With this issue, the Artseen section of the Brooklyn Rail introduces a new feature titled 1 by 1. Each month we ask readers (and non-readers) of the Rail to send a short piece on one art work. It can be something you have always wanted to write about. It can be a spontaneous reaction to a work you are standing in front of. It can be ancient or contemporary; sound art, conceptual art, performance art, painting, drawing, sculpture, media art—whatever. It does not have to be your onetime favorite work, or even about an established piece of art. One of my favorite writings on one artwork is Nina Kachadourian’s unforgettable piece, “Orphan” published in Cabinet Magazine, Issue 7, Summer 2002 under the topic of “Failure,”
We will select one or two short pieces each month. By short, ideally 500 words, but anything under 1000 will be considered.
1 by 1 is inspired and dedicated to the late poet, art writer, and friend of the Rail, Bill Berkson because perhaps no writer mastered the short form of art writing as he did. It is also inspired by his assignment when he served as Guest Critic in September of 2012. Titled “What You See” it challenged writers to:
1. Write about what you see without mentioning any facts of a physical or technical nature. The terms of the work may be communicated as pure meaning or emotion, philosophy or politics. A poem or story is fair enough, or indeed anything that comes to mind, allowing that what is in the critic’s head is part of the situation of the work.
2. Write about what you see mentioning only the physical and or technical aspect of it, without interpretation. (This needs no further guidelines.)
As seeing is a form of thinking, I would like to add the words think, feel, hear to “see” as obviously, some art is not about seeing. This month we are fortunate to begin with an homage to Bill Berkson by the prolific, funny, writer Andrei Codrescu, followed by a timely thought-piece on Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc by frequent Rail contributor Nicole Miller.
-Thyrza Nichols Goodeve
Senior Art Editor