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Ingrid Andersen

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Academic’ Category

“Eyrie” – a collaboration of image and word.

 
A chance connection online, a shared vision, a similar interest in an Irish painter and a generosity of spirit were the elements that made this dynamic creative initiative a possibility.

Cecilia Ferreira - Drowning Woman

Drowning Woman

In 2009, Netherlands poet Joop Bersee and South African fine artist and photographer Cecilia Ferreira connected through the internet. Their conversations resulted in Eyrie, a powerful collaboration – a dialogue of the poetic and the visual.

Bersee’s volume of poetry, Eyrie, was in the process of preparation for printing and was dedicated to artist Francis Bacon. He offered the manuscript to Ferreira to make of it what she wanted and dedicated some of the poems in the volume to her.

Interestingly, Ferreira’s striking, often brutal work has been compared to that of Francis Bacon. She, still raw, deep in the grief of a still-born daughter, found resonance with the description of the woman who inhabited Bersee’s poetry – a woman who lives in what Ferreira in her exhibition notes calls “the dark crevasses of the human mind… who sees all the way to the other side, all the way to death”. In her visual response to the poetry, she began the hard process of grieving.

Ferreira attempted not to illustrate the poetry, but to capture the images it evoked as well as its impact on her. She deliberately left the work open, “unfinished”, to leave space for interaction with the poetry.

In her biography, Ferreira says that for her, art involves the inevitable process of “brutally expressing and releasing my own emotional baggage”, using what she calls an “exaggeration of form and colour” that reveals through its honesty. She comments that “humans in general do not like being confronted by their own issues and emotional flaws”.

Cecilia Ferreira - Her sense of Flower

Her sense of Flower

Throughout Ferreira’s work in Eyrie is the sense of the mutability of life – the fluid nature of things. Loss happens. We die. Things are not as they seem – nothing can be depended upon. Thin, transparent images bleed downwards. There is dissolution – in every sense of the word. A line chosen from the poetry by Ferreira as a starting point for an image
reads:  “Face and death/listen and shatter what/has never been: foothold.” (Woman on a chair)

Ultimately, the dissolving images point to the inadequacy of both word and image to convey meaning. Bersee’s poem They read her, dedicated to Ferreira, seems to capture this elusive quality:

They read her on water,
they read her on paper,
words written,
it’s her.

It’s
a lie;
she’s no one,
nowhere,
disappears
as the light goes out,

as the words
blend,
with the dark.

Cecilia Ferreira -ghost woman

Ghost Woman

In the paintings that make up this collection, Ferreira plunges the dark, emotional depths of being human, but at the same time, maintaining a tension with an objectified portrayal of humanity. In the unmediated outpouring of feeling, her work is raw in the power and intensity of its images. It is defiant in its unsettling confrontation of the viewer.

Images of entrapment, of drowning, of violence, in particular, that of the ragdoll-like, constructed woman with the hollow circles for eyes, (Ghost Woman) demand a response.

And yet, there is hope: one crucified, drowning woman has (barely) kept her head above water. But the thing from which she hangs is an instrument of entrapment – a hook.

Here, salvation cannot be that simple.


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Visual poetry and articulating images

The last few weeks have given me an opportunity to begin to articulate what has been largely an intuitive understanding of how I go about writing poetry, and why I created Incwadi, the online journal of poetry and photography.

The first opportunity was provided by Imke van Heerden’s invitation to post to the LitNet Big Book Chain Chat. Under the title Closing the Circle, I responded to Richard de Nooy’s previous (and engaging) post about the influences on his writing while I was in the process of thinking about my own.

I wrote:

“Recently, I’ve been coming to understand who has influenced me as a poet. I studied English literature at Wits in the mid-1980s, while South Africa was struggling to get out from under the threatening finger of PW Botha. It was a time when it was usual for teargas to drift in at lecture theatre windows. No doubt my lecturers and tutors gave me a thorough grounding in the canon of English literature. It was more than two decades ago, so I remember very little, except the writers with whom I went on to form a lifelong relationship. I do remember loathing Milton.

While my studies broadened my understanding, they narrowed me as a writer. I had been writing poetry since childhood, but it took the study of literary criticism to silence me. I did what I could to emerge from under my education. In the years up to the publication of my first collection, Excision, in 2004, I was, to all intents and purposes, finding my voice again. I read extensively. As time went on, I wrote poetry that was more visual, terse and lean. I pared away the unnecessary, I made words work hard. For me, poetry was a visual art form in which one could see through the image or the object to meaning. ”

Read the rest of the post on LitNet’s Big Book Chain Chat

I’ve also been in discussion with several fine artists who are interested in the interaction between the word and the image, and some interesting collaborations are evolving there. I’ve written a review of fine artist Cecilia Ferreira’s body of work Eyrie, written in response to Joop Bersee’s volume of poetry of the same name.


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