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Cunnilingus in North Korea

By Cathy Park Hong

Chan_05_body.jpg
(still from Paul Chan’s video)
I just noticed poetryfoundation’s video podcast section, which reminds me of Claudia Rankine’s video essays. Poets expanding into multi-media collaborations are few and far between. Unfortunately, from the handful of collaborations I have seen, art becomes mere illustration to the poetry or the poetry becomes distracting background chatter to art. The voice-over feels obtrusive, burdensome. There’s no true confluence between word and image.
In her collaboration with her husband John Lucas, Claudia Rankine manages to avoid this pitfall. The video image itself is quite simple. She uses the famous footage of Zinedine Zidane head-butting Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup match, except it’s slowed down considerably and it’s voiced over by Rankine who reads a collage of quotes from canonical writers on race and colonialism like Homi Bhaba, Frances Fanon, and James Baldwin. The marriage between image and voice works for the most part due to its slowness. The spareness and speed of the now familiar clip–the expanse of soccer green, the small pixilated image of Zidane slowly making his way to Materazzi to act out the inevitable—allows you to concentrate on her almost unbearably monotone voice. It’s hypnotic.

Comment (1)

  • On December 12, 2008 at 2:23 pm Travis Nichols wrote:

    Holy shit, that North Korea video is amazing! Thanks, Cathy.


Posted in Uncategorized on Friday, December 12th, 2008 by Cathy Park Hong.