Poems and Texts

“Berenice Abbott, in Conversation” by Ariel Goldberg

Berenice Abbott, in Conversation

your edges have to be very good
like framed certificates in a doctor’s office
multiple offices
a mini-franchise
at first accurate and then questionable
why would re-photography seem like a good idea?
same camera same location same time of day
different buildings erected but, no people, not then not now
here, a dirty napkin
deviations on a form letter
stickers to clutter the laptop
a shield of giftwrap
legally binding you
to disclose your information
the exchange rate for
a price plunging drone
wistful aerial photographers
to join a culture of accountability
question marked
please don’t use the word colleagues
the compositions won’t be perfect
you overhear someone ordering milk
without the stock image of youth and nutrients
grab everything algorithm mentality
plus the invoice for a little debauchery
high five the space heater
we were making a documentary
super cuts of artists actually administrators
scraping the labels off water bottles
the gummy sticker now growing
like an expandable toy
stored under the nails
But many interesting things are not photogenic at all
like the paperwork
to copyright a vest
with twenty pockets
film, cape, batteries, reflectors, lenses,
thick tape to block a hole in the bellows
all to be prepared once you arrive
at the lion water fountain
now deactivated and just a statue
each new visitor presses
a shiny bronze button
to see if anything spurts out
of the mouth attached to the wall

Ariel Goldberg

Ariel Goldberg‘s publications include The Estrangement Principle (Nightboat Books, 2016) and The Photographer (Roof Books, 2015). Goldberg’s writing has most recently appeared in Afterimage, e-flux, Artforum, and Art in America. Based in New York City, Goldberg has taught writing at Pratt Institute, Columbia University, and The New School. They have been a curator at The Poetry Project, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, and the Jewish History Museum in Tucson, Arizona. Goldberg’s novel in progress, A Century, explores the intimate worlds of art critic Elizabeth McCausland and photographer Berenice Abbott in the context of the New York Photo League (1936-1951).

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