Issue 3 // 2015-16
// feature editor David A. Willis

Table of Contents

  1. Call For Projects

    Cover by Layet Johnson
  2. Two Landscapes

    Joelle Provost
  3. Information Video

    Lucy Cottrell
  4. “Of Pictures” at Sophie’s Tree

    Diana Seo Hyung Lee
  5. ThreeFold at Los Sures

    Amelia Rina
  6. Numbers and Lines

    Anne Sherwood Pundyk
  7. The Deluge

    Rachel Ton That
  8. The City Above

    Sam Swasey
  9. Boundless

    Adele Jancovici
  10. Triptych

    Xinyi Cheng // curated by Yuan Fuca
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Call For Projects

by Cover by Layet Johnson


For our third issue, the editors of The Forgetory call upon writers, artists, poets, musicians, and producers to respond to the topic of anxiety.

Who among us cannot relate to the feeling of anxiety, that omnipresent fear of failure and rejection that accompanies almost every social action to some greater or lesser degree? As the digital performance of self becomes ever more fluid and manipulable, our real world interactions become proportionally fraught with anxiety. This dynamic is epitomized by the otaku, the obsessive who rarely leaves his or her room, fleeing the awkwardness of reality by taking refuge in fantasy.

Perhaps we are all becoming a little bit like the otaku, as we increasingly eschew interpersonal interactions for more digital alternatives, such as texting friends instead of calling, ordering food and goods online, or opting for internet dating and clicktivism devoid of the unpredictability of in-person action. It would appear that anxiety is especially connected to the realm of the real, the body, and public activity, since we can never fully customize our IRL image the way we can online, and anyone or anything can impinge on our experience bubble when we are out in public. And so, when sitting in a bar waiting for a friend, one might cocoon oneself in the comforting glow of a smart phone. Or, picture the flash of fear and confusion on a busy stranger’s face when you stop them on the street to ask them a question. Anxiety today is a symptom of the unruliness of reality, which continually threatens to disrupt our carefully constructed façade of self-representation and our imagined narrative of lived experience.

While it can be suffocating for some, anxiety can also serve as a catalyst for greatness, as we impatiently strive for whatever concept of perfection we hold dear. Like a tormenting muse, she whips us onward, daring us to be worthy of our own ideals and to transform our fantasies into reality. Therefore, we propose an alchemical exploration of anxiety: in what ways can it be transmuted or channeled in the name of art? What are the various manifestations of this societal malaise and how can they be subverted or resisted? And simply, what does it mean to be anxious in this day and age?

Please submit proposals to

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Two Landscapes

by Joelle Provost



Appropriation of an Airbrushed Joke







Joelle Provost (1987) is a sculptor and painter living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has addressed themes of environmental degradation and the stages of grief that humans are forced to endure due to the loss of various species and plant forms around us. The subjects within Joelle’s paintings are inflicted by the everything-is-connected-syndrome in the age of climate change. Her recent landscape series is an homage to mountains that once had snow on them, or a glimpse into the future of what our natural terrain may look like after severe shifts in weather. Joelle received her BFA from the University of California at Davis in 2010, and subsequently received her Master of Fine Arts in painting at Brooklyn College in 2015. In the winter of 2015, she was featured in the National Wet Paint MFA Biennial. Currently, Joelle operates as a painter on both the East and West Coast.

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Information Video

by Lucy Cottrell


Lucy Cottrell is a comedian, writer, actor, and multimedia artist. Her work has been featured in venues across the country including Solocom (2015), Funny Women Festival (2015), Andy Kaufman Awards (2014), Northside Festival (2014), Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year 1 (The Beauty of Friends Coming Together), as well as in online venues like Jezebel and Reductress.

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“Of Pictures” at Sophie’s Tree

by Diana Seo Hyung Lee


Installation View, Jewyo Rhii's "Of Pictures," Courtesy of Sophie's Tree, 2015

Installation View, Jewyo Rhii’s “Of Pictures,” Courtesy of Sophie’s Tree, 2015


During the fall season at Sophie’s Tree, a young, nearly secret space for art exhibitions in midtown Manhattan, Sophie Hyewon Hong, the owner of this unassuming gallery, held an exhibition of her former teacher Jewyo Rhii. As the venue is actually Hong’s apartment, she describes the artworks that she temporarily lives with as “guests.” Because of this language of sharing, the impression one has prior to and immediately after walking into Sophie’s Tree is one of warmth—a sensation least likely to be associated with gallery hopping.

