“Chateau Diana Kingsley” (text commissioned by the Theo Westenberger Estate, April 2015)
My name, a decision my parents made, starts with the shape of a beer gut.
This scar on my upper arm, where the Hungarian doctor unnecessarily took out a fat deposit, is the shape of a water bug.
My tattoo was the shape of the Big Dipper, until my dark spots interfered.
After six weeks my hair is the shape of a mushroom, no matter how many times I tell Aki to cut it in a way to avoid the inevitability of this one shape.
My front tooth is the shape of a castle door, and the wine laps up and around it like an overflowing moat, leaving a stain.
My pot bud was the shape of a pinecone, before we hosted that out-of-town guest.
This ruffled potato chip is the shape of that splinter Jack got sliding across our floor in his socks—it’s sizable, but still too small to reach the onion dip without getting some on the edge of my finger and underneath my nail.
That fruit at the bottom of the yogurt is not the shape of fruit.
In the old days, string beans were the shape of cigarette butts.
In the old days, marshmallows were bright white, smooth, and shaped like sea scallops, but now they’re square, pockmarked, and tinted with subtle colors.
That ceramic bird’s nest was the shape of spaghetti (the eggs were tiny meatballs), and I said so, but I shouldn’t have; I’ve never been good with kids.
(We could use that bowl with all the seashells in it to make a space helmet. Same shape.)
That leech at Moss Glen was the shape of a snake, so we cut it into three equal pieces. (Less painful, I said, to be divided so neatly.)
Mum’s earrings were the shape of Saturn until one of the balls fell from its outer gaseous layer and rolled out of sight. She found it, and fixed it, but I never saw her wearing them again.
Your silence is the shape of my head. It wafts inside my skull and stops at the edges.
Excerpt from “4 Digressions on Picture Titling” (text commissioned by the Theo Westenberger Estate
[ http://theo-westenberger.tumblr.com/post/97162637389/four-digressions-on-picture-titling], July 2014. )
Untitled (bathing suit, calla lilies, two-dollar bill)
I could make three photos: let’s say the first one is of a forlorn one-piece bathing suit hanging from a peg in a mudroom. The second is of calla lilies, à la Mapplethorpe. And the third is of a two-dollar bill. But where to put the bill? Hanging out of the man’s wallet? On his dresser? That’s the problem with photos.
Or instead, I could write the stories, which would be like titles that are too long, but shorter than your average wall text. The three stories would be arranged on one page, in chronological order, and that page would function as a photo. I could finally use that “Untitled (with parenthetical descriptors)” convention that I never completely understood, but it may make sense here. The Untitled… convention does seem to allow one to both say something, and not say something. To quote Thornton Wilder, “…art is not only the desire to tell one’s secret; it is the desire to tell it and hide it at the same time.”
An Annotated Index to the Photographic Work of Diana Kingsley by Tan Lin with anecdotes and emendations by M. Moore and E. Dickinson.
An index to the photographs of Diana Kingsley, with references to cheeses, children, crackle glazes, capillary action of colors, corn syrup mimicry, plants, doublets, embalmed moonlight, etiquette, Violent Femmes, 8:37 pm, furniture and the afterlife, Aunt Rooney, grief and the reversal of mischief, hortensia, Japan double, love story as furniture, music of the undertaker (Photoshop), Nars Orgasm Blush, the New Brunswick Southern Railway, Ontario, perfume of doorways, photography and craquelure, rooms with honeymoons in them, stock photos, summers act inwardly, speed of wallpaper, and sex.
Full color reproductions, b/w text and optical endpapers.
The book was issued in three variant colors for the cover: gold, blue-silver, and silver-pink. It retails for $20.00 and is available through the Printed Matter website here.
Published by Convolution Press. 2013.
Book Launch/Signing/Conversation @ Printed Matter: Thursday, December 12, 2013, 6-8
Unction and Industry
June 28 – August 3, 2012
Leo Castelli Gallery
Leo Castelli Gallery is pleased to present Unction and Industry, an exhibition of new photographs by Diana Kingsley. In this exhibition, Kingsley expands on major concerns of her work: the well-placed non sequitur, self-consciousness, and slyly humorous formal affectations. Though ostensibly her subject matter features closely-cropped nature shots and table-top still lifes, the real protagonist is the hapless photographer as assiduous arranger and cajoler.
The title of the exhibition, Unction and Industry, alludes to a strange dichotomy in the work, whose seamless compositions can be seen as both soothing and domineering. (An alternative meaning for unction, “superficial earnestness,” adds to the rich associations conveyed by the title.)
In Afterlife, a monochromatic medley of melons and balloons cluster awkwardly about a diminutive bowl, belying their more artful reflection on the glass table below. In Weltschmerz, a heap of various cheeses balances on a vague yellow expanse, figuring a strange mix of aplomb and resignation. Summer Friends presents a more foreboding arrangement, either orchestrated by the beetles themselves or unseen troublemakers.
Tropes of seduction run through these works (money, pollination, chocolate, ripe fruit, mushrooms, flowers, driftwood, a snail), but for all their sensuous subject matter and full-blooded color, they remain tentative and a little doleful, suggesting that what is proffered is not likely a promise of something to come.