The Public Poem

EDITOR’S NOTE: THE WEEK OF  MARCH 11TH IN NEW YORK, THE CITY OF HIS CHILDHOOD, ALAIN ARIAS-MISSON WILL BE PRESENTING SEVERAL EXCITING EVENTS: THE FIRST IS A SHOW AT EMILY HARVEY FOUNDATION WHERE HE USED TO SHOW HIS WORK IN THE LATE ’70’S EARLY EARLY ’80’S. THERE WILL ALSO BE AN EVENT AT WHITE BOX (SEE PREVIOUS POST HERE.) MORE NEWS TO FOLLOW. IF YOU’RE IN THE AREA OR PLANNING TO VISIT, ALAIN WILL BE THERE TO GREET YOU WITH A SMILE.

THE PUBLIC POEM by ALAIN ARIAS-MISSON

Alain Arias-Misson, born in Brussels, educated mostly in the U.S., describes himself as “a real fake-American, a fake real-Belgian”—a dual identity which extended into his life’s work: American novelist by vocation with seven books of experimental fiction, and European artist by accident-as one of the initiators of the visual poetry movement in the early sixties in Spain, Belgium, France and Italy. His works are represented in museums and galleries throughout Europe and the United States. His invention of the Public Poem in 1966-67, however, was a singular poetic experience: he decided he could “write on the street like a page”. His Public Poems or street-texts have since disrupted city life in a score of cities in Europe and the U.S.. 

The exhibition consists of a graphic-documentary illustration of his Public Poems and a video of seven Public Poems—on the occasion of the publication in the current issue of Performance Arts Journal of his Public Poems as the Artist’s Drawings section. Arias-Misson has deliberately enacted his Public Poems outside the “performances” circuit, in order to avoid an elitist art context: always taking place in the city streets, focal point of signs and polis, political-cultural milieu, the Public Poem uses minimal linguistic elements (such as grammatical symbols, let­ters, cartoon balloons) and iconic signs (masks, figures, materials) to point to or to frame an underlying city-text—in the symbolic and the functional aspects of traffic, police, monuments, public buildings, business, political and art institutions etc.. The public he addresses in the first place is the public in the street. Having begun this “street-poetry” in the Sixties, an era of cultural and urban effervescence, he feels that today with “Occupy Wall Street” and mass street demonstrations, his work again enjoys an aesthetic-social dynamic.

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Madrid 1971                                                         Berlin 1991

THE PUBLIC POEM

(40 years of a street poetics)

 a one evening presentation/screening of documents & videos

Emily Harvey Foundation
537 Broadway
Thursday March 14th, 6 – 9 PM

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AND MORE… what a lineup! Don’t miss this on March 15th!

Literary Evening 1

Start celebrating early — read THE MAN WHO WALKED ON AIR & OTHER TALES OF INNOCENCE

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White Box Rocks on March 16th

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On Saturday, March 16, 2013, for one night only, White Box (329 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002 | Tel: 212-714-2347) will present an evening, subject to impromptus, of video-film presentations, performances (including the shortest musical piece in the history of music), readings and interpretations in what could only be described as a not-to-be-missed ‘Avant-Garde Variety Show’, orchestrated by the one and only Alain Arias-Misson.

Alain Arias-Misson, a Belgian-American living in Paris and one of the inventors of visual poetry in the early sixties, will comment on a brief video-film of his notorious Public Poems, street-texts that have disrupted city life in a score of cities; and will read a short story from his seventh (erotic) book, The Man Who Walked on Air & other Tales of Innocence, published by Black Scat Books.

Frédéric Acquaviva, self-taught experimental French musician and performer living in Berlin, has published 17 single CDs of his work and written 30 compositions performed at institutions in Europe and the U.S. He will perform the shortest musical piece in the history of music, and read a text in Google Translation English regarding his discovery of this DNA of sound. He will show his hieratic/demotic short videos and a music video of a piece performed at the Fenice Theater of Venice, accompanied by
yawns.

William Niederkorn and Yolanda Hawkins, musicians, performance artists and founders of the True Comedy Theatre Company of NYC, which has staged original plays over the past three decades, will present an excerpt from a work in progress: a couple of artists at a party discuss the situation of the East Village, overrun by students mortgaging their lives to go to NYU, Wall Street types revving up the housing market, curators phoning them to get them to donate their lives’ work to the nonprofit institutions that afford the curators summer residencies in Provence.

Where is Kirghiz Steppes?

