One of Frequency’s most popular instructor’s, Victor Wildman is teaching a writing workshop that focuses on how writing can save and keep what we cherish:
People make art, and people write, for a variety of reasons: maybe to communicate an idea, or express a feeling or a thought; maybe to enter into a dialogue with an audience. In the end, the marks on paper o (be they photographs or sculptures, paintings or films) are an attempts to fix something that would otherwise disappear, by giving it a form that brings others in…. [A] way to keep something that would otherwise simply vanish….
This impulse, usually in the background of artmaking practices, I am bringing explicitly to the fore by offering this course. Why? Because the way the world is increasingly moving—the pace at which life comes at us as mediated through our technologies—makes the act of preserving more important, and more difficult, than it has ever been.
Think of Zoe Leonard, all of whose work, in one way or another, comes from an impulse to keep alive the things she considers important. Her decade long project, Analogue, uses alternative Analogue photography which is more and more being displaced by the slick convenience of the digital.
She photographed storefronts all along the Lower East Side, where she grew up, to capture the quirky, individual characters of these mom and pop establishments before they shut down, before they became the latest victims of gentrification to be replaced by the identical, chain stores we see popping up everywhere. She found a way to keep a world that has forever disappeared. Yet it is kept alive through these hundreds of photographs. It is still here and, because of this creative material work, it will never be entirely forgotten.
This course is ultimately about paying attention—looking and listening….
Listening to the world around us, in ways that we are perhaps not accustomed to doing so intently. This heightened attention has formal implications:
When Susan Howe tries to do for Lake George what Thoreau did for Walden Pond, she uses radically different means—a de-layering and a re-layering of history, an explicit thematization of the words we use in our descriptions. By revealing the strangeness of our naming practices, she liberates Lake George again into the wild…allowing us to see it, one more time.
Often things get lost, not because they are no longer there, but because we become no longer capable of seeing them.
So, in this writing workshop, we will read and consider films by artists who, through a radicalness of form, enable us to see things that would otherwise be unseen.
Everyone is welcome—all that matters is that one be ready to read and do the work, so that together we can move through some of the technical means necessary for keeping things alive— towards a space of greater awareness and shared respect.
Testimonies of Victor’s previous writing students:
I don’t think I’d be writing anything if not for Victor. He keeps me moving forward by providing encouragement, inspiration and structure. His assignments have helped me look at writing – and how I write – in totally new ways. I didn’t even know I was in a writing rut until his assignments got me out!
I’ve been in Victor’s advanced workshop since he started it and it has helped me immensely. The advanced assignments are specific to the student’s chosen writing project – and Victor is really good at devising writing exercises that helped me develop the direction and voice for the story I’m writing. The weekly critique keeps me focused and able to edit and improve as I go along. He is passionate about teaching and interested and involved in everybody’s projects and I’m learning a lot from the other students’ writing because of that.
I took three of Victor’s seminars, and found them to be invaluable. I had had an idea for a writing project, but was not making much progress on my own, and Victor’s classes helped turn that around. First of all, his encouragement and enthusiasm was infectious and inspiring. I never felt any judgement, and his excitement about all of our work helped us to develop the habit of writing and to enjoy the process, rather than be focused on a final product. And, lastly, I’d say that he had a really unique ability to help hone some vague ideas into a place, an era, and characters. As a teacher, mentor, and editor, he was great, and I left each class much more inspired to continue my own work, and more equipped to do so.
I came to Victor’s workshop with hundreds of pages of transcribed interviews. Victor helped me re-imagine my project as fiction and in doing so taught me the redemptive power of fiction. Victor helped me feel my way into my characters lives so that gaps in my knowledge became opportunities to explore rather than barriers to writing.