Carol Becker


On her book Thinking in Place: Art, Action, and Cultural Production

Cover Interview of November 10, 2009

In a nutshell

Thinking in Place is a collection of nine essays written over the last five years of moving around the world.

Each essay is located in a place but sometimes the places are conceptual.  So some essays are located in a geographical place such as Venice, while others are about Museums in general and the relationship of artists as cultural producers to the “collection” of objects that comprise museums and the attitudes of most curators and directors about the making of art.  One essay is about “Gandhi’s Body” and how he used his body and his evolving nakedness to reflect his inner condition and how powerful his approach and his image became for the world.

The writing is poetic in nature but it is also narrative, philosophical, and theoretical.  It is hard to characterize.  And, the issues I cover range from the life of artists and art schools to the massacre of civilians in My Lai, Vietnam.  The writing of each piece really reflects the way in which I thought about the place that generated the idea itself.

The book is about wandering as a way of organizing the experience of the world—wandering on the physical plane but also on the intellectual plane, moving within one’s mind.  I wanted to reflect my thought-process as closely as possible.  The first piece is about the complexity of my own half-Jewish, half-Catholic identity and its location in the streets of Brooklyn and in a small mining town in Western Pennsylvania.  Ultimately, this identity-dilemma is about becoming a writer and recognizing that I couldn’t “live” anywhere, wholly, except inside the act of writing itself.