The seminar is a convergence of the two entities: right there where Marcel Duchamp’s infrathin space-between-spaces and the students’ own experiments with language meet. Where “The dictatorship of grammar” (#100) is only there to be overthrown. Where “The vibrations from sound, audible yet invisible” (#243) are nonetheless seen. Where the space “Between saying and meaning” (#385) is also known as the classroom. Where one is by design never forced to choose “Between passion and purpose” (#993). As Goldsmith has enjoyed saying to anyone within earshot, the poetry world is more than a half-century behind the visual art world; experiments in painting, sculpture and conceptual art have been doing things that most poets and poetics people have heretofore felt impossible or unnecessary. The term “behind” suggests a competition, but of course it’s not that. It’s not a course (as it were) with a finish line or single endpoint. It’s a means, a movement defying conventional academic evaluation, a way toward fresh conception through educational defamiliarization. The success of the project comes from putting the two worlds aesthetically — and pedagogically — together. Thus will emerge, we expect, a new generation of artists and arts-minded citizens who are actively uninterested in distinctions between the arts; they know it’s all one project.
Every other year Kenneth Goldsmith teaches a year-long seminar on writing about/through contemporary art. The 2017-18 seminar was held as a collaboration of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at Penn and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (in particular the Modern division) — and the students created their own version of Duchamp's infrathins. In a few weeks a book containing the students' Duchampian compositions will be published, and it will include the following prefatory statement by me.
In Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith’s introductory essays to Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, the authors trace the algorithmic-appropriative condition of Conceptual writing back through Conceptual art to its emergence in the work of Marcel Duchamp. (The volume’s excerpts from Stéphane Mallarmé’s 1874 La Dernière Mode, or Denis Diderot’s eighteenth-century literary appropriation, seem to represent anachronistic exceptions to their rule.) For Dworkin and Goldsmith, Duchamp is the heroic initiator of
Poet, artist, composer and publisher Dick Higgins’ culminating work might be his 1987 study, Pattern Poetry: Guide to an Unknown Literature. The categories he draws up, and the drawing up of them, are as fascinating as the examples in this profusely illustrated book. Categories that replace received notions of prosody in visual terms call for new units of measure. Why replace? Because we equate poetry with verse, using the old would make the term “pattern poetry” redundant, short-circuiting its explanatory power.
The southern New Critics bequeathed to generations of American English students a reductive but serviceable distillation of poetics into versification, fickly defining prosody as according to an obviously conservative set of lyric values. But “the new criticism” was a phrase coined by Joel Spingarn, whose impressionistic depiction of poetry carried little of the taxonomic and finally deadening thrust of “close reading.” Close reading had to do with hearing (the inner voice) and looked at a page only closely enough to take a strictly alphabetic set of cues. This kind of inspection could be quickly learned and reading poetry thereby could be easily tested.
When Alan Bernheimer hosted Bill Berkson on the In the American Tree radio program, September 7, 1979, Berkson read eleven poems, including “Duchamp Dream,” and “Camera Ready Like a Dream.” Although this recording has been available through PennSound for several years, only today have we had a chance to sort out the poems he read on that occasion, and to segment them. Go to PennSound's Bill Berkson page for links to these poems, and more.
Marjorie Perloff visited the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia for most of four days this week – as a Kelly Writers House Fellow. For three hours on Monday, she met with 21 undergraduates in the so-called Writers House Fellows Seminar; they had read and discussed her writings for the previous five weeks. That evening – April 25, 2011 – she gave a 55-minute talk that, in part, offered the full context for Marcel Duchamp's attempt to exhibit his pseudonymous readymade, "Fountain" (1917).
Marcel Duchamp on painting: "I don't believe in the magic of the hand." Q. "Why did you retire from the world of art?" A. "I couldn't tell you why. I never had any why... Painting always bored me."
From a television interview conducted by Russell Connor on the occasion of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts exhibit of the work of Duchamp’s brother, Jacques Villon, 1964.
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Here are the full details about the video:
Marcel Duchamp Interviewed by Russell Connor Museum of Fine Arts Boston in association with WGBH-TV 1964, 29:02 min, b&w;, sound
Russell Connor interviews Marcel Duchamp on the occasion of the Boston Museum of Fine Art's exhibition of the work of Duchamp's brother, "Impressionist-Cubist" Jacques Villon (formerly Gaston Duchamp). Connor first introduces paintings, etchings, sculpture and lithographs by Villon, and is then joined by Duchamp, who discusses Villon's work and contributes his thoughts on art in general. This fascinating document gives the viewer a rare opportunity to hear the legendary Dadaist as he reveals observations on the state of art in the 1960's.
Presented by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in association with WGBH-TV, Boston and the Livell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council. Director: Allan Hinderstein. Lighting Director: Linda Beth Hepler. Video: Al Potter. Audio: Will Morton. Recordist: Pat Kane. Associate Producer: Thalia Kennedy. Executive Producer: Patricea Barnard.