"We made a spiritual claim to the island in the name of the Pantisocratic Order of Thelema"


Hakim Bey, Esopus maps #2, 2010, mixed media.

From a 2010 conversation with Hakim Bey (aka Peter Lamborn Wilson) by Hans Ulrich Obrist at e-flux:

“l call it vanishing art, which means that the art comes into existence in the very moment that it disappears. For example, the first piece I did involved throwing gold rings into a river—like the ancient druids used to do. Each of these works is based on a place in the region where I live, and each one is based on a historical event or person that I find inspiring, either because they were mystical or revolutionary, or for some other reason. In each case I find a way to do an artwork that vanishes, either immediately or over the course of a few days. I have plenty of plans for other ways of doing this, but so far I’ve been throwing things into water and burying things. In the future I’ll be burning a lot of things as well. I want to get into pyrotechnics.

“And then in each case, I make a map similar to the one that you have, using collage, which is meant to be a sort of magical manipulation of the toposphere, of the map world, the image of the place. I use photographs and found objects and so forth to make these, and I also keep a box of documentation for each one, with photographs, drafts, essays, poems, souvenirs, and so forth. So even though the art disappears, the map and the box remain behind as a record of the work.

“[This one] originated as a nineteenth century Hudson River navigation chart. The important place there is Esopus Island, which is where Aleister Crowley camped out in 1918. I visited it with William Breeze, who is the official representative of Aleister Crowley’s occult and literary remains. He’s the literary executor, and he’s also the head of the Ordo Templi Orientis, which is the occult lodge that Crowley left behind. So Bill Breeze and I hired a sailboat for the day and went to that island and explored it. We had a nice time, came back, had a nice dinner, and that was pretty much the start of this whole series of works. I realized that I’ve been living up here and studying the local history for ten years, and I don’t know what to do with all this material about this place where I live. I didn’t want to turn it into some stupid guidebook for tourists. I didn’t want to turn it into a stupid academic book for an academic press. So for now I’m putting all this historical and topological knowledge into these works I make in a very private way, just for friends. Maybe sometime I will have an exhibition of the maps. But I would like to wait a year or so, until I’ve really got a good, solid collection before doing something like a gallery show. So next year, God willing, I’m going to do another seven or eight of these works, and that might be enough to start thinking about doing a show. But in the meantime I sort of like the idea that it’s private and secret, driven by word of mouth and magical influences rather than publication or publicity.”

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