Sunday, May 8, 2016

Marcel Broodthaers | My Ogre Book, Shadow Theater, Midnight

Marcel Broodthaers
My Ogre Book, Shadow Theater, Midnight
Los Angeles, USA: Siglio Press, 2016
160 pp., 6 x 7.75", clothbound
Edition of 1000 copies

For many, Broodthaer's Pense-Bête sculpture (with copies of his poetry volume encased in plaster, see below posts) served as a kind of object-manifesto, a declaration that he was now an artist and no longer a poet. This new Siglio Press volume, and the retrospective wrapping up at MoMA next week, serves to dispel that notion by placing his poetry in the context of his broader visual output.

"For us, what also really mattered in this exhibition was to bring the poetry back,” said curator Christophe Cherix at the recent press viewing of the Belgian's first New York retrospective, "and to counter the idea that in ’64 he stopped being a poet.”

The Pense-Bête sculpture was considered Broodthaers' first artwork at a time when filmmaking and photography were less likely to be considered tools of the visual artist. Broodthaers had experimented with both - simultaneous to his writings - and the MoMA retrospective presents these works alongside each other, tracing the chronological evolution of Broodthaers' practice.

My Ogre Book, Shadow Theater, Midnight was released in late February of this year, a week after the opening of Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective. The title presents the first available English translations of the artist's earliest two books of poetry (Mon livre d'ogre and Minuit) paired with Ombres chinoises, or Shadow Theater (see below). Shadow Theater is an 80-slide projection work with a running time of approximately nine and a half minutes. Produced much later than the writings in this book (1973-1974), the images are published here, in full, for the first time.

The volume serves to reposition poetry as an important aspect of Broodthaers' output, better read - not in isolation - but in concert with the visual. This comes into focus when one begins to recognize the numerous titles and phrases from his later output that originated in these early texts.

The title is available from the publisher, here, for $39.95, though the availability may be brief as it is listed as "very low stock".

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