Poetry News


By Harriet Staff

The Dictionary Project interviews Kate Durbin! There are full-color illustrations in response to words and definitions chosen explicitly for her! Her current favorite word is "chiffon"! More:

3. What, in your opinion, is the most obnoxious/insidious/annoying word?

Hipster. I feel that term has become an acceptable way to dismiss someone who you perceive to be a threat to your own coolness. Oddly, though, the people who complain about hipsters the most often seem to resemble the criteria for the term itself. But that’s beside the point, as there is no such thing as a hipster.

4. What word has been your (recent or past) muse?


5. Could you talk a bit about the language of youth culture, particularly teenage girls? I’m thinking specifically about your “Women as Objects” project, which collages images from different teen girls’ tumblr blogs. How does language function here? in their world? in your integration of their language? In the land of the Internet?

For Women as Objects (www.womenasobjects.tumblr.com) I not only curate images but text posts as well from teenage girls—so it is both a visual and text-based project. Some of the images have text on them, too.

I think language functions in the online teenage girl’s world as a means of radical self-expression, as tumblr is a place where they can express themselves more liberally than in their IRL existence. At the same time, language functions also as a hook for attention, and so that means they are competing with one another by creating increasingly abject or pop culturally savvy text posts. They create their own language, a sort of iPrincess language of the internet. It’s equal parts computer keyboard and Cher from Clueless.

The way I’ve integrated the girls’ language most directly is in the video art pieces I’ve done, where I’ve taken a collection of the girls’ text posts and conversations with one another and performed those texts directly, in costume, as tumblr girls in bathroom settings. By taking their texts out of context of the Internet, which is a space where the larger culture is sick of seeing girls spill their guts, makes the girls’ humor, vulnerability, abjection, cleverness, body awareness, and pop cultural savvy more apparently brilliant, glittering, pleasurable and important.


Originally Published: October 11th, 2012
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