When I think of Tumblr, and of Trisha Low, I think of sitting on the Caltrain on vacation with my family in the summer of 2015, scrolling through Tumblr on my phone and seeing the last essay in Low’s “On Being-Hated” series for SFMOMA’s Open Space magazine. I remember reading around it: first a block quote on my dashboard, posted by my then-boyfriend, then a series of posts on Low’s own Tumblr, and finally the essay itself: about the fraught racial politics of the avant-garde.
Editorial note: Readers can view larger versions of each of the images below by clicking them; they will open in another window.
When you think of Tumblr, it’s not just, like, your Tumblr dashboard, but it’s like a memory of a screenshot of your Tumblr dashboard that’s on your Tumblr dashboard. — Trisha Low, “Hunting Season”
In this commentary, I want to contrast two artists’ visual prosody. In previous commentaries I have paired an artist and a poet. In this case, both of the writers are artists and have practically never been called poets. Here I am interested in setting Adrian Piper and Hock-E-Aye-Vi Edgar Heap of Birds side by side, and as an heuristic, specifically, two pieces: Piper’s Concrete Infinity 6” Square (1968) and Heap of Birds’ Vacant (1995). My excuse for pairing these examples is not art- or literary-historical so much as it is guided by the motif of a “derelict void.”
One segment for this Jacket2 column will be titled “WHY__________?” in which I will ask certain people Why questions. Participant responses must be between 100-300 words. One of the first people I had a Why question for was Trisha Low. Because it’s a thread running through all her writing and performance work (she reads their diaries, their feminist blog comments, their love letters; she dresses like one in performance then throws up fake blood on herself) I asked her: Why Teenage Girls? Here’s her answer.
After Tiqqun’s Theory of a Young Girl, I think Poetry thinks of teenage girls the way some magazine editor looks at a contact sheet, selecting the spectacle and then pulling it up on the screen for the airbrusher going “INFLATE HER HAIR SO WE CAN SEE THAT FRAGILE VACUITY. I WANT TO SEE THOSE CAPITALISTIC PROCESSES NOT THAT CELLULITE. HAVE THIS SHIT ON MY DESK BY 2.”