keep performing well with insight and forethought. I look forward to more.

    Milena Placentile
    Curator, Toronto
    I laughed, I cried, I learned a thing or two. What stands out for me (at the moment I write this) is that no matter how passionate we are about our work, if we take ourselves too seriously, nothing we do will ever be of any use to anybody. Okay - maybe that¹s not something new, but it was definitely something reinforced! On a similar note, I¹ve never been to quite so honest, sincere and emotional a symposium as this one so I¹ve also learned that such events can be real opportunities to exchange if the people participating really want them to be. Have a martini, chill and chat, already! Hmmm. I¹ve also learned that conferences really should incorporate time for dancing or impromptu performance art, as the case may be.

    2. Before and After the I-Bomb A review by Dr. Brian Leigh Molyneaux

    Tom Sherman's "Before and After the I-Bomb", a collection of more than twenty-five years of public and private muses, performance texts and internet pieces, represents a lifetime's seduction by technology.

    Sherman makes his passion clear at the outset. He likes to "negotiate reality with instruments". This is not a surprise for someone born immediately after World War II. Sherman's earliest childhood was a time when the masses were encouraged not only to fear the A-Bomb and its technology but to love it as a protector. Many kids born in the aftermath of World War II were like Tom and me. Deep in blue collar/middle class North America and wary of protection, we pressed our ears against the speakers of vast old radios, moving through fantastic jungles of noise in search of distant, dangerous new worlds. We grew up, of course, and lost our naivety during the VietNam war era, but we remained faithful to technology as a vehicle for exploration and enchantment.

    Sherman's first public act of techno-seduction was a subversive reverie for a British communications journal that he published in 1974. His modest proposal was to process Western art history into a "concise history of painting" and create an Art-Style Computer-Processing System so that television viewers could translate broadcasts in the "period vision" of their choice ('let's watch the State of the Union address as Surrealism tonight, dear'). Between this early bravura - 1974 was also the year of the first personal computer - and his twenty-first century Epilogue, a somber reflection on our current "techno-existentialism", he provides an artist's perspective on the I-bomb. The I-bomb stands for the "thunderous explosion of advertising, entertainment, voice and data" that heralded the late twentieth century information age. What makes this book essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary art and society is that Sherman saw the bomb develop, got caught in the blast, and has a strong vision of the world in its wake.

    Sherman's narratives begin in a 1970s Toronto still resonating from Marshall McLuhan's radical ideas about mass media. McLuhan's notion that electronic media extended the central nervous system outside the body into "a global embrace" had an especially strong impact on people already mulling over Norbert Weiner's cybernetic theory. Weiner held that the dynamics of communication and control were similar for humans, other living things, and machines. Unconventional artists like Sherman saw this new way of thinking as a challenge not only to contemporary art, but also to traditional ideas of human nature. While realtime communication devices eliminated the distance between people and vastly increased their web of relationships, it did so at the sacrifice of a body-centered mind. In various places in the I-bomb we read his complaint: "I worry about losing my sense of self"; "my nervous system is not so central anymore". By 2002, the courtship is over: "we are embracing technology itself as the significant other in our lives".

    The vision of a new bionic nature emerging out of the disembodiments of the information age is not simply an intellectual conceit. The integration of human and machine through multimedia extensions poses a threat to the balance of nature. The problem is that this new adaptation is largely untested. Nature had millions of years to sort out primate development and create human animals well adapted to their natural environments. Since the new information age has developed so quickly, it has become a cybernetic problem, a world out of control. So, while the internet seems to be moving us ever closer to McLuhan's ideal of the global village, we are not only being "overrun by our own technological inventions", as Sherman writes, but running ahead of our own evolution! The result is a chaos of choices, like the fantastic array of experimental creatures produced millions of years ago in early Cambrian seas near the origins of life. In Sherman's words

    "There is no collective idea of where we are headed. The future is multidirectional. With no collective vision, the individual is at the center of the universe again".

