A digital artwork with images overlaid with words.

Laura Mullen

Artist in Residence, 2021
Artist in Residence, 2020

A close-up on a person's face in the mirror with their own image reflected from their smartphone screen.

Artist Statement

My [politics] poetics involves moving against inherited body / mind distinctions—in an effort to chart the embodied involvement of thought and feeling—toward art that happens differently from what has preceded it and happens differently from itself in each encounter. Accuracy as value: this idea includes humility and respect for all approaches, as we try, working together, to find a way toward (near? with?) what is. (Always in relation.) Gesture as exposure: sudden uncertainty or a sudden glimpse of continuous uncertainty. Words and images change the described situation as they reposition us, and spectators are also participants. I want to be true to the complicated, unstable, transient, and unevenly shared realities: to locate histories and unpack the implications of present experience, loosening possible futures. I write poetry and hybrid texts, work with video and sound, have explored performance, published translations, and collaborated with artists, composers, and musicians.

While at Headlands

While at Headlands I’ll be completing a poetry collection that focuses on the entwined questions of visibility and recognition, exploring contemporary selfhood at the point where “brand” displaces “character,” and the corporal and corporate intersect. The valorization of confessional and entrepreneurial impulses in the tight nexus between Christianity and capitalism informs the work, as do those prejudices (class bias, sexism, racism, ageism, and speciesism) which shape or attempt to shore up a sense of self in relation to rejected, oppressed, and vulnerable populations. Precarity is part of the subject, as are immigration issues and that anxiety about self and other enacted around the maintenance of borders. The book-length series of linked lyric poems is meant to illuminate the kinds of socially mediated and economically motivated panic that can make being-in-the-world seem less like a spiritual and physical adventure and more like one long, tricky “pitch.”

Selected Works


RIO POEM; featured in Continental Review; 2019; © Laura Mullen

Register, with Rodrigo Toscano, Ronaldo V. Wilson, Terri Witek, and Nathan Davis; commissioned work using materials from the Amistad Research Center and the speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer; commissioned by Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought; 2020; © Laura Mullen

Prone, in collaboration with Terri Witek and Cyriaco Lopes; published in Interim; 2018; © Laura Mullen

Selected poems, published in WebConjunctions, Lana Turner, Jubilat, Enduring Freedom, A Little Book of Mechanical Brides (Otis / Seismicity, 2012), Dark Archive (University of California Press, 2012); Subject (University of California Press, 2005), The Surface (University of Illinois, 1991); © Laura Mullen

View Reading at a Distance: Ploi Pirapokin & Laura Mullen

Reading at a Distance: Ploi Pirapokin & Laura Mullen