40 Poems, 40 pages

  Printed & bound by Friends Make Books, Turin, 2016
40 pages, edition: 60 

Monash University Prato Centre Visual Residency Program: a collaborative initiative between the Monash Prato Centre and the Monash Faculty of Art, Design and Archi- tecture.

Documentation by Andrej Kocis


Another frame from a Pasolini film, this one from the credits in Mamma Roma in which a fly briefly appears in the bottom right corner


Nancy Kitchel: Covering My Face: My Grandmother's Gestures. 1973. From series of 22 photos, 1 page of text. "Traces the origin of a particular gestural characteristic to a strong connection with my Grandmother in a critical period of identity formation. The photographs document the pushing and exaggerating of my gestures until they become identical to my Grandmother's, my hands become hers, my thoughts are hers, my whole personality becomes merged with hers."

From a column by Lucy Lippard, 1974


When you have an idea and say it, then you have to wear it like a coat and see what sort of effect it has on things. All day I was thinking about this notion of 'forgetting yourself' and how complex and problem filled this idea really is. In a world where certain voices are universalised while others are subjugated, how is it possible to forget who you are?

... but to forget oneself it is first of all necessary to be firmly assured that now and for the future one has found oneself

-Simone de Beauvoir


There are so many rectangles in the world, it's the preferred shape for window frames and TV screens. I forgot that my mum gave me one of my Nonno's scarfs when she visited, I just saw it when I opened the closet. I thought to myself; another rectangle. Having time and space to think is a great thing, though to think you need to do something. Like arranging objects on your desk, washing dishes, digging in the soil or planting seeds, pruning olive trees, putting tiles on the roof (terracotta flats and half cylinders), sweeping and so on. I've been looking at this kid's drawing that I found and trying to work out why children's drawings are always good. I think it's because you get a sense that they enjoyed doing it at the time, that it was play. As an adult it's not easy to bring this level of joy to your work because you're supposed to be thinking about your career, yourself, almost anything else. I don't know how I can reconcile the impotence of art with the political challenges that we face (colonialism, white nationalism, you name it). And yet I press on with this art business because I feel like it's a way to have hope or persevere (even though it might be impotent, ineffectual, worthless, stupid). I know artists who work in very political ways, who are able to probe systems and incite self awareness. But maybe there is this other function for art, I'm not a religious person but maybe it can operate in an area we might call the spiritual? For many people in many cultures, it already does.

I enjoyed two paintings that I saw in Pistoia last week. Compianto di Cristo  by Lippo did Benivienti was this great scene (painted on a pentagon shaped canvas, not a rectangle). In the painting seven people are attending to Jesus' dead body, four of them are touching their faces to the wounds, one is helping with the shroud and two are looking on mournfully, their faces on their hands. In the painting, the face is this primary instrument of touch. I'm looking at it right now on a brochure that is propped on my desk along its multiple folds. The other painting was the real gem of the collection: Madonna della Pergola by Bernadino Detti. I should mention that it was framed within a conjoined rectangle and semi-circle shape.

I heard that there was an earthquake in New Zealand last night, I hope everything is alright and glad to hear that there aren't many casualties. Italy is similar to New Zealand in that it's a small place that sits along a major fault line. All lines are connected as they are the interstices between plates. I'm still feeling imaginary earthquakes here, I can't trust that earth is ever static anymore.

On a final note (and something that I do badly or very artificially is a conclusion), when I took my shoes off yesterday there were two perfect rectangles of sweat on my socks

Three scenes obscured by cigarette smoke (breath)


"Neither of us mentioned the volcano"

I'm writing to take a break from the work I’m doing on my project here. It's also the day of the outcome of the US election, which is surreal, or at least that's how my friend put it at 9am this morning (surreal being a product of the real). I am not the target of white supremacy and virulent sexism, two things that are now emboldened by the election result. Nor do I live in a country on the receiving end of US aggression. I fear for and send positive thoughts to those who are black, latinx, queer, transgendered, the incarcerated, educators, undocumented migrants, health workers amongst many others who will feel the immediate terror of this result. I hope that this can be a turning point for political and social organising both in the US and in my home country, with a view to setting a new agenda and a new mode of being.



The day had deteriorated, it was winter again, and the piazza was abandoned for the siesta. One pre-war Fiat, as lonely, as historic as the single car on an antiquated postcard, had been parked in the middle of the square. And I, perhaps, walking away from the church door, would have something now of the same anonymous arrested look – captured, as the saying goes, in the picture; serving to show, merely, by human contrast, the dimensions of the buildings, to date the photograph unwittingly with my clothes and hair; somebody purloined from a crowd to act as an example. The light itself had dwindled to the joyless sepia of an old photograph.

Shirley Hazzard from The Bay of Noon


There are moments when I'm overwhelmed or exhausted by the excess, the accumulated plunder (the concentration of power & wealth) and the representations of bodies sexualised, romanticised, demonised, reified and mutilated


There's been some strong earthquakes in central Italy, about 200km south of here. We've been getting very small aftershocks or tremors, nothing to worry about. At dinner tonight I thought we were getting another tremor especially as I saw the wine sloshing around in its bottle. As it turns out I was just shaking the table, my body emulating an earthquake from the inside out.


Waiting for the warmth to fade from freshly printed sheets


By far the most common old car that you see around these parts of Tuscany is the Italian manufactured Fiat Panda. I don’t give a fuck about cars, I don’t even have a driver’s license, but the Panda has captured my attention for a few reasons. I was curious as to why they have remained in use while the efficiency standards implemented in Europe has led to the disappearance of so many others.