    Such obvious disquiet at social fragmentation may seem odd coming from an artist. Sherman knows, however, that the freedom that technology gives to individual expression comes at a price: the architectures of software, hardware and delivery systems are logical, highly structured and under corporate control. No wonder videocams and computers are "the preferred tools of authoritative organizations". In the techno-environment, we are reduced to the level of our primate ancestors, feeding an information economy, and "harvested like trees or minerals or fish". The effect of this expanding multimedia world on creativity is clear, as anyone thinking about the pathetically narrow window of their monitor must surely realize: "Industrially produced architectures of thought generate imaginative uniformity", making change, over time, "the same as endless uniformity". We cannot escape our memes any more than we can our genes.

    Sherman is always concerned with his own engagement with a world where nature and culture, animal and machine, are all part of integrated information systems. It is perhaps inevitable, then, that he devotes the last part of the book to our problematic relationship with the natural world - symbolized, in the last sentence in the closing text, by the disturbing image of a manicured cedar tree in a Burger King entrance - Nature firmly under capitalist technological control. While some readers might assume that his clear love for the vicissitudes of nature is simply nostalgia for a living system that worked, he clarifies his view in the Epilogue. We are stuck with what we helped create; Nature is now our responsibility.

    Sherman's resolution is elusive, even evasive: cracks of light, hope, memory, novelty. There is clearly no easy way out of our dystopia. In my reading, however, there is refuge and inspiration in a subtle bit of text that may reveal Sherman's personal approach. In "Nothing Worse" (2000), we find his persona in his artistic hermitage, the man who does not want to move.

    "If you want to go with the flow, you've got to be streamlined; you've got to be smooth.

    I don't fit in. The world spins around me. Everything I touch seems to stop in its tracks. I get ideas. I move on these ideas. I make things.... Somewhere, out there, there are other people who sit still and watch the world spin around. They are like me. They, too, make information that doesn't move."

    Franz Kafka wrote: "the fact that our task is exactly commensurate with our life gives it the appearance of being infinite" (Third Notebook, January 19, 1918). Sherman's best writing - simple, lucid description, contrived and yet free, paced at the rhythm of an ordinary conversation - conveys the simple beauty and dreadful wonder that are the contraries of life in a technological maelstrom. If we are to survive the effects of the I-bomb, perhaps we too need to stop, take a few breaths, look away from our monitors and listen.

    "Before and After the I-Bomb: an artist in the information environment" by Tom Sherman, edited by Peggy Gale, Banff Centre Press 2002, ISBN 0-920159-94-X; 6.5 x 8.25, 384 pages, paper: $29.95 CDN / $20.50 US

    Dr. Brian Leigh Molyneaux is an archaeologist, writer and photographer. He is a specialist in art and ideology, the human use of the landscape, and environmental approaches to technology. At the University of South Dakota, he is Director of the Archaeology Laboratory, and Co-Director of the Missouri River Institute. He is also a Research Associate of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada. He received his MA in Art and Archaeology from Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, in 1977 and his PhD in Archaeology at the University of Southampton, England in 1991.



    1. My week between time zones by Rosmary Heather

    May 28
    I fly to Toronto from Moscow, where I've spent the last nine months submerged in Russia's alien cultural water. Life in a country where you don't speak the language tends to keep you focused on the basics. I'm curious to go to Toronto to see just how shell-shocked I've been. On the flight over I read a book about the Oligarchs, the handful of Russian businessmen who devised an elaborate scheme to divide up the state-owned assets -- mostly oil and gas conglomerates - that were a legacy of communism. These are men, barely into their 30s who became billionaires overnight. When I return to Russia in two weeks time I will read in the paper that President Putin's grip on power is shaky and the country is on the verge of a "creeping oligarchic coup".

    May 29
    Still in the transitional stage between time zones and continents, I attend the Power Ball with P., Toronto's own pop star with international viability and underground credibility. She's been hired to give the event a bit of risquÎ glamour, which she ably provides. My jet lag is such though that I spend most of the time napping in P.'s dressing room. To remedy my condition, a friend offers me some coke, but it's the wrong kind and I politely decline.

