Tag Archive | "Arnaldo Calveyra"

On Now: ¡Basta Ya De Prosa! Exhibition


¡Basta Ya De Prosa! exhibit at OSDE in microcentro. (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

‘That’s enough prose!’ might sound like a byline from a hackneyed modernist manifesto, but there’s nothing stockpiled about this inventively curated exhibition, which marks the 25th anniversary of Diario de Poesía, one of Argentina’s most prestigious literary publications.

Founded by the poet and translator Daniel Samoilovich in 1986, the journal emerged against the backdrop of cultural and political discontent that marked the tail end of the military dictatorship.

In retrospect, its success was unsurprising. The journal filled the creative vacuum that materialised during years of heavy censorship and swiftly gained a reputation as an iconic artistic forum, instrumental in injecting the art world with the thrilling momentum of experimentation and collaboration.

Modelled on San Francisco’s beat magazine, ‘Poetry Flash’, it strove to cut a fine balance between international poets and prodigious homegrown talent such as Juan L.Ortiz and Arnaldo Calveyra. Its first edition set the benchmark with beat poet Allen Ginsberg, and it has remained at the forefront of the artistic avant-garde scene ever since.

Translation has long been the magazine’s trademark, with first and definitive translations by Samoilovich and Mirta Rosenberg, providing a platform for Argentine readers of poets such as Seamus Heaney, Paul Celan and Lee Harwood.

But unlike the coterie spirit fostered by most literary publications, attracting the masses through a tabloid-style and popular modes of circulation was integral to the paper’s conception.

Radically removing poetry from its elevation and obscurity as the manna of the elite, Diario de Poesía made a case for poetry as a spontaneous extension of mainstream, popular culture. Brazen vanguard headlines are tempered, for example, by an image of Patti Smith; a Philip Larkin poem features alongside lyrics by Tom Waits.

Whilst anniversary shows can run the risk of alienating the casual visitor by presenting an exhaustive anthology, this exhibition – curated by Viviana Usubiaga – radiates in its scale and ambition. By honing in on sketches and photographs created specifically for the quarterly editions, it charts the journal’s pivotal role in fostering an ongoing dialogue between poets and visual artists.

“The work of a painter, so comparable, so close in substance to the work of a poet’s,” Edgar Bayley wrote in the 11th issue of Diario de Poesía, “isn’t it that which keeps us continually alert, awake, attentive?”

No one fostered this cross-fertilization of the arts more fervently than the journal’s artistic directors Eduardo Stupía and Juan Pablo Renzi . The later’s graphic print ‘Boy Out of Window’ and trompe l’oeil oil ‘Interior with a tablecloth’ are among the highlights of the show.

Renzi, who died in 1992, was responsible for the classic, versatile five-column format which still adorns the magazine’s cover today, and he didn’t rest there. For Renzi, the idea of form was intricately bound up with content: typography and print are thus meticulously manipulated to reflect the tone of the work.

25 years of Diario de Poesia (Photo: Beatrice Murch)

With its collage-like layout, the paper celebrates the suggestive, unexpected, and often humourous connections that arise between text and image. Breaking down cultural hierarchies and championing a democratic mode of art, poetry is seen as a process of exchange and interaction rather than as a static entity.

The ‘Artist Pages’, a staple section of the paper, feature everything from a delightful series of cartoony graphic prints, accompanied by overviews of the artists’ work, to comic strips and reproductions of iconic paintings.

Highlights include León Ferrari’s provocative interpretation of Angel Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin Mary, ‘The Gospel According to Matthew’, and Guillermo Kuitca’s deceptively simple modern-day Atlas, ‘The Weight of the World’.

Valentina Rebasa holds her ground on the photographic end with a furtive series of prints of women, all of whom bear a remarkable similarity to the artist. The traditional concept of the self-portrait is thus radically reconfigured in Rebasa’s ‘other-portrait’, in which the self comes to be seen as a construct of others.

Poetry has its cameo part to play in film too, with screenings from the classics ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’. Incorporating a poem into a film’s flow has the effect of slowing down its tempo – the automatism of the cinematic image is momentarily confronted by the ‘other’ historical time frame of the poem, allowing its lines to echo subtly through the main plot.

Gathering Joseph Cornell’s ‘found footage’, Kurt Schwitter’s sound poems and the nonsense lyrics of Edward Lear under one roof, the exhibition is testimony to the endless inventiveness of the poetic form, and to the ever-fertile dialogue that Diario de Poesía continues to sponsor between artists and poets.

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