Translating across literature poetry and art

17th of December 2020
Chair Dr. Matthew Bowman with Michelle Pocok


14:00 – 14:15 and 5min Q and A

A Completed Portrait of Abstract Expressionist Film: An Adaptation of a Poem By Gertrude Stein
Carl Schmitz

This paper applies the cross-disciplinary acceptance of Gertrude Stein as a Cubist to a further ‘poetic translation’ within comparative art history. In considering Stein’s poem “If I Told Him, A Completed Portrait of Picasso” as an art object in relation to the visual work of Picasso, I argue that the analytical basis behind the essential Cubist qualities of the poem can trace the new possibility of Abstract Expressionist film. The films of Weldon Kees (Hotel Apex, 1952) and Frank O’Hara (The Last Clean Shirt, 1964)—poets generally associated with Abstract Expressionism—will be of primary concern in this

Although the underlying research question is fundamentally historiographic, the ramifications of this paper are writ large within the exhibition space. Combining a fresh and expansive view of medium specificity with Michael Ann Holly’s suggestion that arguments in art history should shift from narrative influence to innuendo and implication, there are vast possibilities for rethinking how art collections are currently organized and engaging audiences with the development of new art histories.

Carl Schmitz is an independent art historian and catalogue raisonné scholar. BA: Art History and Visual Culture (University of California at Santa Cruz), MA: Aesthetics and Politics (California Institute of the Arts), LinkedIn profile. Most widely distributed publication (research staff): Richard Diebenkorn: The Catalogue Raisonné (Yale University Press, 2016); most recent essay: “Six on Sausalito.” On-going research interests: Abstract Expressionism, catalogues raisonnés, the poet Weldon Kees; current interests include relating object-based art history to art historiography.

14:20 – 14:35 and 5min Q and A

Lines of transition: Translation in the work of Cy Twombly
Nadine Henrich

American artist Cy Twombly’s practice is rooted in the engagement with literature and history. His line is a hybrid between text and image, and challenged the very definition of an image in the art theoretical discourse. When studying Twombly’s sources it becomes evident that his books focus on translation, exploring the nuances between literal, free, paraphrase or versioning practices. While the research on the literary and poetic references of his work is vast, his genuine interest in translation processes has been overlooked. Twombly collected 1st editions as well as facsimiles and manuscripts of books, which documented the translator’s process. He embarked in an „archeological investigation“ of tracing the notes, marks, comments and signs of the path undertaken by the translation’s author: In Ezra Pound’s corrections of his translation of T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land, Twombly didn’t only focus on the story’s transformation process, but looked at the hybrid character of the page between readable text and visual markmaking. Pound’s graphisms are a mix of editor codes and his individual system of signs.
The corrected script is a „medium“ defined by the transition between different stages, a phase of liminality, that usually remains hidden. The presentation will give an insight in how Twombly understands the plurality of authorship by exploring the journey of historic texts and their inherent layered nature, that opens their availability to individual interpretation, as well as the dimension of time, that emerges in the recognition of a text as a mutable instance, a version and not a fixed object of permanence. It will also argue that his visual vocabulary is nourished by sources outside the visual arts: the study of note making by authors and translators, that engage in a gestural process, that echoes in Twomblys usage of misspelling, crossing, deformation and erasure, mirroring the editing processes as artistic strategies.

Nadine Isabelle Henrich
, M.A., is a curator, PhD candidate and researcher with focus on photography and new media art, based in Berlin. Methodically her interest lies in plural, spatial image constellations and hyperimages. She studied Art History and Curatorial Studies in Frankfurt, Rome and Berlin. In the past she has co-curated numerous exhibitions, e.g. »Cy Twombly Photographs« at Galerie Bastian, Berlin/London (2016), »Serial Formations 1967/2017« Berlin/Frankfurt/Vienna (2017), and »31: Women« (2020) at Daimler Contemporary, Berlin. 2018/2019 she curated the show »Evoking Reality.
Constituting actuality in photography and video art« for the Daimler Art Collection, Stuttgart/Berlin which received international attention. In 2019 she was appointed as a juror for the nomination of the Karl-Hofer Grants of Universität der Künste. Her PhDresearch, supervised by Prof. Peter Geimer at Freie Universität Berlin, seeks to for the first time explore the photographic practice of American Post-War artist Cy Twombly. Currently, she is working for Daimler Contemporary, Berlin and as free curator and writer.

14:40 – 15:05 and 5min Q and A

Lygia Clark’s Caminhando: Painting, sculpture and participation through the lens of poetry
Andrew Chesher

The Brazilian artist Lygia Clark’s work Caminhando (Walking), 1963 is often categorised as a ‘proposition’. In essence, it is an invitation to its recipient to take a band of paper, join its ends to form a Möbius strip, and then cut along its length. The work’s position in Clark’s development already condenses a number of visual arts fields: her paintings of the late 1950s where line and edge were the paramount concern; her folding Bichos (Crittters)of the early 1960s and the later rubber Borrachas (Grubs), both of which at least evoke sculptural concerns; and her later participatory practice and ‘relational objects,’ of which Caminhando  can be seen as a prototype. There is one affinity, however, that seems to have rarely received commentary. That is Caminhando’s relation to poetry.

