Art Blog: Andi Boyd and Graciela García

Andi Boyd is an educator and writer living in Waco, Texas. She holds an MFA from Texas State University and a BA in English from Northwestern State University. She has taught literature and writing to students from kindergarten through university. Her poetry and fiction has been published in anthologies and journals such as Nasty Women Poets, If You Can Hear This: Poems of Protest, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast Magazine, Narrative Magazine, ANMLY, Fiction Southeast, Juked, etc. and was named for a top 50 flash fiction piece by Wigleaf

Graciela García is a graphic designer, artist, and writer from Madrid. She studied Fine Arts and holds a Ph.D. from the Complutense University of Madrid. Passionate about psychology, her research on the creative processes in outsider artists are collected in her book Art Brut. La pulsión creativa al desnudo. Her blog El hombre jazmín is an international benchmark in the field of Art Brut. She is currently working in the graphic design studio Se ha ido ya mamá, of which she is a founding partner, combining this activity with research, criticism, and creative curatorial work.

Release Party for Alberto Ríos


A Good Map of All Things 
with Alberto Ríos

Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 6 pm Phoenix MST on Zoom

In the mid-twentieth century, in a stretch of high desert near the U.S.-Mexico border, people are living their lives for the long haul, without lotteries or easy answers or particular luck. Theirs is the everyday, with its small but meaningful joy. Celebrate our Director Alberto Ríos latest novel, A Good Map of All Things on Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. Arizona time on Zoom. Open to the public and free. Individuals who purchase a copy of the book through the Piper Center’s website will receive access to a special meet-and-greet following the event. Learn more and register today here

Contributor Update, Rebecca Durham

Join Superstition Review in congratulating past contributor Rebecca Durham on the release of her debut poetry collection Half-Life of Empathy. Rebecca is a poet, botanist, and artist. She has earned an M.S. in botany, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Poetry), and is currently working towards a Doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies. For the last nine years, she has been researching vascular plants and lichens at the MPG Ranch, a conservation research property. Half-Life of Empathy jumps off of Rebecca’s knowledge of ecology and centers around human relationships with nature in an ever-increasingly industrialized society. In an interesting twist on nature poetry, Rebecca moves away from a human-centered view of nature and describes nature as it exists and an Earth that has regained control of itself. Half-Life of Empathy is currently available for purchase through Small Press Distribution and on Amazon.

“What a beautiful use of the words of water and geology and all things living. Durham writes a new ecological poetry, resonant, rich, and also very aware of what it means to be writing when this never-ending industrial revolution is putting all at risk.” – Juliana Spahr

Find out more about Rebecca at her website and be sure to check out her work featured in Issue 17.

Art Blog: Sève Favre

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This interview about Sève Favre’s recent collection was conducted via email by Art Editor Anna Campbell.

Sève Favre is a visual artist originally from the French part of Switzerland. Sève was introduced to arts from a young age but decided to follow an academic study first: Art History at University. She supplemented her literature degree with secondary school teaching. She continued her education by taking several seminars and workshops in the visual arts, notably at the Ceruleum School of Art in Lausanne. In 2005, she created her first modular artwork and during several years she maintained both careers simultaneously, teaching and private commission for artworks. Today she completely devotes herself to her art practice and promotion. She has been exhibited in Switzerland and abroad. This year, Sève was nominated by Arte Laguna Prize in the installation and sculpture section. Passionate about the concept of integration, she concentrates on transcending the classical boundary between the artwork and the viewer. The main feature of her art is interactivity. The keywords that support her concept are interaction (be together), variation (be different), and activity (be active). Her name for this experience is intervariactivity. Sève can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @sevefavre. She can be reached via email at info@sevefavre.com.

Superstition Review: You frequently talk about your “intervariactive” art as a synthesis of being together, being different, and being active. What attracted you to the idea initially, and how do you continue to explore it through your work?

Sève Favre:

Yes, being together is interaction, being different is variation, being active is activity. At the beginning, I really wanted to break this classic boundary between the artwork and the spectator, especially through the work on canvas. I found it interesting to integrate the spectator in the process of creating the work, which is a continuous process that starts in my studio but then continues elsewhere thanks to the possible appropriation by the public, a process of co-creation, by revealing the different possibilities of the work. Then, I extended this principle to the interactive double digital of certain works, as you can test it here.

These different possibilities, both real and virtual, multiply the possibilities of participation and interaction. For example, from the digital realisations I can create a gif containing the different proposals made by the participants: a collective work, like this one :

All this can then be shared on social media….

