Big Bridge 16, Neosurrealism, Francesca Woodman
The new 15th Anniversary issue of Big Bridge is up and running, and it’s filled with some really tremendous art and literature: several days worth of good reading/viewing. There’s a special section on “Neo-Surrealism and the Politics of the Marvelous” (edited by Adam Cornford) that contains an essay of mine called “Thinking Beyond the Human: On Neo-Surrealist Angels” as well as some excerpts from Cutting Time with a Knife. Here’s the end to Cornford’s introduction:
The real: the Merrill Lynch Bull. The marvelous: the dancer poised atop it, signaling a previously incredible revolt. It is time for the marvelous—sought, demanded, shared—to occupy and transform the real. Every true poem now is a moment, a molecule, of this occupation. Surrealism is what will be.
My essay discusses the figure of the angel in the poetry of Will Alexander, John Yau, Adam Cornford, Andrew Joron, and j/j hastain in relation to postmodernism and posthumanism. I also briefly discuss some visual artists such as the photographer Francesca Woodman.
Last semester, one of my creative writing students had presented to the workshop a really striking ekphrastic piece based on a photograph, and he mentioned that the photographs that had inspired his text had a ghostly, spectral feel. As a side comment, I had recommended that he check out Woodman’s work and I wrote her name on the board. After class, another student came up to me and said that she had looked up Woodman’s photographs online on her laptop during class and thought they were incredibly creepy (and not appropriate matter for recommendation). She pointed at Woodman’s name that I had written in chalk and said, “You shouldn’t even have that up there.” I took this friendly chastisement as an example of art’s capacity to shock and productively disturb: art as a momentary occupation of our senses.