Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Bury Text Festival: a map of you

Philip writes:

...There are two satellite exhibitions to the Text Festival: Requiem in the Fusiliers' Museum and a map of you in Bury Transport Museum. I've guest curated the Transport Museum show, using a selection of works by visual poets and artists placed as poetic interrogations of the exhibits and the visitors. Where are you heading? What space do you carry in your head, what kind of map?

The exhibition includes work by seminal poetic experimenters Robert Grenier, Bob Cobbing, Paula Claire, bp Nichol as well as noted artists Jurgen Olbrich and Rainer Ganahl. But two pieces are especially worthy of mention in this dispatch – one is a miniature tour de force by Marton Koppany, the other a sequence of outsider-ish pieces made by homeless people.

This show takes its title from the arthur+martha visual poetry project a map of you with homeless people in Manchester and Bury. These postcards in bus windows carry tiny handwritten stories,  fragmentary reports of homeless people's lives in Manchester and Bury. Funny, troubled, elusive. The modest pieces are adapted tourist postcards of Manchester with landmark buildings removed and text written into the white space that's left. Like the works by Widener and fellow outsider Harald Stoffers, they're emotionally direct, powered by focussing instinct and the moment. They sidestep the self-regarding careerism that sometimes hangs around galleries and instead substitute honesty and even a kind of grace.

These are works made in extremis, not in some academic snug. They speak their vulnerability with their own material – the scurrying handwriting, the cheapness of the found objects they're scribed upon, the mis-spells, the brevity of expression – as if they know all too well their place in the pecking order... (Essay extract)

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