SR: The human component of your work is quite striking. Can you explain your process for creating these pieces?

SF: Indeed in my artwork, the human can be the subject of a work, but is above all the vector of metamorphosis of the artwork (real or digital). In our world where the development of artificial intelligence is dazzling, I find it interesting to highlight our fragility with/on human characteristics,  Moreover, by allowing the spectators to intervene directly on my works, I would like to point out specifically human attitudes, such as trust, risk-taking, respect… etc… The spectators are not mistaken because the first question that comes up most often is if I am not afraid of the consequences of their action on my paintings. I don’t believe that this emotion is one day likely to be a characteristic of robots. This is really what I find interesting and important to make the viewer feel: his humanity.

SR: What does your physical workspace or studio look like?

SF: My artworks require different stages; my studio is organized according to them. First of all, I have a relatively large storage space for materials because I mainly work with mixed techniques so I use different types of materials. Secondly, there is an easel workspace which is very practical especially when I work with pastel chalks; I can tilt my easel to manage the dust from the chalks. On a workbench, I can concentrate on measuring, cutting and origami work. And finally, as far as assembly is concerned (gluing the different parts made), I have to do it on the floor so that the canvas is horizontal and stable. And I like to have a cup of tea near me when I work while listening to the radio or music during my time in the studio.

SR: What is one thing you must have with you as you work?

SF: My necessary tool for absolutely every artwork is my favourite pair of scissors.

SR: How has the global pandemic affected your process?

SF: The pandemic had more of an impact on my exhibition schedule. However, it has allowed me to develop the digital part of my work more, notably thanks to my participation in CADAF online (Contemporary and Digital Art Fair). I also remotely managed the setting up of an in situ installation for an exhibition, as I couldn’t travel to London to do it myself. That was a challenge I wouldn’t have considered in the past.

SR: How is your work touched by social justice?

SF: Behind my work there are fundamental concepts of value and participation. The notion of value in my work is linked to the different possible variations. Are they of equal quality? Only the owner or the public can determine this: is it preferable to keep the artist’s proposal, as this visual will have more value than theirs? Would they like to invite a celebrity to interact with the work and then, religiously preserve the evidence… or do they feel that the choice of a relative will be much more valuable? All these questions are much more intimate and personal in scope than the purely economic value, but they are all equally necessary because they challenge the relationship with objects in a world that continually produces them in disproportionate quantities.

SR: What are your upcoming projects?

SF: First of all, I am working on my new website. Secondly, I am preparing a new installation normally for a Festival, but we have a lot of uncertainty about how it will be held in relation to the pandemic. Next year, I will exhibit my installation “Être au pied du mur” at the Arsenal in Venice as part of the Arte Laguna Prize finalists’ exhibition. As this year is special, I am trying to focus on my digital presence; I think it’s important to also highlight the digital part of my artworks, especially with a project of cultural participation in Switzerland.

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You can find Sève on Instagram here and on Twitter here.

Iron City Magazine Issue 5 Launch

Join Superstition Review in celebrating the launch of Issue 5 for fellow Arizona-based literary magazine Iron City Magazine. The launch for their fifth issue will take place virtually on November 7th from 6 to 8pm. Iron City Magazine was founded in 2016 and features the art and writing of prison inmates from across the country. The goal of the magazine is to demonstrate that prison inmates are people (artists, poets, authors) first, and prisoners second. The magazine gives a platform to those whose voices are often see as unworthy of being listened to and shines a light on the good these people can still do for their community. The launch of the magazine will include literary readings of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, an art slideshow, and a live Q&A.

To RSVP, click here. To pre-order Issue 5, visit the Iron City Magazine website. To support Iron City Magazine, shop their merchandise available on Redbubble.

BIPOC Creator: Antoinette Cauley

This week’s BIPOC creator feature is local Phoenix-based artist Antoinette Cauley. Antoinette is a Phoenix native and studied art at Mesa Community College. She apprenticed with oil painter Chris Saper and is now known for her hip hop and urban-influenced work. Antoinette is an educator and an activist, teaching inner city youth how to paint. Her work focuses on her own internal struggles, as well as modern social issues and rap culture. Antoinette was named best local artist by AZ Foothills Magazine in 2017 and 2018 and was featured in Phoenix Magazine’s “Great 48:48 Influential People in the State of Arizona.” Her most recent project was a portrait of the late poet and novelist James Baldwin, which was transformed by Jason Harvey into a mural on the side of his Ten-O-One office building in the heart of the Roosevelt Arts District in downtown Phoenix. The installation of this mural was in response to the Black Lives Matter movement that took place earlier this year.