While Hong’s space is unpretentious and even modest, Jewyo Rhii is not an artist one would put together with these adjectives. Though the artist is known to make work involving her own fragility, Rhii is undeniably undergoing an upswing in her career. Recently having closed two solo exhibitions, “Commonly Newcomer” at the Queens Museum and “Dear My Love, Anti-Capitalist” at Galerie Ursula Walbrol in Dusseldorf, Rhii has garnered the attention of curators and critics who have recognized a uniqueness in her voice. It is this voice perhaps that afforded her the ability to live in a state of self-described “disorientation,” the courage to live without a permanent address, moving between cities in Asia, the United States, and Europe. While the words Rhii uses to define herself and her work, as well as her nuanced aesthetic, her use of found materials and subdued palette, and her identity as an Asian female could be interpreted as passivity bordering on submission, what one must recognize and not overlook is the choice that underlies Rhii’s nomadism. This choice, while the outcome may appear to be in disarray, is also her source of strength. One cannot exist without the other. It is this voluntary choice to live in “disorientation”—her repeated attempts to find footing, and the failure to do so—that creates a delicate, yet deliberate, underlying balance and tension in her work.

This exhibition is comprised of 16 paintings and 2 sculptures, all completed in 2015. Though Hong states that these works represent Rhii’s first exploration in painting, they do not appear amateur. However, it is apparent that the works are not by a painter who is concerned with formal issues, such as color or the materiality of paint. On the other hand, it is not the work of an artist who is self-conscious of her newcomer status in the territory of a different medium, who then attempts to translate her previous works into another realm. For example, there are four paintings primarily containing text: Dear My Love Anti-Capitalist (there are two paintings of this same title), 1000 Kisses, and Dear My Love Anti-Capitalist. In the first two paintings, Rhii literally writes out the title within the frame of the canvas, which is painted white in a non-pristine, cloudy way. The text itself appears to be painted freehand, as the handwriting is not uniform and is instead shaky and childish. Reinforcing the freehand quality is the underline beneath the letters that seems to be the outcome of a futile attempt to write in a straight line, as in the writing exercises of children or someone learning a new language. As the text is written in what looks like grey or polluted white paint, the overall effect is not one of clear legibility. Hung on white walls, the thin canvases do not protrude very far into the space, and the paintings seem to blend into the architecture, like remnants of graffiti left from a former tenant. Though unconfirmed, it is highly likely that Rhii must have been aware of this architectural effect her paintings have, as even in her installations she is known for creating an atmosphere that looks uncontrived, like one is walking into the set at the end of a performance, seeing what is left behind after the main event has already taken place.


Installation View, Jewyo Rhii's "Of Pictures," Courtesy of Sophie's Tree, 2015

Installation View, Jewyo Rhii’s “Of Pictures,” Courtesy of Sophie’s Tree, 2015


“Dear My Love Anti-Capitalist,” a smaller painting propped up on an easel on Hong’s kitchen counter, is a clearly legible letter written to a lover she refers to as “my love anti-capitalist.” Even the letter appears left behind, awkward in its public visibility. The decision to display the painting on an easel gives the piece its unfinished look, therefore reading the words feels like crossing a boundary akin to leafing through a page in someone else’s journal or reading typed words on the screen of someone else’s computer. The letter reveals that Rhii and this anti-capitalist have not seen each other for quite some time, yet she still wishes to reunite by the Han River in Seoul. She tells her lover about her new attempt to paint and that neither of them “need much stuff in our lives.” When telling him that she has been painting, there is a sense of guilt, as if by painting she is doing something out of character, or even, something he may disapprove of. One may assume this is caused by a notion that painting is perhaps the most capitalist discipline in art, at least in terms of the history of patronage. But, despite her fear of her lover’s judgment, Rhii manages to be herself still, even in this new medium.

“Apartment and Han River” is a triptych that occupies a central position in the exhibition. If all other paintings are like clues or footprints, they all seem to point toward and culminate in this work. This painting is the most self-contained and self-sufficient work compared to the others. For one, the triptych mode best reflects Rhii’s previous working method in time-based media, such as video, installation, and performance. The triptych structure allows Rhii to treat the surfaces as scenes or chapters. In addition, the larger scale of this work gives off a greater sense of Rhii moving within the canvases, as in her installation work, where Rhii moves around on a sprawling floor. Clued in through the smaller paintings, especially “Dear My Love Anti-Capitalist,” we know that the Han River is an important place for the two lovers. After all, Rhii wanted to reunite with him there. In the central canvas, Rhii painted faint outlines of a male and female figure in an intimate position; the man lifting up the woman as a lover would before an embrace. The other two panels show traces of surrounding scenery in a disjointed manner, not in a neat illustration, but as if the artist had found herself in a state of trance or memory loss. Some details are repeated while some appear just once without much detail at all.

