Visual Poetics: Art and the Word

By Burnett, Chris | Afterimage, September-October 2003 | Go to article overview

Visual Poetics: Art and the Word


Burnett, Chris, Afterimage


Miami Art Museum, April 25 - November 16, 2003

There is an interesting poetic speculation that "language is a 'cumulative project' of the species, comparable to animal husbandry." (1) If you want to witness the sharp visual turn this human-language-project has taken in modernism, see the exhibition Visual Poetics: Art and the Word, on view at the Miami Art Museum through November 16. It consists of more than 50 works by 34 international artists who have set image and word on a collision course. The products are expansive and varied but the show cohesively focuses on avant-garde strategies of visual poetics and concrete poetry. Most work chronologically spans the post-World War II period up to the present, but stops short of broaching the digital domain. Even so, this excellent exhibition offers a surprisingly relevant set of models for current and future permutations of the human language project.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Curator Cheryl Hartup organized the show using three categories: "politics, poetics, and the purely formal." The categories function well as an organizing principle and hold up to scrutiny even if we regard the "p" in "purely" as continuing the alliterative play of letters. Actually, the playfulness of linguistic form and meaning underpins and animates works in any category and drives a multilogue of intentions and formal experimentation that defy easy classification.

Still, there are distinctive eruptions here of cultural politics in such series as Glenn Ligon's Untitled (the Blackness Cannot be Separated From Me But Often I Can Stand Outside It). Quotations from black writers are stenciled large and bold and become progressively smudged, transposing their oral force into a somewhat blurred visual realm. Even one of the most formal works by Carl Andre (from 1956) evokes politics and power in the repetition of the phrase, "Conquest Display," as a modular element in the rhythmic pattern-images of a typewriter. "Poetics" is aptly discussed by Hartup as an intervention of language into desire, memory and psychological formations. Rivane Neuenschwander's video, "Love Lettering," displays words from e-mail messages attached to the tails of goldfish. Here the power of words and messages to somehow "arrive at their destination" seems to dissolve literally in the watery bowl of video.

However fluid the boundaries between the thematic categories, message, and display, the exhibition clearly establishes a point of reference for experimental, avant-garde approaches to image and text through the symbolist poem, "Un Coup de des" by Stephane Mallarme. The themes, visual strategies, and impulse to use chance as a generator of form are spread throughout the exhibition both implicitly and explicitly. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Visual Poetics: Art and the Word
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.