I was at the SF MOMA last night for a party and noticed that an exhibit is running of Francesca Woodman‘s photos. Woodman was a fantastic photographer. Her photos often make me feel startled — caught — as if someone had been able to see into my head and had violently extracted several ghosts, or xrayed a thought, a dream or a fear. Her photos are usually of female figures, usually naked, in landscapes of houses and rooms, full of light and shadow.
They aren’t just houses – they’re like non-cartographical mappings of inner geographies of House, of Room, and of embodiment and gender. I see them and have the sense of being simultaneously trapped and freed, of being shudderingly aware of the trap of gender and patriarchy and of, somehow, escaping.
A few years ago I translated a book by Zulema Moret written about Francesca Woodman’s photos, Un ángel al borde del volcán ardiendo. I really enjoyed the project. Honestly, they aren’t the deepest poems in the world, but I liked the way they interacted with the photos & my memories of the photos, and they were fun and challenging to translate. They’re evocative and delicate. I have a copy somewhere — it was published in Buenos Aires — and am thinking of taking it to the exhibit to read while I look at the photos.
At the party we couldn’t wander through the museum, so I’m going to have to go back to see the exhibit! It’s very exciting! I had a weird feeling just being in the building with them . . . haunted by Francesca . . . as I ate my sushi canapes and chocolate cayenne cream puffs and played with legos, a little tipsy and very exhausted since I WALKED into this party. Yes, you heard me! Walked! . . . The lights and projections of lights, and flowers, and all the food, was very beautiful. We hung out with Jon Callas a lot (restfully nerdy and culturally similar to us) and Helena (dearhelenab?) who was very amusing in her role as Manic Pixie Dream Girl. And Ryan from Wired and several more people from Long Now who I know I’ve met at conferences. I was saying to someone I hoped they would put the constructed feminist language Láadan from 1982 onto their disk thingie of all languages (along with Klingon). Talked also to an Awkward AnarchoLibertarian whose name I forgot but who is an internet pundit. I have started explaining myself at parties either as a hacker poet, or as an Internet Pundit, or both. Neither are good explanations, so I have no elevator pitch for myself… Someone asked me, Web 2.0ishly at this party, “Poetry! So how do you market, I mean, CELEBRATE, your poetry and your work?” I thought over the last 20 years of my life and poeting along and publishing tiny zines and books in very small editions and shrugged… A celebration of obscurity?
Also at the party I nerved myself to go and (interrupting his endless conversation with Edward James Olmos the Battlestar Galactica guy) to fangirl all over Stewart Brand. Hiiiiiiii, um!!!!! I live on a houseboat toooooo and by the way my book coming out soon has an enormous long poem called Whole Earth Catalog that is homage and criticism of the last 45 years of your life’s work and our intertwined cultural histories of the Internet and communes and stuff! That’s all! I just wanted to say it! Have another canapé! BLUSH. He did a polite little double take and gave me his card and seemed quite kind. I wanted to ask Kevin Kelly if he liked my moon landing poem I gave him at foo camp, but I felt like it would be awkwardly putting him on the spot if he had never looked at it, so I just said hello and chatted to the other people as we stood around.
I survived the fancy Walking Party At a Museum by sitting down a lot and trying to lure people to sit with me to make things out of legos in the big bowls by the couches. Then would pop back up for a 5 or 10 minute Ordeal of Painful Verticality. Back at home, Danny gently massaged my calves and ankles till I fell asleep.