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Still from video of Kathy Acker in conversation with Angela McRobbie at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1987. © ICA, London

Diamond Stingily responds to an archival Kathy Acker piece

The artist and poet provides her counterpoint to Acker's 1980 text, Heine Dying in Paris

As I, I, I, I, I, I, I, Kathy Acker opens at the ICA in London, we expand on our spring/summer issue project with a day dedicated to exploring the writer’s sometimes complicated legacy: from the artists who were influenced by her, to a retelling of her life through her own words.

We invited American artist and poet Diamond Stingily to respond to an archival Acker piece in our spring/summer 2019 issue which explored the meaning of cult across generations. Here, Stingily provides her counterpoint to Acker's Heine Dying in Paris, commissioned by Curtains magazine in 1980.

In 1980, I invited seven writers (Kathy Acker was #5) to write a text on an A4 sheet folded in two responding to the title ‘fête’ followed by a quote from Georges Bataille: “...feast at which I am my only guest, where I break my bond with others until I can’t go on anymore.” The title and context quote appeared on the reverse, along with the name of the writer. Copies were distributed for free to artists and writers associated with my magazine, Curtains. Kathy spent considerable time on the project, as noted in her letters published in Spread Wide. (Dis Voir, 2004) – Paul Buck, writer and founder of Curtains magazine

Pilgrimages to Nowhere

by Diamond Stingily

Some women whine about how they want to be fucked by a man but I’ve fucked men.

“Did you cum too,” they ask me.

I wake up early and stay in bed until I tell myself, “Get up, wash your ass and brush your teeth.”

One early summer morning when I lived on Bushwick Ave, it was cool outside, the sun hadn’t fully risen.
I got a tall bottle of water to drink on my walk from a bodega.
I thought I’d walk to Sunset Park, have something to eat then walk somewhere else when I passed the woman who slept on the concrete slab on the avenue.
Her face was covered with heavy white powder foundation, bright red blush and lipstick. She looked like a tattered Victorian doll and wore large black sunglasses.
I left the bottle at her feet.It was too hot outside not to leave her some water.
Some things you have to do and never expect a “thank you.”
I never saw her on the concrete slab after that early summer morning.

I’ve walked from Harlem to Bed-Stuy.
I’ve walked from Bed-Stuy to Long Island City.
I’ve walked from Chinatown to Bed-Stuy.
I’ve walked from Bed-Stuy to Sunset Park.

My mother can’t walk that well. She can barely walk a block without getting tired.
Her strong leg leads the other.
When I was a kid she’d come home from work, come up the stairs, around the corner and into her bedroom.

She drove for six hours from Romeoville to Springfield, Illinois to get my long form birth certificate.
She called me and said, “You were born at 11:59 AM.”

The time difference between Greece and Brooklyn was me being busy and uninterested.
I don’t know how long I stopped but when he saw me again at a movie theatre in Manhattan, he looked away when I saw him.
A woman stood next to him and grabbed his hand so hers could be held.
I went outside into the night to walk over the Williamsburg bridge back to Bed-Stuy.
I felt both their eyes follow me.
I fucked him twice each time he apologized for something.

I told my friend, Kathy, about the encounter, it led to why I no longer talked to him.

“I think you were sexually assaulted that second time,” my friend, Kathy, said to me over lunch.
This is a few months later.
“I think I was too,” I said. I hadn’t thought about that until that moment.

“What are you doing,” I asked him.
He didn’t say anything but he stopped.
Our waiter approached the table and asked us for our order.
Kathy and I started another conversation, neither one of us are the type of women to discuss the weather.
I went home later and watched Kill Bill.

There’s a woman on the corner of Fulton and Tompkins. She’s there almost everyday to sell her oils and incense. Her corner is to walk in and out of a dream, it is a smoky haze.
“Hey,” she said to me, “You alright, love?”
I nodded my head, I was exhausted, I thought a walk would make me feel better. I wore bright red eyeshadow to cheer myself up but the look added to my manic wandered state.
“Take care of yourself,” she said as I walked away.
I nodded my head up as I wiped away tears.
She gave me love through her eyes.
I didn’t turn around but I knew she watched me head towards Nostrand.

Kathy Acker is whining about dick and I go on long walks.

I, I, I, I, I, I, I, Kathy Acker, supported by NOWNESS, is on at London’s ICA May 1 – August 4 2019.