Finally, the two sculptures, “Love Letter (Typewriter)” and “Lecture Machine,” are apparatuses that accentuate Rhii as one who cannot (and perhaps will not) speak plainly or clearly, and needs assisted means to build a bridge in order to communicate with others. She expresses her inner worlds through these wonky, awkward devices that require active participation from the viewer. In the “Lecture Machine,” Rhii created a turning wheel from which clear plastic sheets with drawings on them were hung just off the wheel’s surface so that they cast shadows on it, like an archaic projection tool. Though the drawings can be seen directly on the plastic sheets, their shadows seem to tell a different story, encouraging the curious viewer to keep turning. As the wheel turns making creaking noises and as one expends the energy to maneuver this large device, it feels like a conversation with Rhii is taking place. She is speaking through the noises and the shadows.

Unlike the sprawling installations that Rhii is better known for, the exhibition at Sophie’s Tree felt like a treasure trove, as if Hong was opening up the world of Rhii in a very caring and safe environment. The smallness of the space required works to be arranged quite close to each other and, while Hong took great care in curating the show, it still had the look of a residence, or a tidy storage space. The works seemed to be in rehearsal, temporarily resting, though en route to a different place. The narrative of the work was about Rhii’s lover, and because of the setting—Hong’s home—the most intimate and secret stories found a way to be told.



Installation View, Jewyo Rhii's "Of Pictures," Courtesy of Sophie's Tree, 2015

Installation View, Jewyo Rhii’s “Of Pictures,” Courtesy of Sophie’s Tree, 2015

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ThreeFold at Los Sures

by Amelia Rina


Werner Heisenberg gets pulled over for speeding. 

The officer asks Heisenberg, “Do you know how fast you were going?”

Heisenberg replies, “No, but we know exactly where we are.”

The officer looks at him confused and says, “You were going 108 mph.”

Heisenberg throws his arms up and cries, “Great! Now we’re lost!”

The presumption of finitude—and by extension truth—is perhaps one of the most unfortunate necessities of human life. It is difficult to imagine a world where all people experience nature in its fundamental state: an ever-shifting series of uncertainties and probabilities. Instead, we experience only the outcome of the infinite probabilities that precede each realized event.

In 1927, German physicist Werner Heisenberg presented his Uncertainty Principle. It explains that, in quantum experiments, any attempt to measure the position or momentum of a particle will produce inaccurate results because the act of observation affects the quantum particle being observed. Consider the requirements for observing something: particles of light—photons—must bounce off something and enter your eye, conveying information about the object they hit. When this happens, the photon may alter the position and/or momentum of the particle being observed. The act of measuring a characteristic like position or momentum changes that characteristic so that we can only know its position or momentum after the disruption of observation.[1] The principle demonstrates the fundamental limitations on predictions one can make of a system. In other words, the act of observing something changes its physical characteristics resulting in an intrinsic uncertainty about the physical universe. The difficulty accepting this phenomenon may stem from the appearance of certainty in nature. Even if I understand that I exist enveloped in probability, what I perceive seems more or less definite: this chair I am sitting in is solid and unlikely to change states anytime soon. Furthermore, in our highly structured society it is impractical to surrender to uncertainty. Imagine trying to catch a bus, but only being able to know its location within a five-block radius.

Despite this primacy of definition, we can challenge our automated experiences of the world through experiences that challenge our metaphorical and physical understanding of reality. ThreeFold, the installation by Australian-born Natasha Johns-Messenger and curated by Melissa Bianca Amore[2], has disrupted both the gallery’s architecture and my perception of it. The structural incongruities of the space induce a state of uncertainty and, as a result, heightened awareness.



Natasha Johns-Messenger, Threefold, 2015 (installation view); MDF, LED light, Plexiglas, mirror, acrylic paint, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.


Despite the ostensibly rudimentary materials Johns-Messenger has employed for ThreeFold—mirrors, MDF boards, Plexiglas, and LED lights—the small floor plan is successfully transformed into a highly crafted and controlled maze that appears to be exponentially larger than it truly is. She has achieved this effect through the careful placement of floor-to-ceiling mirrors and white walls. For example, from one position, while looking straight ahead at the mirror facing me, instead of meeting my own reflection I saw the gallery’s front door that stood behind me to the left. When I did encounter my reflection, it was the only element not infinitely reproduced by the mirrors’ echoing of each other. The artist has arranged the mirrors and walls in such a way that visitors’ bodies block their own reflections, contrasting the endless repetition of the surrounding walls. As a result, I became acutely aware of my body’s singularity in the space; I was the only “one” in a labyrinth of infinities.

The relationship between site and perception permeates Johns-Messenger’s practice; she regularly uses mirrors to create impossible spaces that both contract and expand the existing architecture. In ThreeFold, she has covered the main door to the gallery with a semi-opaque material, omitting one square viewing hole at about eye level. To the right of the front door and the main entrance to the exhibit’s narrow hallways stands a Plexiglas wall with an identical square hole. Both windows directly reference the construction site across the street from the gallery, whose walls feature small square openings that we curiously peer through to catch a glimpse of what is to become of the site. Contrary to the construction site windows, which provide a view into the possible future, the framed voids used by Johns-Messenger reflect a miraculous present. The mirrors allow for an altered and uncanny view of reality by bending light around corners and repeating reflections; they show exactly what my eyes perceive at that precise moment, yet my mind perceives the vision as something entirely separate from my physical experience. I observe a series of hallways transform into an ever-expanding chamber, while my body remains singular.



