Sunday, October 25, 2009

"The Cantilevered Behometh" by Stefene Russell

This is a working draft toward Stefene Russell's contribution to the 2009 Poetry Scores Art Invitational, The Cantilevered Behometh.

The title is chosen from The Sydney Highrise Variations by Les Murray, and the work responds to the poem. The piece will be hung in the show depending on where in the flow of the poem the language chosen for the title appears.

The Invitational/silent auction will be held at The Luminary Center for the Arts (located at 4900 Reber Pl. at Kingshighway, just across the street from Tower Grove Park) 6-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, with an after-party following just down the block at The Royale.

I asked Stef how she made this and what she was thinking.
I scanned in pages from an old British Xmas catalog, Gamage's - it had that old-school Brit feeling that lurks in a lot of the corners of the poem. At first I was thinking those "archaic spirits" Les mentions were Aboriginal, since he writes about that a lot, but when I really got to thinking about Modernist architecture, it seemed like a direct reaction to that sort of dark, wooden, repressed Victorian thing, the sort of world that the Xmas catalog represented.

This could just be my wingnut theory, but seems to me the Industrial Revolution in Europe, when it squashed this whole old Celtic world of nature spirits & tribes but it soaked some of it up at the same time, or at least its shadow (e.g. Blake's "Satanic Mills"). & that those white boxes, and high-rises, were sort of an attempt to scrape off that creepy Victorian darkness that still had in it elements of the old, old world, or at least a very enraged & pushed-underground aspect of it (in Australia too, not just England - that Crown exerts a heavy influence).

Like building closer to heaven to get away from the cthonic, in a way. But there it is, flying around like a kite ... it shows up anyway. If that makes any sense! Anyway, it'll get printed & mounted & painted, but pretty subtly. I am excited about it.
I thought that improvised email had so many varied insights into Les' poem that I printed it out for him, along with this image, and will post it to him in Australila tomorrow, along with a long hand-written letter from me.

My band, Three Fried Men, set this part of the poem to music for the poetry score - we even used this phrase for the song title.


"The cantilevered behometh"
(Matt Fuller, Chris King, Les Murray)
Three Fried Men

Recorded by Lij at The Toy Boy
Mixed by Adam Long

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