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Compline Reissues Leslie Scalapino/Kiki Smith Collaborative Animal

By Harriet Staff


Just as BOMB highlights a Kiki Smith/Chuck Close interview (“What have you got there, pictures?”), we find this gem of a Kiki Smith/Leslie Scalapino reissue in our mailbox, thanks to Compline:

Originally published by Granary Books in 2010 (in an edition of 45 very expensive copies), Compline is pleased to announce the trade edition publication of The Animal is in the World Like Water in Water.

Leslie Scalapino wrote of the collaboration, in her short essay “The Division Between Fact and Experience” (included as an afterward in the Compline edition of the book), “The Animal is in the World Like Water in Water is a collaboration of drawings by Kiki Smith and poetry by Leslie Scalapino (myself)…. Kiki Smith sent me color Xeroxes of a completed sequence, forty-three drawings, which she’d titled, Women Being Eaten by Animals. I wrote the poem using the sense of an unalterable past occurrence: One female, apparently the same girl, is repeatedly, in very similar images as variations, bitten and clawed by a leopard-like, lion-like animal. Both person and animal have abstracted features, giving the impression of innocence or opaqueness. As in a dream of similar actions or a dream of a single, timeless action, the girl flecked with blood while being unaltered by the animal’s touch, there is no representation of motion except stillness of the figures floating in space of page. Neither the girl nor the animal articulate expression, as if phenomena of feeling(s) do not exist…

‘The word’ in its outside/space refers to and makes a sense of the undoing of social tyranny as undoing of any hierarchy in individuals’ feelings and perception as well as in people’s values (public indistinguishable from private). Without hierarchy, past-reality-future is apparently free paradise of childhood and of birds. This outside space of the word/or that is my words abuts the other visible space of ‘Women being eaten by animals’ (that original title of the visual images denied, however, by the fact that the female figure appears to be almost a child). The visual scene itself is denied by ‘not experiencing.’ The viewer (while reading beside seeing the images, but also if only seeing the visual images?), has the experience of body and mind being separated as if that is caused by the outside world. This experience of the viewer arises from their sense, in seeing, that one is separated from the scene of the girl and the animal alone together as if making love (and a sense of separation arises from the girl and animal not mimicking expressions of experiencing sensations). The disconnect/that’s itself the dialogue between ‘not being experienced (by the senses)’—and separation or union of mind/eye and body/sight—has to be first enacted by Smith’s visual images, in order for the language to broach this (subject) matter at all. Is dialogue possible without language?”

Purchase your copy here!

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Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.