Andrea Inglese named his new project something as big as “Describing the world”. One would think that this is a pretty big gesture – why would you actually attempt to describe the world / the only existing world / the world of what!? The very try seems absurd considering the information based relativism today. So: how would you do that, describing the world?
When I asked Andrea he grinned knowingly. See, he also encouraged people in an interview with the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam to be clear about reality: „Resist the temptation of speaking of reality through big theories (…) Try to stand up to one’s experience, see what it can tell us beyond intellectual, philosophical discourse (…) in a bold and daring fashion. Do away with all automatic responses.”
Do not be naive or simple. Well, you see, there is an anti-climax to the whole thing. It is nothing else than about descriptions of the world. Diagramms, schematic diagrams, tables, pages of books and other materials, maps and small objects that are the condition for ones writing that are being reflected and redefined in the exhibition. Oh-ho, you say, dear reader, godamn, that is your point?!, you say. But I say, wait! There is a twist to the wholesale.
“It is a direct way of questioning the conditions of understanding, of artistic production and of the basics of every day life in an extra-literary fashion,” says Andrea. Hm. “Is it not simply concrete poetry?” I ask back. “Yes, you can call it “concrete poetry”, though it is still something very important. It is to make something concrete and something visible. Let me ask you, is the book just a medium? Are the objects we use every day as important as the literature? I came to realize that these objects are a part of the world. But still I am not interested in an end product and I will not treat the objects as finalized things. We wanted to stop in the middle way between aesthetic values and something material.”
“We” is a team of artists who started the exhibition in Turin on 21st of March, on the World Poetry Day. A friend of Andrea, the director of Turin cultural centre, who puts a focus on contemporary approaches to literature has invited Andrea and some of his friends to do an exhibition. There are three stages of the exhibition, first the contributions to the exhibition, those to the site and the third stage is the documentary stage called catalogues which also includes critical thinking.
„In general, it’s argued that contemporary poetry doesn’t have readers because it’s composed in an obscure language, difficult to read. … At poetry reading events, people who aren’t consistent poetry readers are capable of listening and become touched by the experience in important, profound ways,“ says Andrea at SOUNDOUT! festival in Berlin.
“The world” of “Describing the world” is furthermore an focusing on the offline world composed of material things. “In the online world, we lost opacity. But a book, you see, a book cannot disappear with a click!” says Andrea. “There are objects in the exhibition to possibly evoke an experience, to change the point of view of the visitor at best.”
After listening to Andreas words, I came to realize that it is not at all a big gesture but it is the saying “the small things matter” translated into poetical language. Then you will notice the very things in the hodge podge inventory that are the condition for a world and one may turn to the aesthetics of production themselves and the “emblematic value” of the things. Perhaps it is not the very new. But besides it being a beautiful exhibiton there is a good point. The good thing is that it leaves questions to be asked.
Andrea Inglese, poet, essayist, blogger and translator, was born in Italy in 1967. He lives in Paris. He is PhD in Comparative Literature and he has held teaching positions in Contemporary Italian Literature at the University of Paris III. His literary essays are included in a number of volumes, in Italy and France. He has published eight books of poetry and prose. His most recent book Lettere alla Reinserzione Culturale del Disoccupato [Letters to the Cultural Rehabilitation of the Unemployed] has appeared in both an Italian (Italic Pequod, 2013) and a French edition (translated in French by Stéphane Bouquet, NOUS, 2013). His anthology of the French poet Jean-Jacques Viton, Il commento definitivo. Poesie 1984-2008, was published by Metauro in 2009. He is a member of the literary blog Nazioneindiana (www.nazioneindiana.com). He is on the editorial committee of the bimonthly “alfabeta2” (www.alfabeta2.it). He is the curator of Descrizione del mondo [Describing the World], a collective project based on exhibitions and on a website (www.descrizionedelmondo.it).