this is kazimir' malevich’s “black square”, painted in 1915. it’s an important painting because it was an early breakthrough for abstraction and non-representative painting for art. i think it’s the kind of thing that people see initially and scoff at for being pretentious modern art or whatever. what’s really compelling to me is where malevich chose to hang his painting during the 0,10 futurist exhibition:
malevich hung “black square” in the upper corner of the room. this was a spot traditionally reserved for russian orthodox saints. as a result, malevich’s black square became an act of iconoclasm, of replacing the religious function of art with the depiction of his “zero point” of painting.
of course, while also symbolizing the overturning of a previously established religious order, malevich’s painting was not the simple removal of an icon from its position of power, but an explicit deletion, a deletion or void which takes up that space once reserved for the icon. the deletion itself becomes a presence—indeed, a religious presence, an occult presence. the deletion becomes a form of occult presence, of writing.
lately, i have been thinking a lot about deletion as a kind of writing. i’ve been going back through my old poems and revising them to better focus them on some of the ideas which are becoming core to “leech-book” as a text—rewriting with an eye towards desire, the frustration of the archive, occult polyvocality, trans shit, and a kind of anarcho-nihilist agnosticism about the future and the potential of collective movements. as a result, i’ve been deleting a lot of things in my poems—i’ve gone back through and tried to delete almost every instance of the word ‘we’, for example—and the way I’ve gone about deleting much resembles malevich’s black square.
under the frame of a text being preserved in an academic context, i've been replacing deleted phrases in my text with a bracketed ellipsis: […], as if left by an editor commenting on an unreadable section or one lost in various other lacunae. i am kind of very obviously stealing this idea from armand schwerner’s “the tablets”, which features symbols for both “untranslatable” and “missing section” (gradations in deletion) which would take up different amounts of space in a given line depending on the amount of text that schwerner’s scholarly frame was unable to interpret. i like moves like this, or the brackets in anne carson’s translations of sappho, because they make deletion, the loss of archival information, present and deeply felt. these deletions are a kind of deletion which is itself present, deletion itself as a kind of writing.
more and more i am less interested in creating new things, but rather in doing vandalism to the wealth of texts which already exists, to delete them as a kind of writing. in this way i am being an anti-art artist—in the style of dada or fluxus—which perhaps is a kind of obvious or passe move to make as an artist. however, when i burned some of my poems which i had printed out as a “reading” of my work in one of my workshop classes, that deletion still had a subversive, ritualistic, occult power. the ashes that remained were a kind of writing — and honestly, think of my work as ashes, as the writing itself a process of making ashes, is a kind of profound relief.
for me, sometimes, being trans is a kind of deletion which has presence — an iconoclastic rejection of the gender system, the deletion of that which is coded as boy. my wastoid mutant trans body is what remains, the presence of that deletion moving through the world, challenging it, overturning centuries of a defined, metaphysical order in favor of the occult possibility — the black square.