Word is a Virus

New Column: Word is a Virus

Carol Cheh.

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the Art21 Blog’s newest column, Word is a Virus, penned by former blogger-in-residence Carol Cheh, a writer and curator based in Los Angeles. You’ll remember Carol as the ringleader of the #OccupyArt21 series of guest blog posts from last January, and she has also contributed posts to Looking at Los Angeles. We’re so happy that Carol is writing this monthly column, which will post on the third Monday of each month.

So what’s this new column all about? Says Carol, “Word is a Virus is a secret rendezvous point for two mutually exclusive yet intimately connected practices: art and the written word. I am myself the intersection between art and words, being a writer who writes about art. But through this column I’m going to explore manifestations of this erratic yet passionate coupling as it occurs out in the world—through artists’ writings and books, conceptual and text-based artworks, literary inspirations that lead to art and vice versa, and other intriguing projects that sit on the border between the visual and the writerly.”

The column takes its title from William S. Burroughs’s 1962 The Ticket That Exploded, which is part of Burroughs’s “cut up trilogy,” three novels made by cutting and splicing together new writings with old. Burroughs developed this revolutionary technique in collaboration with artist Brion Gysin.  From the book:

“From symbiosis to parasitism is a short step. The word is now a virus. The flu virus may once have been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the lungs. The word may once have been a healthy neural cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting your sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word.”

A bit more about Carol’s professional background: she is the founder of Another Righteous Transfer!, a blog that explores LA’s performance art scene, and a regular contributor to LA Weekly and Artillery, among other outlets. Her curatorial projects have included You Don’t Bring Me Flowers: An Evening of Re-Performances (PØST, 2010) and Signals: A Video Showcase (Orange County Museum of Art, 2008). And as previously mentioned, in January 2012, she organized #OccupyArt21, a two-week guest stint on the Art21 blog in which 10 artists contributed written works addressing the Occupy LA movement.

Welcome Carol, and stay tuned for the debut of “Word is a Virus” later this afternoon!

Contributor
Claudine Isé is a Chicago-based arts and culture writer and a visiting clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

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