Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Excerpt from Teddy Hultbeg's book

Opera, a 12-meter scroll that Fahlstrom worked on for several years, sometimes concurrently with his work on the manifesto, constituted his first visual composition of note. At the same time it marked a new direction in his imagery, as he described in a letter to Edouard Jaguer in 1954 for the silkscreen folder produced by Swedish Traveling Exhibitions in 1968:

"Opera began with my discovery of the felt-tipped pen in 1952. It allowed me to work with a fairly precise, even, black, inky tone and also with gradations of grey which were not as fuzy as pencil shading and... the felt tip generated more random textures. After a time, the agreeable "spontaneity" of this way of working got monotonous. I began placing a nubmer of illustrated sheets alongside one another and could see continuity and larger schemes beginning to appear. I also noticed that different sheets, when brought together to form a whole, produced shifts, unexpected, "unnatrual" events on the paper.

"At that time I was interested in pre-Columbian Mexican book-paintings which evolved from page to page in long panels. And in music - as a visual artist I missed the time dimension found in music. I particularly liked the "impure" mixture of concert and theater found in opera (The Ring of... for ex). I realized how, as in much of primitive, oriental and medieval art, one could work with pictures so rich in content and so vast that you couldn't just take a few steps backward, screw up your eyes and enjoy the whole... I wanted to make the spectator move not only their eyes but their whole being along and round about int he picture as if they were studying a map or playing Monopoly or football [soccer].

"The idea of a game came to me at the same time, while I was in the process of writing the Manifesto for Concrete Literature. There, too, I expressed impatience with the monotony and privacy of pure atutomatism. It shoudl be possible to draw up your own simple rules, create frames of reference within a work of art...

"... Gradually 'Opera' acquired a sort of protagonist, a caterpillar-like creature with a large "head" and a "bump" in the middle. It appears with increasing frequency in the latter part of the work. It is "threatened" by the shape resembling a halbred or a broad-axe. At the end of the work, the "caterpillar" is exploded...."

This goes on for some time. Now clearly we would [had we seen a scanned version of this work on Johannes' blog-bog] classify this work as a "visual" art work. However, they seem to totally bleed into one another in Fahlstrom ouvre. And more importantly, I think this shows what I find to be a very liberating, all-eoncompassing atttitude toward art. He brings in contemporary art, traditional Asian music, everything. Come to think of it, this isn't such a good example as pertainign to writing but since I've already typed it all out painstakingly I'll leave it in and put in some more poetry-oriented material later. He's also got a web site that is very thorough: http://www.fahlstrom.com.

My favorite detail: Fahstrom refers to his collages as "parties."


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