Book Launch and Practicum /
“Caption Action,” with Wayne Koestenbaum, Matt Freedman, Joel Smith, and Mónica de la Torre

Date: Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 7–9 pm
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn (directions here)
FREE. No RSVP necessary

Listen to an audio recording of this program, or download here.
00:00 / 00:00
Courtesy Oliver Wasow.

In recognition of the fact that life is difficult and the world is confusing, that names are arbitrary, and titles often coy or feckless, Cabinet will host an evening dedicated to the theory and practice of captioning. Our immediate occasion is the publication of Wayne Koestenbaum’s Notes on Glaze, a compilation of four years of his “Legend” column, which has been an ongoing exercise in the virtuoso annotation of unexpected images. In his work we see a still wider promise. Captions strike us as the ideal form for making sense of modern experience, easy to apply to almost any surface, long enough to be informative, but not so long as an essay, most poems, or, God help us, a novel.

To inaugurate our ambitious program for Universal Adequate Captioning of Everything, Cabinet has invited Koestenbaum to read from and reflect upon his book. After an interlude of caption manufacture by all in attendance, a panel of experts comprised of Koestenbaum, Matt Freedman, Joel Smith, and Mónica de la Torre will discuss particular examples and general themes: the various kinds of captions, their places in culture, their ideological and counter-ideological functions and potentialities. The aim, over the course of the evening, will be to derive guiding principles for a grassroots captioning initiative, and to make a beginning on what we acknowledge to be—given the large number of eligible images, things, persons, and situations in the environment, and the considerable head start of rival enterprises like advertising and political sloganeering—a formidable task.

For more on Notes on Glaze, see here.

About the Participants
Matt Freedman is an artist, writer, and curator living in Ridgewood, Queens. Recent exhibitions include “Okay for Now” with Jude Tallichet at Valentine Gallery. Recent performances include the ongoing “Endless Broken Time” series with Tim Spelios, presented monthly at Studio 10. For twelve years, he drew the comic strips “Free Associates” and “Professor Tatlin’s Do-It-Yourself Comics.”

Wayne Koestenbaum is a poet, critic, painter, and musician. He has previously published seventeen books of poetry, criticism, and fiction, including The Pink Trance Notebooks (Nightboat Books, 2015), My 1980s & Other Essays (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013), Hotel Theory (Soft Skull Press, 2007), and The Queen’s Throat (Poseidon Press, 1993), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Koestenbaum’s first solo exhibition took place at White Columns in New York in 2012; a survey of his paintings appeared at the University of Kentucky Art Museum in fall 2015, and a solo exhibition opened in March 2016 at 356 Mission in Los Angeles. He has given piano performances at the Kitchen, New York; REDCAT, Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles. He has written the libretti for two operas—Michael Daugherty’s Jackie O and Mohammed Fairouz’s Pierrot. Koestenbaum has taught at Yale University, both in the English Department and as a visiting member of the painting faculty of the School of Art, and is a Distinguished Professor of English and French at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York.

Joel Smith is curator of photography at the Morgan Library & Museum, where his exhibitions have included “A Collective Invention: Photographs at Play”; “Hidden Likeness: Emmet Gowin at the Morgan”; and “Sight Reading: Photography and the Legible World,” which closes on 30 May 2016. His books include Edward Steichen: The Early Years (Princeton University Press, 1999), The Life and Death of Buildings: On Photography and Time (Yale University Press, 2011), and a forthcoming catalogue on the photographs of Peter Hujar for an exhibition opening at Fundación MAPFRE, Barcelona, in 2017.

Mónica de la Torre is the author of five collections of poetry, including The Happy End/All Welcome (forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse in fall 2016), and has participated in several collaborative projects, including Collective Task and Taller de Taquimecanografía. Her work, which has been or will be published in the New Yorker, Imperial Matters, the White Review, and Poetry, was included in the anthology The Animated Reader: Poetry of Surround Audience (The New Museum & McNally Jackson, 2015), published in conjunction with the New Museum’s Triennial. She teaches at Columbia University’s Writing MFA program and is Bomb Magazine’s senior editor.