The creative practices of a world shaped by the globalising power of the internet is the focus of the Swedish edition of ‘Poetry Will be Made by All!’ It is an opportunity for 89plus to elaborate on the explorations that began in Zurich in 2014 as part of their exhibition of the same name, which was itself inspired by the seminal 1969 exhibition at Moderna Museet, ‘Poetry Must be Made by All! Transform the World!’ It is also another milestone in 89plus’s publishing project ‘1000 Books by 1000 Poets’, which will publish 1000 new books of expanded writing and poetry by authors from all over the world. 89plus has invited poets, artists, writers, architects, filmmakers, musicians, designers, choreographers, scientists and engineers born in 1989 or later to participate in Poetry Will be Made by All!, which is part of After Babel.
89plus and the LUMA Foundation presented the inaugural 89plus exhibition “Poetry will be made by all!” from 30 January to 30 March 2014 at the LUMA Westbau exhibition space within Löwenbräukunst in Zurich, Switzerland. The exhibition was co-curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Simon Castets and Kenneth Goldsmith, with Danny Snelson as exhibition advisor and program coordinator. Additionally, the exhibition featured a film selection curated by Kevin McGarry. Poetry will be made by all! was partnered in association with UbuWeb (ubu.com), the world’s leading collection of avant-garde material online.
Expanding on the emergent poetics of online distribution systems and the prominence of poetry in 89plus projects to date, the exhibition brought together works from renowned and upcoming international poets and writers within displays created by their peers working in design, visual arts and architecture. Inspired by the seminal exhibition, Transform the world! Poetry must be made by all! curated by Ronald Hunt at the invitation of Pontus Hulten for the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1969, the inaugural 89plus exhibition highlighted how the written word, far from being diminished, finds a renewed importance within today’s digital information networks.
The exhibition featured an installation for multimodal media and social engagement designed by acclaimed Japanese architectural firm Atelier Bow Wow. The installation featured a manga pod for reading new books of poetry, active workspaces for the creation of spontaneous works of poetry, a book forest hosting a variety of poetic titles, a moving track of curtains for projections, and a proscenium stage for conversation, readings and viewings.
In a spirit of collaboration, the exhibition also featured graphic design by Content is Relative, design by Josh Bitelli, and architectural concrete poems by Augusto de Campos, Eugen Gomringer, Karl Holmqvist, Christian Holstad, and Amalia Ulman.
The opening days of the exhibition featured readings and performances by numerous poets, artists and writers. Emerging poets Harry Burke, Andrew Durbin, Mashinka Firunts, Rui An Ho, Sophia Le Fraga, Sang-Woo Lee, Trisha Low, Sarah Ortmeyer, Steve Roggenbuck and Dena Yago performed alongside established mentors, including Etel Adnan, Caroline Bergvall, Stefano Boeri, Christian Bök, Anton Bruhin, Karl Holmqvist, Tao Lin, Tracie Morris, Mendi + Keith Obadike, Eugenie Paultre, Robert Whitman and many others. Archival works by Robert Barry and Augusto de Campos were performed and displayed as part of the exhibition opening. These events were held in conjunction with a celebration of concrete poet Eugen Gomringer’s remarkably aligned 89th birthday. Gomringer performed on 30 January and inspired a wealth of poetic works generated throughout the exhibition.
Over the course of two months, poets-in-residence offered readings, conducted discussions, and produced an expansive library of new works of poetry and innovative writing. These activities brought poets into productive dialogue with visitors to the exhibition as well as a robust network of young poets worldwide, culminating in a library of one thousand books edited, designed and coordinated at LUMA Westbau and printed on demand by Lulu.com. Through these publications, Poetry will be made by all! showcased the breadth and depth of the poetry in real time—locally produced in Zürich and circulating among emergent writers from around the globe.
Continuous screenings took place on the second floor of LUMA Westbau throughout the exhibition, presenting a range of poetic film and video practices. The artists selected for this program utilized language itself and the grammars of cinema to convey the ineffable, in what this exhibition framed as distinctly writerly practices. A number of artists included were prolific makers of short films—Kevin Jerome Everson, Stephanie Barber, Laure Provoust, for example—whose work is often shown in thematic programs alongside other artists. Instead of this, every three days of the exhibition were devoted to works by a single artist that were repeated throughout the day. Short films were bound together as discrete poems and as accumulations that illuminated broader, ongoing practices of relating the world through image and sound. Other artists’ approaches to filmmaking approximated various tropes and moods of poetry, bending the medium to poignant ends alternately vested in distance and immediacy: Stanya Kahn’s evocations of abject absurdity through stand-up comedy; Barry Doupe’s alienated dreams told in disjointed narrations and flattened, chromatically charged figurations; Ryan Trecartin’s bewilderingly familiar stream-of-consciousness rants grounded by a intuitive, cinematic fluidity.
During the opening events of Poetry will be made by all (Jan 30–31), the cinema at LUMA Westbau presented a retrospective shorts program by British artist James Richards, through Feb 2.
This far-reaching exhibition resonated with the lines of inquiry that guide 89plus: “Since we launched 89plus in January 2013, we have been in a research phase, conducting workshops and panels all over the world. We are starting to see patterns emerge, and one of them is the influence of poetry, both on and offline,” said 89plus co-founders and co-curators, Simon Castets and Hans Ulrich Obrist. The exhibition marked the beginning of a three-year collaboration between 89plus and the LUMA Foundation.
Kenneth Goldsmith is a poet and the founding editor of UbuWeb. He has published several notable books, including Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in a Digital Age (Columbia University Press, 2011) and his most recent work, Seven American Deaths and Disasters (2013), which was featured on The Colbert Report. He currently resides in New York.
Danny Snelson is a writer, editor and archivist. His online editorial work can be found on UbuWeb, PennSound, Jacket2 and Eclipse. He teaches poetry, new media and digital writing at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the publisher of Edit Publications and runs the Edit Series at the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia.
Kevin McGarry is a writer and curator based in Los Angeles, CA. His journalism has recently appeared on Rhizome, T Magazine Blog and the online editions of Art in America, Artforum and Interview. He is a director and programmer of Migrating Forms, an annual festival of moving image art at Anthology Film Archives.