Natasha Johns-Messenger, Threefold, 2015 (installation view); MDF, LED light, Plexiglas, mirror, acrylic paint, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.


To be so keenly aware of my body’s individuality in space generated contradicting sensations: I felt a holistic comfort, isolation, and, later, the anxiety of being watched by an immaterial observer. In addition to a surveillance camera—which, during the opening reception, recorded visitors exploring the exhibition and fed the live stream to a monitor in a theater/video store down the street —the mirrored floor plan allows visitors to watch and be watched by other people outside any natural sightline. For most people, the perpetual “plugged-in” state of internet users has normalized the understanding that distant strangers watch (or are able to watch) our every move. The digital age reduces individual lives to images on screens and governmental dossiers. Despite our familiarity with two-dimensional interactions, there is something unsettling about speaking with a person through a mirrored reflection, especially when several walls separate the people involved. Perhaps the unease stems from the dehumanization enacted by screens: behind the images and streams of people communicating lay strings of zeros and ones that we understand as projected, digitized representations of others. Conversely, in ThreeFold we see a two-dimensional reflection of other people and spaces and know that the physical/material is present but removed. Instead of binary data translated into a recognizable image, mirrors carry the same light particles from one person to the next. We become physically connected, without the certainty of a face-to-face interaction; we perceive a disconnection between the effects of our observation and our presence in space.

Why should this present-but-disembodied phenomenon create a sense of anxiety? It often occurs when something disrupts the indexical relationship between cause and effect. For example the illusion of a thrown voice: we see a mouth moving and expect it to make a sound, but the sound seems to come from somewhere else. The result can be humor or extreme discomfort, depending on how each person processes the absurd. The origin of the word absurd stems from Late Latin absurditatem meaning “dissonance, incongruity.”[3] Out of dissonant or incongruous phenomena can arise novel information that allows us to break free from the limitations of definition and expectations. The impracticality of embracing uncertainty should not discourage us from trying to make a change. We can, as Baudrillard wrote, “dream of a culture where everyone bursts into laughter when someone says: this is true, this is real,”[4] and promote the gradual dismantling of illusions of certainty in the name of discovering novel information.



Natasha Johns-Messenger, Threefold, 2015 (installation view); MDF, LED light, Plexiglas, mirror, acrylic paint, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.


[1] Hilgevoord, Jan and Uffink, Jos, “The Uncertainty Principle”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), <>.

[2] The gallery, El Museo de Los Sures, at 120 South First Street in Brooklyn is owned by Southside United HDFC. This project is the sixth collaboration between the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) and Los Sures.

[3] The Etymology Dictionary Online, “Absurdity, accessed October 31, 2015,

[4] Jean Baudriallard, “Radical Thought,” Translated by Francois Debrix, ed. Sens & Tonka (Collection Morsure, Paris, 1994).


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Numbers and Lines

by Anne Sherwood Pundyk


Last July, I flew to Paris for a week to be with my son, Evan, who was studying in London for the summer. He had given me a small black book for my birthday, which I decided to use as a travel journal. Armed with colored pencils and pens, I employed numbers and lines to combat my anxiety about negotiating the challenges of travel: security, customs, long flights, currency exchange and access, ground transportation, reading and speaking a different language, and limited phone and wi­fi access. All of those digital and analog connections were tracks and channels for transcontinental communing with my son, family, friends, foes, history and culture.

0 Espresso 1 outside cover 2 Inside cover 3 title page 4 page 1 5 page 2 6 page 3 7 page 4 8 page 5 1 9 page 6 10 page 7 11 page 8 12 page 9 13 page 10

Anne Sherwood Pundyk is a new genre painter and writer based in New York City and Mattituck on the North Fork of Long Island. Her current body of abstract work is called, “The Revolution Will Be Painted.” She is represented by Christopher Stout Gallery in New York, where she had a solo show in April 2016. Her work was also recently included in the “Spring/Break Art Show” in Manhattan and at Adah Rose Gallery, Kensington, MD. (

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The Deluge

by Rachel Ton That


The headaches are getting worse, a dull pain behind the eyes, a pressure at the temples. I rub my fingers over them but the ache remains, and with it a faint blur of vision.

Staring at the plain oak table before me, I examine its grain, gold and brown brindled and running two ways. The wood remains singular and blessedly still until my eyes water and I look away to the whitewashed wall. To my eyes the wall appears dappled, clean white with patches of rot and ruin, and a few rare gaps where there is no wall, where it has collapsed into rubble. When I look back at the table it appears in its usual riot of growth and decay. Branches sprout buds, termites fester in blighted wood, and my head pounds.

