Reviews Ian Lawrence Campbell Swordy The Bull Loving Truth

Ian Lawrence Campbell Swordy

The Bull Loving Truth

I came to this book through it’s author. Ian Lawrence Campbell Swordy aka Pony. His involvement in Bent Outta Shape, Behavior and the New York art scene makes him a fascinating character in my mind’s eye. So naturally, reading his first book was an easy ask when given the opportunity. 

“The book is about a series of performances that started with joining the band (Bent Outta Shape) and ended with walking across the country.“ 

Pony and I crossed paths in Bushwick, Chelsea and Venice, Italy, but our experiences were vastly different. HIs anarchist Long Island reaction to the threat of a commuter train existence generated copious angsty creativity. This honest account of Bent Outta Shape’s struggles with innovation and addiction could act as a positive guide for young artists experiencing similar situations. 

I was aware of Ian’s walk from New Haven to Los Angeles, but didn’t know the details. The Bull Loving Truth fills in those blanks in a thoughtful and poetic fashion. Together, in March 2019, Campbell and I walked the 42 mile perimeter of Manhattan island. This connection facilitated an interview scenario some weeks later in the artist’s kitchen. 

Why did you walk across the country with your friend Boris, a snail and a stray dog? 

“I had a FAITH that I could continue to just go and go and go. If I commit to it 100 percent, and go at it, I can do anything”

The short book deals with the suicide of two musical innovators (Jamie Ewing and Barker Gee) and the use of athletic endurance as performance art therapy.. The “slow school” walking gave Campbell occasion to collect materials and make collages that he would mail to an L.A. gallery. Moskowitz Bayse gallery in Los Angeles is showing these “American Road Collages” opening July 11th, 2019. 

Did writing this book help you to move to a new phase of your life?

“It so profoundly did, I was witnessing despair a lot, especially around heroin. My parting words over Jamie’s body were I’m never going to give up on this project. I was twisted and despairing. But through the process of writing the book, that despair was an edge.” 

Why did you decide to write a book instead of making more music, performance or sculpture? 

“The decision to sit down and write this book was the result of a place of complete exhaustion. The plan was as if I would just keep running forever. Theres a point were your mind tells your body to stop. And then there’s a point where you just shit yourself and fall down. I think I’d pushed myself to the limit. I was at a point of change course or die.” 


9.0 / 10Ian Vanek
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