Antoinette’s work is colorful and striking. It plays with the public imagination of the black community in a way that exposes the fears that often come with inner city youth. Her paintings  display images of young Black girls in powerful positions with dynamic juxtapositions that challenge the viewers perception on gender roles, childhood trauma and the influence of pop culture on our youth.  It is a brilliant way for a black rights activist such as Antoinette, who works with inner city youth on a regular basis, to shine a light on societal misconceptions that encompass the lives of black youth.

Be sure to take a look at Antoinette’s Instagram, Twitter, and website. If you are interested in finding out more about Antoinette’s personal life and the motives behind her work, check out this interview conducted earlier this year by the Phoenix Art Museum.

Upcoming Queer Poetry Salon Event

Join Equality Arizona in celebrating queer artists this Saturday, October 17th, in a Queer Poetry Salon event held virtually. Queer Virtual Salon is local organization that acknowledges the voices and poetry of queer individuals. There will be an open mic where six people will have a chance to share their work. From then, the event will focus on the publication of a new full-length poetry collection by féi Hernandez published by Sun Dress Publications. féi Hernandez is an immigrant trans non-binary artist whose work has been featured in several literary magazines. They are an Advisory Board member of Gender Justice Los Angeles. The event will also feature guest speaker Nicole Goodwin, a New York-based poet and performance artist. Click the link here to register for the event.

For more information please contact Julian Delacruz at: jdelac17@asu.edu

Contributor Update, Luiza Flynn-Goodlett

Join us in congratulating past Superstition Review contributor Luiza Flynn-Goodlett on the release of her upcoming book, Look Alive by Southeast Missouri Press and winner of the 2019 Cowles Poetry Prize. Luiza is an an award-winning author whose poems have been featured in several journals, including Triquarterly and North American Review. She has released six chapbooks, but Look Alive will be her first full-length book. It is set to be available in March of 2021 and tells of the development of the femme queer self. Look Alive is a collection of poems that assesses queerness by placing the narrator at the brunt end of societal and personal violence. The book will take its readers through a journey of queer self-discovery that involves taking to the gentle and accepting queerness of nature. It is available for preorder through Southeast Missouri Press, Amazon and Barnes&Noble.

“[Look Alive]takes you to the prairie, to the creek, to the kitchen counter, to bed—muddies you, then scrubs you clean. With a speaker who keeps your secrets and shouts your glories, Look Alive reveals the enduring territory of embodied queer womanhood—efflorescent and as susceptible to pleasure as it is to harm. Flynn-Goodlett quilts together rural origins and distance traveled, along with rich image and hardwearing language, into an impressive debut with the weight of an heirloom. If you let it, Look Alive can be the guardian inoculation that pierces you with a little taste of the big grief and the big joy so you can survive them when they come.” – Alicia Mountain

Be sure to take a look at Luiza’s website here, her Twitter here, and her work in Issue 17 here.

The Review of “History of Violence” by Edouard Louis, a Guest Post by Palash Mahmud

History of Violence Binds Us to Live a Life We Don’t Want to Live

L’existence précède l’essence

                          -Jean-Paul Sartre

When Eddy Bellegueule at the advent of his teenage was carrying the unbearable lightness of Anglo-Saxon name representing constructed masculinity intoxicatingly to present himself to the expectations of the social system and to act as per the principles of social exclusion and to  remain silent–  

a crisis of gender representation,

I standing at the exit door of my teens had encountered an event among the gathering of orthodox Muslim relatives first ever to be acquainted with in my own sister’s marriage ceremony and when I had introduced myself, obviously, as Palash Mahmud, a name combined by Arabic-Bengali words, within a second showing a distaste and shock on their faces, they asked why I am bearing the Bengali word despite of being a Muslim; I could not open my mouth further but to remain silent

a dilemma of lingo-religious representation. ‍

As Eddy said to Alessandro “Every reality is secretly built upon the rejection of something else,” he excluded the imposed qualities of masculine archetypes for Eddy Bellegeule and transcended to the exposed desires of human qualities for Edouard Louis, on the other edge, I am still carrying the bearable weightiness of intersectionality and enduring the pressure of excluding my linguistic identity to hold up my religious spirit, I could not say anything or write anything but only asking over and over again inside my mind that what’s the sense of not taking a Bengali name along with Arabic name although I don’t speak in Arabic but in Bengali.