    May 30
    I have lunch with my good friend R. and his mini-me assistant, who are currently shooting a Hidden Cameras' document. Because my access to credit has been mysteriously cut off, R. has been kind enough to lend me the 1000 dollars necessary to get here. In thanks, I've brought him a bottle of Absinthe and we try a glass. My jetlag still in effect, the A. bores a fuzzy hole into my brain. Two-thirds of the way in, I have to stop. I don't know what's in this stuff, I comment, but its Russian and that can't be good.

    May 31
    I manage to miss the Hive launch and instead go to a very bad party. I attribute my poor judgment to transcultural misplacement and go home to sleep it off.

    June 1
    On a recent visit to Istanbul, I had an anxiety attack on seeing a copy of Vanity Fair. It was a part of Western culture I had forgotten about and wasn't sure I wanted to remember again. I was sure the prospect would be almost as dismal as Madonna's belief she can rap on her latest single. I expect to experience comparable culture shock in Toronto but my reentry is surprisingly smooth. Everything about the place is utterly familiar. The alternative reality of its stimulus instead reaches me like tiny beams of sunlight. I'm surprised that I am actually able to speak to people in shops, rather than the pointing and grunting I use to get by in Moscow. This is hard to adjust to and I feel slightly off-balance as a result.

    June 2
    Improbably, S. from Moscow shows up in Toronto via San Hose. Accustomed to barhopping with him in Russia, I get confused and almost respond in Russian when the waiter asks if we want any food.

    June 3
    I spend the evening drinking wine with P. and B. Mining B's extensive record collection, I get to play DJ. Talking for hours, the next day I can remember nothing of what was said. It's an instance of the perfect transparency of friendship. The lines of communication are clear, free of the dissonance of differences in culture and language. This makes up for all the weird conversations I've had in Moscow, where I've been told, among other things, that men are much better than women (by a women); that Chechens are gangsters and deserve everything they get (considering that Russia is a nation of gangsters, not to mention the US of A, it occurs to me that this might be true); and that the invasion if Iraq is good because "democracy" is good and Reagan won the cold war" - all sentiments spoken by people I consider friends. Cultural differences like these take longer than nine months to assimilate -- they are so foreign to me that I hope never to get there. But at least now I know there is a difference between buying a plane ticket and actually arriving somewhere.

    Rosemary Heather



    From: Andrew DeCola
    Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 19:32:26 -0400
    Subject: link

    Hey guys. I just wanted thank you for adding me to your LINKS section. I didn't even know until someone told me about it. Which is awesome. I'll have a link to your site added to mine as well. Add me to your mailing list because I love what you guys are doing.
    Thanks again,

    Andy decola

    --- instant coffee wrote:
    > Instant Coffee Communications - send us contemporary
    > art posts
    > 2. No Friday June 6th @ Surface 12 Brant st
    > 3. Wegway 5 launch party at the Gladstone Hotel,
    > june 7
    > 4. The Center Peace Party Show @ ting june 6
    > 5. LEARN TO VIDEO EDIT! One-on-one
    > 7. Chiropterophiles take note.
    > 9. Philip Monk Named Director/Curator of the Art
    > Gallery of York University
    > Art Met
    > LOOKing/RENTing/SUBLETing/SHAREing/WANTing/SELLing -
    > uebird Show (for now) June 7 @
    > Graf Ottawa Elvis Fests / Convocatoria - aluCine
    > 18. Rick of the Skins
    > 20. Forthcoming: International Conference for
    > Theorists & PractitA PROGRAM OF RECENT WORKS BY

    Last night's recombine of the index portion of the ic update was not signal to change of admiration and delight of the projections, but an ecstatic dadaistic mousedance of celebration partly celebrating Philip Monk's merger with Yorku and partly tantamount to my campaign to increase both volume and dadaistic content in the wake of csis placing environmentalists and antiglobalizers on its scrutiny list for I believe they have ventured now too near the voild of art and patios, the realm of nonsense phone calls and performance art, in too near to the rejoicing of the tormented as they embrace and flip out, in too tight with the mighty minds that have so enriched my life while all that I pay taxes for (but teachers librarians nurses and garbage pickup) persists in becoming more opaque and weighty In fact, I think we should all tomorrow get together somewhere wonderful, or perhaps tonight, what's going on where's the pa'di



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