Some artists cannot afford to believe that aesthetics are not inextricably tied to politics. In my final post of the series, I continue summarizing the significance of artists who, in giving expression to their visions of truth and meaning, ultimately resist normative discourses by refracting status quo representations of the world.
II. Refraction as Resistance: A Poetics of Non-linear
Deviating, shifting, indirect, crooked paths, “constant state of motion, dispersion, and permeability.”
I began with an accumulation, a sense of something, and this question: What is the significance of ‘refractive poetics’ for artists who identify with the margins or address alternative modes of seeing?
If refraction reorients boundaries and shapes that we take for granted, then this literal impulse lies at the center of the well-known cut-paper silhouettes of Kara Walker, which I now examine through the lens of translation and refraction. In Gone: An Historical Romance of Civil War as it Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of a Young Negress and Her Heart (1994), the title itself is an off-center re-naming of Gone with the Wind, the famous romance novel set in the South during the Civil War. What do the contents of such an intentionally unsettling translation entail?
This past Monday, English 111 -- my Experimental Writing seminar (offered through Penn's Creative Writing Program) -- visited the ICA and the students performed their poems, written in response to the show, as well as to the 5oth anniversary ICA show on the second floor. Brooke Sietinsons was there taking pictures. The full set of photograph is on Flicker.