Or perhaps the question should be what is Kirghiz Steppes?

It’s a new collection of verbo-visual art by M. Kasper.

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A glance at the stunning cover photograph by Toby Kasper beckons us to visit a barely describable world of weirdness. Weird yes, but subtle enough that one may easily mistake it for our own.

Then again, maybe it is.

M. Kasper’s verbo-visual art has appeared—mirage-like—in many small press magazines and journals over the years. The artist’s exquisitely designed books—e.g., The Shapes and Spacing of the Letters (highmoonoon/Hollywood & The London Institute of ‘Pataphysics)—are legendary and highly collectible. 

Kirghiz Steppes is a unique, limited edition album featuring one-page pieces mixing words and pictures—parodies, comics, captioned collages, concrete poems, etc.—made since the 1970’s. It is truly a world unto itself.

We think you’ll enjoy the journey.

UPDATE 5/18/2014  — THIS TITLE IS OUT OF PRINT

 

A Rave for Captain Cap!

CHEERS

Doug Skinner’s sublime translation of Alphonse Allais’s Captain Cap (Vol. I) has received a rave from the prestigious Leonardo Reviews in the UK. The complete text is now available online at this link

The review was written by Edith Doove (University of Plymouth) and here are a few excerpts:

“The translation into English of Captain Cap as the first in a series of three is both welcome and very timely. It is welcome since the Absurdist Texts & Documents Series by Black Scat Books project has filled an important void since the only other English venture into Allais’ writing, The World of Alphonse Allais, translated by Miles Kingston and published in hardback by Chatto & Windus in 1976, was made available in a paperback in 2008. But apart from long awaited, Captain Cap also comes at a timely moment because of the fact that its ironies are particularly opposite today as we witness global intellectual colonisation. The importance of not forgetting about the French context and its originality for a true understanding of this text was underlined by the former director of the National Library of France Jean-Noël Jeanneney when he launched a counter-attack against the American (U.S.A) imperialism by Google Books in which search results for European writers initially were mostly provided in English, (which resulted in the establishment of the Europeana Libraries – http://www.europeana-libraries.eu). The first book that Jeanneney showed in the course of recent documentary ‘Google and the World Brain’ (BBC, 2013) was Diderot’s Encyclopédie, which, without wanting to be overly chauvinistic, does put things in the right order. He dryly remarks (in French with English sub-titles) that on being confronted with the gift of a small thermo flask, brought to him by a Google Book VP in order to win him over, it was clear to him that they clearly did not understand who the director of the National Library of France actually was, or better, what he (commercially) represents. The documentary also identified similar misunderstandings or even better ‘misreadings’ by Google Books when, for example, the initial cataloguing of Walt Whitman’s famous book of poems ‘Leaves of Grass’ went under Gardening, and when it failed to recognize that Japanese books need to be scanned vertically rather than horizontally, turning any search result in complete nonsense. Such faux pas are hilarious after the event rather than the absurd way in which Allais’ texts actually points to – even anticipates – these kinds of dangers in an indirect or implicit way. So aside from the sheer pleasure of meeting an old friend, his observations have relevance now more than 100 years later.”

“This publication of Captain Cap is a little gem. It is wonderful that not-for profit publisher Black Scat Books, which seems to operate in true pataphysical tradition with former bookstore owner Norman Conquest (sic) as its ‘Président-Fondateur’ clearly respecting its French origins, has taken the initiative to bring Allais’ text to the attention of the English-speaking world.”

And on that note, let us remind you the edition is limited. You can order a copy here while they last.

Hooray for Captain Cap!

Coming Soon

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Ah, the merry month of March hath arrived, and that means the “Pleasure” issue of Black Scat Review will soon be available. In addition to its provocative cover photograph by Eleanor Bennett (a British sixteen year old of astounding talent), the magazine features nearly 80 pages of pleasurable art & fiction by Alain Arias-Misson, Jonathan Baumbach, Guy R. Beining, Miggs Burroughs, Pierre Henri Cami, John Crombie, Farewell Debut, Jacinta EscudosStephen D. Gutierrez, Harold Jaffe, Richard Kostelanetz, Terri Lloyd, Samantha Memi, Opal Louis Nations, Derek PellDoug Skinner, and D. Harlan Wilson.

This is one issue you won’t want to miss, and to avoid such a catastrophe simply enter your email address in the box in the column at left (below “Join the Underground”).  How hard is that?

March on!