Saturday, June 18, 2005

Kenneth Goldsmith

Was finally able to hear Kenny Goldsmith read. He followed two sound poets, the first, Parisian artist Dominique Petitgand, was absolutely lovely. A blend of sound, text, and narrative. Moving and ambient. The second, sound sculptor Michael Graeve, with a dozen or so old turntables, produced sounds that culminated in an experience of feeling like you were in a plane crash. The turntables themselves were remarkable both physically, and in terms of the different sounds each made. There was a point in the middle of the performance where the artist ripped masking tape and it made me realize how gorgeous that sound actually is. It was enjoyable, and in some ways, quite moving, but it was too long, and if it had been shorter I think it would have been more successful.
Kenny Goldsmith read from FIDGET, a day after Bloomsday, so it was apropos. I had never heard him read from it, or anything, as I've said, and was struck by how poised he was. In a white suit with a red polka dot handkerchief and colourful tie, huge ping pong racket-like sunglasses, and slicked back hair, he looked quite the dandy. And his physical journey mirrored the text well. It was very clear how intensely his project would become a kind of prison very quickly. He read from 10 am, 6 pm, and then 11 pm.
The last section is the first section backwards, and I'm not convinced about this move. It certainly makes for interesting sounds, but in terms of the poetry? One could argue about its status as poetry of course, as the author of this review in Rain Taxi suggests. However, that's not what I find intriguing. In fact it's the parameters of the project, and then the honesty in its execution that I find so admirable. Not hiding behind the polish of time and multiple readings that so many poets rely on, this is refreshing. Yes there are failings in the piece, but here it is in its entirety, process, project, all there for the reader/audience to consider.
A note about the location. Issue Project recently moved from the East Village to a most intriguing space over in Carroll Gardens. The site itself has intense sculptural qualities to it. An abandoned swimming pool, pea gravel, trees growing in odd places, a silo. None of this is predictable, particularly given the location in residential Carroll Gardens, but it's on the fringe between residential and the industrialized Gowanus Canal. Folks have made a concerted effort recently to clean that up and it seems to be paying off.
However, the space itself--a former millionaire's love nest--is problematic. Two rectangular columns make viewing difficult, and, well, it's out of the way, and not capable of holding a large crowd. And a large crowd is what would make the space and location workable.

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