The Brooklyn Rail: AND ONE MORE THING – David Hammons, Melvin Way, Walter Sipser, Andrew Castrucci

Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle | The Brooklyn Rail | Jul 17, 2017 | Article Link | No Comments

Bullet Space | March 20 – May 9, 2010

Rhabdomancy is divination using sticks or rods. While in Tarot, picture cards are spread and read, here fixed hieroglyphs adorn a temple’s walls, where rods are cast upon its central table. These point out the painted ciphers, which foretell our future. In Gematria, a cabalistic craft, numbers swap letters to coo the names of wrath. Looking like some mongrel mix of Lettrisme recalling Raymond Lull, more formal than abnormal, Walter Sipser’s pen and soft lead opaque icons pose convincingly as prints but are instead hand drawn. Before apprenticing himself to encryption, did he plan to lay siege to the city of Richmond?

Melvin Way, “a mystic visionary genius” (Jerry Saltz), elsewhere has been tagged paranoid schizophrenic. If most likely both, it’s apt to add that Joe Psycho yelling fractions on the uptown A, extracting from this weekend’s track cancellations signboard just what Mordor’s seven soul brides whispered once into his sleeping ear, may well be undergoing astral fusion, but he’s in acute pain. Bullet Space co-founder Andrew Castrucci “discovered” Way in a NYC men’s shelter, crowding all conceivable conspiracy theories onto the head of a pin. As such, Way’s work sure looks schizo to me. Entitled “Pluton,” or “Copote,” compelling, cramped, crazed, chemical notations characterized by eyestrain revolve compulsively like Saturn’s rings shrink-wrapped in Scotch tape. Remember Art Brut’s Adolf Wölfli? A deaf mute signing to himself, these shock-chords echo from an unknown X too far to be invented.

Spontaneity must exist because it is more beautiful. In 2000, David Hammons (incorruptible!) hung aloft a fax machine* below the arched glass roof of the Crystal Palace in Madrid. Acting as a strange attractor, this post-date repurposed hardware spit faxes by artists at Hammons’ invitation, sent on schedule from across the world. “Chaos” in chaos theory means that the deterministic status of dynamic systems still can’t make them predictable. Just as the black hole is a curve in space so dire it devours matter, Levi-Strauss’ totems kept strictly symbolic efficacy, calling us because they weren’t ever there. The event is documented in a video at Bullet Space; original faxes litter the floor. Butch Morris composed sound on site in Spain. Void of course, his music mimics weather.

“Art is not a divertissement, it is part—an essential part of the resistance” (From the Bullet Space Manifesto). “The bullet or the ballot” (Malcolm X). Artist/activist Andrew Castrucci co-launched Bullet Space in 1985, a squat named for a brand of heroin ruling East 3rd St. at that time. Testimonials to his staying power, dappled hens lay fresh eggs today, patrolling its backyard. If Sipser is dime-tight, Castrucci’s scrawls are Manson clan helter-skelter. Illuminated manuscripts qua his appointment and “To do” books, shaky sephiroth, divinely incomprehensible incunabula. CIA; Abstract Expressionism; Banks. The ABCs of “etc.” You connect the dots. Mad drive inherent in his life and work expounds a paradox posited by Georges Bataille. Inspired insatiability: the absence of need is more unfortunate than an absence of satisfaction.

* Reports on the number of Hammons’ machines appropriately vary.