The Mahler & LeWitt Studios and Viaindustriae ‘Art & Poetry’ residency session emerged from conversations we had been having, over a number of years, on the creative and collaborative potentialities between visual art and poetry.
As the first poet in residence at the Mahler & LeWitt Studios in 2018, Rachael spent five weeks in Spoleto writing and editing her debut collection of poetry Kingdomland (Faber & Faber, 2019). Included in that volume were poems which directly responded to the sculptures of Anna Mahler, seen in the artist’s former studio on
Via degli Eremiti and in the cloisters next to Chiostro San Nicolo. Rachael has worked regularly with visual artists, including contemporaries on the 2018 residency, and the thinking around this residency session is reflective of this collaborative practice. How can language and visual art illuminate each other, but also, exist on their own terms? We propose that the relationship of poetry and visual art moves beyond the illustrative and operates in a mutually-dependant, collaborative and generative sphere, wherein one enters into an equal relationship with the other, complicating usual ideas of ekphrasis (the poetic and rhetorical trope of expressing the visual through words). This residency session, and the thinking that will emerge from it, is informed by this open approach to how we can work between language and the visual.
The Viaindustriae Archive and De Donno Collection in Foligno – a collection of artists’ books, visual art and ephemera, managed by Emanuele De Donno and Alice Mazzarella – with its rich holdings of concrete poetry, materials from the FLUXUS movement, and other areas of avant-garde and experimental writing, provided the necessary historical framework for the research and responses of the artists, poets and curators participating in the residency.
Each resident’s response and the material or people they chose to collaborate with represents some of the possibilities of this generative way to make work…
Extract from an editorial by Rachael Allen and Guy Robertson for the Art & Poetry residency pamphlet, Viaindustriae / Mahler & LeWitt Studios, 2020