Q&A: Skankin' with Anne Colvin

Peter Cavagnaro  

Anne Colvin is a Scottish artist based in San Francisco and a guest programmer for L@TE: Friday Nights @ BAM/PFA. Her L@TE series, Skank Bloc Bologna Number Four, promises hybrid experiences drawn from literature, music, and film. The remnants of these events will be the basis for a fourth issue of the paper version of her ongoing publication of the same name. For the February 19 installment at L@TE, Colvin has enlisted such far afield performances as the Cal Fencing Club members’ recreation of the artist Jack Goldstein’s Two Fencers, a screening of the short film Ostia by U.K. filmmaker Julian Cole, a book reading by Oxbow front man, writer, actor, and artist Eugene Robinson; and a set by a Scritti Polliti cover band featuring local artists Cliff Hengst, Scott Hewicker, and Karla Milosevich.

Skank Bloc Bologna is taken from a song by the UK DIY post-punk band Scritti Politti. What’s the significance of the band to you?

Back in the day I was a member of the Edinburgh Young Communist League and we were all fans of Green Gartside, Scritti’s lead singer and songwriter who was a member of the London YCL. We were Eurocommunists and his early songs were inspired by Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Marxist theorist—and there you have it—pseudo Marxist pop!

One of the distinctive ideas behind Skank Bloc Bologna Number Four seems to be a blurring of lines between performance and artifact, in the sense that live happenings become the basis of the physical publication. How did you arrive at this?

Well I am always interested in the blurring of lines both in my own work and curatorial. For me the interstice or the liminal space is the most interesting and exciting place to be. As far as the SBB4 concept goes, I worked through a creative process which evolved into what we have before us.

In programming this series, you have plucked performances from seemingly diverse sources. Is there an underlying theme that will link performances together—or not?

It’s subtle and loose and as with Semina, my original point of departure, some of the associations are open to interpretation. Skank music, Bologna, Scritti Politti, and Wallace Berman are a few of the underlying threads. Unexpected synchronicities always emerge though, so we shall see.

What are your aspirations for this series?

I hope Larry (Larry Rinder, BAM/PFA Director) likes it! That aside I think this series has pushed me and will continue to push me to experiment with Skank Bloc Bologna and in a sense my own practice. Every time I do something on this scale I take more risks and ultimately that feeds back into my own work.

How do you anticipate the L@TE events will differ from Skank Bloc Bologna events you’ve staged in the past?

The previous events have been more like launches with the introduction of the finished issue. Skank Bloc Bologna Number Four is more of an open-ended process with the final issue launching at the end of the series. What I like about this is the way it unfolds in space over time.