In this paper I will, firstly, indicate the reasons for reading Clark’s work in relation to poetry, including her association with the concrete poet Ferreira Gullar, author of the Neo-Concrete manifesto to which Clark was a signatory in 1959. Then I will explore how viewing the Caminhando as a poetic translation (a translation of poetry, or in terms of poetry) may illuminate its chimerical status.

The affinities between Clark’s work of the 1960s and the process works of her North American counterparts associated with Anti Form and Post-minimalism are not difficult to discern. Like Rosalind Krauss, a key commentator on these practices, Gullar and Clark’s fellow artist Hélio Oiticia made reference to the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Clark’s Caminhando forms an illuminating tangent to Krauss’s early analyses of sculptural practices, though. So, lastly, on the basis of viewing the Caminhando as a poetic translation of concerns otherwise given visual form, I will reflect on how the relation of Clark’s work to this parallel tradition and phenomenology may be recast.

Andrew Chesher
’s research focuses on Neo-avantgarde and post-conceptual practices with a special emphasis on phenomenology. His essays include: ‘Phenomenology After Conceptual Art’ published in Analecta Husserliana: The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research (2018), ‘Reconfiguring the Lifeworld: Spatial Experience in the Universe of Technical Images’ in Time, Space and Mobility (2018), and ‘Desublimating the Gestalt: Towards an Archaeology of Robert Morris’s Anti Form’ in Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft (forthcoming). He has also directed documentaries on modern music including Knots and Fields: Darmstadt and the Legacies of Modernism (made with David Ryan) (2010) and Changing the System (on Christian Wolf) (2007). He gained his PhD from Chelsea College of Arts in 2007, where he is a senior lecturer in Fine Art BA course.

15:10 – 15:25 and 5min Q and A

Mario Giacomelli translator
Irene Caravita

Photography and poetry are often compared because they both profit by the suggestive power of the fragment. There have been plenty of artists in Italy who turn to both expressive practices: one of them is Mario Giacomelli (Senigallia 1925 – 2000), among the best Italian photographers of the last Century.
Alongside of his very successful career as photographer Giacomelli express his creativity, his poetic, his vision of art and human being also in paintings and in writing poems, activities that he enjoy since the very beginning of his life, while he started taking photograph in the Fifties. The three different expressive
practices do not remain separate compartments but constantly enter one another: we have, for instance, a photograph portraying his mother, and the poem Mother, that look like two pieces of the same puzzle. Otherwise we can easily find suggestive formal and stylistic correspondence between photos and paintings. So we can easily talk about a translation of his artistic intentions and sensitivity from a medium to an other. The results are rarely exhibited together but one time in Milano, chez Il Diaframma Gallery in 1969, we know Giacomelli shown both paintings and photos.

Another way to interpret the translation from poetry to images is the habit of Giacomelli to choose a verse to entitle a cycle of his photographs, such as Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi by Cesare Pavese that named the series formerly known as L’ospizio – shoot in 1966 in an hospice for elderly and poor people. The poem and the pictures are both pervaded by the same sense of drama, they aim to reflect on death, on the time passing, on the tragedy of pain: as the critic Sandro Genovali already pointed out, all these are central theme on Giacomelli’s work. The relationship between poetry and images is totally emotional and its analysis lighten up new perspective of interpretation of Giacomelli’s oeuvre. A third different example of translation take place when the photographer properly illustrate a poem, following a real screenplay – A Silvia by Giacomo Leopardi (1964-1968).

In conclusion, I believe that the complex and faceted work of Giacomelli is still an excellent example to reflect on the transversality of artistic disciplines and to illustrate the translation of the same poetics in different mediums.

Irene Caravita has just obtained her Phd in History of Contemporary Art at Università di Roma, La Sapienza. Her thesis is about Milano between 1967 and 1975, focusing on some private galleries that started to exhibit photography, then the ideological relationship between photographs and visual art at large. Before, she get her MA at Università degli Studi di Firenze, with a dissertation about the italian artist Michele Zaza, tutor prof. Maria Grazia Messina. She attended the conferences: In corso d’opera, organized by La Sapienza, Roma, April 2018, and La fotografia social organized by Società Italiana per lo Studio della Fotografia, Viterbo, September 2018. Last scientific published essay is about Balthasar Burkhard and Markus Raetz collaboration in 1969, on the journal L’Uomo Nero (Milano, 2019); then a paper about Visual Poetry and Concrete Poetry exhibit at Galleria Diagramma in Milano will be published later this fall on Piano B (Bologna).

15:20 to 15: 40
This section will conclude with a discussion on the topic

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