Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

October 9, 2010

Made in Japan

Jeremy Isao Speier

(click to zoom in)

October 9, 2010


Made in Japan

Jeremy Isao Speier

July 2, 2010

Made in Japan

Recently I had been gah-brooding on trains. Then I was on a train with a sick child and the broodle gah-moodled into a head in the toilet result.

Well I am back on them again! As long as I keep my child off them, all will be well for the broodling.

My recurring thoughts about trains centre on visual artist (and my partner) Jeremy Isao Speier’s new series of kinetic sculptural works Made in Japan. I was at his studio at different times over recent months after quite a long gap and met the new work in different instalments. Some pieces in the series feature photographs of trains, which for some reason take me imaginatively into the industrial decline of the mid west of America. I don’t know why that is, since the series references a Japanese economic time. The sculptures also send me to one of Zola’s openings which I must look up  (The Beast Within?) and Mann’s The Magic Mountain. Entry points.

Today when watching Pialat’s L’amour existe I was struck by how the trains in it divide the piece almost like the turning of a page, the speed at one point of the window passing is deliberately falsified to give an impression of it passing. It has to have been tampered with because it is soo uneven and because I sat on that very train but a few days ago and I know precisely how it moved!

This evening again I was looking at the series at the studio. They feature a rectangular encasement around the photographs, made of perspex, and then I had it! The old trains that ran on the Clapham Junction line used to have individual carriages and in order to see was there any space you had to look in through the closed door. When you looked if a person was in there you’d always the sense of spying and might continue to hunt an empty carriage.

The pieces remind me so much of train carriages, in the way you look into the sculptures so carefully to realize and collaborate with their components and like being an active reader, these pieces offer an active viewing experience and that is why for this viewer they have me travelling so far.

All of the objects are, in actual fact, culled on and around Main Street in Vancouver. (The local being the way  to the general as John McGahern would say or in this case out to the general.)   And as they are motorized they move. The starting point were the motors, I believe, which were all Made in Japan.

June 6, 2010

Read opening bits of Manfacturing Consent, found handy-dandy as ever on the side of the road. Side of road is providing amply these days. After I read the first few paras was left with this daunting sense of Manfacturing Content and what have I manufactured myself… far too much attention on male writers!

It is a source of national shame that Helen Potrebenko’s Sometimes They Sang is out of print and remains so. It should also be a source of major feminist agitation! An agitation that would heave it back onto the page! Someday I will be in position I hope to do something about it. This slim novel must be back in palms. It’s unique in it’s rural -urban considering and the woman is looking for a job. We live in a province with a turbulent labour history and where is it on the page? People are exasperated this very minute searching for jobs and they’ll search even harder in their fiction to find someone engaged in such a task.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne is another writer whose work I should have written about.

Betty Lambert’s novel Crossings is another novel that should be revisited and I’d like to do an event that would bring some women together to revisit it and consider it today.

One of the challenges of writing such pieces is where to place them. It is becoming particularly woeful in Canada to find outlets.


I am excited to be collaborating with a visual artist on a performance piece for the autumn. Today we had our first meeting to discuss ideas and it was an inspired and buzzing exchange.

April 25, 2010

I will not…

The left handed curve, the repetition, even the old hiss. Sunday morrow treat for those who enjoy the comfort of again and again or you can UBU the piece here in a larger screen

February 13, 2007

Crane brain?

Which part of the brain is responsible for insisting one must scale a crane? Is there a polar opposite to fear of heights in the brain? Some part that improves the higher you put your head up into the air?

A new craze for climbing Britain’s highest cranes, taking a picture of yourself and posting it on websites is seizing self-styled ‘urban explorers’.

Example of a man parachuting off one can be found on the reliable video source for much human lunacy youtube.

 I once witnessed a young man ride a small bicycle down the very steep side wall of a set of stairs. I spied him at the top, ready to attempt this urban devilment and felt if he was about to risk his cranium someone ought to bear witness to it, so put down my shopping and settled in. Another man stopped and we debated whether or not he’d do it. Several other mutterers stopped and expelled how stupid he was. Whether or not he was stupid was unlikely to change his mind as he was perched up there on that bicycle and appeared to be a few stages beyond weighing up the risks involved.

Eventually he not only rode down the skinny, mad steep wall but performed this exceptional jump when he took off. The stranger beside me was so overcome at the sight of it, he grabbed my arm and we both shouted in surprise when he got to the bottom that what he’d managed was incredible. Beside us a confused mutterer shrieked he should stop wasting tax payers money.

 Not that I’d be heartily recommend people drive bicycles down walls, but the young fella had as much chance as making it to the bottom as not and yet we were exclusively fixated on the likelihood he might not.