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ACKER AWARDS 2013
Awards ceremonies to take place in San Francisco and New York City
LOCATION New York: The Angel Orensanz Foundation, 172 Norfolk Street, Manhattan New York
DATE: JUNE 6, 2013 at 7PM, local time
PREFACE & INFORMATION
CLAYTON PATTERSON: Honoring L.E.S. avant-garde with first annual Acker Awards | As the tide of gentrification and the money it brings in its wake continues to wash away the creative culture that made the Lower East Side a world-renowned artistic center, I feel the need to somehow save, at least, an impression of what made the L.E.S. such a creative force.
Creating my L.E.S. archive gave me an overview of the community, which inspired me to produce, with the help of others, three history anthologies: "Resistance: A Radical Social and Political History of the Lower East Side," "Captured: A Film/Video History of the Lower East Side" and "Jews: A People’s History of the Lower East Side."
The basic idea behind the books is to pick subjects that are of interest to me. Then, the next step is to find editors and writers who are related to the subject of the book or had an interest in the material. Next, develop a general history showing where the content fits into the history of the neighborhood. Finally, try and collect as much information that defines the subject of the book.
My approach in these works was to layer the more publicly recognized between the lesser-known people. For example, when a reader is looking for an Allen Ginsberg, they can come across Ira Cohen or Lionel Ziprin. By placing everyone shoulder to shoulder, it makes everyone equal and opens the door to discovering new people, ideas and subject matter.
The next step in preserving the area’s cultural history came about in an odd way. The writers organization PEN was soliciting a list of names for a recipient of the Benjamin Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. I heard about this award, suggested Jim Feast, and started a mini-campaign pushing Jim. One of the first people I contacted was Alan Kaufman. Born and raised in the Bronx, and now living in San Francisco, Alan is a writer, and has published a number of anthologies and books. His latest book, "Drunken Angel," is drawing comparisons to Bukowski.
Alan immediately got involved. But as we discussed campaign strategies, the idea rose to the surface: Let’s create our own award.
We both agree that one of the major components that fueled so much of the creatively in New York City and San Francisco was the cheap rent and the chance to live an inexpensive lifestyle. And now gentrification has basically killed the muse. Our world has changed, so let’s find a way to bring recognition and honor to the creative individuals who inspired so much of what N.Y.C. represents and who have made, and continue to make, a significant contribution to our avant-garde culture.
Alan suggested we call the award the Acker Awards. It was agreed. Kathy Acker (1947-1997), born in New York City, had lived on the border of the L.E.S., was a radical thinker, had an original voice, produced novels, plays, essays, and was a performance artist.
The Acker Awards are a tribute given to members of the avant-garde arts community who have made outstanding contributions in their discipline in defiance of convention, or else served their fellow writers and artists in outstanding ways. The award’s novelist namesake, in her life and work, exemplified the risk-taking and uncompromising dedication that identifies the true avant-garde artist.
Acker Awards are granted to both living and deceased members of the New York or San Francisco communities. The cities were chosen for their historic linkage as enters for the avant-garde. In time, though, communities in other cities will be asked to participate. The providers of the Acker Awards are Alan Kaufman (San Francisco) and Clayton Patterson (New York City). The recipients were determined through extensive discussion with members of the arts communities in both cities.
This year’s recipients will have the opportunity to both nominate and vote for future recipients of the Acker Awards. For more information go to: http://www.ackerawards.com.
The Acker Awards ceremonies will be held in New York City and San Francisco, Thurs., June 6, 7 p.m. local time. The New York event will take place at the Angel Orensanz Foundation, 172 Norfolk St., and the San Francisco event will take place at VIRACOCHA, 998 Valencia St. at 21st St., in the Mission District.
Both ceremonies are open to the public and free!
