Heir Apparent

Issue #42: December 2015

Noise In the Face Of | David Buuck

Now the shadow of the column —

as it stretches diagonally across

the square, the bronzed figure falling

slowly, as if in newsreel

or slower still: a painting, a litho-

graph, to be printed and posted

on the boarded-up windows —

the shadow slicing clocks in two

divides the corresponding square,

dust-covered reds on one side

on the other, the cops,

the emperor, perched atop

his collapsing concrete mount,

glazed in bronzed afternoon

light, the moment between

the crash and the crowd’s roar

an epic silent gap, film-stilled,

an historical engraving

upon the bodies of those

who roped and pulled

a millisecond-long victory

over art and anti-art both

nostalgia or history

or a painting of the same name

its first line from A Project

for a Revolution in New —

its last, Courbet:

“The essence of realism

is its negation of the ideal.”

Thus the coins minted from

the smelted brass horses,

rubbed clean of their markings

by the partisans of negation,

for the image comes after —

even as it’s ever always

in the present tense.


for the writing comes after —

debt — to what or whom,

scrivened on the column,

a tagger’s quick retort:

now whose life’s in pieces —

as the connoisseurs rush about

price-tagging each cold chip,

morgue’d for the toe-tagged index

as the television skycam snaps

tomorrow’s front page pic —

in shards, remains, whatever,

the square a minefield peopled

by ghosts, by artists’ models,

by narcs and turncoats greasy

the painter waits for tomorrow

’s news, tagged to the grid

point and click and dab and smear

and paste the concrete dust to bear

the weight of just-now’s consequence

in some history painting’s future frame

the square, rectangled, frenzy turned

to math, then scanned for hi-rez prints

while the handheld blocks of brok-

en concrete arc through gas-laced air,

ever hung there between

the photo and its subjects

until “you hear the sirens

through the speaker-phones”


or words on the page, read,

in video art voice-over

at the museum of the riot

built with cobblestones and spit

like a youtube video

made with stolen gear

and unliked by everyone

til the algorithm splits itself

in two, one the true demo-

graphic, the other its shadow

falling across the spreadsheet

like a TED talk in reverse

the graphs and pie charts bleeding

as the smug smiles crossfade out

til all you see’s the money

cultured in petrified design

pulsing earning ratios and

quarterly arrest reports

pixels falling from the sky

ticker taped the market crash

onto those still stuck in

the plaza, or the painting, or

panting on the treadmill,

reading the liner notes

wiki’d to my sense of red

history, red scrims, re-read

threats to shut down the port,

the airport, the port-a-potty,

whatever it takes, like, what-

ever it takes to find a copy


of Jean Nuchtern’s review

in the Soho Weekly News

of Rainer’s anti-dance or since

I can’t find that, why not,

Rainer Werner’s unshot script

for A Project for a Revolution

starring, oh, I dunno, every-

body? all the gender-outlaws,

set to simmer, in exposition or

occupation or hotel-lobby-bars,

is that a gimlet or a knife,

a fake security pass or what

might pass for leaflets

in “an era of online doubt”

handing out the paper cuts

and a lifetime supply

of wheatpaste for all

that oozes beyond our means

to represent, to make anti-art

and unmake art, to shatter —

to rope and pull, to smash

the present, chalky with the dust

that never settles, noise

in the face of every apologist

for corporate lobby art,

high-concept design — budgeted

against the breaking point, of

sculpture, of plate glass, of friends

caked in pigpen grit, burnt doc-

ument scraps rising, shadowed

’gainst the columns of the fallen,

yet to be built, never to be but —


febrile pixelations, spec-

ulative reps, printers ink,

the scream that propels,

teaches, stretches, transmits

across “domains for going

astray,” essaying athwart

the smashed column, riprap

for barricades, fodder for

a monograph on looking back,

the crowd in reverse, running

towards what it could become,

its power in that swell of

radiant expression, destructive,

how to have descriptivized it,

in oil paint, grease paint,

gas lines, water lines, figures,

it’s “not just the cops — it’s

the geometry” — kettled

mass ornament, mass canvass

stretched across the square

ash-can realism of the re-

hearsals for the water riot

and now in the face of

all that, all that is

the still-falling column, cropped

horses loosed from their owners’

leather-bound portfolios, straps

round wrists and waists

pull it down — pull it down,

shadows casting shapes, recast

the form that’s yet to forge

beyond the shattered frame —

— David Buuck : Oakland : 2014