Poetry in Painting

Poetry in Painting: Writings on Contemporary Arts and Aesthetics

Hélène Cixous
Marta Segarra
Joana Masó
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Poetry in Painting
    Book Description:

    The first book by Hélène Cixous on painting and the contemporary artsThis collection gathers most of Hélène Cixous' texts devoted to contemporary artists, such as the painter Nancy Spero, the photographer Andres Serrano, the visual artist Roni Horn, the fashion designer Sonia Rykiel and the choreographer Karine Saporta, among others. The artworks belong to different genres and media - photography, painting, installations, film, choreography and fashion design - while the commentaries all deal with some of Hélène Cixous' privileged themes: exile, war, violence (against women) and exclusion, as well as love, memory, beauty and tenderness.Neither art criticism nor a collection of critical essays, Hélène Cixous responds to these artworks as a poet, reading them as if they were poems. Written between 1985 and 2010, most of these essays are unpublished in English, or published only in rare catalogues or art books.Key FeaturesCombines poetic, theoretical and critical writing and Cixous' unique methodologyAddresses an important collection of contemporary artists, including Americans Nancy Spero and Roni Horn, the London artist Maria Chevska, the Cherokee artist Jeffrey Gibson, the filmmaker Ruth Bekermann, the French choreographer Karine Saporta and the French fashion designer Sonia Rykiel.Treats a range of media and genre: photography, painting, installations, film, choreography, fashion design

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4745-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Sources
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. Series Editor’s Preface
    (pp. x-xii)
    Martin McQuillan
  7. Hélène Cixous, in Art as in Dreams
    (pp. 1-6)
    Joana Masó and Marta Segarra

    Art has always been at the heart of Hélène Cixous’soeuvre, first of all in relation to those artworks presented as ‘poetic fellows’² of her literary work. These paintings –The Slaughtered Ox,Bathsheba at her BathandThe Jewish Brideby Rembrandt,The Dogby Goya or Hokusai’sThe Thirty-Six Views of Mont Fuji,The Rouen Cathedralseries by Monet,The Study for the Woman Ironingby Picasso . . . – are commented on in the many Cixousian fictions and essays which reflect on both painting and literature.

    Hélène Cixous has also devoted entire texts to painting and to the...

  8. Chapter 1 Paintings
    (pp. 7-20)

    The individual that I am is in a state of response to painting. I do not paint, but at the moment when I say ‘I do not paint’, I say something which is true but which I could also alter by saying that if I paint, I do so otherwise. At the moment when I say that I cannot help beginning to paint otherwise, saying to myself that I will be carried away by the signifier ‘paint’, ‘pain’, therefore that I will associate ‘paint’ [peins] and ‘pain’. I know it by hearsay, one is atpainsto create artistically, especially...

  9. Colour Plates
    (pp. None)
  10. Chapter 2 Spero’s Dissidances
    (pp. 21-30)

    Spero, she screams, two notes she lets out every couple of panels or paintings on war, torture or cruelty, just as a bombing is followed by an incredible, all-white silence, just as, after the silence between the eleven hours of the deadly night, one can hear, like the song of the early morning bird soon before the second bird’s reply, one can hear the singsong call: ‘Do you live?’ one of them whistles,Spero, the other answers.Spero: I hope. ‘Do you still live?’ I believe so, yes, I hope so. That two-note song is her own scream, which she...

  11. Chapter 3 Ernest’s Imagic
    (pp. 31-36)

    Son of the Virgin! Quick! Live! The time has come, twilight, the right time, the second hour or the thirteenth, Nerval’s hour, Rimbaud’s hour, smugglers’ hour, the hour for pasting up, the best time for Ernest, in-between time, time for the forever-bereaved-son to squeeze between earth’s knees, mother’s knees, time to go back to the source for his mother. A visitor to the most tender Hell – which is the Paradise under the pavement, under the City, under the stone folds of her limbs, where the our loves’ beloved shapes wait, patiently, on their backs, in secret, o our mothers! our...

  12. Chapter 4 See the Neverbeforeseen
    (pp. 37-74)

    One reads Agua Viva, if one canread agua viva, if one knows how toreadrunning water. I say the sentence ‘one reads Agua Viva’ and it seems to have in mind a ‘book’ by Clarice Lispector that bears on its cover the titleAgua Viva, if it is a book. But the sentence might also be thinking of some Roni Horn images, called Water, called Wonderwater, eloquent images, photographs.

