A performance of poetry and a discussion of its practice and significance featuring James Massiah, Eugene Ostashevsky, Ellen Rutten, Jackie Wang, Belinda Zhawi and Metahaven, one of a series of events programmed with Metahaven alongside their exhibition VERSION HISTORY.
In times of political, environmental and social upheaval, poetry has a capacity to testify to emotional experience through language, moving far beyond facts or fairy tales. As an art form in search of lyrical waypoints between observation and action, sense and thought, poetry is a highly fluid, persistent medium. Under the guiding image of ‘the way of comets’ – paraphrased from 20th-century Russian writer Marina Tsvetaeva’s verse, The Poet – this assembly of contemporary practitioners will gather to perform their work and explore the ramifications of the medium.
The work of artists, filmmakers and designers Metahaven (Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden) extends from graphic identities, spatial installations and publications to garments and music videos. In recent years, Metahaven have turned predominantly to the moving image, drawing on the same investigative and speculative methods used as part of their design work. Recent solo exhibitions include Earth at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2018) and Information Skies at Future Gallery, Mexico City (2016). Group exhibitions include Ghost:2561, Bangkok (2018), Sharjah Biennial 13, UAE (2017), and the 11th Gwangju Biennale: The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?) (2016). Publications include PSYOP: An Anthology co-edited with Karen Archey (2018), Digital Tarkovsky (2018), Black Transparency (2015), Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? (2013) and Uncorporate Identity (2010). Their work is published, screened and exhibited worldwide.
James Massiah is a poet and DJ from South London whose work explores ideas about sexuality, mortality and ethics through performance, writing and visual media. His latest project Euthanasia Party/Twenty Seven
is a series of poems about fate, sex, life and death from the perspective of a young determinist.
Eugene Ostashevsky is a Russian-American poet and translator based in Berlin and New York. His books include The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi (2017) and The Fire Horse: Russian Children’s Poems by Mayakovsky, Mandelstam and Kharms (2017), works of poetry and translation respectively, both published by the New York Review of Books.
Ellen Rutten is a professor of literature and chair of the Slavonic Department at the University of Amsterdam, where she researches post-Soviet and global contemporary culture, literature, art, design, social media, and memory. Her books include Memory, Conflict, and New Media (Routledge 2013, with Julie Fedor and Vera Zvereva) and Sincerity after Communism: A Cultural History (Yale University Press 2017).
Jackie Wang is a student of the dream state, black studies scholar, prison abolitionist, poet, performer, library rat, trauma monster and PhD student at Harvard University. She is the author of a number of punk zines including On Being Hard Femme, as well as a collection of dream poems titled Tiny Spelunker of the Oneiro-Womb (2015) and Carceral Capitalism (2018).
Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean-born writer and educator who lives and works in London. Her work mostly focuses on memories of living in rural and urban Zimbabwe. She has performed across the UK in numerous venues, festivals and events including at Africa Writes, Bestival and TATE, with her work published in the anthologies LIMINAL ANIMALS and CASAGRANDE: RAIN OF POEMS. In 2013, Zhawi featured on Channel 4’s Random Acts and also co-founded the monthly poetry night, BORN::FREE. Zhawi was Associate Poet at the ICA 2016–2017.