ASEMICS 16 GREATEST HITS (Vol. 3) Lloyd (USA), Nikoltsou (Greece), Pesetskaya (Russian Federation), Jones (USA)

Page excepts from Ginny Lloyd's (Jupiter, Florida, USA) contribution to Asemics 16 (Edition #3) collaborative mail-art book.

January 24, 2012 - My retrospective series of articles on the Asemics 16 collaborative book project that was headquartered here at the IUOMA will end with this third installment of selections; otherwise,  I risk becoming lost in incredible work by the nearly 70 artists who participated. We have an exciting new visual poetry book in production that also deserves close attention.

Ginny Lloyd is a well-known Fluxus artist. Project Co-coordinator Cheryl Penn (South Africa) and I were thrilled when she signed on to contribute a chapter to Edition #3. Ginny Lloyd's finely produced and digitally composed chapter has been blogged and documented by others. Personally, I am not sure it has received as much attention as it deserves. These are beautiful and provocative asemics.

While the means of production she used expresses the digital age in comparison to earlier visual and concrete poetry that was an expression of the industrial era, I think Ginny Lloyd's work fulfills the vision of organic structures (literally) in asemic writing and explores the concept of biopoetry, avoiding well David Baptiste-Chirot's warning to avoid "exercises in formalism."

For instance, I think it is wonderfully creative, and it might strike some as a bit of humor, that teeth are used for asemic characters (top scan, right side). And teeth do have an undeniable and key role in spoken language. Here is another two-page spread from Ginny Llloyd's chapter: 

Asemics 16 page excerpts by Ginny Lloyd (Edition #3).

For me, each page of the chapter holds new wonder, an unexpected possibility for asemics. While some of the pages evoke scientific or medical images (an anti-art aesthetic?) the organic qualities are very pronounced. The melding symbols (above left) are a prime example - it is not hard to see why so many visual poets are also making videos; these forms want to move. These next pages, far more subtle, are my personal favorites:

Page excerpts from Ginny Llloyd's Asemics 16 chapter.

These are pages that will please the Symbolist School of Subtle Aesthetic Obscurity. The right-hand page is particularly subtle and complex; indeed, the amazing use of color is hard to capture in a scan. I believe these pages would satisfy even the most "asemically correct" purist.

Many, many thanks to Ginny Lloyd for this incredible chapter and for her involvement in Asemics 16. Check out her artistamps blog and other projects:

Katerina Nikoltsou - Asemic minimalism

The Asemics 16 project produced a few, notable examples of asemic writing rooted in minimalism, but not as many as I anticipated. For instance, fracturing single letters is an interesting approach to asemics; USA visual poet Geof Huth has done some excellent work in this area. The Asemics 16 artists seemed intent upon filling the page, rather than incorporating absence/silence.

Katernia Nikoltsou (Thessaloniki, Greece) did a very interesting, essentially minimalist chapter for Edition #5. Katerina is a very accomplished collage artist and painter. Her ability to create structures with shape and color are readily apparent in the work. She also knows how to very effectively incorporate empty space. Katerina applied a minimalist scale to the writing as well as art elements, if that is at all comprehensible, to create consistency of image and text, producing, I think excellent results:

Excerpt from Katerina Nikoltsou's chapter for Asemics 16 (Edition #5)

The colors and collage composition are spectacular. Yet this careful use of scale I have tried to describe enables (and guides) the viewer to look closely at the asemic writing. I admit, especially with abundant vispo elements, some of the Asemics 16 chapters were so visually complex and rich that they de-emphasized direct involvement with the writing without distraction. This can be easily overcome by the viewer, but I concede the point, especially in a context where we are trained to consume images quickly.

I recall that was one criticism leveled by someone somewhere. A more minimal approach - shown here in Katerina's work - counteracts that. Her "double image" approach to the writing is very strong and connects text to painterly conventions. Yet I find myself exploring each nuance of the text. Again, I am surprised we did not see more "double image" experimentation. Luckily, we have this beautiful work by Katerina:

Page excepts from Katerina Nikoltsou's chapter for Asemics 16 (Edition #5)

By applying minimalism in this way, I believe Katerina's chapter brings the relationship of language and silence to the forefront. The play of language and silence is central to poetry, and if asemic poetry can be identified, Katerina has taken us in that direction.

