Vanessa Place

Vanessa Place, Silence, Photo credit: Robert Ransick.


Vanessa Place, Full Audio Transcripts, 2012

A Los Angeles–based conceptual writer, poet, and art critic, Vanessa Place is also a criminal defense attorney, a day job that regularly informs and enriches her work. Her recent conceptual poetry project Statement of Facts (2010) involved the appropriation of official documents and corresponding legalese from court testimonies on violent sex crimes. The work reveals how the straightest of straight talk inevitably reverts back to the realm of the incomprehensible, even as we continue to organize our lives according to truth and lies, innocence and guilt, and other unsatisfactory dualities.

For Radio Break, Place’s Full Audio Transcripts revisits communications from September 11, 2001—a collection of audio dispatches, originally broadcast on closed radio frequencies, between the Federal Aviation Administration, North American Aerospace Defense Command, and American Airlines. These transcripts, made public by the New York Times in 2011, identify each speaker, but Place omits this in her reading, stringing together all the utterances into a single monologue. Broadcasting her performance for Radio Break, she presents the words via their original medium in an attempt to recover their psycho-social context—a space before trauma had been fully comprehended or memorialized in language, before the numbers 9 and 11 became a rhetorical device used to justify all kinds of political and social agendas.

Place’s works include Dies: A Sentence (2006), La Medusa (2008), Notes on Conceptualisms, co-authored with Robert Fitterman (2009), and The Guilt Project: Rape, Morality and Law (2010). She also serves as co-director of Les Figues Press, an independent, non-profit literary press based in Los Angeles. Speaking about Notes on Conceptualisms, artist Mary Kelly said, “I learned more about the impact of conceptualism on artists and writers than I had from reading so-called canonical works on the subject.” Poet Kenneth Goldsmith has said Place’s work was “arguably the most challenging, complex and controversial literature being written today, ” and poet Rae Armantrout has remarked, “Vanessa Place is writing terminal poetry.” Bebrowed’s Blog said Place is “the scariest poet on the planet.” Anonymous on Twitter said, “Vanessa Place killed poetry.”

Listen to Full Audio Transcripts: