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Art and poetry should be natural allies, but it’s surprisingly rare to see both commingle as naturally as they did at a recent show at Transfer Gallery in East Williamsburg, <legend> </legend>.
Featuring visual artist Carla Gannis and poet Justin Petropoulos, the show is the couple’s collaborative project of poems and drawings based on text redactions of Edna Kenton’s compendium of folklore on the shape of the Earth, The Book of Earths (1928).
The pair have conjured up a body of work — videos, drawings, sculptures, and installations — from Kenton’s compilation of bizarre ancient stories, including such fantastic tales as the Babylonian theory of a boat-shaped earth to the Aztec rendering of the earth as a cross.
Gannis and Petropoulos have allowed the weirdness of the legends to come through in their presentation. One 3D printed planet with a distinctly human ear amidst a swirl of abstract shapes perfectly encapsulates the juxtaposition of human and mechanical forms that occurs throughout the show — the resulting artistic hippogryphs seem to relish their mutant nature, writhing like flagellum in a petri dish.
The show is accompanied by a catalogue that features poetry by Petropoulos gleaned from The Book of Earths and accompanied by Gannis’s black and white drawings. “detail how a dictionary smells never // mind the membrane sleep in your own skin,” reads one stanza, while a drawing of human forms woven into a field of electronics sits across the page.
The poems themselves are vivid; it isn’t always clear that they were created with words culled from another text. Their rhythms and imagery seem to make for natural fodder for Gannis’s imagination: in the installations, a quilt of patterns and forms dance together like stained glass across a brocade. So many threads connect the works in this show that it feels difficult to talk about one work as distinct from the others, and this includes the catalogue, which simply feels like another limb of this corpus. The only thing that becomes fully obscured in the process is Kenton’s original book, which disappears into the background as a distant ancestor to this artistic progeny.
The show can be overwhelming, as words, images, projections, and surfaces are jammed with lines and patterns of all types. A more minimal display could have allowed for the meditation required to crack the surface of these dense works. Later, reading the book of poems and drawings at home, I easily saw glimpses of the poetic nature of the works that were not obvious at first in the display— it was something that I wished was more apparent in the gallery show itself.
Kenton’s book appears to offer the couple a springboard for their rich imaginations, but the final product pulls back from making their combined visions clear. Perhaps this is the type of show that seeps into your dreams, like an archetype or folkloric tale, and it will have a long life as it is transmitted online and broadcast through other channels. What <legend> </legend> reinforces is the increasingly apparent reality that gallery shows, even if they are a staple of the art world today, don’t always do justice to the full fruits of our visual imagination.
Carla Gannis and Justin Petropoulos’s <legend> </legend> concluded at Transfer Gallery (1030 Metropolitan Avenue, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn) on Sunday, September 28. A copy of the accompanying book is available jadedibisproductions.com.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…