Thursday, 19 November 2009
Speech is code
Day 8, 9. Tues/Wed 10+11th Nov
I don’t heed differences between text artists and poets anymore. In the 1980s I went to poetry readings with a feeling of heaviness – I knew that the real game was done here, that Elvis, Pound, Eliot and Bunting had vacated the building. What was left was leftover, warmed and rancid. I didn’t realise that the heart was still ticking underground. At the same time I’d go to art shows and see works by Lawrence Weiner, Jenny Holzer et al that adrenalised me. They were sharp and they were of the now.
It took my brother Ian to make the point to me: Trust your instincts: if the artists seem interesting, follow the artists. If you don’t respect the poets you’re supposed to like, find some new ones. Which is what I did, which led me first to Bob Cobbing, then to Tony Trehy, to the Text Festival and now to Chongqing.
This is a place where the link between language and image is absolute. It is a place where to write properly you must inhabit the characters as you make them – you are painting, not spelling. To be fully present, to focus during the physical act of writing is the fundament, the fountain of meaning. And the characters themselves are cousins to an ancient script in which words are pictures of rivers, faces, mountains, birds. No wonder I am drawn to it.
It is in these two days that my project, the heart of why I’m here, starts to move.