I could lie down, take more poppy, but instead I sit in the garden and wait. Every evening my neighbor comes to call, pushing open the wicker gate between our homes. In the stillness I hear his footsteps on the grass. Far-sight, he shouts to me, his private jest. He is a wheelwright, and I, a diviner.

We sit and share a small flask and look out at the mountains. They rise, immense, blue-green on the horizon, surrounding the valley. Some days they are clear silhouettes, on others, shrouded by mist.

How goes the world? I ask, as always.

The world turns on the spin of a coin, he says tonight. Sometimes he says, the winds rush over the still of a cartwheel, or seas rise on the breath of the earth, and so on.

There are evenings when we talk about the valley, this year’s crops or the caravans that come through and what they might bring. But most evenings we keep silence together, side by side, looking out over the mountains. Nature’s changes are less varied than the changes of man or his inventions. The grass flickers yellow to green, the trees appear wreathed in leaves or without, the sky reveals itself to me in a thousand shades of blue and red, but in this I find peace. By the time he leaves the sun has set, but the pounding of my head persists.

The fisher-girl is a wise woman on the side. In the pungent dim of her house I stoop a little, head bowed under the low roof as she stirs her potions. A half spear of rosemary, a twist of rosehip, a star of marigold. She crushes them beneath the pestle and makes a paste to apply at the temples and throat. She gives me an infusion of valerian to drink before bed.

I take it with thanks and, as payment, I inspect her foundation, shifted in part by the heavy summer rain, and in part by the malleable clay of the soil. It will hold for another year but no longer. She says she will leave before the stones slip, and I go out into the night back home, anoint myself in her brews, and down the valerian, but in bed I toss and turn. My head feels heavy and feverish to the touch.

My only relief is flesh.

I leave my hot pallet and go out into the night, to the row of houses where a woman can be bought. There is only one door I knock on, and she opens it eagerly as if we had set a time and she has been waiting for me.

She is not the most beautiful, but her future is the brightest. When I run my hands over her skin I can feel her future happiness just beneath the surface. I bite her lips and taste the wine she will drink at her wedding. I kiss her palms and feel the flour she will knead in her kitchen. Once, resting my head on her hip, I saw her son, small at first, growing strong and beautiful before my eyes. But I do not tell her. She expects nothing from the world; her pleasure will be much greater for the surprise.


When I was a child I thought my sight no different than others, though the world was blooming around me, ever shifting between time. I would watch days ebb, fade, and renew in a single moment; sunlight blushed rose through the window and then dimmed. Objects were created before my eyes, wore down, faded to dust. At times it felt as if I were in the center of a maelstrom, inside the eye, dazed and bewildered from the constant flood of images, scents, tastes and sensations that encompassed me. The present that I inhabited was sometimes blurred, lost in an inundation of other times.

Whenever I became overwhelmed I used to take my hands and press them together, or trace the outline of my palms, feeling my own skin beneath my fingertips. I had discovered that my physical self was my only tether, the only thing fixing me to the present. These days I clench my fists or bite the inside of my mouth, sometimes hard enough to draw blood. Pain or pleasure brings me back myself, helps ground me in the substantial, but there are nights when I wonder if one day the world around me will dissolve to chaos, if the tether will break and my mind will follow.

Diviners are not uncommon, but there are fewer now than there used to be. I have only met one other, the man who found me. Like the goatherd or the manservant, my role is a modest one. I do not create things or provide food, but tend to that which is already present, as a kind of caretaker. The world is changing and I have seen my part in it diminish. Some would rather live without my telling of past and future, would rather put their trust in that which can be measured and quantified. For now, the villagers consult me, but keep their distance.


I have been requested in the fields this morning, so I take a round of brown bread from the cupboard and eat as I walk the long road south to the last farm, tearing it to pieces with my fingers, and scattering the crumbs in the dust for the birds. The air is clear and cool, the breeze so slight it barely ruffles the leaves. My headache is almost gone. When I reach the gate I enter it, for I know him well, and walk to his door and knock.

His wife opens the door.

Come in, she says kindly.

She takes me into the kitchen, its floor laid with new pine. I try not to look down at my feet mired in leaves, but I can feel the uneven branches bend beneath my weight. She puts a cup of hot tea in my hands before putting me on the path to the fields.

He is kneeling in the dirt, probing the roots of the wheat. When he sees me he stands and brushes the soil from his clothes; he clasps my hand with his.

It is well that you could come, he says, laughing, I need better eyes than mine.

