Whiteout

Introduction, written Nov 2016

Whiteout

An Erasure Project by LC

“Version 1: Manifesto”

I am starting this project in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as the next president of the united states. This was an event that did not sit well with me, for a variety of reasons. He’s the embodiment of pretty much every -ism that plagues american society. He doesn’t understand public policy. He makes weird faces when he talks that I absolutely despise. The list goes on. I’ve been thinking a lot about art, about the role of art, about public feeling and sentiment, you know, I went to a protest the day after he was elected and it felt like there was really something powerful just even in walking. I was lucky, the police were quiet and there was shouting and shouting and climbing on scaffolding and the employees at box stores pressed up to the windows and cap drivers honked. It felt like a healing moment, even though the wounds have just been ripped open I’ve been thinking a lot about theatre, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the very fact that we exist in the same space as someone else, that we see the same thing as them – that this makes a bond, that we call to the people who have witnessed with us something live and vivid and something that pulses and these shared visions are a bridge of closeness or a burning, searing distance.

Erasures. The medium isn’t an accident, although it is only by happenstance that I am good at writing, if you could call it that, if the feedback of my peers is accurate, if writing even really can be molded that way, certainly this document doesn’t fit into good writing, but it feels right to me now. If I could draw or paint or compose a symphony maybe I’d do that instead. Maybe I would program beautiful equations, but I can’t.

The thing about erasures is that they are as much about what’s there as what isn’t. It’s a literal cover up, a literal blocking – you are willfully ignoring huge swaths of characters, you are blotting out whatever you want but at the same time you reveal. What is the truth, is it the blocked or the seen? Does it matter? What is the interplay of the whole and the part? Anyone can do an erasure – although, surely, not anyone can do a good erasure, I tell myself as a writer, just as not everyone can make a collage into high art, if high art could be known as a real and identifiable entity, but this is also important, that everyone can take the same text and blot out and an individual truth comes through. In truth, you would not even really need to be literate or have sight to do an erasure, if you feel and you create and in the act you blot and reveal, i will accept that as much as anything. There’s a lot to be said about the fabric of the individual, the seen, the unseen, the covering and the revealing, metaphor. metaphor.

I don’t want, really, to read Trump’s words and I don’t want to stare at them every time he gives a speech, but it’s all a matter of how the poison is ingested, all rhetoric will filter down, all the salient points will affect us whether or not we read them. It’s not as though I will catch anything from rubbing the newsprint off into my hands but it does feel delicate, like grappling in contact with the hate, and the fear, and the loathing and I don’t want to do that but it’s important.

This isn’t really an explanation so much as it is me, on my couch nestled into a pair of sweatpants, trying to allow myself to mourn the life that could have been. For myself, and for all of us. I will be offering8 whole or partial erasures of Trump’s words, absolutely now but maybe for his whole presidency, who knows how far I will get. But as I find my own ways to piece these things together, I encourage you to do the same, in whatever way that may be, but if anyone can do an erasure than you can, and so if you would also like to grapple, as i do, with the words, with the phrases, with erasing and revealing and uncovering your own truth, i invite you to submit your own erasures of any public speaking from our president.

Here i have no peace but only a hope that i might unravel myself enough that the threads will be able to weave into something newer and better than i am

Yours,

truly yours,

lc


posts, in chronological order with the most recent at the top:

*denotes submissions

7/6 remarks to the people of poland

making our military strong again*

5/4 healthcare announcement

4/23/2017 interview with the AP

4/07/2017 North America’s Building Trades Unions National Legislative Conference remarks*

2/28/2017 address to congress

1/27/2017 executive order*

1/27/2017 press conference

1/11/2017 press conference, page 12

1/17/2017 CIA speech*

inauguration speech


submission guidelines:

to submit, please email lauren.l.christiansen@gmail.com

please include:

  • a name and 1 line bio (may be linked to website or handle)
  • optional: 1 line explaining the direction of your piece
  • optional: title
  • your erasure as a series of photo/image attachments where each page is an image
  • a link to the source for the original speech / information on the speech or statement (when/where given, etc.)

anyone is welcome to submit. since every erasure is different, you are welcome to submit an erasure on a speech that has already been added to this project.

although i don’t fancy myself a curator, i will gently moderate submissions to ensure that they fit within the scope of the project (read: that no neo-nazis are livin it up on my website)

unfortunately i can’t offer any sort of payment or anything of the like. i am doing this for free and unfortunately don’t have the disposable income to support payments. if i magically get it, payments will be a thing.


i will maintain your work on my blog for as long as the blog is running. you are more than welcome to publish or submit your erasures elsewhere, but i will not take pieces down for the sake of republishing by another entity. if you have personal (i.e. not related to the republishing of the work) considerations that require a piece to be removed, of course, contact me.