Below is an excerpt from the Planet Susannia blog. Susanna Lackner has posted images from the exhibition catalogue of a visual poetry exhibit in Italy curated by Tiziana Barrachi, Giancarlo Da Lio, and Robert Sanchez. Here is Giancarlo Da Lio’s excellent essay from the catalogue. It’s full of insightfull observations about the development of visual poetry since the 1960’s.
Beyond the image
by Giancarlo Da Lio
Visual poetry has turned 50 yet it sometimes is still hardly accepted as a movement, even though art galleries, archives and art dealers have shown interest for it. 1963 is considered to be the year of birth of visual poetry, when the idea of creating a modern vernacular emerged in Florence. In this way, anybody could understand the language of poetry in the same way as anybody could understand commercials and the messages spread by the media. Furthermore, visual poetry made it possible for poetry to be exhibited and sold as it was a painting. This was a way to go beyond the book as media and to overcome the challenges of the publishing market. All this happened during “The Fabulous Sixties”, the years when we discovered -or rather were imposed – Pop Art. They were also the years of Conceptual Art, of Fluxus, of the birth of Video Art, of happening and body art. For Italian visual poets, the journal “Poetic Fight” become the means to move away from local to international engagement and to meet European and American poets. Communications were also improved by worldwide broadcasting and direct dialing for phone calls. With this mind, the techniques used by visual poets – boards with free words and collage – could be considered as old-fashioned.
Nevertheless, visual poetry (sprung from avant-gard literature) managed to become an example of global art in time when typography had not gone through any digital revolution yet. Nowadays digital media bestow a completely different rage of possibilities and trigger the interaction among words, sounds and images. The synthesis between visual poetry and the traditional poetry based on sounds may have arrived. The borders of research are always in motion.