Vanessa Place is widely considered to be one of the figureheads of contemporary conceptual poetry, yet while books such as the seminal Notes on Conceptualisms, co-authored with Robert Fitterman, or Dies: A Sentence are very much works in the literary tradition, a great deal of Vanessa Place’s writings, makings and doings exist between art and poetry. Books like Statement of Facts, which reproduces Statements of Facts from some of Place’s own appellate briefs (she is also a criminal attorney), art exhibitions such as The Lawyer is Present, in which Place collected confessions from audience members while hiding behind a mirror and then performed the same with all identifying information removed, and projects such as retyping the novel Gone With the Wind on Twitter and performing silent readings of extracts that culminate in her vocalisation of the final line ‘After all, tomorrow is another day’, overflow categorisation as either poetry or art and ultimately renegotiate the borderlines separating the two.
One of Place’s latest endeavours, VanessaPlace Inc., is among other things a push to expropriate the territory of the conceptual from the (visual) art world, if not to explicitly appropriate said territory for poetry. Thus far, the company has released two products for sale: $20, a booklet of 20 one dollar bills that sold out at fifty dollars apiece, and PoetryPays, a small glass bottle containing a piece of earth, created ‘in commemoration of the 2013 groundbreaking ceremony for New York’s Museum of Language’.
After a few emails volleyed back and forth, Vanessa suggested that we ask VanessaPlace Inc.’s in-house philosopher Kyoo Lee, Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York and author of the book Reading Descartes Otherwise: Blind, Mad, Dreamy, and Bad, to annotate our exchange. Below is our interview by correspondence, accompanied by Kyoo’s footnotes.