New
Museum
Online Exhibition

Poetry as Practice

Six poets approach internet language as a bodily, social, and material process.

Cover Image:

Penny Goring, DELETIA – self portrait with no self, 2015 (screenshot). Web-based poem with audio and video. Courtesy the artist

In his 1976 series of Artforum articles, “Inside the White Cube,” Brian O’Doherty made the simple but powerful claim that the art gallery is not a neutral context. Despite its presentation as invisible or natural, the white-painted gallery space asserts a distinct ideological bearing onto the production and exhibition of art.

In similar fashion, the computer and the internet shape the production and reception of poetry. Any text document is supported by a complex ensemble of code, hardware, and infrastructure. On the web, as on paper, there is no such thing as a “blank page.”

Through the work of six poets—Alex Turgeon, Penny Goring, Tan Lin, Ye Mimi, Melissa Broder, and not_I—“Poetry as Practice” considers online poetry as a process embedded in material, technological systems, and everyday, embodied experiences. Released each Monday over a six-week period, these works are newly commissioned, with the exception of Ye’s, and play out across a range of media, including online video, JavaScript, and NewHive. Through this hybrid approach, poetry is considered as media, and digital media—which can be thought of as a linguistic form or computer code—is activated as poetry.

Whether it’s in the use of vernacular styles (Goring’s selfie collages, Ye’s home movies and postcards, Turgeon’s computer illustrations), rule-based composition (Lin and Broder), or self-erasure (not_I), the poets downplay individual authorship and underscore the influence of the surrounding conditions that shape their work. However, they refuse to be overdetermined by these conditions: the works are often introspective in their approach, systematically yet lyrically evoking particular moods and points of view.

One can never remove the speaking subject from the semiology of the system, to paraphrase Julia Kristeva. Poetry cannot stand outside of the conditions of its production and circulation. Instead, poetry as practice speaks within them: embodied, performative, incomplete, often collaborative, and in a constant state of coalescence, always negotiating with the worlds, forms, and subjects that surround it.

Artworks
March 2: Alex Turgeon—Better Homes and Gardens Revisited
Alex Turgeon’s GIF poems (“Poor Door,” “Double Bubble,” “If Walls Could Talk) combine spare, black-and-white illustrations with animated calligrams; in his work, line drawing and the lines of a poem function interchangeably.

Alex Turgeon is an artist and poet based in Berlin. He is Founding Editor of the literary arts e-journal General Fine Arts and Director of Creative Development at the digital publisher Version House. His work has been recently exhibited at Toves, Copenhagen; the AIRBNB Pavilion, Venice; and Motto Distribution, Berlin (all 2014). His most recent publication, Listen (Motto Books, 2014), is available online via Motto Distribution and Art Metropole.

March 9: Penny Goring
DELETIA – self portrait with no self (2015) is a seventy-plus-page epic created on the web platform NewHive that includes, among other things, an original font produced by Goring named “Hell Lobster”—a mix of Helvetica and lobster.

Penny Goring lives in London.

March 16: Tan Lin
Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Systems Theory (2015) uses a script to pit two books—which address subjects known for their difficulty to master—against each other at hundreds of words per minute. Programming by Charles Charles Broskoski.

Tan Lin is the author of Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe (2000), BlipSoak01 (2003), Ambience is a Novel with a Logo (2007), Heath (Plagiarism/Outsource) (2009), and 7 Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking (2010). His work has appeared in numerous journals including Conjunctions, Artforum, Cabinet, New York Times Book Review, Art in America, and Purple, and his video, theatrical, and LCD work has been exhibited widely. He currently teaches creative writing at New Jersey City University.

March 23: Ye Mimi
The poetry film Was Being Moved? (2011) takes the form of a series of postcards to a “Mr. Parade,” interspersed with vignettes of public rituals and street life in Chicago, New York City, and Taiwan. It features music composed and played by Taiwanese musician Yujun Wang.

Ye Mimi is a Taiwanese poet and filmmaker. Having earned an MFA in creative writing at Dong Hwa University and an MFA in film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she is the author of two volumes of poetry and has exhibited several of her poetry films internationally. Through collaging her words and images, she improvises a new landscape, trying to erase the border between poetry and image making. A bilingual chapbook of her poems was recently published by Anomalous Press under the title His Days Go by the Way Her Years (2013).

March 30: Melissa Broder
R Minus Seven (2015) by Melissa Broder (@melissabroder) is a collection of ekphrastic poetry that was written in response to Oneohtrix Point Never’s album R Plus Seven (Warp Records, 2013), which is in turn a reference to the Oulipo procedural writing technique “N+7.” Each poem is presented in a NewHive layout designed by the poet.

Melissa Broder is the author of three collections of poems, most recently SCARECRONE (Publishing Genius Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Tin House, the Iowa Review, Fence, the Missouri Review, Denver Quarterly, and Guernica, among others.

April 6: not_I
not_I’s The Fall presents a series of “erasures” of poems from Ana Božičević’s second full-length collection Rise in the Fall (Birds, LLC, 2013), navigated using cursor scroll-overs and image overlays.

Ana Božičević and Sophia Le Fraga create and perform as not_I. They are the poetry faculty at BHQFU, New York.

Curator

Harry Burke is a writer based in London. His ebook of poetry, City of God, produced in collaboration with the architect Alessandro Bava, was published by Version House in September 2014. In the same year he edited the poetry anthology I Love Roses When They’re Past Their Best, published by Test Centre. His writing has been published by Rhizome and Arcadia Missa Publications and has appeared in Mousse, Flash Art, and Spike Art Quarterly, among other magazines.

“Poetry as Practice” is copresented by Rhizome and the New Museum as part of First Look: New Art Online.

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Sponsors

Major support for First Look is provided by the Neeson/Edlis Artist Commissions Fund.

Additional support is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and by the Toby Devan Lewis Emerging Artists Exhibitions Fund.

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