Death as Life in Gowanus: Proteus Gowanus

All that's fit to imagine inside...

Finally got a chance to check out the Proteus space in the Gowanus geometrics of Brooklyn last night, which managed, with the lure of screening Eva S. Aridjis‘ “La Santa Muerte,” a documentary on the cult of Santa Muerte in Mexico, to draw me out of a threatening cabin fever slump brought on by a threatening “common cold.”

Proteus Gowanus is, as the website states, “an interdisciplinary gallery and reading room,” which translates for me as “the greatest place since Thalia Field‘s class on impossible assignments at Naropa University.” The space consists of a number of collectives and initiatives including, but not limited to:

  • The Writhing Society: a weekly writing group bent on OULIPOian experimentation
  • Morbid Anatomy: “Surveying the Interstices of Art and Medicine, Death and Culture”
  • Reanimation Library: a collection of “materials that are generally considered to be ‘outdated,’ ‘obsolete’ and lacking the privileged cultural status and/or market value that adhere to such artifacts as first editions or manuscripts.”
  • Observatory Room: “inspired by the 18th century notion of ‘rational amusement’ and is especially interested in topics residing at the interstices of art and science, history and curiosity, magic and nature.”

(Quite a few interstices, no?)

What these add up to is a gorgeous physical hermeneutic tickled with taxidermied mice, dusty old books on corpses, anatomy anatomy anatomy, experimental hybrid textuals, matches!, retrofuturism, and hints of occulted mysteries the world over.

Sooooo, obviously I’m going to end up becoming that weird dude who hangs around their art space like a hungry ghost over-excited to find people who know what “constrained writing” is. Will just have to keep my little erection hidden and out of sight.

"Do you have any copies of Jackson MacLow's 'Pronouns'?"

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