Friday, October 10, 2008

A Town Like Parataxis

Back in 2000, Gabriel White and I collaborated on a book of poems and photographs called:

I guess the idea of the title was to elide Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice (1950) with Wim Wender's Paris Texas (1984), but the real subject matter of the book was Auckland: the "parataxis" of its monotonously repetitive vistas and locales.

It was subtitled "a colouring-in book" because, I suppose, it was up to the reader to bring some colour to it.

We had a big launch at Gabriel's flat in Westmere, and promptly sold out of all the copies we'd laboriously assembled out of crudely-copied xeroxed pages (Gabriel had a very art-brut aesthetic at the time, which meant no frills and no smoothing out of the results of the raw democracy of the photocopy machine).

I too was keen on the idea of a kind of samizdat A4-sized poetry chapbook. Readers seemed to grasp the point of it at once ("Some of them have even said they liked the poems," as Gabriel remarked to me a couple of weeks later).

The main problem is that the book has been pretty much unavailable ever since. I'm not sure we could quite reproduce the spirit in which we made that first collaborative text, so I've decided to compromise by putting the whole text up here online, with all of the images included. You'll have to click on them if you want to see them at anything resembling their proper size, though.

And here we both are in 2000, photographed by one of those odd photo-booths (beloved of adolescent schoolgirls) which add hearts and flowers and comic characters to your strips of passport photos. Don't we look sweet?





  4. Swallows and Amazons

  5. Cheating Heart

  6. A Town Like Parataxis

  7. At the Warhol Look Exhibition

  8. Stories We Tell Ourselves: At the Richard Killeen Retrospective



© Text: Jack Ross (2000) / Images: Gabriel White (2000)

Oh, and if you're curious to see more in the same vein, I've also posted the entire text of a proposed book version of The Britney Suite which Gabriel and I put together a couple of years later, in 2003, but which never actually ended up seeing the light of day until now.


Richard said...

I am glad you put this up although I have a copy - I must admit it was for me at the time your most puzzling work so I am interested to see your comments here.

BTW is that image of the Sleepy Head factory - a photo of the one on Richmond Road in Ponsonby? I think it was owned by UBD. If so it takes me back as I worked there once (about 1971 or so).

Richard said...

I had another look through it - I missed a lot before - it's very good. The image and text etc Thumbs up on it Jack (and Gabriel - I enjoyed some of his rather drole videos BTW)!

Dr Jack Ross said...

Yes, it's the Richmond Rd Sleepyhead factory -- it recurs on the launch handout with the caption "What would you pay for this view?"

Richard said...

hmm...I worked there in about 1971...most of the workers were Pacific Islanders - they would always challenge me to a fight at one stage BTW (just about wherever I worked when I was a young man) - they like "fusa" (basically 'fighting' in Samoan) a lot so I usually opted for discretion as the better part...

I had a "winding tool" to pull these steel clips into a "twist" to hold the steel of springs of the mattresses together - it was tedious work -
in those days I had a Pentax SLR with 80mm and 55mm lenses and took a lot of pictures of Auckland etc - Ponsonby then was very working class - I even considered buying a house there in 1974 or so for NZ$10,000...

"Sleepy Head" also perhaps has another level of irony - in its name...but it is certainly a pretty uninspiring place - I was ill one day and was thus basically sacked but I was always getting sacked in those days...some work I did was excruciatingly tedious or just awful.

So your Parataxis reflects some "truths" old and new...we are indeed 'paratacted' - alienated etc