Jesse Reklaw's APPLICANT reviewed by Norene Cashen

Book Reviews
Jesse Reklaw's APPLICANT reviewed by Norene Cashen
Jan 28, 2008, 05:36


APPLICANT by Jesse Reklaw; Microcosm Publishing, 2006

The new wave of found literature is potent stuff. The medium has shifted from newspaper cut-ups used by William Burroughs to the crumpled, scrawled private texts (love notes, party invitations, to-do lists, etc.) that fill the pages of publications like the Ann Arbor-based Found Magazine. Thrown into the right context, these scraps of private thought say so much about the world at large. It's the unconscious, unedited, urgent expressions of individuals that seem to provide the hard evidence for all we suspect we collectively are. In his tiny book, Applicant, artist Jesse Reklaw (creator of the syndicated comic Slow Wave and the mini-comic, Bluefuzz the Hero), uses photos and fragments of private, or rather bureaucratic, notes from a stack of Ivy League Ph.D. application files from the 1970s. He calls it “recycling.” Beneath black-and-white mug shots, Reklaw posts brief notes from the applicants' former professors or employers, such as “Miss M_ _ _ _ is a black person. She seems to be well adjusted to society as it pertains to acceptance and/or discrimination…” and “He has some of the markings of a dilettante.” Most have a staple through the head and some subtly dehumanizing comment that seems just as painful. It's a sad pageant of poor suckers, who stare out nervously from their horn-rimmed glasses, sporting their best neckties and dresses. Some lean awkwardly toward having a radical flair with a flamboyant scarf or a 1970s hairstyle that's too big to be respectable. This miniature archive says so much about its era, institutions, and the timeless agony of life's demeaning and ongoing auditions.

-Norene Cashen

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