The fields are awash with emerald, gilt, and brown, the stalks high, then shorn. I look over them, observing the crops from the last few years before selecting a single plant. The wheat is young, a slender shoot capped with the first tuft of grain. It reveals itself to me from and I focus my sight so deeply that I find myself inside it, feeling its quick green life and hunger for growth. The soil is rich and mixed with clay, the water plentiful. The seedling grows into a golden stalk, reaching for the sun. Even as dusk falls it looks to the moon, breathing in the night air. I pause at this future, savoring the cool of the evening.

Something draws near in the darkness. I cannot see it yet, but it lingers on the edge of my senses, its presence filling me with unease. As I strain my eyes through the gloomy fields, an unnatural glow appears and grows brighter. It flickers closer, bringing with it a terrible heat. Flames emerge from the undergrowth, feasting on the field. They feed their way to my stalk of wheat, licking at its leaves, and there is only pain, unbearable pain. The wheat is consumed, yet my skin burns, pain lances up my own limbs.

I start from my reverie with a cry and touch my arms, my face. My skin is red and hot, my fingers feel as if they have been seared.

What did you see? he asks, frightened. He pulls me to sit down and wets a cloth with his flask, handing me the damp rag. I press it to my face and wait until my skin has cooled.

Fire, I say. Tell the others. The fields will burn.

He questions me for some time, but I cannot tell him when, only soon. He looks at me with worry and fear, but pays me in salt before I leave.

The vision continues though I grip my hands so tightly that my nails gouge my palms. I walk back slowly through blackened fields, my feet carrying me home through a thick layer of ash. It is only after midday, but I mix poppy with honey and swallow it before taking to bed.


I dream of fire, as I have every night since the fields. I wake up sweat-soaked, burning up. I beg more potions from the fisher-girl, but after I spend my last measure of salt on a vial of poppy, I am forced to return to town for another seeing.

I have always kept my eyes on the ground, but now I do so fervently, avoiding the fields, sweeping only cursory glances over my surroundings. As I have ever since I was young, I wish to come and go with my eyes closed. Even if I cannot shut out the scent and feel of other times, at least the multiplicity of images would still.

Today I search the flocks for disease. The tradesmen and shepherds let their sheep mingle while I walk through, searching for impending maladies. I have watched the flocks shrink in winter and swell in spring. The flock is docile today, grazing calmly on the tender wildflowers. Errant lambs wander in ever widening circles from their mothers.

Among the scents of meadow grass and sorrel comes more acrid smell. Too late do I sense the vision coming over me, and in an instant the world around me turns dark, day to night, grass to flames. The air fills with smoke. The flock is mad with panic, they cry out in hoarse ovine voices as the fire encircles them, their screams echo in my ears. The young succumb first. Fire crawls up their limbs, alighting on their woolen coats, burning voraciously through muscle and sinew, down to the bone. The others soon succumb, some running madly through the blazing fields, their bodies half eaten by fire, their skeletons exposed and spectral. The smell of burning flesh fills the night.

I wrench myself from this nightmare, beating my own clothes to put out the flames, though there are none, cradling my blistered hands. The other men around only look at me in askance, exchanging glances.

Fire, I shout, A great fire is coming.

I hold up my hands as proof.

There is a silence, deafening, and then a murmur of laughter.

What fire is this, diviner? Asks one of the shepherds. When shall it come, and from where?

I do not know, I say. The bones of my hands throb. I have seen it before, three days past, in the fields and every night since. Your crops will be blackened by fire and grayed by ash. Your sheep will be consumed. I have not seen our fates yet, but I fear to.

There is a whisper of voices, a rush of fear, but a younger man steps forward, the son of a tradesman.

Why should we believe him? What signs of fire have come from the mountains? And what fire could be great enough to devour us all?

There is a pause, the people whisper together, looking at me from the corners of their eyes.

The speaker of the market steps forward.

“Diviner, we take your council, but we will wait on it. Let scouts check the brush on the mountains. Until then we will remain calm.”

Slowly the men pay me what they owe, some grudgingly. I cannot conceal the trembling of my hands, but I take the salt and food and put it into my pack. I walk home, an older man.

Potions offer no relief, but I put a balm on my hands. After dark I walk, head bowed, to her house.

Inside, I pull her dress until it falls from one shoulder, and then the other. Hungrily, I reach for her, for the flesh that gives under the touch of my hand, the skin that melts under my tongue. She wraps her arms around me and I bury myself in her skin.


For the last three days I have pleaded sick, and the town goes on without me, no firebreaks have been dug, no scouts have been sent. I lie in bed, staring at the flat, whitewashed surface of the wall. It is charred and black. Visions of fire consume me: flames sear the walls, rubble is reduced to embers.

The face in the mirror is sick and gaunt. My cheeks burn with fever, my eyes are glassy. I have no more poppy or potions, so I pull on a faded shirt and make my way to town.

