Sunday, January 11, 2009

The muddy music of Robert Goetz's ink squid

I'm continuing a selective retrospective of past Poetry Scores art invitationals, with the principle of selection being work that I purchased, because that's the work I can get my eyes and scanner on. This gorgeous diptych is titled The Muddy Music of the Ink Squid and is the work of Robert Goetz, in response to the surrealist Turkish poem Blind Cat Black by Ece Ayhan, translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat.

The pieces in the diptych are prints. Goetz studied printmaking as a graduate student at Washington University, which is what brought him to St. Louis from San Antonio (there may have been other stops in between). This was prexisting work that he provisionally retitled for the purpose of the 2006 Blind Cat Black invitational, which we held at Mad Art Gallery.

Goetz has since moved onto conceptual multimedia work, more likely to include an immolated automobile or a horse dropping dung to the floor of a gallery while Goetz and Brett Williams (aka Nosey Parker) present a lecture on the history of bad guys in the cowboy tradition, rather than visually pleasing prints of this sort. Though, who the hell knows; that's the fun part about artists, for those of us who are not afraid of change, or who find enough things to enjoy about change to live with our fears of it.

To this day, I have never asked myself what about this diptych fits with the piece of the poem selected for the title, The Muddy Music of the Ink Squid. Nor do I care. I love the title and I love the work and I enjoy the disjunction between the two, while accepting that both the title and the prints are so evocative that any number of connections could be made and played with. This all falls square within the realm of what I like to do with language and art and poetry scores.

Here's a bit more context for that haunting title, from the poem itself:


Babyleaves That Kill the Raven or the Poison Tree

He ran away on a steamboat, a jalopy but quick. Playing, unknowable, the muddy music of the ink squid.

He shelters his violet eyes in bursts of laughter. He has no bad friends. Blond. Overwrought, drunk.

He tattooed another pharaoh on his biceps. The fall when children and school openings collide. In Mitsrayim.

- Ece Ayhan, translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat


Matt Fuller and I scored this entire prose poem as a rock song that we recorded with Three Fried Men, using Pops Farrar's reading of the piece for the vocal. Then we liked that ink squid line so much we pulled it back out again and used it as the title for a guitar instrumental that Matt worked out in his sister's garage in Los Angeles, overlooking a stripmall where Scarlett Johansson played many of her scenes in Ghost World.

Free mp3s

"Babyleaves that kill the raven or the poison tree"
(Pops Farrar with Three Fried Men)

The muddy music of the ink squid
(Three Fried Men)

From Blind Cat Black, a poetry score produced by Chris King, available at independent shops in St. Louis and wherever my car is parked.

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