18 April 2010

Isidor Isou, Andre Breton, Apollinaire, & Jenny Holzer

Text as Image
By Camille Beckman & David Zarzynski


An attempt the get poetry back into people's lives and on the 'hit parade.' In his attempt to rewrite all of human knowledge, Isou had discovered that the evolution of any art was characterized by two phases: 'amplic' and 'chiseling.' In following the development of the art of poetry for example, Isou saw the Lettrist at the end of a long chiseling phase which had begun with Baudelaire reducing narrative in his poetry to anecdote, then Rimbaud disregarding anecdote for lines and words, Mallarmé reducing words to sound and spaces (particularly in Un Coup de Des), and finally the Dadaists destroyed the word altogether. Isou saw at the end of this phase the new beginnings of an amplic stage for culture, from which a whole host of new arts, ways of working, and social institutions would eventually spring, with Isou at the center of all creative work.

The Lettrist worked on the level of the letter at the heart of what they believed to be an experiential language that was to be the basis of their new culture. Their Lexique Des Lettres Nouvelles, for example was a sonic alphabet of a 130 or so sounds from which a new natural language was to spring from and from which they composed their poetry. Isou along with his chief lieutenant, Maurice Lemaitre, worked out a notational style that resembled that of traditional, 'common-practice' music, sometimes even with staffs, bar lines, and dynamic markings. Lettrist poetry was also often performed by choral groups.

Letterism became the art that dominated posters, barricades, even clothing in the attempted revolution of 1968. The most immediately striking feature of Lettrism as a form of visual poetry is its extensive use of calligraphic techniques and the invention not only of fluid letter forms, but of new and ever changing letters themselves.

Isidor Isou (January 31, 1925 – July 28, 2007), born Ioan-Isidor Goldstein, was a Romanian-born French poet, film critic and visual artist. He was the founder of Lettrism in the late forties , an art and literary movement which owed inspiration to Dada and Surrealism. Letterism was a technique of poetic composition originated by Isidore Isou, characterized by strange or meaningless arrangements of letters.

In the 1960s Lettrist, Lettrist-influenced works and Isidore Isou gained a great deal of respect in France. The influential writer Guy Debord and the artist Gil J. Wolman worked with Isou for a while, before breaking away to form the Lettrist International, which latter merged with the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, and the London Psychogeographical Associationto form the Situationist International, a dissident revolutionary group. This is how Lettrist art influenced the posters, barricades, even clothing in the attempted revolutio

n of 1968. Although it seemed a highly self-contained art in the post-war period, in 1968 it suddenly became more deeply involved in active social change than such movements as Existentialism and Surrealism, and came closer to producing actual transformation than these movements.

André Breton (February 19, 1896 – September 28, 1966) was a French writer, poet, and surrealist theorist, and is best known as the principal founder of Surrealism. His writings include the Surrealist Manifesto of 1924.

In 1919 Breton founded the review Littérature with Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault. He also associated with Dadaist Tristan Tzara. In 1924 he was instrumental to the founding of the Bureau of Surrealist Research.

In The Magnetic Fields (Les Champs Magnétiques), a collaboration with Soupault, he put the principle of automatic writing into practice. He published the Surrealist Manifesto during 1924, and was editor of La Révolution surréaliste from 1924. A group coalesced around him — Philippe Soupault, Louis Aragon, Paul Éluard, René Crevel, Michel Leiris, Benjamin Péret, Antonin Artaud, and Robert Desnos.

Anxious to combine the themes of personal transformation found in the works of Arthur Rimbaud with the politics of Karl Marx, Breton joined the French Communist Party in 1927, from which he was expelled in 1933. During this time, he survived mostly off the sale of paintings from his art gallery. Under Breton's direction, Surrealism became a European movement that influenced all domains of art, and called into question the origin of human understanding and human perceptions of things and events.

In the 1940’s The Vichy government banned his writings as "the very negation of the national revolution" and Breton escaped, with the help of the American Varian Fry and Harry Bingham, to the United States and the Caribbean in 1941. Breton learned to know Martinican writer Aimé Césaire, and later penned the introduction to the 1947 edition of Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal. During his exile in New York City he met Elisa, the Chilean woman who would become his third wife.

Apollinaire Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki, known as Guillaume Apollinaire was a French poet, writer and art critic born in Italy to a Polish mother.

Among the foremost poets of the early 20th century, he is credited with coining the word "surrealism" and writing one of the earliest works described as surrealist, the play Les Mamelles de Tirésias (1917, used as the

basis for a 1947 opera). Two years after being wounded in World War I, he died at age 38, a victim of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

Apollinaire's first collection of poetry was L'enchanteur pourrissant (1909), but Alcools (1913) established his reputation. The poems, influenced in part by the Symbolists, juxtapose the old and the new, combining traditional poetic forms with modern imagery. In 1913, Apollinaire published the essay Les Peintres cubistes on the cubist painters, a movement which he helped to define. He also coined the term orphism to describe a tendency towards absolute abstraction in the paintings of Robert Delaunay and others.

In 1907, Apollinaire wrote the well-known erotic novel, The Eleven Thousand Rods (Les Onze Mille Verges). Officially banned in France until 1970, various printings of it circulated widely for many years. Apollinaire never publicly acknowledged authorship of the novel.

Jenny Holzer (born 1950 in Gallipolis, Ohio) is an American conceptual artist. She attended Ohio University (in Athens, Ohio), Rhode Island School of Design, and the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Holzer was originally an abstract artist, focusing on painting and printmaking; after moving to New York City in 1977, she began working with text as art. The main focus of her work is the use of words and ideas in public space. Originally utilizing street posters, LED signs became her most visible medium, though her diverse practice incorporates a wide array of media including bronze plaques, painted signs, stone benches and footstools, stickers, T-shirts, condoms, paintings, photographs, sound, video, light projection and the Internet.

Jenny Holzer wrote texts herself for a long time between 1977 and 2001. However since 1993, she has been mainly working with texts written by others. Some of these are literary texts by great authors such as the Polish Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska, Henri Cole (USA), Elfriede Jelinek (Austria), Fadhil Al-Azawi (Iraq), Yehuda Amichai (Israel) and Mahmoud Darwish (Palestine).

She also uses texts from different contexts, such as passages from de-classified US Army documents from the war in Iraq. For example, a large LED work in the exhibition presents excerpts from the minutes of interrogations of American soldiers who had committed human rights violations and war crimes in Abu Ghraib. Here, what was once secret becomes public.

Holzer's works often speak of violence, oppression, sexuality, feminism, power, war and death. Her main concern is to enlighten, bringing to light something thought in silence and was meant to remain hidden.


No comments:

Post a Comment