Published in: The Villager, New York, on May 30, 2013
WEBSITE "THE ACKER AWARDS"
ABOUT "THE ACKER AWARDS"
The Acker Awards is a tribute given to members of the avant garde arts community who have made outstanding contributions in their discipline in defiance of convention, or else served their fellow writers and artists in outstanding ways. The award is named after novelist Kathy Acker who in her life and work exemplified the risk-taking and uncompromising dedication that identifies the true avant garde artist. Acker Awards are granted to both living and deceased members of the New York or San Franisco communities. The cities were chosen for their historic linkage as centers for the avant garde. In time, though, communities in other cities will be asked to participate. The providers of the Acker Awards are Alan Kaufman (San Francisco) and Clayton Patterson (New York City). The recipients were determined through extensive discussion with members of the arts communities in both cities. This year's recipients will have the opportunity to both nominate and vote for future recipients of the Acker Awards.
"THE ACKER AWARDS" COMMUNITY
ACKER AWARDS PRESS RELEASE
THE ACKER AWARDS for avant garde excellence
Awards ceremonies to take place in San Francisco and New York City
When? JUNE 6, 2013, 7PM, local time
What? Acker Awards are bestowed on those who “have made outstanding contributions in their discipline in defiance of convention, or else served their fellow writers and artists in outstanding ways.”
The award is named after the novelist, and darling of the avant garde, KATHY ACKER
Recipients of the award include Hubert Selby Jr., Barney Rosset (posthumous), Bob Holman, Judith Malina, Annie Sprinkle, Jeremiah Newton, Taylor Mead, John Strausbaugh, Cynthia Carr, Diane DiPrima, Michael Sladek, Matt Gonzalez, Paul Krassner, and many others.
*Clayton Patterson is an artist/documentarian, editor and publisher of JEWS: A PEOPLES HISTORY OF THE LOWER EAST SIDE and curator of the Outlaw Art Museum on the Lower East side of NYC.
** Alan Kaufman is the author of DRUNKEN ANGEL and a co-curator of the forthcoming Allen Ginsberg Festival at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
REVIEW by ELIE and CLAYTON PATTERSON
RECAP OF THE ACKER AWARDS AT ANGEL ORENSANZ
Published in: BOWERY BOOGY | New York | June 11, 2013
Last Thursday night was the first annual Acker Awards, an event that is meant to celebrate avante garde arts amidst the perennial high tide of gentrification. But not just on the Lower East Side; San Francisco also has its own version.
Named for Kathy Acker – radical thinker, novelist, and performance artist – the idea for the Awards was spawned by author Alan Kaufman and neighborhood chronicler Clayton Patterson.
Patterson wrote the following in a recent article in the Villager: We both agree that one of the major components that fueled so much of the creatively in New York City and San Francisco was the cheap rent and the chance to live an inexpensive lifestyle. And now gentrification has basically killed the muse. Our world has changed, so let’s find a way to bring recognition and honor to the creative individuals who inspired so much of what N.Y.C. represents and who have made, and continue to make, a significant contribution to our avant-garde culture.
Acker Awards are granted to both living and deceased members of the New York or San Francisco communities. The cities were chosen for their historic linkage as centers for the avant-garde. In time, though, communities in other cities will be asked to participate.
NEW YORK CITY AWARD RECIPIENTS 2013
ABOUT KATHY ACKER
Kathy Acker (1947-1997) was a novelist, performance artist, playwright and essayist. Kathy Acker is known for her postmodern, experimental, and sex-positive feminism. Her radical and at times seemingly anarchic aesthetic stances made Kathy Acker a Punk icon.
On April 18, 1947 (or according to the Library of Congress 1948 and her obituaries 1944), Kathy Acker was born Karen Lehmann. Her parents, Donald and Claire Lehmann, were wealthy and Jewish. The couple did not expect the pregnancy, and Donald Lehmann left his family before Kathy Acker’s birth. Kathy Acker’s early life in New York’s Upper East Side was dominated by her strong-willed mother. Her mother remarried a man who has been characterized as passionless and ineffectual. Although the family was returned to a degree of respectability, Kathy Acker was raised in a household where she felt neither loved nor wanted.
