ASEMICS 16 GREATEST HITS (Vol. 2): Rosa Gravino (Argentina), Svenja Wahl (Germany), Theresa Williams (USA)

Center section of chapter for Asemics 16 (Edition #5) collaborative book by IUOMA member Rosa Gravino (Rosario, Argentina)

December 30, 2011 - As 2011 draws to a conclusion, my review of the monumental Asemics 16 collaborative mail-art book project continues to focus on what I believe are many extraordinary contributions to Edition #5. 

Even before it arrived in my mailbox, I saw images of Rosa Gravino's chapter appearing on blogs internationally. Apparently I am not alone in admiring her accomplishment. Asemics 16 inspired many artists to combine visual poetry and asemic writing. Rosa Gravino's chapter is a tremendous example of a synthesis. The colors are a delight as well as the ingenious melding of asemics, shapes, and textures - into, dare I say, a kind of skywriting? Here is another two-page spread from Rosa Gravino's chapter:

Rosa sent a message explaining her approach. She wrote: "In [Asemics 16 - 5] I have explored the idea of signs that are accumulated forming a thick matter, condensations, clouds, the sky, a window, the space,  architectural structures .... [architecture] architext; it has been a tour, a flight, I have been a pilot..." Indeed, she has touched upon a central question that has preoccupied many poets and artists: Can we ever experience the world directly or is our experience always filtered through language and its structures?

Rosa took the organic approach, which I have discussed in earlier blogs. I respond to the freedom and fluidity it expresses; this also allows exploration of the "Asemic Syntax" theme of the volume. At some point, I intend to write about the relation I see in the automatic writing experiments of the surrealists and asemic writing. Rosa Gravino's work is an excellent example. I believe it is very worthwhile to take time and examine the associative train of word fragments and images that drive her cursive asemics in this chapter. Like many mail-artists, Rosa took great care with the packaging and included some interesting material:

Rosa Gravino has been a friend more than a year now. I treasure all the work I have received from her. From time to time, she will - as they say about baseball - hit one right out of the park. That's how I feel about her Asemics #5. Vispo in Latin America is popping. Rosa's blog is a good way to learn more:

Svenja Wahl deserves an asemic medal or something...

Transparency from Svenja Wahl's chapter for Asemics 16 - Edition #5 (Heidelberg, Germany)

We already established that some of the brave troopers who contributed multiple chapters to the Asemics 16 project did suffer a kind of combat fatigue toward the end. We will long take pride in and enjoy the results, but everything did get bigger and more complicated than anyone originally anticipated. Have I missed the blogs? Did anyone notice Svenja Wahl's AMAZING chapter in Edition #5? I discovered it myself just recently. I think this deserves documentation.

The sliced "SYNTAX" title is one of the most effective uses of this approach I have seen so far.

Correct any errors in my interpretation, please: Svenja invented literature for the "Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium for Asemic Studies." This is a wonderful concept that is beautifully executed. I am not completely sure this wasn't real. While the scan is far from adequate, I also draw your attention to the beautiful asemic script she invented. It appears to have been printed, although Svenja can be such an exacting artist I assume she wrote it herself. Here are more pages from the chapter:

Many IUOMA friends recognize Svenja Wahl as a brilliant collage artist, and she has an eye and talent for finding the most interesting material, which is reflected in her chapter. She uses images that establish a tone and advance a narrative, in this case providing an interesting counterpoint to the asemics. Asemics 16 produced an extraordinary amount of theoretical discussion. Svenja's chapter is reflection of the mind-boggling aspects of asemics if you beginning intellectualizing, or intellectualizing too much. Svenja included other great mail-art material along with her chapter, including her distinctive collage work on the envelopes. She leaves nothing to chance; things are assembled with great care, even the minimally decorated envelope that contained the chapter:

The reverse side of the envelope also has some great Svenja Wahl collage work:

Mail-art by IUOMA member Svenja Wahl (Heidelberg, Germany)

Beautiful juxtaposed image collage work that I believe is so characteristic of the masters working in Belgium and Germany. Changing the subject slightly: You will note that the man on the right has letters on his smock saying: "DK ger." I compelled to feel Svenja's hurt and anger. 

This is a reference to "D-Kougar" or "DK-dagger." I am soon to lodge yet another protest with Diane Keys (DK) and KDJ of the D-KULT for their effort to enroll Svenja, a respected artist, in a completely vulgar performance piece supposedly being staged to benefit animal rights.  In truth, and I have seen documentation, the D-KULT was seeking substantial corporate sponsorship for performance art that could not possibly be staged. In the process, unfortunately, Svenja's pristine reputation was sullied on the official DK blog: in my estimation, a snake pit of innuendo and degeneracy. Anyway, I have digressed seriously. Many, many thanks to Svenja for this wonderful contribution to the Asemics 16 project.

Theresa Williams invents metasemics?

Theresa Williams' chapter pages from Asemics 16 - Edition #5 (Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)

Theresa Williams' fascinating contribution to Edition #5 is a language-centered piece that combines text fragments, asemics, and handwriting into a collage that can be read from multiple perspectives.

