24 June 2013

Leslie Scalapino & Kiki Smith | The Animal is in the World Like Water in Water

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?”

Leslie Scalapino (July 25, 1944 - May 28, 2010) is the author of thirty books of poetry, prose, inter-genre fiction, plays, and essays. She taught writing for nearly 25 years at various institutions around the country and was the publisher of O Books, which she founded in 1986. Her most recent books are The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom (The Post-Apollo Press, 2010), Flow-Winged Crocodile & A Pair/Actions Are Erased/Appear (Chax Press, 2010), Floats Horse-Floats or Horse-Flows (Starcherone Books, 2010), How Phenomena Appear to Unfold (Litmus Press, 2011) and The Animal is in the World Like Water in Water (Compline, 2013).

Kiki Smith was born in Nuremberg, Germany, and grew up in New Jersey. She has exhibited her work since the 1980s, when she was a member of COLAB, an influential artists’ collective in New York City. Her work is represented in museums throughout Europe and the United States. A major retrospective of her prints, “Prints, Books and Things,” took place at the Museum of Modern Art, 2003. The Walker Art Museum organized a major survey retrospective of her oeuvre in 2006. Smith lives and works in New York City.

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