As a daughter of a Jewish family with upper-middle class standing, Kathy Acker was expected to behave in a demure and polite way. As a way of trying to free herself from the stifling atmosphere, Kathy Acker explored her interest in pirates. She desired to be a pirate, but according to the logic of childhood, she knew that only men could become pirates. It was through researching pirates that she found a way to escape from her restrictive environment. Questions of the limitations of her gender suffused this research, Kathy Acker began to see textual pleasure as being analogous to sensual pleasure.
In her youth, Kathy Acker was officially known as Karen Lehman. The name she is known by was arrived at in a simple manner. Kathy was her nickname, and Acker was the surname of the first man she married. However, this fluidity of names (a phenomena that is not unique among women) represents the type of disjunctive and boundary blurring features that Acker investigated throughout her writing. Although Kathy Acker married twice, her bisexuality was widely known.
At Brandeis University, Kathy Acker pursued an undergraduate education in classics. She would later move to San Diego, California, in order to continue her studies. She would graduate from the University of California with her bachelor’s degree in 1968. She studied with Jerome Rothenberg and David Antin. Later she would study Classical Greek at the City University of New York. She abandoned the program before receiving a degree.
Her first published writings emerged from the Underground New York Literary scene in the 1970s. These early writings were marked by her experiences as a stripper. But her other influences included David Antin, Gilles Deleuze, William S. Burroughs, the Black Mountain School (especially the poets Charles Olson and Jackson Mac Low), Fluxus, French critical philosophy and French feminism. The extreme nature of her writing and poetics placed outside of the very limited and intellectually myopic world of mainstream American literature. Her work was embraced by small presses. These presses sought to create new modes of thought and understanding. Some of the presses to embrace the work of Acker include RE/Search, Rapid Eye, and Angel Exhaust. Many of her books have been kept in circulation by her association with the grand-dame of cutting edge presses, Grove. Towards the end of her life, the mainstream co-opted her writing and intellectual ability which provided Acker financial opportunity. In one particularly fascinating convergence, The Guardian newspaper had Kathy Acker interview the Spice Girls.
Kathy Acker was interested in writing as a performative act. To accomplish her goals, she blurred the boundaries of creation and plagiarism. She mixed autobiography and pornography through cut-up techniques. These methods resulted in the exploration of the instability in the female development of identity. She also used parallel characters in her novels and attacked the language using unconventional syntax. Her In Memoriam to Identity explores the resonances between the life of the poet Arthur Rimbaud and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. She strains the construction of literary and social identity in this transgressive novel. Her work has been compared to that of Jean Genet and Alain Robbe-Grillet for her combination of biographical, sexual, violent and power motifs. Acker often constructed her experimental work in a manner similar to William S. Burroughs cut-up method. Aleatory processes were central to her work.
Her reputation is highly contested because of her manipulation of existing texts. Many see her manipulations as a skillful while others accuse her of straightforward plagiarism. Feminist scholars have also had trouble in addressing her work. Some view her use of violence as a way of exposing the sexual exploitation of women in Capitalism. Others argue that Kathy Acker is just operating in such a way as to support the inherent misogyny of Western culture.
In 1972, Kathy Acker’s first book, Politics was published. This collection of essays and poems was ignored by critics and the public. However, the punk rock community of New York embraced this work. It made her a fixture. In the following two years, she published her first novels The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula: Some Lives of Murderesses and I Dreamt I Was a Nymphomaniac: Imagining.
She was awarded the Pushcart Prize for her work of short fiction “New York City in 1979” in (coincidentally) 1979. After the seventies ended, she spent the early eighties in London, and it was here that she wrote some of her most critically significant works. In 1984, her novel Blood and Guts in High School was released in England.
