Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dante, Cromwell & the phenomenon of the century

I have invited myself to show in the 2009 Poetry Scores Art Invitational, and though I'm not yet sure if I will accept my invitation, I have begun making "work" for the show - if you can call it work to draw a caricature of an historical personage with a Sharpie by copying off a portrait displayed on a laptop screen subsequent to a Google image search.

The premise of our Invitationals is that artists have to make work that responds to the poem we are scoring and is titled after a verbatim scrap of the poem. This year we are scoring The Sydney Highrise Variations by the Australian poet Les Murray, which has a movement that meditates on the phenomenon of the century as a concept for a unit of time. He decides it's a modern invention.

The Nineteenth Century. The Twentieth Century.
There were never any others. No centuries before these.
Dante was not hailed in his time as an Authentic
Fourteenth Century Voice. Nor did Cromwell thunder, After all,
in the bowels of Christ, this is the Seventeenth Century
! *
Since it's kind of my thing to draw faces of people, I thought it would be fun to draw Dante and Cromwell, name the drawings after those verbatim quotes from the poem - "Dante" and "Cromwell" - and import the funny things Les writes about the poet and the Lord Protector as a caption and a speech bubble.

My technique, if you can call it that, resembles the bad drawings in coloring books used in Sunday school, and in fact I have my six-year-old Leyla coloring my discards. They look quite a bit better than my untinted drawings, so if I do accept my invitation, I'll probably put out a stack of Leyla's colorations near my "work".

If I accept my invitation, it won't be the first time. Last year I drew the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara as a banker, an image in K. Curtis Lyle's poem Nailed Seraphim, subject of our 2008 Invitational.

The Sydney Highrise Art Invitational is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 13 at The Luminary Center for the Arts. It will have plenty of real, actual artists making real, actual art; if anything, I'll provide a little comic relief.

More in this series

Edmondson to make pinewood derby for Invitational
Dana Smith confirms for 2009 Art Invitational
Colin Michael Shaw confirms for 2009 Art Invitational

* Free mp3

I really like the way we scored this part of the poem, by the way, in the song “The C19-20” (Les' name for the hybrid century that he considers the first century). That's the poet himself fronting Three Fried Men, with Yo La Tengo's producer Roger Moutenot on drums.

No comments: