Christopher Janke is a poet and visual artist.  His poems have appeared in Harper's, A Public Space, American Poetry Review and dozens of other journals. His first book, Structure of the Embryonic Rat Brain, won the Fence Modern Poets Series Prize. A double-volume of poetry called psalterium | blepharism was released on H_NGM_N Books in 2016. 

His visual work has been in juried shows nationwide. And his site-and-time-specific large-scale installations use sun-shadows and perspective-troubling etched tracings on clear acrylic to inquire about the relationship between words and objects.



I think I try at times to make text films about the projector (the sun), its motion, and the audience in its light.

Other times, the most interesting part of a shadow installation is the material that must exist for the shadow to materialize: scaffolding, ballast, screen, sun. For me, it is a metaphor for the universe that must exist for it/us/me/you to produce even one single thought.

From A Study of Maintenance Sept 2014:

because maintenance is not the absence of change but is a kind of change

maintenance is movement; movement is maintenance


On maintenance:

Of the maintenance of artistic movement, attention. Of practice if we want to call practice a proto-practice, a practice of towards, a practice in search of a practice.

Because to maintain sanity, sometimes I maintain direction; I find I must at times hurl things and non-things towards a world. To reach out towards one.

Because an artistic stance requires maintenance.

Because each maintenance is not a different maintenance.

Because a building wants a window and a window wants to be maintained.

Because a window wants to show us things. Because things want to show the window their stuff.

Because they maintain this relationship without any humans.

Because is maintenance a relation between people and “their” things?

Because an atom maintains its properties.

Because an object is made of properties. Does an object own its properties? Does it maintain them?

Or is each thing maintained by its property – its property makes the thing into itself.

Because maintenance can be of a position, an approach, a perspective, that is, an assertion of value – with the citation/ the evidence being the maintenance itself.

To maintain one’s position as evidence of the thing itself. That is, to be evidence of one’s example of a thing.

To maintain an honesty.

Because a space to consider the arrival of the first sun of autumn 2014.

Because a word is a structure. Because sun.

Because of the relationship: word to sun.

Because an attempt to maintain a relationship to wonder.

Because maintenance of any relationship. Because there is no break in relation. It’s relation all the way down.

Because the maintenance of the mind can require sacrifice.

Because maintaining movement is also a kind of maintenance; all maintenance is motion.

Because all maintenance is a maintenance of movement, of implied movement, of assumed movement.

Because maintenance is not an absence of change but is a kind of change.

Because the sun is not still, the earth is not still. And they maintain each other.

And humans and earth.

Because the development of language is a maintenance of space.

Because every motion requires a world around it to adapt and is an adaptation to, of, for the world around it.

Because choice, if not an illusion, is different than it feels.

Because we are afraid. Because I am afraid.

Because the wind does not maintain, is not maintained.

Because light maintains its light for as long as it is light.

Because, at its destination, the wind is no longer wind.


On words:

Because we confuse the word for the object.

Because our conventions of thought are the basis of our actions.

Because there is no way to connect the world and the mind.

Because a word is not a word until it is removed from its body and put into yours, into the part of yours that feels least like a body.

Every word is a journey of shared imagination.

Because our actions have ramifications in matter. Because words are a kind of matter.

Because wonder.

Because the sun is far away and bothers to show up.

Because I’ma try too.


On approach:

Public but not too public.

Perspective. Time. Space. Movement.

In a place where it is difficult to stop.

So that the viewer must move in space and in time. That is, the viewer does anyway.

That the viewer’s movement is part of the movement of the piece.

A place that is ignorable.

The inevitably failed maintenance of attention does not reveal a lack of value.

That the piece opens to those who want to probe it.

That the piece, for some, is part of a daily routine of something to pass by / pass over.

For the art to recede, to cede ground to the rest of the world, as soon as attention wanes.

That is, for the art to disappear the moment you are not actively seeing it. The way everything does.