Many consider Blood and Guts in High School to be the work in which Kathy Acker establishes herself as a significant writer. As in many of her works, Kathy Acker explores sex and violence in this work. The sex and violence in this work is considered by many to be the most extreme in Kathy Acker’s oeuvre. The story revolves around the nymphomaniac Janey Smith. This character is incestuously in love with her father and then sold into sexual slavery. In this work, Acker riffed of the great American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Germany banned Blood and Guts in High School for the extremity of its content. Kathy Acker would exhort some small revenge on the weak-stomached German judiciary by publishing the judgment in her book Hannibal Lecter, My Father.
When she returned to the United States, the San Francisco Art Institute employed Kathy Acker as an adjunct professor. After this, Kathy Acker found employment at many institutions of higher education including the University of California-San Diego, the University of California-Santa Barbara, the California Institute of Arts, the University of Idaho and Roanoke College.
In 1996 Kathy Acker flew to Berlin with fellow San Francisco author Alan Kaufman to appear in the Berlin Jewish Cultural Festival. Also appearing there with Acker and Kaufman were Allen Ginsberg and Jerome Rothenberg. Doctors diagnosed Kathy Acker with breast cancer in the spring of 1996. They performed a double mastectomy. The invasive procedures that Acker was subjected to shattered her belief in conventional medicine. She wrote “The Gift of Disease” for the The Guardian. In this work, she explains how the mutilation of her treatment caused her to reject the passivity that normal patients were expected to possess. Acker sought treatment and knowledge from alternative healers including herbalists, acupuncturists, psychics, and nutritionist. She argued for a disease paradigm in which the illness was a teacher and the ill were learners. Kathy Acker died within eighteen months of the beginning of her quest for alternate treatments. Her last days were spent in a cancer clinic in Tijuana, Mexico.
*Adapted from The European Graduate School biography of Kathy Acker.
COMMENT by JAN HERMAN
Transgressive Artist Otto Muehl Set Radical Template
Published in: ARTS JOURNAL, New York on June 5, 2013
Just in time for the Acker Awards, newly established to recognize noncomformity in the arts, obituaries for Otto Muehl have popped up in the news as if on cue. Muehl was a 1960s Vienna Actionist (along with Hermann Nitsch, Günter Brus, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler) whose “radical performance art,” as Margalit Fox put it in The New York Times, “sought to upend … the stultifying bourgeois conventions of the postwar years.”
Muehl’s death earlier this week and the award ceremonies being held Thursday in both New York and San Francisco are no more than a coincidence. But it’s obvious that with some exceptions such as Judith Malina’s, Boris Lurie’s, and Marina Abramovic’s, the artistic achievements of the Acker honorees aren’t nearly as transgressive as Muehl’s was. Not even close. “Something perverse about Austria brings out the best in certain artists,” says William Cody Maher, an American expatriate poet who lives in Germany. Indeed. As Fox writes: "Mr. Muehl splattered his nude subjects with paint in live performance and on film, but he also splattered them with soup, juice, milk, egg whites, blood, the internal organs of freshly slaughtered animals and, in a coup de grâce that appeared to follow the foodstuff to its inevitable conclusion, fecal matter. - It should also be noted that Mr. Muehl’s subjects, far from being idle, were, per his carefully worked-out choreography, generally having sex at the time. “The aesthetics of the dung heap are the moral means against conformism, materialism and stupidity,” Mr. Muehl declared in 1962."
The artist clears away taboos. What really shocks is being confronted with the facts. There is plenty to show. No one questions the State. The State doesn’t work. One cannot change it, not even through revolution. Private property is the end of ethics. Rousseau writes: “The first person to fence off a spot of earth and say, ‘That belongs to me, no one is permitted to trespass,’ should have been declared insane or beaten to death.” With this, the catastrophe of exploitation began.
Have a look at an interview Muehl gave in 2002 that puts his views in perspective.