BURNS by Susan Gevirtz
145 x 210mm, 164 pages, Black & white printing, Perfect bound, Softcover, 2022
Burns is a tour of documents of the unperceived, an archive of investigations of investigation staged in lyric prose, poetry and a play. Each offers a tray of excluded data; each examines research itself and its conditions. Through skewed ethnographic method strung on overhearing, taxonomy robbery, on being both the participant and the observer --outlines of present conditions emerge, their impossibilities and imagined escape routes.
Anomalistics reign here as Charles Fort’s bright marvel: the discovery that seemingly unrelated bits of information are, in fact, related. Each piece falls into an infinite regress of questions: how do we know or imagine that we know? Inside the confines of whose known do we live? Here the confines are economies of finance, family, gender, the political, the carceral. What is possible to give to one another? What can be experienced as giving or receiving, in these containers? What can a girl expect; how can she navigate within the beautiful brutal masques and requirements of the passage from girl to womanhood? What is possible to say, read, speak, imagine, from inside prison?
Each confine recalls a different song and its demands: a Pindarian ode, the repeat crash of waves, a melody a grandmother uses to hum, a children’s rhyme danced as circle game, movie soundtracks a musician Grandfather conducted, the note a bee strikes to make a manzanita bloom. Echoing and dismantling these, each spin divergent myths that all lead to the marvelous road the “assembly of the Hyperboreans” -- the realm of the unexplained and unexplainable north or to any mythic coordinate of escape its bright compass lands on.