Theresa interweaves many themes into the piece. What I find most resonant is a meditation on writing: in this case, the physical experience of writing. Self-reflective writing is an important part of postmodernism; however, I do not believe very much work focuses on physicality and materiality the way Theresa's does. For me, it's a remarkable accomplishment and a very interesting work. So here are the rest of the pages, scanned so you can see multiple page spreads:

Note the instructions at the top and also at the right about how to hold a pen. I think Theresa found a shorthand book - excellent material to use with asemic writing.

These little handwritten pieces are wonderful!

More of the shorthand material is included on these pages. You can also see examples of Theresa Williams' asemic writing. I deeply appreciate this wonderful chapter she did for Asemics 16! Theresa Williams has a great blog that focuses on correspondence:

As ever, many thanks to the artist who participated in Asemics 16.


In a minkubator, of course

Dr. Minkenstein

Pretend you are interested.

Typewriter keys

38, 92, 3, 78, 4

Ray wants to know who has the Spam Radio

Looks like mustard to me too.

Svenja Wahl


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Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 23, 2012 at 8:34pm

Hola Rosa, gracias. Su capítulo sintaxis es muy popular.Tengo el placer de escribir sobre ella. Me alegro de su showfue muy bien. Estoy seguro de que vamos a trabajar en más proyectos en el futuro. DVS

Comment by Rosa Gravino on January 23, 2012 at 8:23pm

Thank you very much for your words about my chapter of syntax!

Whenever you focus in my work or throw a ball to me, you put me in a more interesting game.

Now that the exhibition of art mail in the museum is successful, I will put to work in my chapter vispo!

Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 5, 2012 at 5:55pm

Hi Theresa Williams, the battered ruins of this blog, having repelled a Di-jacking, at a high cost, just doesn't seem like a place to write "seriously" about your Edition #5 chapter, which after all is a greatest hit, but I'll give you my basic idea that can be, perhaps, developed elsewhere. Speaking of style, does the last sentence reflect the fact I've been reading William Faulkner?

I know you are a very fine prose writer and well-read. So I don't believe I'm over-interpreting when I write that your chapter has meaning for me when I frame it in terms of postmodern fiction, especially the US variant that has been going on for decades. I am thinking especially about the type that is very clearly writing about writing: some variant of the idea of the writer writing about a writer who is writing, language about language. Now when you work asemic writing into the mix, I think it becomes very interesting. Your work does that for me.

I did manage to at least state one main impression in the blog: You use material and your own handwritten pieces (I assume) to talk about the experience of writing on a physical level. The shorthand material helps establish that. There are prescribed ways to sit and behave as you write. You talk about the experience of seeing your words and symbols appear on the paper. Generally, I think what you describe is joyous. Asemic writing elevates the pleasure of writing to a new level. You can enter into the process of making the symbols almost as an end in itself - writing simply becomes an experience of weaving shapes and forms without the conventional concerns you find in writing fiction. Certainly as we create asemic work, our minds don't stop, and the asemics become expressive of our inner worlds, but what we are "writing" works in a different way than as if we were using words, sentences, paragraphs that attempt to be representational or narrative or lyric, although lyric comes close, maybe.

THEN you encounter the situation Cheryl and I confronted: What, then, would be Asemic Syntax? You write: "The rules of the sentence weigh upon me perpetually and terribly. Inside me, something like the great death pit at Ur, 74 skeletons of bad sentences." Perhaps that is your response. There is no asemic syntax; it would constrain us; it would subvert the idea of asemics entirely. It might even be impossible. We saw different responses in the edition. I believe yours is especially perceptive.

Also, since the whole asemic thing came to awareness I have found asemic writing described in conventional fiction and poetry. I used a passage in one of the intros where Artaud describes asemic characters he saw inscribed on rocks. How do we write about asemics? How do we describe them? You find numerous examples in Romanticism: Writers describe indecipherable writing they see on journeys, in antquarain texts, etc.

So is it possible to use asemic writing in more "conventional" or "traditional" literary forms? I believe you strongly suggest it could be: it could be described or embedded in a conventional narrative. This has possibilities. I am grateful you opened them up or articulated them.

You #5, however, is more haptic - an object poem - interesting because it is not linear. 

Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 3, 2012 at 11:37pm


Comment by DKeys on January 3, 2012 at 11:19pm

DKult members eat only sunlight

Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 3, 2012 at 11:09pm


Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 3, 2012 at 11:07pm

And what about the DKULT weight loss program. I need a Di-et.

Comment by DKeys on January 3, 2012 at 8:14pm

Will try to get the team to put that together. Only the best for DKult members. Make sure you watch basketcase II--much better than the first. The special effectis rock

Comment by De Villo Sloan on January 3, 2012 at 6:05pm

I'll check out Basket Case. I think the DKULT needs to release lists of officially approved movies.

Comment by DKeys on January 2, 2012 at 9:37pm

Stubbs know he's always welcome at the Elgin Mansion along with the other cast and crew of Basket Case II-the best movie ever made since RK.  He will fit right in and I'm sure Weird Al and Dario will enjoy his scintillating conversation. 

I hear Svenja is doing an  interpretive dance of her asemic pages in a local gallery. I'm thinking of having 1,000 rabbits shipped there for the opening. 



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