Maggie had just arrived in New York and came by my place after visiting Steve Clay. She was in the U.S. for the Bob Cobbing festival at Penn. We talked about Bob's generous spirit but also how generally inhospitable she found England, which often has greeted artists like her with a colossally cold shoulder. Maggie remembered that I always wrote my poems by hand and with a fountain pen, if possible. Or used to anyway. I gave her my favorite current pen, the Impact Gel writer.
Susan Bee‘s Recalculating at A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn examines all of art history through a postmodern lens: as if its most epic battles were appropriated then compressed onto a canvas in a style that is similar to the way that David Salle, Nicole Eisenman, and Cindy Sherman have created their compositions. Without losing her style to a sea of reproductions, Beemaintains Recalculating as an exhibition of paintings that makes its two distinct themes battle each other in order to expose their tenuous theoretical commonalities. On the surface ironic fairy tales of domestic disputes and shattered windows build a film noir representative of today’s sobered ideals. Below the surface is a painterly, Bauhaus-inspired formal deconstruction that sometimes hides beneath objects that are fully rendered. The paintings’ formal tension reflects their dissonant narratives, creating a universality that art aspires to.
Susan Bee: The first series of paintings are stills from film noirs, mostly black-and-whites that I’ve made in color. They’re arranged in an abstract narrative with recurring characters like the man with the hat and the blonde woman, driving, windows, guns – there’s a lot of hints of violence in the film noirs. They usually end badly.
... Poetry’s unpopularity, or anyway the unpopularity of the kind of poetry I want, is part of its cultural condition and so part of its advantage. Its unpopularity may even be popular; that’s poetic logic for you. How about saying that poetry is the research and development wing of verbal language, better understood as collaborative thinking and investigation, at least for some of the practitioners? It doesn’t necessarily express an individual author’s biographical feelings in a conventionally lyrical manner—a great deal of poetry does that, but a great deal doesn’t. The elitism is not poetry’s, but commodity culture’s, which says that value comes exclusively from the market or audience share. Forms of culture that are not immediately accessible to a mass or popular audience also matter. Difficulty is not an obstacle, it is a material means for engagement with the social real. Yes we can.