Thursday, June 15, 2006

Roni Horn

Roni Horn's Wonderwater: Alice Offshore is a project consisting of a text annotated by four different writers (Anne Carson, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Cixous, and John Waters) and presented as a collection. A beautiful one at that. I'm fascinated by Horn's work, how her practice enfolds not only other artists, but other genres, how she gets at "the mutable" nature of art...the Wonderwater project has particular significance to me for several reasons: I love the three women involved here, and cross-genre work, but also the notion of endlessly different responses to a single text. Here is the first entry from all four texts. The title is "19th C. Water":
Plants do not sleep, Aristotle maintains. Think of that watchfulness. Tons of it, pounding in history, in hours--there they were awake at the Battle of Salamis, there they were awake when the snake licked Eve's toe, there they were nodding up bright-eyed and famished for news all along the path to the back kitchen door as Holderlin went slippering past for a ten AM tryst with Frau Gontard.

Not quite the 19th century yet.
Why he still had his slippers on.
Readers of Anne Carson will not need to be told that was her. Here is Louise Bourgeois' offering:
I was always aware of a possible silence falling
like the cover of a tomb and engulfing me forever.

The silence overruns the room and I am afraid to hear
my heart beating; this danger coming from inside-
only a continual flow of words can push it aside,
if not control it.

Listen to chaos, waterfall, the Marne locks--
Beethoven, a river that carries rocks and trees,
the thunder rolling by.
and John Waters (I still can't quite believe it is the same John Waters, but so it seems), who sets his lines in the dead center of the page all the way through the book:
Sequel to Russian Ark-done in one continuous
three-hour take, filmed entirely under the Caspian Sea
and finallyHelen Cixous:
Before any century, when the earth was still alone, the water
was already not alone...
and so on. I am cutting Cixous short, but I will get back to her in a bit. Some of you probably already know Horn's work with Cixous.

Further to my comments on Christie's Canada Post I am thinking of the project of the book as a distinct undertaking, apart from the collecting of poems. I don't want to be unfair in my assessment--the jury is out as to what it might be fair to expect.

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