#1956Club – a great French artist considers his life and work… — Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings

Journals of Jean Cocteau – edited and introduced by Wallace Fowlie Today’s time travelling trip to 1956 sees me considering another great French artist – the most wonderful Jean Cocteau. I first encountered his works back in the mid-1980s, when friends dragged me off to a screening in London of two of his films, “Orphee” […]

#1956Club – a great French artist considers his life and work… — Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings

What I Believe by J.G Ballard — cakeordeathsite

The incantatory prose poem What I Believe from 1984 is a crystallised distillation of Ballard’s artistic credo. Here are all the signature trade-marks and obsessions: car crashes, deserted beaches and abandoned hotels as well as his extraordinarily odd musings on the real appeal of celebrities. It is, as always with Ballard, idiosyncratic, bizarre and strangely beautiful. The […]

What I Believe by J.G Ballard — cakeordeathsite

The Bunker: John Giorno and The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs

by Marcus D. Niski

During one of the most colorful and flamboyant phases of his creative life, William S. Burroughs was closely associated with his New York loft apartment at 222 Bowery both affectionately and aptly known as The Bunker. The scene of many legendary parties and encounters with fellow writers, artists, hangers-on, street urchins, fans and other innumerable dramatis personae, Burroughs somewhat reluctantly at times played the mulit-faceted role of raconteur, showman, marksman, chef, host and resident celebrity that would undoubtedly help to further cement the Literary Outlaw myth so closly associated with his persona.

In this warm and intimate film portrait below of his close relationship with William S. Burroughs, fellow writer and poet John Giorno recounts the heady days of The Bunker and the antics associated with Burroughs’ famous residency. The cast of creative and literary heroes and villains ranged from the Beats Herbert Huncke and Allen Ginsberg, to such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, Terry Southern and Victor Bockris [who would assemble various conversational accounts of the goings-on at The Bunker under the title With William S. Burroughs: Reports from The Bunker], as well as various members of the rock and roll fraternity of royals including – Mick Jagger, David Bowie and punk icon Joe Strummer.

The term ‘The Bunker’ itself stems from the fact that the apartment had no windows as well as extremely thick concrete walls which isolated it from all outside noise. Burroughs saw this as the ideal circumstances for his writing – and indeed his marksmanship – and the building served as an extremely attractive location in which to unfold his daily creative and life rituals.

During a trip to New York in 2009-2010, I made a pilgrimage to The Bunker in search of the Burroughs mythos and the surrounding historic district of the Bowery. Indeed, the Bowery itself is known for its own colorful and unsavory history as a prominent site for men’s shelters that housed many of the cities homeless, poor and indigent residents and The Bowery Mission continues to operate until today as it has done since the 1870s just several doors away from The Bunker itself.

Below are some images that I took of the front entrance, the view looking up to The Bunker loft and a street view all taken on a particularity cold winter’s day. Looking closely through the wrought iron gates, it was fascinating to still see the remnants of the YMCA logo adorning the tiled floor just inside the door as the building had served as a working YMCA. Indeed, a fascinating history of the building has also been documented by the New York Times which can be found at the following link: New York Times history of 222 Bowery

Bunker[1] MN

Bunker [3] MN

Stills images copyright Marcus D. Niski 2009-2020

‘The Bunker’ undoubtedly remains an iconic and important architectural and cultural reference point to one of the great periods of New York’s 20th Century literary and cultural history. Given its proximity to CBGBs which played a seminal role in the birth of the American punk rock movement that spawned a whole generation of musicians and artists, it’s hardly surprising that a pilgrimage to The Bunker was also part of the neighborhood lore and ritual for so many of New York’s avant garde and outsider scene.

John Giorno’s (1936 – 2019) fascinating and eclectic life as a poet is also more extensively documented in the first part of the film as found on the Louisiana Channel at the following link entitled: John Giorno Interview: A Visit to the Poet


Markus Kircher – Book Artist (Salzburg, Austria)

A love of books and a love of creating art have inspired Salzburg book artist Markus Kircher to bring together a major selection of his book art works currently on display in the glorious traditional framed window of the Raiffeisen Bank located at the corner of Alter Markt 8 and Residenzplatz in the centre of Salzburg’s Altstadt.

Drawing upon a selection of 50 hand-painted and collaged books that began as blank books found in such eclectic places as India, Thailand and the local flea markets of Salzburg – as well as many hand-bound books made by the artist himself – the collection represents a form of retrospective of 25 years of Markus’ work as a book artist.

Indeed, one of Markus’ personal favorites also on display is a Goa travel book that was created on his first half-year journey to India; a book that takes him back to his imagination and artistic reflections of his encounters and impressions of India.

Recently, Markus also completed a major book art masterwork known as THE FAT BOOK – a stunning 756 page collection of unique images hand painted over the course of 3 years into an enormous beautifully bound old leather ledger book that he came across by accident in a second hand store in Vienna.

While Markus’ inspirations for his book art images have come from far and wide, his love of New York and his own hometown of Salzburg have provided much artistic resonance in the various images he creates in his painting and collaging. Like all artists, it’s difficult to pin down the inspirations given by exact locations and vistas; it more about impressions and “new views of old known places”, as Markus explains.

As an art form, Markus continues to explore and push new boundaries in his love of book art and the types and forms of books that he makes use of to paint and collage in.

While his book art collection is currently on display in Salzburg’s Altstadt, images of THE FAT BOOK will also be published as a 100-page catalogue by Salzburg’s Artbook Verlag http://www.artbook.at/ in November 2018.

Having visited Markus’ Salzburg atelier on many occasions and viewed the progress of THE FAT BOOK to its final fruition, it is very exciting to anticipate the publication of images from THE FAT BOOK that will no doubt delight and impress lovers of book art not just in Salzburg, Austria but in many parts of the world where book art and book artists continue to pursue this most passionate form of creative endeavor.

Visit Markus’ website at: www.markuskircher.net

Interview and Story by Marcus D. Niski © 2018

Book Art Images as Created by Markus Kircher © 2018

Photography by Marcus D. Niski © 2018

Miklós Radnóti — The Vale of Soul-Making

But don’t leave me, delicate mind!      

Don’t let me go crazy.

Sweet wounded reason, don’t      

leave me now.   

Don’t leave me. Let me die, without fear,      

a clean lovely death, like Empedocles, who smiled as he fell      

into the crater.”

— Miklós Radnóti, “Maybe …,” Clouded Sky. ( Sheep Meadow; Revised edition August 1, 2003)

Miklós Radnóti — The Vale of Soul-Making