OCCASIONAL WORK and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture

Lisa Robertson, Author . Clear Cut $12.95 (274p) ISBN 978-0-9723234-3-7

The guide to the 13 works and seven "walks" of this little book (4 1/8"×5 7/8") is the "Office for Soft Architecture"—the alter ego of Canadian poet Robertson, author of Debbie: An Epic and The Weather . Seeking "the place in the polis of the sour heat and the pulse beneath our coats, the specific entry of our exhalations and words into the atmosphere," Robertson probes various fabrics, cities, rooms, people, histories and "the reaching middle," showing how life, in the way it uses space and time, is "soft architecture." Throughout, color and b&w photos and illustrations provide visual context for site-specific prose perambulations: a set of postcards of Vancouver sights graffiti-ed with spouting water lead to "The Fountain Transcript" ("Corporate fountains drooling goofily. Public fools."); photos of temporary scalable structures interspersed with Elspeth Pratt's sculptures situate "Doubt and the History of Scaffolding"; a suite of his Paris bedrooms introduces a walk through "Atget's Interiors"; "The Value Village Lyric" wears what appears to be the Office's own thrift-store wardrobe: "We think of the casual bravado of Baudelaire's tied black cravat against the scrim of white collar in the photograph by Nadar." The book brings to mind Lytle Shaw's Cable Factory 20 in its peculiar mix of weirdly enthusiastic investigative persona, cultural critique and historical sense, but develops a sensibility all its own, a "style of temporary hatred, nourished by each little loosened oyster we swallow, each acidic little kiss, each sweetmeat, each odour of saturation, each quirky, saline broth." (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
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