She opens the door as always, but her eyes are worried. I take her in my arms and kiss her as though it is our last kiss, as if this is the last night. She presses herself to me, the softness of her giving against me. I try to lose myself in her skin, but all I can smell is fire, the smoke burning through my nostrils, leaving the scent of charred flesh and singed hair. I touch her skin but black flakes cling to my hands, her hair crumbles to ash. I hold onto her face like a drowning man, forcing my eyes to see her—eyes closed, lips parted, drawing in quick, shallow breaths. I rest my forehead against her cheek, put my lips to her brow, but her bones rise up against the skin and her skull is in my hands, black against the night.

I tear myself away from her corpse and run out into the darkness, the smell of ash and death clinging to me. At home I sit at the table, head in hands, until at last I drift off to sleep, my cheek against the wood.

I wake in late afternoon. The headache has faded, my skin is cool. I drink some water and go out into the garden.

It is early yet, he has not come, but I sit outside and let the waning sun sear my skin. The air is warm, and the breeze is scented with green and gold. The valley is still. Even the soughing of the wind is subdued. Above the mountains, the sky is clear and still bright, shifting to a deeper azure as the sun begins its descent. The horizon is a smooth, unbroken line.

Near the edge of the mountains a dark cloud gathers, duskier than a storm. It grows and stretches over the edge of the mountain until it thickens into smoke, and bright glints can be seen lighting the trees. The smoke rolls down, roiling and billowing. The trees catch fire, one by one, their trunks burning down to charcoal. The fire advances, eager and ravenous and backed by the wind, until the mountains themselves are ablaze with crimson and ochre. The world is in flames.

Rachel TonThat is a film photographer, multimedia artist, and fiction writer living in Taipei, Taiwan. Her stories draw from folk tales, myth, and oral storytelling. Rachel is the co-author and co-creator of the the artist book, Lost Cities. She is a graduate of Eugene Lang College and Parsons School of Design in New York.

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The City Above

by Sam Swasey

Sam Swasey is an editor for The Forgetory.

Vic Dimotsis is a musician living in Asheville, NC. He is the singer and percussionist of the band King Garbage. To learn more, check them out on Soundcloud:KingGarbage! and Facebook: KingGarbage!

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by Adele Jancovici

Body image

Those two words together are usually enough
to make you feel like shit
at one point
or another

I’ll be the first one to admit to it, so that everyone around can

Well actually, for me, it’s a bit different:
I love my body,
but it breaks my heart that I wasn’t born
with a dick.

Me, the same me,
but with a
flesh-made penis

What do I do with that crushing sadness?
Not much

Start reading.
Gender theories related stuff.
The classics, Foucault, Bornstein.
Because, for every type of anxiety,
there is a pill,
right America?

So, as I shamelessly listen to Miley Cyrus I think about my dream crew.
People who are deeply involved in
fucking with the borders.

People who think, create, try, and invent
the new.

The art world has become very boring to me.
Perhaps because it was my birthplace.

Or perhaps because nowadays
can dare think they’re artists.

Today, the artist is pop star, and who wouldn’t want that status?
The glory without the hole,
the cash flow,
the first class trips to Art Basel Miami Beach,
the embarrassingly overly publicized duets with courteous rappers,

How many artists from a newer generation have something to defend?

I like decorative art just as much as the next reader,
but let’s be serious for more than a New York minute.

Apparently it’s all about personal history now, the kingdom of subjectivity.

Why even bother saying what you like,
when everyone will have a different opinion, or even worse, agree?

Because it’s up to the singular you to invent a new world.

By saying biology’s system of classification into two opposite and complementary categories of male and female
is not
for me.

Have we become so obedient to what the teacher says that we will never question the theory?

But you go slowly,

Not out of being cautious, but rather out of
not knowing
there are more steps to be taken.

So I start thinking about how to invent a new gender.

Disturbing uptight people has always been one of my favorite things, so it’s no surprise that this should be my way to go.

Searching for,
and finding,
people who want to

“cross over”

When I saw Martin Gutierrez’s show at Vanity Projects in the winter of 2014,
I clapped my hands like my life depended on it.

Because this work is important.
It matters.

When you utter the word “transsexual,” one of the first things that comes to mind
is being trapped inside
the wrong body.

What’s fascinating with Gutierrez’s video series,
besides its purpose, lyricism and refined imagery,
is the playfulness of the ensemble,
tinted by a heavy dose
of melancholia.

Whether his work is really about transexuality
or simply about bending genders
doesn’t really matter.

Its strength resides in its
power of evocation,
something shared by all great forms of art.

Me. What does the “I” in “me” see in this work?
What thoughts will our composite psyche string together?

Whether it is Gutierrez’s alter ego Martin(e)
riding in the back of a white convertible,
dancing to the music,
getting lost in a labyrinthine, abandoned palace,
the artist masters
the use
of all clichés.

(And I mean that as the greatest compliment.)


By transcending categorization and creating a truly personal realm.

