The Odd Woman and the City

Sophie Calle


“Calle is a character in her own story, a false witness, an unreliable narrator. Feigning a hysterical kind of love coded female, with an analytical bent. With a sly humour, power relations are flipped and flipped again. Who is in control, who is the butt of the work? In the case of The Address Book, the victim, in response to having his friends’ opinion of his private life splashed across the pages of Libération, attempted to get his revenge on Calle by having the newspaper publish nude photos of her. Of that work, she said: ‘The sense of excitement was much stronger than the guilt’.

In Double Game, Calle allows novelist Paul Auster to fictionalize her life in a novel, before republishing his account with her own red corrections scrawled on top. Taking it one step further, she then requests that the author give her tasks to do, as though she is a character in one of his novels, and the interaction culminates in a project entitled Gotham Handbook.

Other works play out this repeated doubling-back, such as The Detective, where she asked her mother to hire a private detective to follow her, while she had someone follow the detective, engaging in a game of triangulation and elusiveness, the trick of being the woman who evades, always disappearing round a corner. An object that first receives the world before finding pattern in the day, letting things circle back around, playing out the real work of looking. This mode requires a certain shiftlessness, one not traditionally accorded to women, who rarely know what it feels like to be anonymous, to pass through space unnoticed.”

Read Madeileine Stack’s full piece here.

Photography by Sophie Calle.

eve wears read, rebound

New York based artists Elliot Camarra and Guy Kozak recently finished a new short film ‘In This My Life,’ which is a sequel to their previous collaboration ‘Eve Wears Red, Rebound’.

This is an excerpt from the conversation LYRA had with Elliot and Guy:

Is our culture too much or too little obsessed with the past?
Elliot: From my experience of our culture, people seem to be more obsessed with the future than the past right now. Whether or not that’s true, there’s always a kind of magic when you find yourself to be the receiver of a set of clues to somebody else’s story.

What themes do you explore through your art and why do you use film as a medium?
Elliot: We both are interested in gender in a way that makes our work parallel. My paintings and sculptural work often consider femininity and Guy’s movies often deal with masculinity. We both approach our ideas through a kind of domestic surrealism. Guy: Film is a naturally collaborative medium. In the preparation and shooting, we’ve found that it works well as a vehicle for combining our individual aesthetics and interests. In the editing phase, where the projects really start to take shape, we assemble the footage with a joint painterly intuition that turns it into something neither of us could have anticipated.

Read the full interview with Elliot Camarra and Guy Kozak here.



These Lungs, an excerpt


Jessica Worden, exerpt - These Lungs

An excerpt from Jessica Worden’s These Lungs, 2015

The above is an excerpt from Jessica Worden’s These Lungs, which she describes as “a piece of experimental writing from 2015 that explores desire as a landscape of surfaces. Bodies become sensations, textures and layers that the eyes move across, following the juxtaposition of the two shifting columns of text. The piece proposes a queer model of desire that values fricative and sensate surfaces over penetration.”

Read more


Jessica Worden on Sappho

We were casting around for a classic (a Linda Snell-esque word) poet to use in our first issue. It’s always difficult, though – the past. After deliberation, we chose Sappho: the foremost erotic poet of antiquity (imagine how Ovid’d shudder if her work was more than fragment!) We asked Jessica Worden to write about her for us, and she delivered more than the scholarly summing up we’d half-expected and not, really, wanted. Her essay begins

I think of Sappho by the sea. She sings against the noise of the wind and waves crashing, standing on the sand of Lesbos. She knew many forms of love.

And ends

She acknowledges the bitterness of absence in this fragment but pairs it with the perpetuation of desire through the corporeal traces within memory. I think of Sappho by the sea. She sings against the noise of the wind and waves crashing, standing on the sand of Lesbos. She knew many forms of love.

Jessica’s is a beautiful piece, gently lyrical, humble even. She does not force the poet into this or that corner, does not decide what Sappho meant, but shows her to the reader in the palm on her hand: a flower, a weed, a gorgeous blade of grass. By the sea.

– Jago Rackham

Read Jessica’s full article in issue 1: subscribe and support our Kickstarter here.

Azalées Blanches Romaine Brooks

Indolic by Zoe Dzunko

Zoe Dzunko’s has written two poems (Sand Under Nails & Fake Flowers Last Forever) for our first issue; they are gorgeous, rich pieces. Aside from being a doctoral student in creative writing, she is the founder and editor of Powder Keg, an online journal of poetry. It’s definitely worth a look – among other pieces, it has the best prose(ish) poem about (but not about) a dog I’ve ever read. Below is her poem Indolic, which Zoe chose as a good example of her current work. It was originally published in Souvenir.

If we waited long enough
we could witness the body

making new parts, growing
new flesh shapes, hungry

like a goldfish to occupy
negative space. Say, please

grow to the plant you killed,
say please rain to desert

skies; nature’s weird trick
is to force division in the

wrong places. The mould
of wet scabs, the sickening

mass of deadly nightshade,
the vines of veins branching

into new blooms on my
calves. So, you want to talk

about flowers, how knots
of nothing remarkable bust

their way to beautiful; how
skies sweat on them at dusk?

Just their slow centerpiece
death, or that they know when

to die? Talk of how the air
grew ripe at the idea of green,

thick with the rot of sunshine.
The ocean spits up the mess,

leaves it on the shore to dry;
the body of soil, warm enough

to grow explosions. Somehow,
your nose imagined sweetmeat

at the sight of a rose, alone—
some seventeen layers of pink

tongues, licking at the inside
of your computer screen,

the menace of beauty, no violets
to shrink into—I am laying out

for the bees, but they never land
when you want them this much.

– Zoe Dzunko


Image: Azalées Blanches by Romaine Brooks, 1910. Brooks was somewhat ahead of her time: a bohemian who indulged in a great deal of what we might call ‘gender play’, dressing her female sitters as boys and vice versa.

What Lyra means, no 2 – the lyre

The lyre accompanied Greek poets (for instance, Sappho’s who we celebrate in our first issue) in the Ancient world. Like the garish (and frankly tasteless) manner in which Greek marbles, like the Parthenon sculptures, were painted, this shows that the Greeks were far from staid. No near silent poetry readings, interrupted by mute coughs, but cocophanies of music and expression. I’ve always thought Greek must have been an odd, guttural language; and the earliest written record of the lyre, its name in Mycean Greek: ru-ra-ta-e. The wonderful Ensemble Kérylos, which attempts to play Greek music as the Greeks played it, seems to bare this thought through: it is beautiful, but rough – unrefined.

Read more

What Lyra means and what LYRA means to us

Names are important to us, and important generally. So we took a great deal of time, thought and consideration choosing ours – countless lists, little arguments and frustrating dead-ends. And then, one night, it just appeared – just like that. Natural, feminine and free, with a way of tripping along the tongue and tumbling from the mouth.

To mark the first week of our blog, we are going to delve into the many associations our name has, and finally trying to explain what it means to us.

Read more