Sunday, January 07, 2007

Charisma Is no Picnic

Poet Kenward Elmslie’s collage effort titled “Nite Soil” is funny, furious, and even a bit frightening albeit on a cerebral rather than visceral level. This collection of postcard size artworks is a funhouse of visual hijinks that is puzzling and appealing simultaneously. Housed in a box, these 41 cards are a colorful departure from the book as medium and the unspoken implication is that these cards could be sent through the U.S. mail to friends, enemies, confidantes, lovers, strangers, you name it. That each card contains a cryptic message as part of the collage presentation makes them all the more unique because they are to the point, tongue-in-check, humorous, and so brief that the reader wants more. I read through the stack once with the thought that the entire collection is a cohesive whole and then flipped through again considering each in the context of the bits of magazine photos, cartoons, and newspaper clippings that make up each collage. Some read like puns and others seem to be flippant swipes at consumerist American life. However they’re viewed I’m happy to have been sent this curious set of Elmslie’s art. These have been out a few years and can be ordered by contacting Granary Books.

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