The LA Launch of Natasha Stagg’s Debut Novel, “Surveys”

On Tuesday night, various corners of LA’s literary and art world gathered at The Standard, Downtown LA for the launch of Natasha Stagg’s debut novel, Surveys, a coming-of-age story set in our social media age. The event was also the first in a new, ongoing literary reading series, “Hard to Read,” focused on LA’s wealth of literary talent.

is a fabulous, stark page-turner presented by what Stagg—a former editor of V, and a writer for The Paris Review, Dazed, Texte zur Kunst and Sex—aptly called her “rare punk,” publisher, Semiotexte.

The event brought together three like-minded artists who shared the stage with Stagg: actress, model, and writer Tierney Finster; new media and performance artist Jasmine Nyende, and the post-studio artist Amalia Ulman who works in many media, most notably, the social variety.

Among the participants in the event, Stagg is, funnily, the least familiar with social media. She wrote Surveys, which is background-set online, knowing very little about the Internet. And yet it’s so accurate. “I really loved Natasha's book,” Amalia noted, “because it made me feel like shit.”

Tierney opened the night by reading an excerpt from Surveys, one which included a bit of sound advice: “I should either live like I didn’t owe anyone anything, or kill myself.”

Amalia read an excerpt from her latest staged lecture, AGENDA, which she’d just presented at galleries in London and Paris. “I want a million dollars, or ten,” she shared, “to burn all the bridges I want, sit next to the fire and feel the warmth. So I don’t have to explain my work ever again. So I can be safe, lay down and rest, and not deal with the verbal pitfalls of the mainstream press.”

Jasmine followed with poetry she read from two notebooks, one rain soaked. “How deep is your love / How deep is your love / How deep is your name,” she asked. “Until you do it yourself it's just words / Until you do it yourself it's just fucking words.” And, “People like recognizing things.”

Natasha closed the show, elegantly, in a black pantsuit, with a chapter from her novel on value, race, and getting paid for sex. “I allowed every part of it to feel good,” she read, “because that was my job.” 
Tierney Finster, Jasmine Nyende, Amalia-Ulman, and Natasha Stagg
Natasha Stagg
And for the next HARD to READ...

Standard Talks presents 
HARD to READ featuring KOOL A.D., Spencer Madsen, and Sorry House
The Standard, Downtown LA
Tuesday, November 15, 7—11pm


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