Qualifications such as drama, joy,
art, blues, masculinity, hope, video art,
performance, life, biography, fiction,
dissolve into one another,
shaping a barely touchable parallel planet,


have become obsolete.


What about a new space?
A space where gender isn’t anymore?

A space where we could evolve,
a blurry middle space,
in which you choose
your attributes:

psychological, physical, social, sexual, and all other words ending in -al.

A new space
but not
another planet

A new space that would, if not replace our category-obsessed society,
at least get a sublease for the unoccupied building next door.

Co-existing worlds.

without mass anxiety
and the fear
of what’s not you.

Anxiety in the arts.

Anxiety in social media, hello.

Anxiety for women to present themselves as feminine
and as sexually attractive as possible

Anxiety and a frantic state of being

Anxiety for men to appear strong,
daring, powerful, and rich

How much of a cliché our social media lives have become.

They (we) invented a great word for it—
yes, we have to talk about this:
the selfie.

Actually, no we don’t have to talk about it,
but we have to acknowledge it


The choice

Really, who do you want to be?

I scroll,
and like,
and hashtag,
as much as you do.

Pieces of people.

feet in airplanes,
business class too.

What’s so great about this?

That people are unconsciously
the original given

It becomes bits
and pieces.

I hate clowns, but I love
fictional metaphorical

A self is like that.

There are no opposite categories here.

Take straight and gay if you like.

With a desperate yearning for belonging,
I used to put myself in the bisexual box


I didn’t fit in
because there were only
two choices offered.

Hence, I was
continuously questioned by
both sides
on which of these two Manichean
I belonged to.

I screamed and kicked and replied,
None of the above,
you uptight freaks!

Good and bad,
salt and sugar,
girl on guy
and guy on guy.

What does straight even mean?

More interestingly, what does it not look like?

That’s when “The Self Evident Truths” shows up,
iO Tillett Wright’s ongoing photographic project.

His idea is to show the face of non-straight America
through a series of 10,000 portraits
taken across the USA

You don’t identify with being 100% straight?

You get to meet iO’s camera and be part of his adventure.

He will shoot your portrait in your town and add it to his growing collection of beautiful faces.

But back to the root of his work, the word “evidence.”

How can you tell?
How can you know
if so and so is gay or not?

Obviously, only people with zero “gaydar” would wonder,
but let’s not reject anyone.

Let’s be

Let’s include others,
even if their way of envisioning the world is
super limited

Let’s be better

Let’s be

Let’s offer them the biggest orgy of all time,
by inviting them into our world without

Let’s show them that
any given sexual orientation
doesn’t have a

Basically, let’s free the poor bastards of all prejudice

Now I project and think:
how many people have to ask themselves what straight is?

“Shit, I did make out with that girl in that club bathroom once, so technically, I’m not in the 100%”

It simply is,

and it is not defining the self in any other way than
in that particular moment when I chose
to fuck,
viciously fantasize about,
or touch,
my box.

What box?

See, then, you’re free.

There can be no anxiety anymore.

You are
not straight,
F to M, or
undefined, asexual,
confused, assured, powerful
or stressed about finding an acceptable category
for your type.

You are a multiplicity of
composing a bigger

Like a group show, you know

Different views, names, and aesthetics, joining under the same title

You are not
just a body

Do you get it?
Disjointed body parts give us the fantastic chance to
re-arrange our own pieces
into something only
can dream of.
In our off-screen life

I didn’t come to this on my own.

It happened while I was watching Catherine/Dominique Corringer’s first movies

They call it experimental cinema,
though I would call it poetry,
or abstract narratives
on screen

Her movies show options.
A world where everything dreamed of is held
within your body.

A body of work that,
for once,
made me shut up,
and grab my brain,
and look at it,
and interrogate it:

“What the fuck does reinvention mean for me?”

And that’s how art works—when it is intelligent, meaningful, and important.

Still, I can’t say exactly how it happened

Whether it was the sight of what I saw as
a flower
made of fabric
coming out of the character’s anus,
or how another person was dancing away
in a fade to black,
but there was

Something lurking

A fact,
like the Big Bang
on the verge of making itself known

A space
with no gender,
a space with no angst.

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by Xinyi Cheng // curated by Yuan Fuca













Xinyi Cheng was born in a riverside city in southern China; her family moved to Beijing when she was very young. She started to paint hairy white men when she moved to the U.S. in 2012. She is interested in structuring emotions that are specific and complex. Not simply an expression of her own feelings, but an unsettling configuration of the multiple layers of emotion that congeal over time.

She attended Tsinghua University in Beijing (BA, 2012), Maryland Institute College of Art (MFA, 2014), and Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (2014). She has participated in the AIM program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and has received a fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center. She is a recent artist-in-residence at the Lower East Side Printshop in New York.

She relocated to Amsterdam at the beginning of 2016 and is an artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie.