Saturday, April 25, 2020

David Wojnarowicz - Flaming

Solidarity 2020 Poster

Poster with self portrait of David Wojnarowicz with flames along his body
David Wojnarowicz, Self Portrait (1983/84)

David Wojnarowicz with Tom Warren
Self-Portrait of David Wojnarowicz

Between Bridges - Wolfgang Tillman

2020Solidarity is a Between Bridges project aimed at helping cultural and music venues, community projects, independent spaces and publications that are existentially threatened by the current crisis.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Queering the Image - Pink Triangle Stamp

Self-Labeling with a Pink Triangle

“Stop the Brown Danger! 
Gays and Lesbians 
against Nazis!”
The Pink Triangle, a Nazi Holocaust marker for homosexuals, was reclaimed by activists in the 1970s and has become a way to self-identify as queer without tipping off the larger public. Even after the visibility of ACT UP, it is largely a secret code.

The Pink Triangle has become a way to connect with others. Some personal examples:

One day in the 1980s, I stopped on I-89 in Vermont to help a stranded motorist because they had a Pink Triangle bumper sticker.

At a meditation retreat in 1996, I wore a Pink Triangle enamel pin during registration. By the time I was through that process, half a dozen LBGT people at the retreat had gathered around me and we became instant friends.

When my husband and I first met, we both had Pink Triangle pins.

This dance of stepping up and stepping back, of passing and hiding, of public and private, is an active question in my life. What is it be be queer today?

As one way to explore that, I modified some self portraits using a pink triangle as a "stamp", trying various ways to incorporate it as a visual element. The dates on these images are that of the original and the 2020 update.

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1952/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1965/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1975/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1975/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1978/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1978/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1978/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1979/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1979/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1980/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1998/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (1998/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (2000/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (2019/2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (2020)

Larry Wolf, Pink Triangle Series (2020)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Ocean Vuong - Paris Review - 2019

A praxis toward reckoning

Paris Review (Author Photo: Tom Hines)

Two articles with/by Ocean Vuong in the Paris Review last year. Read them this morning. Thinking about these topics in my own life.

Survival as a Creative Force: An Interview with Ocean Vuong 

By Spencer Quong
Paris Review June 5, 2019


Little Dog says, “I am writing you from inside a body that used to be yours. Which is to say, I am writing as a son.” There’s both intimacy and distance here: “used to be.” I imagine it’s not always clear how exactly our family’s voices arrive—or fail to arrive—in our work. How have you balanced your family’s voices with your own?


I wanted the book to be founded in truth but realized by the imagination. I wanted to begin as a historian and end as an artist. And I needed the novel to be a praxis toward that reckoning.

This book is as much a coming-of-age story as it is a coming-of-art. I would say that I begin with the voices of those I care for, family or otherwise, and follow them until they drop off, until I have to create them in order to hear them. My writing is an echo. In this way, On Earth is not so much a novel, but the ghost of a novel. That’s the hope anyway.


The gaze, human or animal, is a powerful thing. When we look at something, we decide to fill our entire existence, however briefly, with that very thing. To fill your whole world with a person, if only for a few seconds, is a potent act. And it can be a dangerous one. Sometimes we are not seen enough, and other times we are seen too thoroughly, we can be exposed, seen through, even devoured. Hunters examine their prey obsessively in order to kill it. The line between desire and elimination, to me, can be so small. But that is who we are. There must be some beauty—and if not beauty, meaning—in that brutal power. I am still trying, and mostly failing, to find it.


One question this novel hovers over is how do people who hurt each other find ways to protect themselves while attempting to love and, ultimately, to heal? I think Little Dog learns that to experiment is to innovate—and to innovate is to live in hope. Innovation is the first casualty of cynicism. The characters in this novel test each other because they possess an optimism that outlasts their hurt. And I adore them for that.


“I thought sex was to breach new ground, despite terror, that as long as the world did not see us, its rules did not apply. But I was wrong. The rules, they were already inside us.”

I wanted to arrive at queer joy—but discovered that I wanted to do so without forsaking the very real and perennial presence of danger that queer bodies face simply by existing. There is a call, rightfully, for literature to make more room for queer joy, or perhaps even more radically, queer okayness. But I did not want to answer that call by creating a false utopia—because safety is still rare and foreign to the experiences of the queer folks I love, who are also often poor and underserved. I didn’t want to pretend to be happy just because straight people were tired or bored of our struggle.

The novel insists that there is power, and with it, agency, in survival—which includes the interracial tensions you speak of—because trauma is still an integral reality for queer folks. But these bodies do know joy, and they know it by acknowledging and honoring the tribulations they outlived. We often think of survival as something that merely happens to us, that we are perhaps lucky to have. But I like to think of survival as a result of active self-knowledge, and even more so, a creative force.


“We were exchanging truths, which is to say, we were cutting one another.”



I remember listening to you read at the University of Massachusetts a number of years ago when Night Sky was released. I remember the quiet of that room, the ways your pauses swept over the audience. I’m curious about how it feels to you when you read your work aloud.


You were there! That makes me retroactively happy. I was so nervous that night, but someone had the merciful idea to turn off the lights. And I grew braver in the dark, which became somehow more intimate, less lonely. I’m not really a social person. I’m naturally shy and avoid parties when I can. ... So I never dreamed of being a reader in front of an audience. But when I started to do it, I realized I was participating in an ancient oral tradition, one that made not only Vietnamese literature possible, but solidified the practice of storytelling in our species. I started to see the air as a second page. The book, any book, as you encounter it between two covers, is essentially a fossil.


I’m not interested in possession. I want to be freer than that. Maybe I’m being naive, but I understand genres to be as fluid as genders. Our lives are full of restrictions—jobs, bills, time, gravity, all of this impinging on us—but to write is to gift yourself the freedom of choice and possibility. That feels truly precious to me.

If we must think in metaphoric structures, then I would rather say the novel is a town square—a space where people converge, where they’ll see these characters, see me, see each other, then go on home, perfect just as they are.

Reimagining Masculinity 

By Ocean Vuong
Paris Review June 10, 2019

No homo.

You’re really good at hiding.

Years later, in another life, before giving a reading, the organizer asked me for my preferred pronouns. I never knew I had a choice.

Can the walls of masculinity, set up so long ago through decrees of death and conquest, be breached, broken, recast—even healed? I am, in other words, invested in troubling he-ness. I want to complicate, expand, and change it by being inside it.

No homo, K reminds me, as he bites off the medical tape, rubs the length of my swollen ankle. He slides my white Vans back on—but not before carefully loosening the shoelaces, making room for my new damage. No homo, he had said. But all I heard, all I still hear, is No human. How can we not ask masculinity to change when, within it, we have become so wounded?

“You’ll be fine,” he says—with a tenderness so rare it felt stolen from a place far inside him. I reach for his hand.

I make it so dark we could be anything, even more than what we were born into. 

We could be human.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Old Cameras Getting A New Life

Agfa ePhoto 1280 and Nikon Coolpix 4500

Larry Wolf, Two Old Friends (2020)

Back in February of 1998, I purchased an Agfa ePhoto 1280. I had taken a Photoshop course at Santa Fe Photographic Workshop with John Paul Caponigro in 1997. I was scanning film and prints for a while and I was excited to have an actual digital camera. A new era was dawning. 

I particularly liked the design concept of the Agfa; it was reinventing the camera around its components: the lens and flash in one module, the LCD display, batteries and memory card in the other, connected with a swivel. This was not the eyeball-to-viewfinder of all the 35mm film cameras I had used, but a new design for the new technology. It was an "arms length" camera, with an experience much like our current phones, although the swivel allowed for having the lens pointed one way with the display screen another - good for overhead, low angle and self portraits. The camera fit well in my hands, the controls were easy to use. Here's an enthusiastic review from Steve's Digicam from 1997.

The Agfa took remarkably good photos (1024x768 with a 3x optical zoom) but it ate up batteries. Even with double sets of batteries (it uses AAs), it was painful to use. Sadly, I went back to film and scanning for a while. 

In 2002, I gave the design another go, this time with the Nikon Coolpix 4500. It's a bigger image (2272x1704 with a 4x optical zoom). This was a workable camera where I wasn't fighting with the technology (specifically the batteries). Here's the Digital Photography Review from 2002.

The Nikon completely shifted my photography away from film. I was a very happy user of this camera for several years. 

New Life Coming

I've ordered a card reader for the SmartMedia cards that the Agfa uses and the CompactFlash cards that the Nikon uses. There is a fresh set of AA rechargeable batteries coming for the Agfa. The batteries for the Nikon are charging as I write this. I'm looking forward to using both cameras in the near future.

Some Images From The Agfa 1280 From 1998

Larry Wolf, Agfa Unboxed (1998)

Larry Wolf, Self Portrait (1998)

Larry Wolf, Self Portrait (1998)

Larry Wolf, Blossoms (1998)

Larry Wolf, Red Hawk Zendo (1998)

Larry Wolf, View from Sean's Car (1998)

Larry Wolf, Floral Arrangement (1998) 
Larry Wolf, At Home (1998)

Larry Wolf, At Home (1998)

There is a playfulness in these images, an exploration of what's possible with this camera, embracing its capabilities and limitations.

Some Images From The Nikon 4500 From 2002

Larry Wolf, Self Portrait (2002)

Larry Wolf, Eric (2002)

Larry Wolf, Eric (2002)

Larry Wolf, Eric (2002)

Larry Wolf, Airport (2002)

Larry Wolf, Tea House Pond (2002

Larry Wolf, Man and Dog (2002)

Larry Wolf, Flat Iron and Obelisk (2002)

[updated April 12, 2020 with images from the Nikon 4500]

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Looking Back at Twenty Years Together

Private Ceremony (2000)

Larry Wolf, Two Hands (2000)
On April 8, 2000, Eric and Larry exchanged vows. It was done as a private ceremony with just the three friends who officiated. It was not legally binding. There were no other witnesses. It was important that it was just between us. The only public announcement was the posting to my old website later that day (reproduced in this blog).

Back in 2000, we had no idea what we were getting into, the journeys we would take and the lives we'd be living today. It's been, and continues to be, a wonderful life together.

Larry Wolf, Two Hands (2020)

Our Hands Today (2020)

Here are our hands today. We have two wedding bands. We added the second band in 2014, when we had a very public wedding celebration and a legal marriage (below).


Legal Wedding (2014)

Tak-Seng Lodro, Eric and Larry Wedding (2014)
Our second wedding, July 26, 2014, shortly after the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex weddings across the US. With Federal and state recognition, we had a large ceremony at the Chicago Shambhala Center, surrounded by friends and family. The large crowd cheering us on was quite a contrast to the private event fourteen years earlier.

From the Archive (1999)

Looking back through my archive, here are a few of the photos which are not in the 1999 repostings. These are from the year of courtship leading up to the 2000 commitment ceremony.

A Day on the Great Lawn in Louisville Kentucky (1999)

Larry Wolf, Eric on the Great Lawn (1999)
Larry Wolf, Eric Flying a Kite (1999)

Larry Wolf, Kite (1999)

The View from the Bistro Table in Eric's Apartment (1999)

Larry Wolf, View from the Bistro Table in Eric's Apartment (1999)

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Rebecca Solnit - Postmodernist Body

The Missing Subject

Larry Wolf, Bed (2020)
The body described again and again in postmodern theory does not suffer under the elements, encounter other species, experience primal fear or much in the way of exhilaration, or strain its muscles to the utmost. In sum, it doesn't engage in physical endeavor or spend time out of doors. The very term "the body" so often used by postmodernists seems to speak of a passive object, and that body appears most often laid out upon the examining table or in bed. A medical and sexual phenomenon, it is a site of sensations, processes, and desires rather than a source of action and production. Having been liberated from manual labor and located in the sensory deprivation chambers of apartments and offices, this body has nothing left but the erotic as a residue of what it means to be embodied.

Which is not to disparage sex and the erotic as fascinating and profound (and relevant to walking's history, as we shall see), only to propose that they are so emphasized because other aspects of being embodied have atrophied for many people. The body presented to us in these hundreds of volumes and essays, this passive body for which sexuality and biological function are the only signs of life, is in fact not the universal human body but the white collar urban body, or rather a theoretical body that can't even be theirs, since even minor physical exertions never appear: this body described in theory never even aches from hauling the complete works of Kierkegaard across campus, "If the body is a metaphor for our locatedness in space and time and thus for the finitude of human perception and knowledge, then the postmodern body is no body at all," writes Susan Bordo, one feminist theorist at odds with this version of embodiment.

Section I. The Pace of Thoughts 
Chapter 2. The Mind at Three Miles an Hour 
Part iv. The Missing Subject 

Friday, April 3, 2020

A Walk on Glenwood Avenue

A Sunny Day in April, Soaking in the Moment

Larry Wolf, April Walk (2020) 
Larry Wolf, April Walk (2020)

Larry Wolf, April Walk (2020)

Larry Wolf, April Walk (2020)

Larry Wolf, April Walk (2020)

Larry Wolf, April Walk (2020)

Larry Wolf, April Walk (2020) 
Larry Wolf, April Walk (2020)

Larry Wolf, April Walk (2020)