Monday, October 5, 2009

Calvino and 2 wonderful peoms

For my drawing class, I recently had my students do a mini-unit on interior space and urban spaces. We watched the awesome art21 segment on Mark Bradford, an LA artist who uses old ad posters and other materials from the street to make massive collage/paintings reminiscent of map or aerial photos. Then I had them read some excerpts from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino; they had to invent their own city, complete with description and one- or two-point perspective drawing. Some great, creative products! We also did graphite drawings around campus, also with some good results. I love this, from Calvino:

In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city's life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or gray or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain.

From a mountainside, camping with their household goods, Ersilia's refugees look at the labyrinth of taut strings and poles that rise in the plain. That is the city of Ersilia still, and they are nothing.

They rebuild Ersilia elsewhere. They weave a similar pattern of strings which they would like to be more complex and at the same time more regular than the other. Then they abandon it and take themselves and their houses still farther away.

Thus, when traveling in the territory of Ersilia, you come upon the ruins of abandoned cities, without the walls which do not last, without the bones of the dead which the wind rolls away: spiderwebs of intricate relationships seeking a form.

Also, 2 fab poems (or peoms):
Monet Refuses the Operation by Lisa Moeller
Maybe All This by Wislawa Szymborska (included in a great book by Lawrence Weschler, Vermeer in Bosnia)

*peoms is my intended spelling as a tribute to LeVar Burton*

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