I Cry: Book Release and Conversation

Amy Lawless and Chris Cheney with Laurel Nakadate, moderated by Catherine Despont

What happens if we take the personas of online profiles seriously? If we put genuine effort into distant “friends” or “connections,” or carry out virtual fantasies with actual strangers?

On the occasion of their new book release, I Cry: The Desire to be Rejected, writers Amy Lawless and Chris Cheney will be joined by artist Laurel Nakadate. As part of their poetic practice, Lawless and Cheney establish online personas to explore the real feelings that attach themselves to these expressions of self. Working with photography, performance, film and video, Nakadate challenges conventional perceptions of power, seduction, tenderness and trust. Together they will discuss their ventures into virtual existence, and the surprising levels of yearning, danger and vulnerability revealed by translating online connections IRL.


About the Book

I Cry: The Desire to be Rejected is a collaborative, hybrid composition: part essay, part poem, and part social media collage. The authors cannibalise traditional research methods for a more personalized, technology-based process. While meditating upon Kurt Schwitter’s notion that “the medium is as unimportant as I am myself,” they confront historical traumas through the body of real and virtual environments such as MySpace, Yelp and Twitter.

In January 2016, Pioneer Works Press launched Groundworks, a pocket series devoted to statements and propositions that elude categorization and seek to broaden the parameters of their subjects. Groundworks features unique volumes of essays, poetry, pedagogy, theory, conversations, and experimentations in hybridization–texts from artists, writers, scientists, teachers, and thinkers. The ideas developed in the series are seminal traces of mutation and adaptation vital in the evolution of cultural discourse.

About the Artists

Chris Cheney and Amy Lawless collaborate on the digital/multimedia twitter account @Cannifa. Chris’ debut collection of poetry Lay Me Low is forthcoming from 421 Atlanta. His poems have recently appeared in jubilat,Sprung Formal, and Pleiades. Amy is the author of two books of poems including My Dead (Octopus Books). Her third poetry collection Broadax is forthcoming from Octopus Books. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in jubilat, The Tusculum Review, The Volta, Best American Poetry 2013, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day: 365 Poems for Every Occasion. She was a 2011 NYFA poetry fellow.

Laurel Nakadate was born in Austin, Texas in 1975 and raised in Ames, Iowa. From 1999 to 2001, while completing her MFA in photography at Yale University, she began to create provocative works in video, photography, performance and film that challenge conventional perceptions of power, seduction, tenderness and trust. Nakadate’s early relationship to the fixed single viewpoint of the camera (as both artist and subject), her insistence on simple production values, and her upending of public and private ritualistic behaviors, anticipated the amateur video aesthetic of YouTube diaries and internet blogs. A major monograph, 365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears, featuring a yearlong photographic “performance,” in which the artist forced herself to cry each day during the year 2010, was published by Hatje Cantz and the Zabludowicz Collection, London. Nakadate’s most recent museum show, Strangers and Relations, at the Des Moines Art Center ran for five months of 2015. The most recent images from that body of work will be included in Land/Sky: Temporal Concepts, at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects in February 2016.