    Come closer to Clarice Lispector’s ‘book’ calledAgua Viva. It’s not a book exactly. It’s another genre. It’s a sort of a thing. This volume, this book-thing, Clarice Lispector...

  13. Chapter 5 Portraits of Portraits: The Very Day/Light of Roni Horn
    (pp. 75-78)

    These are not people, these are not things: what Roni Horn has meditated on, followed, observed, hunted, sketched, drawn, grasped cut up, edited, cited, are the figures of her secret questions, the oracular faces to which Roni Horn turns and returns in every way the question that haunts her: ‘Who are you, Face, you who I am, whom I follow, you who look at me without seeing me, you whom I see without knowing whome, you in whom I look at myself, you who would not be without me, you whom I envelope, you who seduce me and into whom...

  14. Chapter 6 K – A Notebook
    (pp. 79-84)

    My passion for noble fabrics, heavy muscular silks from Cambodia, gossamer silks from India, that would explain it: they come from far away to form an alliance with my body so as to create my clothes. It’s a clothpoetic collaboration in silk, dreaming of luxury, of voluptuousness, of metamorphoses

    But what can I say about my strange and clandestine passion for domestic cotton cloths, for my attraction to squares of large porous cotton or seersucker, in short for dishcloths, preferably small ones, for hand towels in honeycomb stitch.

    What can I say about the seduction wrought upon me by these...

  15. Chapter 7 Shit, No Present: Faecetious Serrano
    (pp. 85-108)

    You gave a start? You recoiled?

    You said to yourself: ‘I don’t feel the urge’?

    Wait! Don’t leave.

    There’s something there.

    If you felt the urge to leave, it is something, isn’t it? An urge not-to is still an urge, a movement, life, which protects itself, which repels and pushes again [qui repousse, qui re-pousse].

    I too gave a start. I was about to leave. I stayed.

    What held me back? On the one hand theforceof the strike. Or the strike of the force [coup de force]. But what strike and what force are we talking about?


  16. Chapter 8 Inheriting/Inventing with Jeffrey Gibson
    (pp. 109-112)

    Is this a fairy tale?

    It started out like a fairy tale and a legal transaction at the same time, like a brilliant idea or like a notarised statement on officially stamped paper:

    One day I will inherit five acres of land in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, which came to my family through the Federal Indian Allotment Act during the late 1800’s. This piece of land did not support the farming lifestyle of my family then and I question the value of this land to my lifestyle in 2004. The Infinite Anomaly: Tahlequah, Oklahoma series of paintings will document my exploration of...

  17. Chapter 9 Filming the Becoming Invisible
    (pp. 113-118)

    ‘Do you know Hagazussa?’ asks the film Voice. Hagazussa, says the Voice, was a witch who, from travelling up and down the roads from village to village – like the horse cart whose tracks we’re following over the ribbon of road that fades as we go, into the drizzle at the end of the screen – became invisible: all that remained were the tracks of her invisibility, the tracks and the invisibility. That which is invisible, you know, is only what has the power of invisibility. Presence, ghostly power. The film’s Voice is soft, bewitching, monotonous, tenderly ghostly. Invisible. Present. Potent presence...

  18. Chapter 10 Sonia Rykiel in Translation
    (pp. 119-123)

    My star-spangled sweater: it inhabits my closet like a discreet primitive divinity. Like an allusion to night. We watch over one another. Sometimes I wear it, sometimes it wears me.

    My sweater manifests night’s luminous presence in all its modesty, up above and in my closet. The Great outdoors comes indoors too.

    Sometimes I wear a warm starry night. Night as a wool cardigan? And why not? What else could make us think of the night in every woman, of what is soft, what’s silent, black, glimmering black and soft? Here is the starry breast that still modestly enfolds us....

  19. Chapter 11 The Train Stop, or Anna’s Resurrections
    (pp. 124-132)

    We are taken in by the dancer’s extremities.

    We are entangled in the dancer’s hair. Dance of the let-down hair.

    But there won’t be any letting down, no disentanglement, nodenouement. Her hair spellbinds us:

    hair of different era, age-old hair.

    The hair plays games with us. Unveilings – veilings. Grows.

    Exuberance is beauty. Said Blake. Dishevelment: the hair is a veil, a cape, a flag, a muleta, a banner, a pall.

    Isn’t hair always the body’s foreign part, its secret place?

    Hair of strangers, of foreigners. Hair that is a sign.

    Uncut hair, in a world where everything is cut....

  20. Index
    (pp. 133-140)