Friday, March 04, 2005

Infinity 2005: A Visual Poetry Exhibition

A visual poetry exhibition opened in Cambridge last night, and yes, I was one of the privileged New England few who got a chance to experience, in person, work not bent on colonizing the Third World, if there is such a thing as a "Third World." I once took an undergrad class with "Third World" in the title, and one might conclude that if it is in a college/university course catalog, it must exist!

In trying to keep with the theme of this blog, at least three Asian-American poets -- Nick Carbo, Shin Yu Pai, and Janet Si-Ming Lee -- had exhibits there. All the poets' works were quite fascinating, which, in no small part, resulted from the arrangement of the curators, who spaced out the exhibits from each other as well as skillfully mixed color with black-and-white. The curators' understanding of space in the room was key.

Interesting story (or at least interesting to me, so maybe that means uninteresting to most people, anyways): I was looking at Nick Carbo's "After My Mother's Alzheimer's All Her Verbs are Gone," which is composed of a 4X4 inch lucite cube and five water-filled plastic balls, when one woman asked me (what I thought was) why wasn't there water in the cube? Why wasn't it an exhibit with balls floating in water? Now I could've been arrogantly pompous and said that the lack of water symbolized this woman's gradual loss of her awareness of her existence and her selfhood. Or I could've been silly and said that Nick Carbo probably just didn't want water to accidentally leak on to and damage the other exhibits (weird coincidence: I just visited Nick's blog and noticed that he is, unfortunately, having water issues at his residence.)

Anyhow, that wasn't the question that she asked. I asked her to repeat and realized that she was asking how Nick got all the water into those tiny colorful spheres? A second woman next to us answered that they were plastic ice cubes -- the kind one can get at crafts stores or trendy bars. We nodded our heads; it made some sense, I guess. And I asked her why one of the spheres had a lower level of water than the other, being only a third full as opposed to three quarters full. She surmised that it must have been leaking during the shipping over to Cambridge. But then I observed that no water had leaked onto the floor of the inside of the cube. We never solved our little mystery.

At any rate, props to Jamey Graham and Melissa Shields, the curators of the visual poetry exhibition, for a successful opening night! The online exhibit is here: . For more info on visual poetry in general, I recommend Geof Huth's blog --


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