KG: Your work as a curator seems to happen in and around interdisciplinary nexii. Maybe I see it that way because of my sense that in the contemporary moment we’re seeing increasingly blurred genre boundaries. I wanted to talk to you mainly to get a sense of whether or not you think of your work as inter-generic curating. You’ve curated talks, films, live drawing performances, sometimes all in the same event; you curated for a couple of years for the Segue Poetry Series; within your art curation there have been books, art with language and writing as a major feature …
KS: Over the past few years I’ve produced exhibitions and events under a wide spectrum of parameters — from simple one-artist exhibitions (or two-poet readings) to collaborative models that I formulate and solicit participation for, to freelance curating where the work is preselected and I’m expected to synthesize, manage, and optimize the presentation. Each particular matrix of strictures and priorities has been productive and hugely rewarding for me, in terms of flexing my muscles as a facilitator of discourse in different contexts. So beyond focusing on formal variety among the cultural material I work with, I’m more interested in talking about the inter-structural status of my organizing itself — especially per curated events in a museum context, which for me have a bearing somewhere between poetry reading and exhibition.
A few years ago Darren Wershler-Henry visited us from Toronto. His book of 2000, The Tapeworm Foundry, was being celebrated by an exhibit in the KWH gallery ("KWH Arts," we called that ongoing project then — now The Brodsky Gallery). Kaegan Sparks commissioned a number of Writers House-affiliated people each to make art from an instruction of the sort that fills Darren's book. I wrote about this at the time of the exhibit.
One artist dipped her long hair into calligraphy ink and dragged it across long rolls of paper (this is actually a classic Fluxus piece). Another person created an inky footprint and then ran it through an OCR (text-recognition) program and printed the “language” that resulted and put the two up on the wall, side by side. Another pair of artists counted all the periods (at ends of sentences) in all the books on a Writers House bookshelf, then printed out the periods on 8.5 x 11" paper and wrapped the bookshelf in the paper.
While Darren was in the house, I gathered him, Kaegan and Kenny Goldsmith in my office, and the four of us talked about Darren's book and the exhibit, and about conceptual poetics/concrete poetry generally. This is the newest in the series of "PennSound podcasts", and please have a listen.
1. Links to works produced for the exhibit. 2. Video recording of the opening program. 3. Photos of the event. 4. Text of Tapeworm available at UbuWeb.
A few days back--Jan. 19--the newest exhibit in our art gallery was celebrated at an opening party and presentation.A few days back--Jan. 19--the newest exhibit in our art gallery was celebrated at an opening party and presentation. The show is titled "Uncommonly Selected: Rorschach Drawings by Jessica Nissen," and the opening featured a talk about Rorschach-derived poetry by Diana Sue Hamilton. As is almost always the case, if you go to our web calendar entry for this event you will see links to the video recording (streaming video) and audio recording (downloadable MP3).
Jessica Nissen splits her time between NYC, where she works as a scenic artist for the entertainment industry and Vermont, where she keeps a studio and occasionally teaches in the Art Dept. of Middlebury College. Nissen received an MFA in painting from the Tyler School of Art in 1998, a BA from Middlebury College in 1990 and earned undergraduate credits from the Rhode Island School of Design and Tyler. She has been a fellow at The Corporation of Yaddo and the Chautauqua Institution. Since 1991 she has exhibited extensively and has participated both as an artist and as an organizer/curator in several large-scale interdisciplinary art events.