The Panda was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro to be utilitarian, both small enough to fit in the narrow streets of the old city and spacious enough to transport larger objects. The seats fold down in multiple ways while the roof is quite high and the body is very boxy.

It’s also spacious enough for two adults to lie down next to each other.

I did some research and it seems they were made with generic parts, so the components are easy and cheap to replace. It was produced in 1980 and from 1986 to 2003 it was produced with ‘very minor changes’.  I have encountered quite a few variations of the Panda design and at the risk of this post turning into a car ad I’ll list them here:

Panda Jolly
Panda 1000 fire
Panda Café
Panda Hobby
Panda Young
Panda Van
Panda 4WD
Panda Trekking

It was considered a budget car, 'designed for the poor and especially those who llived in rural area. It was cheap to buy and to maintain.' Perhaps this is why the Panda has endured while others have not. And who knows, maybe people feel fondly for them too.


After looking at 100 paintings of bottles, or bottles with flowers etc. I went to the bathroom and dried my hands on a grey paper towel. Immediately my perception of the colour of the paper towel had shifted. At first I thought they must have put grey paper towels in the bathroom because they speak so eloquently and knowingly to the paintings. But after I left the museum I kept finding other bathrooms with the same grey paper towels. So yes, it was my eyes. And Giorgio Morandi.

Objects I've used to kill mosquitoes

Including this booklet that got stuck up on the aircon as I was throwing it


At Palazzo Vai

– photos of objects taken through the studio keyhole

At drinks the other night 2 candles extinguished themselves. Cucchi said that light was the most important dimension in painting and by light he meant a candle.

In the medieval castle there are these windows that are basically slits (light squeezes through). They are defensive windows. I've visited so many churches lately and found some that have very little electric lighting. In those dim churches you could really get a sense for how the windows work. They are not bright spaces. Actually the paintings in many churches I've visited were barely visible under ambient light. How much detail do you really need to see? I've always found the scrutiny of photography to be really intense, even though it can be useful. Yesterday I saw one of Morandi's paintings and felt relieved that there were no tedious details.

Agnes Martin:

I brought a piece of oily parchment back to the studio a few weeks ago. It was a disposable placemat, the type that is used in so many restaurants around here. When I got back to the studio the following day the paper had disappeared. I assume that a caretaker or cleaner threw it out. It doesn't bother me in the slightest, even though I wanted to include it in my work. I guess this is an inclusion of sorts!  I'm not used to working in spaces that have cleaners (although this is a normal institutional thing right?). It's not invisible work.

This article

I've seen so much over the past month. When I was in the Vatican I would glance at a sculpture and it would feel as if the figure were holding a mobile phone instead of sword or whatever else.

It's really vital and important to feel passionately about something, like a moment or person or anything. This is how I think about representation. But these moments are not permanent, as soon as they appear they've almost gone. Extinguished.



I've been writing on an old word processor, a tiny thing with an ancient lcd screen (don't ask why but I just needed to write on something that didn't hurt my eyes). It cost about 10 euros and must have been used in a school or something because there are lots of interesting text files still on it. This was my fave:


Went hiking today with Daniela and Elijah. thyme, bay leaves, figs & a walnut


Mum has been staying with me for the past 10 days and it's been a fairly condensed schedule of activities. It's been very satisfying though, Maria is such a generous person, always attentive and sensitive to her surroundings. I cried when she got on the plane to leave.

On Sunday we made a trip to her home town, San Severo, in Puglia. We took a train across to the south. The landscape looked different to Tuscany. The train line ran parallel to the Adriatic sea, so close sometimes that it appeared like we were moving across the surface of it. In San Severo we visited the house where mum was born on Via dei Mille. The house looked like it had been recently renovated and the front door didn't look like she remembered it. We walked around the corner and found another house that she felt reminded her more accurately of her own.

We visited the primary school that my uncles attended and the cemetery where my great grandparents were buried. The graves were over 50 years old, so a caretaker at the cemetery had to dig into the handwritten records to find their location.

We walked past a large crucifix and turned right towards the area of graves that had been moved and condensed into a kind of miniature apartment block for bones. These were built to house the older graves when they ran out of space. We both posed for photos infront of the stones as a record for ourselves and to send back to the family. I guess I feel weird about posting photos of a gravestone here, not sure why. Yesterday I saw a tourist taking a photo of the skeleton buried under the Prato Cathederal and even though the skeleton was fucking ancient it still seemed perverse. A few weeks ago I found some texts by the artist Enzo Cucchi:

“The cemetery is part of my landscape; it’s one of the things that I know best. I have always lived in small no-man’s lands where the cemetery was the most important thing. You very often find skulls here in the countryside. It’s an image, not a subject. It’s a very strong moral and spiritual bond with what surrounds me. In the village it’s something like the heart which beats and which symbolically unites the community. My cemetery is alive. Everything is linked up to it...”

I've seen quite a few of Cucchi's works with skulls and this text has really helped to locate them in a geographical and temporal way, literally littered across central Italy (blurring the symbolic & phenomenological aspect of representation).

Walking around San Severo with my mum I was wondering alot about my extended family. Mum said that she loved hearing her dialect spoken on the street, she remembered the image of the Madonna, which was so specific to the town. I suppose that I was looking for a feeling or sign that I was somehow linked to this place, but instead it brought into sharp relief how I remote that link is.