with Sylvia Salazar Simpson, Allan Kaprow, Judy Fiskin, Peter Kirby


and Richard Tuttle getting rid of frames and capital letters:

“ art is not a copy of nature but an extension

how to make this extension concrete

it will be absolutely not be prethought
(absolutely not be absolutely)

the one an extension of the other without reference to priority ”












SYLVIA SALAZAR SIMPSON, Eggs Verbal A / Z , 1973, Courtesy of the artist



by Rosanna Albertini

Sylvia made me aware of the sensuality of language. Of shameless decay as a mystery, a smelling, progressive alteration of fruits and flowers and things with flesh, or leaves.
She taught me to honor a molding lemon as well as the ashes of her burned out house. She made small altars with the remains, friendly places where other abandoned objects could be added over the years, tricky homes hiding the prick of cactus spines. They dislike to be touched.

Sylvia became the best companion for playing at life, pointing out to me how life becomes “life,” “something that floats, outside of time, in our thoughts.” Allan Kaprow. Kaprow had been one of her teachers at Cal Arts, CA, she was already mother of two. They remained friends to the end of his life. I also became his friend, having married Peter Kirby who worked with him for years, and cherished him like very few. Allan Kaprow allowed Sylvia to see herself as an artist, a mother and wife embracing “life,” the an-artist life. But she was not confused about the ungraspable separation between art and life, and built her own experience. Never gave up with physicality. Sewed uncooked eggs to the table, wore shoes made with celery, strawberries or ice cream, pinned into her ankles and feet. She made books with sugar, or paprika, or oregano attached to their pages. Imposed to them the destiny of decay.

SYLVIA SALAZAR SIMPSON, Imitations, 1977  Courtesy of the artist

About twenty years ago, one of the many days of playing at life with Sylvia, she introduced me to Judy Fiskin’s photographs, I vaguely remember they were at LACMA. It was such a surprise to discover photographic miniatures, of a kind I had never seen. Such a pleasure for the beginning of my new American life. As pleasurable as cooking and eating with Sylvia, mixing Mexican and Italian traditions, sharing pain and joy, as life brought them to us.

There is something amusing and embarrassing about the work” — wrote Sylvia Salazar Simpson years ago. These books’ pages don’t carry words, nor images. Each book is a physical story going bad and smelly over time. “Can you fold the page please? That’s the ritual.” “Disgusting? Why?” Any repulsion disappears when the most terrible things are written words. A jelly beans-bacon-pearl page should be sucked, read by the lips, by the same voracious tongue of a newborn exploring surfaces around her before names appear.

Art only needs an alien space to physically exist. The Sugar Book, the Spit Book? What do they mean if the book is a tongue as rough as a cat’s, black sandpaper growing Tylenol at the heart of chewed bubble gum. “Can you fold the page please?” Can you touch what your brain has produced, who knows if it is human or not it must be but it does not perfectly fit. Art is not an experiment. Sylvia Salazar Simpson’s books are flowers lying on old stems torn from the ground of history, on pieces of wood soaked with tar, cut for the railroad. They can’t hurt.

SYLVIA SALAZAR SIMPSON, Blue Sugar Book, 1997   Photo: Hannah Kirby

We have in common a passion for natural growing: trees, bushes, and flowers. The first art piece made by Sylvia that she shared with me by giving me a picture of it, was of a group of trees she had to abandon, when moving from their Los Olivos ranch. And the art was a gesture, of wrapping them with clothes and fabrics as if covering them for the winter, adding decorations to their trunk, or letting them know how much she cared for them, which is the same thing. I’m sure they understood.

























Allan Kaprow, Essays on The Blurring of Art and Life, University of California press, 1993

Richard Tuttle, In Parts, 1998-2001  Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, © 2001 Richard Tuttle;  2001 the authors.



KATE NEWBY: don’t be all scared like before

KATE NEWBY, Don’t be all scared like before
Rope, 2015
38 Ludlow St., New York



by Rosanna Albertini

38 Ludlow street, New York. I must raise my chin and eyes toward the top of the wire screen to see the rope, and follow the vertical face of the building to the last floor, which is frowning behind the red, incongruous, and irregular line: a red rope, again, from one side to the other of a flat modern face riddled with window holes.

One would think the residents inside would spend their energy glued to the glass, stuck like flies that can’t find their way out. The red rope grabs the side corners of the building tightly. It is there to stay for a while. A perfect parasite and a rebel form in which secret meanings are fastened: that fat bundle around the pole is as unreadable as the Chinese ideograms painted on a nearby banner. (Unreadable if one is not Chinese.) How absurd! But, I need it more than a dictionary. The garbage bags on the sidewalk and the cracks of the wall are easy, life cycle. Not the rope.





Richard Tuttle* wrote:


Watch out, even these artist’s thoughts, written in capital fonts, look like the modern building. They wrap my mind like a blanket. Get rid of it. There is a strange gap between me and my mind, still conservative. Kick it out, says my instinct. Out of the window? Yes, stop looking and jump. Kate Newby, where are you? I do know the red rope is your soul.

There are mostly Chinese children in the P.S. 42 Benjamin Altman school, 38 Ludlow Street. They like the red, it’s good luck color. They love the rope without knowing why, lucky them. They are confused. “What’s your job?” they ask the artist. And Kate tells them she moves from one country to another making forms and colors she can leave on the ground, or on the top of a building, so they become moments of other people’s lives, as footprints after footprints many other humans also leave their traces on the ground.

I’m flying out of the window. The red rope sounds like a musical instrument changing form at each loop, bending, stretching out. The artist is the player. The red of the bricks sends iron vibes toward the rope, one more voice in the visual music of city. And Rembrandt says hello through Benjamin Altman’s spirit who collected his portraits, so densely red. Meanings? Maybe. Or the simple evidence that art brings into the air: the evidence that children can only see as a mystery with no answer: what’s life? Not only children, for that matter. But they are inside the school, to be trained for life.

Looking at the red rope, they gasp. It’s impressive to look at something that unfolds, without words, the whole messy but strong and obstinate line between birth and the last breath. Perhaps the only case in which beginning and ending make sense. My legs disappear, wings grow from my shoulder blades, I am an owl searching for a palm tree to spend the night.  

Meanwhile teacher and kids paint red lines inside the school, at the angle where the wall meets the floor. Magically, a small palm tree starts growing from one of the new red lines.




  •  ***Richard Tuttle, In Parts, 1998-2001, catalogue of the exhibition at Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsiylvania, Philadelphia, Dec.2001 – Feb. 2002.