This post is several weeks delayed, but since the T E X T ual A R T ivity exhibition in Coburg, Ontario had already been over for some time when I received the prompt to write it, I figured some final documentation of my role in the exhibition wouldn’t be urgent.
I’ve already spoken in detail about T E X T ual A R T ivity and the amazing people who run it in a previous post. Since my first visit to the show, however, I’ve gotten word of some significant changes to the presentation of some of my pieces that I think is worth sharing. Based on suggestions from attendees of the exhibition last month, James Pickersgill took the initiative to reframe two pieces I’d printed on translucent paper, “Space” and “Spring Mattress,” and hang them as a window display viewable from either inside or outside The Human Bean cafe, where the exhibition was held. Some photographs are included below. (You can also see/read “Space” at high resolution at Angel House Press’s National Poetry Month 2015 blog here.)
In short, I think James’s is a spectacular presentation that amplifies the themes and energy of the pieces, while also taking their execution much farther than I had imagined. On this latter point, I’ve found that my experience submitting these artworks to the show (and witnessing the creative efforts of Poetry in Coburg Spaces and especially James, who deserves at least co-authorship for the “poems” displayed here) has exemplified the strength of collaboration in poetic and artistic work. It’s worth noting, too, that such collaborative efforts are especially important in genres (or perhaps they’re more like dispersed social experiments) like concrete poetry that demand critical attention from a multiplicity of contexts including semantic language and poetics, visual aesthetics, and institutional presentation. At the same time, collaborations like these are by no means hampered by separations in space, time, and creative vision (at least not by necessity). In fact, what I’ve seen this past month suggests that such separations may in fact bolster the motivation for and results of artistic collaboration.
“Space” and “Spring Mattress” in the front window of The Human Bean:
“Space” from inside and outside:
“Spring Mattress” from inside and outside:
(photos courtesy of James Pickersgill)