Edouard and I have been going through the same societal pressure living in the opposite pole of the world, tolerating the same mass of humiliation and suffering by the different and distinct reasons that proves the objectivity of the human conditions, and adopting two opposite defense mechanisms – rejecting the name Eddy and being a voice of Edouard, oppositely, for me keeping the name Palash and being silent that also denotes the universality of human resilience.

The French debut novel, a global sensation of Edouard Louis, The End of Eddy (En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule in French, 2014) sets in Hellencourt in segregated far-right dominated and melancholic grazing land in Northern France which deals with name, sexuality and identity that are formulated by the norms of class-systemized cultures, social and political decisions that bring shame, humiliations, abuses and sufferings to the individuals. It links up Eddy’s gender representation and sexual preference with his family’s honor and dignity, political bourgeois and supremacy with Eddy’s ruthless poverty which make the analogous tones and themes with Scottish-American novelist Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain which is shortlisted for the 2020 Booker prize and the National Book Awards for fiction; and with Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake which won Palm d’Or in 2016. It shows us the basic structures on which persons and politics intersect and react with each other.

In his second novel, History of Violence (Historie la violence in French, 2016) which has been shortlisted for the 2020 International DUBLIN Literary Award extends the structure into more deeper level where readers can know how person’s identity is reconstructed over and over again by the political malice; and in process politics effectuates violence as a workable instrument evidently.

To show a model of violence in the universal characters, Edouard use bodily assault, the incident of rape from his own life which is very unique in the literary landscape illustrating his psychological journey of pain and grief, rage and revolt so subtly. The truth is no violence or injustice is not singular in nature – it is like multi-folded spider’s web- as soon as you are victimized by any kind of violence- like touching any thread of the web – you are immediately included in the other associate and collateral violences, injustices, humiliations, dominations and sufferings. But the thing is to find out the formula of remodeling the web to degrade the degree of violence and to upgrade the line of human freedom and spirit.

The story has been unlocked after “a whole year since it happened” on the Christmas Eve in 2012 at dawn in Edouard’s apartment when his sister, Clara, is throwing up the swallowed stories of the rape violence to her husband. “Hidden on the other side of the door” Edouard is adding the edited memories and practicing “anxious nagging feeling” and failing to describe the event truthfully because of lacking appropriate vocabulary.

Humans are far behind to picture their conditions in deficiency of exact lexical resources for the feelings and emotions which are kept under the veil of avoidance and rejection.

Being distorted by the rave feeling of reading way back to home, he encounters an Algerian man, Reda, whose “features were soft yet rugged masculine” and with a feeling of romantic and carnal desires for being close together as a man and a woman. They spend a very intimate time, crossing the boundaries of prohibitions and exclusions. During the departure time, Edouard witnesses his valuable appliances and gadgets are stolen and against his charges and protest, Reda exhales his air of violence, rapes him at the death threat. Though the whole narrative is sourced from Edouard own life, he can also replace his physical tribulation and post-traumatic upshots with William Faulkner’s Temple Drake’s rape and its ramification in Sanctuary (1931).

Palash Mahmud

Consequently, Edouard as in Hanya Yanagihara’s Jude in A Little Life (2015) starts to pass through the chronic struggle, internally and externally, to resolve mental trauma; to clean his body, belongings and even his memories. After being raped with physical bruises and spasms he goes to the hospital for medical checkup for “post-exposure prophylaxis against HIV” and speaks “the torrent of words”  to make believable the violence to everyone  he faces not knowing either is nurse or switchboard operator. He even takes a tactic “remained stuck in metallic moments,” he speaks:

I had cried too much already, I had no tears left to offer. If you don’t cry he won’t believe you, I thought to myself, you need to cry. But my eyes seemed now to belong to a stranger. I made a huge effort. I tried to force the tears to come, concentrating on images of Reda, his face, his gun, so that the tears would flow, but there was nothing to be done, the tears wouldn’t come, my efforts were all to no avail, no tears welled up at the corners of my eyes, my eyes stayed resolutely dry, … I turned to other scenes from my life for help. I brought back to mind other painful memories, the saddest and most painful I had, in order to produce some tears. I thought back to hearing the news of Dimitri’s death.