Asemic FluxRus

Fluxus Russia: Svetlana Pesetskaya (left) and Victoria Barvenko (right) are the Belka & Strelka performance group (Taganrog, Russian Federation).

Exchanging mail-art with Fluxus artists from across the globe has been a special thrill since joining IUOMA.  Learning about the work of Svetlana Pesetskaya and Victoria Barvenko has been both a surprise and an experience beyond compare.

Fluxus founder George Maciunas aspired and made many attempts to establish Fluxus in the former Soviet Union during the Cold War Era - with very little success - so the movement did not have the foundation it had in The West. Like all friends of Svetlana and Victoria, I bet Maciunas would be incredibly gratified to see what these women are achieving.

Following the concept of intermedia, these artists work on many fronts: performance (their videos are fantastic), painting, collage, assemblage, installation, visual poetry, and asemic writing, among others. All they do is very much in the spirit of Fluxus as it is practiced today. Yet they also have earned the nickname "FluxRus" (Russian Fluxus) because their work has distinctive qualities, and they are helping Fluxus to grow and evolve.

Both Svetlana and Victoria contributed multiple chapters to the Asemics 16 project, and the work seems to have been fairly well documented. The pair included Asemic 16 chapters in an exhibition they curated in Russia. Reviewing my Edition #5 chapters, I was struck by the beauty and complexity of Svetlana Pesetskaya's chapter in particular. In addition to it being simply extraordinary work, I see connections to work being done by visual poets in the United States. Here is a two-page excerpt from Svetlana's chapter:

 Excerpt from Svetlana Pesetskaya's Asemics 16 chapter (Edition #5).

Perhaps this is a true visual poetry-asemic writing hybrid. These beautifully wrought glyphs combine image and language in that constant process (peculiar to asemics) of seeming to coalesce into meaning, only to dissolve before recognition takes place in the mind. What I find outstanding here is the artistry. Svetlana, apparently having a vast knowledge of art, draws from art, literature and ideas across centuries, somehow always managing to make them absolutely contemporary and seamless. This tendency, I think, is what makes FluxRus just a little bit different. Here is my favorite "open field composition" from the chapter:

Excerpt from Svetlana Pesetskaya's Asemics 16 chapter (Edition #5).

Wow, what an amazing piece of work! Again, most likely a true vispo-asemic writing hybrid. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Matthew Stolte's new book and a style of visual poetry pioneered by David Baptiste-Chirot. Svetlana's work strikes me as having many similar elements, only the "industrial" quality I noted in Stolte and Chirot is not here, instead replaced by a softer textured organicism. Definitely fine art I wanted to note. And do not miss the Fluxus Russia blogspot:

Asemics 16 Encore: Bifidus Jones (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA) - "Hero of the Minnesota Rebellion"

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Comment by Marie Wintzer on January 27, 2012 at 9:01am

CB doesn't buy that story....

Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 27, 2012 at 6:38am

Bet you know what the golden water is about now.

Comment by Marie Wintzer on January 25, 2012 at 11:55pm

I was wondering what Dw was talking about with that "golden water". Lumière brûle-out :-)))

Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 25, 2012 at 11:39pm

I admit I was howling when you wrote about Theo Nelson blessing you with a golden shower.

Comment by Marie Wintzer on January 25, 2012 at 9:33am

You both are rascals for sure ;-)

Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 25, 2012 at 5:49am

Ma fleur de cerisier cher, le phare brûlé-out est un coquin! Ilhurlait comme un singe quand vous avez écrit sur l'eau en or.Maintenant, il hurle de penser à un vison luttent dans votrepyjama. Je pense à la quête de la vérité et la beauté. La lumière brûle-out et le Grigstiare sont des scélérats!

Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 25, 2012 at 4:44am

return of the minx

Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 25, 2012 at 4:37am

You're back, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Comment by Marie Wintzer on January 25, 2012 at 3:21am

Minks up your sleeve and thistles in your jammies ;-))

Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 25, 2012 at 1:44am

Have some coffee - that'll put a mink in your jammies.



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