Visual Poetics 04
by Kelly Mark
Kelly Mark is a productive, conceptual artistic, working in a diverse variety of media. She has made art entirely out of stolen butter-knives; she has used pencils to completely overpaint sculptures through the act of drawing; and she has released a CD, recording 1000 planned, but as yet unbegun, tasks that she must accomplish. She has even produced a suite of videos, in which she performs the same sequence of quotidian activities on an urban street, doing so in a synchronized choreography at the same time and in the same spot over the course of a month so that when she plays each recording simultaneously, side by side, she appears, uncannily, to be occupying a plurality of timeframes all at once, without anyone noticing.
Mark has also produced elaborate, pictorial drawings, generated through the use of Letraset stencils. Even though practitioners of visual poetry have often used this medium to create typographic abstractions, Mark has demonstrated some of the potential for this artform in the context of a gallery. Some of the work (like "Boiling C," for example) does suggest the figuration of an actual object, but in most cases her work takes delight in the formal traits of type itself, without allusion to any external referent. The "drawings" vary in scale from the size of a page to the size of a wall, and the images often display a byzantine intricacy, since the aggregation of letterforms almost always begins to disappear into their collective twists and expressive swirls.
Mark has even used Letraset stencils to draw "chains" of graffiti, all of which stretch and contort across walls in ateliers, twisting around lightbulbs and mouldings, like a long narrative or a long signature, in which the letters themselves parade and cavort without making any sense to their readership. All of her Letraset drawings exhibit an abstract, gestural intensity, suggesting the kind of flourishes and arabesques, made as if by brushstrokes, despite the fact that the artist has had to rub each letter onto the surface through a process of painstaking application. I might suggest that her artwork has resuscitated some artistic interest in a medium that (because of computerized typographics) has lately fallen into quaint disuse among the exponents of visual poetry….
Christian Bök is the author of Crystallography (Coach House Press, 1994), a pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and of Eunoia (Coach House Books, 2001), a bestselling work of experimental literature, which has gone on to win the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. Bök has created artificial...