The reader will also be possessed by every word and even every punctuation mark will occupy you. The most  absorbing scenes start to appear when he begins to clean the mirror where Reda  has observed and even absurdly strives to dissolve Reda’s reflections and shadows inhibited on it, meanwhile, “possessed by an almost maniac energy”  he yields that it’s not any object but his own body and existence to be washed out:

I was the problem. I got in the shower; I washed myself once, twice, three times, and so on. I lathered my body with soap, shampoo, conditioner to perfume it as best I could, it was as if his smell were encrusted inside me,

We know the rape thing happens in everywhere around the world but how many we know their feelings, emotions and everything they endure and adapt except pathological reports, legal and judicial hearings and the most popularly journalistic testimonies. As soon as I come to know the first hand narratives of Edouard’s history of violence disclosing shame, humiliations and the chain of sufferings, I slide down into the whirl of befuddlement  and fail to decide of which feeling of him I would exclude or skip over from my list of quotations. 

There are controversies and mixed reactions to narrative forms like History of Violence where you cannot draw a clear demarcation between fiction and fact, reality and imagination. Many says without aesthetic imagination you cannot define the ideology of literature, but, surprisingly, Edouard Louis believes when finding truth is the only purpose or making change in human despondency and on the map of violence is the only utility of literature then ornamental literature is an obstruction, and l’art pour l’art is a bygone dream.

 Like social or political exclusion, Edouard revolts against the literary exclusion by which writers and poets escape our lived realities to make it more appalling and tantalizing. He uses his own life in the first-person narrative view as a literary material like Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knasusgaard uses in My Struggle series (2009-2011) and Seasonal Quartet series (2015-2016); Annie Ernaux in The Years (2017) uses third-person narrative angle with her memories, impressions, archival documents and visuals. Svetlana Alexievich uses “the real testimonies that make a unique literary form. Writing lived realities is very much risky and dangerous that can make furies and cries into the hearts of people involved.

The next door neighbors, old school-friends, accidental acquaintances or the closest persons will confront the author incriminating for defamation of their images and disclosure of silence.

Edouard Louis has acknowledged in public his indebtedness for the sociological and political analysis of Pierre Bourdie and Didier Eribon; he had published, in collaboration with philosopher Geoffroy de Langasnerie, the article “Manifsto for an Intellectual and Political counteroffensive”  on the first page of Le Monde imposing the vitality of the redefinition of ethical principle and praxis in politics:

Si l’on veut redéfinir et transformer la scène intellectuelle et politique, il est urgent d’adopter quelques principes éthiques la pensée et l’action.

The mythology of the working class exposes when people get down to status of muteness and the difference from the mainstream then people only survive and not have a chance to live a flourished life that brings the spiral of violence to society. As Toni Morrison brought the voice in Black literature in America; as Teju Cole commented in the essay “Unmournable Bodies “(2015)  “that unmournability, just as much as the massacre in Paris, is the clear and present danger to our collective liberté.”; or as Edouard tries to break the silence of “the compulsive racism” in France:  

At the police station I’d given a brief description of Reda, when they asked, and immediately the officer on duty cut me off: “Oh you mean he was an Arab.” He was triumphant, delighted would be an exaggeration, but he did smile

Lorin Stein, the erstwhile editor-in-chief of The Paris Review (2010-2017), is the translator of History of Violence (2018) and subsequent completion of Who Killed My Father (2019), who has been patrolling the fictional world for years restlessly to find the narrative that always speaks the truth and can “settle a troubled conscience”. Like Edouard Louis he also keeps faith in Ken Loach’s maxim, “art should be anything, it should be what imagination produces”.  A translator is a surrogate author who goes through the same creative labor and impeccable pressure to make a bridge between two minds, languages and cultures.  As Edouard’s real life appears almost fictional and fictions emerges nearly real, Lorin’s quality of translation draws a blur line between linguistic differences and creates a vivid impression down to the original in the French version. It’s a perfect example of oxymoron (blur-vivid) in transfiction.

The tone of the narrative pushes us to feel stranger than Camus’ L’Ėtranger (1942) because it depicts our minuet life that we are habituated with that always has been excluded from the ink and letters. The submission of the story is more on pluralism, truth and optimism than Houellebecq’s Soumission (2015). Memory and imagination make the archeology of knowledge and story that governs and binds us to live a life we don’t want to live.

Once you cross over the title you cannot look away, in some parts you will wish to transplant yourself with the characters only to know how it feels to live a life you have never seen at its core or have been ignoring or keeping in the dark shadows.