R.A.W Assmilk Soap by Karin Bolender
Launch date: November 24, 2016
Edition: 75, 12x20cm
Special Limited Edition with Soap: 25, 12x20cm
Design: André Fuchs, printed by We Make It and bound by hand
Karin Bolender’s R.A.W. Assmilk Soap is an essay that describes a multigeneration barnyard-based performance-art practice, which hopes to sidestep Western logocentrism and enquire into human and non-human languages, bodies and companionship, names and unnameables, gender and species, alternative ways of knowing worlds and particular kinds of worldings. The essay involves Aliass, a white-brown-and-black pregnant American Spotted Ass who accompanies Bolender on a seven-week-long journey across the American South in 2002. Astonishingly, their journey is sparked by one simple word, ‘ass’, which is more than just the name of a donkey’s species: ‘ass’ is the American Spotted Ass, but also the “unladylike,” forbidden, dirty word that also appears in Holy Scriptures; ‘ass’ becomes a human-posthuman ambiguity that questions certain obstacles to intimacy that naming implies, to finally become a means of connection, an opening to becomings with (Ali)ass’s ways of knowing the world that are other than those of humans.
R.A.W. Assmilk Soap also comes in a special, limited edition of 25 with actual soap made with Assmilk. The soap deploys milk as a substance of inscription: a preservation of wordless interweaving of bodies and antibodies, as the milk becomes-with places that the ass’ gestating body has inhabited, as her immune system reacts to everything she eats, drinks, and breathes in her pregnancy.
R.A.W Assmilk Soap is the fourth booklet in the Parapoetics Series, co-published with Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology, and with cover designs created by André Fuchs (Fuchs Borst), who works conceptually with patterns, translating geometries found in nature that follow fractal, aleatory and aperiodic structures. Parapoetics asks what other semiotic possibilities can be afforded to us, and speculates in parallel vocabularies of alternative sign systems. Parapoetics challenges the idea of what it might mean to signify, in what manner significations can manifest themselves, and what promises for our relation to Others a poetry in an expanded, more-than-human field might hold.
Karin Bolender is an artist and poet whose barnyard- and backroad-based performance practice negotiates between human logos and other embodied ways of knowing and becoming. She has lived and travelled with a family of American Spotted Asses since 2002. Through relational performance, writing, video, and sound, she explores dirty words and wisdoms of earthly bodies, in the company of she-asses Aliass and Passenger and their whole muddy ass herd.