Credit: Janet Lees, Hours of Darkness (detail), 2014, video still.
Poets with a Video Camera: Videopoetry 1980–2020
Experience surprising combinations of images and text in this group exhibit of videopoetry from Canada and other countries around the world.
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As the title suggests, videopoetry could be considered a combination of video art and poetry. However, for Surrey-based poet-critic and guest curator Tom Konyves, videopoetry is much more than this. His essay “Videopoetry: A Manifesto” (2011) has helped define the genre internationally.
Konyves describes videopoetry as the “rendering of poetry as an object to be experienced through the medium of video.” To succeed as a legitimate artform, the imagery in a videopoem—including on-screen text—does not illustrate the voiced text. Rather, videopoetry (as opposed to documentation of a poetry reading) distinguishes itself by poetic juxtapositions of images with text and sound. In the measured blending of these three elements, it produces in the viewer, Konyves argues, “the realization of a poetic experience.” It is an artform that perfectly reflects our image- and text-saturated culture.
Poets with a Video Camera presents the largest retrospective of videopoetry in Canada to date. The exhibition features over twenty-five works by some of the world’s leading practitioners. It is organized around five categories of videopoetry: kinetic text, visual text, sound text, performance, cin(e)poetry.
The title is a reference to Dziga Vertov’s 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera that has become iconic in experimental film discussions in advocating for a complete separation between the language of theatre and literature. Similarly, Konyves argues for videopoetry to be thought of as outside of poetry and video art. Instead, it is a form that is in its “early days . . . still in a process of redefining poetry for future generations.” This exhibition shows the humorous next to the serious, the experimental alongside the genre bending, the ironic with the sincere, and the timely together with the timeless expressions of this new form.
Artists: Jim Andrews with Adeena Karasick, Paul Bogaert, Brandon Downing, Antonello Faretta, John Giorno, Kurt Heintz with Patricia Smith, Annie Frazier Henry, Nobuo Kubota, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Valerie LeBlanc, Janet Lees, Machine Libertine, Azucena Losana, Matt Mullins, Marc Neys,bp nichol, Reverend Pedro Pietri, Arturs Punte, Caroline Reid, Javier Robledo, Peter Rose, Ralf Schmerberg, Hubert Sielecki with Gerhard Ruhm, W. Mark Sutherland, Alejandro Thornton, Sarah Tremlett, and Eku Wand.
Curator: Tom Konyves
Origin of Exhibition: Surrey Art Gallery