In 1971 I published my objection to a fence in the form of this little pamphlet.
Before coming to Bolinas, I was told that people there lived on sandstone cliffs that were flaking off. The erosion wasn’t so general or drastic as the report implied, but still the land there is unstable. The most direct access then from the mesa to downtown and back was Terrace Avenue, halfway down which was the nicest view, sometimes known as Surfer's Overlook, of the beach and ocean waves beyond. By spring 1971, the cliffside was seriously slumping, and where an unobtrusive wood barrier had stood, a chainlink fence had somehow been proposed and was under construction, quickly completed. To me the heavy-duty aspect of the thing seemed uncalled for and was plainly in the way. I didn't imagine that any action on my part would stop the fence. By photographing it, I registered at least my private dismay, which soon gave way to a lighter sense of the absurdity involved.
Looking back, this work fits within a general artistic ethos of the late 1960s and ’70s—what might have been called the Phenomenology of Everyday Life. The Kodak Instamatic, with its clear square format, was a perfect device for such generic rendering. Others were the Polaroid Land Camera, the Sony Portapak and the portable audio cassette recorders that began showing up at poetry readings and occasionally at social events as well. Literary equivalents were the serial poem and the daybook and multiple variants of each.
I printed Terrace Fence in a tiny edition—ten or fewer, as I recall—photocopied on ordinary 8.5 by 11 inch sheets, with two staples for the spine. The pictures were made in late May and early June; the person standing at the edge in one of them is Joe Brainard. Whose handwriting is on the colophon page I can’t recall. As of now, Terrace Avenue is closed to traffic.
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Terrace Fence was reprinted at Cuneiform Press in the summer of 2012 in an edition of 100 by Kyle Schlesinger and Henry Steinberg. The text was printed letterpress and the photographs were reproduced from the original paste up and tipped in by hand. Each copy has been signed by the author.