Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Untitled [Intersection] = Performance Art + Poetry

Untitled [Intersection] has run continuously since 2007 at The Phinney Center in Seattle, WA. I was kindly invited by Mylinda Sneed, then Arts Coordinator for the Phinney Center Gallery, to produce a monthly series. I developed Untitled [Intersection]. I'd like to share my thoughts on that process.

I want, certainly, to present exceptional artists and poets, to give them the freedom to express their work in their own way, but I want something for myself as well. Personally, I want to do something meaningful for poetry. I want to bring poetry into the art world and take a stab at real dialog between poetry and visual art, between poetry and performance art. I want to offer poets a chance to form comunity by inviting peer reviews and poet-to-poet support. I also want to help artists take themselves seriously by asking them to consider their goals and direction. But what can one person really do to make the poet visible in our culture?


In lieu of competing with one another for a few small prizes, I feel our artists might better spend their time in service of one another, given that they believe in what their work might do. There is nothing more important than Robert Bly talking about William Stafford, or Laura Hinton talking about MeiMei Bersenbrugge or Carlos Martinez talking about Kathryn Lebo. One intelligent poet discussing another can do more to excite and assist the public than any poetry prize will ever do. I invite seasoned authors to speak out about up and coming authors. Each invited author selects and presents the promising poet of their choice. The reading circuit in Seattle is tight. Authors are brought in from New York and Michigan and Chicago. How is a local author to make it to the scene without support, someone pointing, for the public, "Look here, I've found another great poet!" The time has come for poets to speak out for one another.


I am tired of the poets who think that reading to one another is enough. Sitting in their dark cafes, their dark rooms, scurrying out to drop their little letters of submission into the postbox, waiting to hear from a writer on the other end of the line about whether or not they've made made a ripple. The time has come for poets to claim their place in the world by discoursing with the world.

The moment is now. This moment marks the movement of poetry into the art world. I don't mean physically. I mean the time has come for poets to begin to discourse, in an intentional way, with the painters, sculptors, perfomers and filmmakers. It is not coincidental that this series will take place in a gallery, that it will reach out to performers. What comes in through the eyes is as important as what one hears or feels.


If you believe that prose is what happened when text separated from image, you might see this series as a way of piecing together the language of poetry. However mechanical it might seem, if we are intent on creating a language to communicate our isolation, to communicate our experiences and stories, we must develop it with words and gestures. This is trully the dialog I hope for in pairing performance artists with poets, in pairing gesture with word. Performance art is, unfortunately, no more visible than poetry in the US. How to being these two invisible forms into the world?


When we articulate what our artist believes, we direct those beliefs into action. The more convicted our artists, the stronger our arts will be. In asking our featured artists to contribute to the small publication, Untitled [Manifesto], available on the night of their reading, we ask the artist to articulate their work. I envision this collection serving as a sort of barometer, indicating the direction of arts in the Northwest.



Untitled [Intersection] presents poetry & contemporary performance art on the 4th Friday of every month at Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA). The event includes a wine reception in the Phinney Center Gallery. Untitled [Intersection] launched on Friday 23 February 2007. The very first featured artists were Carlos Martinez, Kathryn Lebo and Oliver Orion.

We seek exceptional poets with a minimum of two published books. We invite traditional, experimental and visual forms of poetry, including video and film. In an effort to expand our pool of talented NW poets, Untitled [Intersection] invites featured poets to choose and introduce one poet who has yet to publish a full-length work. The feature and their choice read back to back, followed by a 20-minute piece by a contemporary performance artist. We hope to encourage inter-artist support. We hope also to open a dialog between poetry, performance and visual art.

"This reach from one art to another is the most leavening process of all to each of the arts and hopefully to everyone's daily experience." Stan Brakhage (experiemental filmmaker)


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