Reframing Ekphrasis at King’s College London

Reframing Ekphrasis was a conference hosted by King’s College last month.  Here is a link to the full programme and abstracts, and below is the abstract for my paper:

Susan Harrow (2010) suggests new ekphrastic poetics are texts and artworks in process that reflect on their “modes of being and becoming” in relation to one another. They elude old dualities to “develop more tentative, speculative, creative responses”. With this in mind, I would like to present an experiment I conducted as writer in residence at Bank Street Arts, with abstract artist Mark Rowan-Hull, and experimental composer Stephen Chase. In abstract art, the narrative, rather than describing the story depicted by an image, becomes the story of process, the narration of the act of creating the artwork.  This suggested to me that as writers wanting to create something in response to this, we should expose our own processes. The experiment at Bank Street used improvisation.  We each were translating our experience of the others’ outputs into our own mediums.  Chase’s musical paraphernalia included violin bow, electric fan, corrugated piping.  He used Blu-Tack to adhere microphones to my paper and Rowan-Hull’s canvas.  I wrote in response to the sounds, colours and patterns being generated around me.

We created a temporal performative artwork designed to break down hierarchical traditions of visual art as source.  We were working simultaneously, in action with one another, with no-one able to claim primacy. I would like to focus on the relationship between my poetic outcome and Mark’s painting, the way these outcomes reflect, document, and obscure process.  I will suggest a parallel between representational and non-representational art, and certain poetic forms, using poems such as “Ozymandias” and “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirrror” to set out ideas, before looking at my own poetry in relation to Rowan-Hull’s canvas.  I’d like to explore the friction between art and artifice, how poem and painting went through a process that is both evidenced and concealed in the finished work.


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