The Poetry Is Always Swirling

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Egle Obcarskaite gets answers from Trong Nguyen

Legwork’s tribute to the poetic beauty of all of the Reality TV shows that have
been or will ever be created on art and artists. With inspiration from Work
of Art: The Next Great Artist
, that was the cultural high-point of the summer in the USA.


I propose this title that you see above as a leitmotif for the exchange which will follow. I would not argue that there is nothing unclear or contradictory in this formulation. However, put in this way, it presents three moments that deeply interest me at the moment. First of all, poetics, which is the term that has not (and won’t have) any clear definition in the context that I am operating here. To some extent it is indeed related to what we understand as “poetry”; however, in choosing it I deliberately keep (and even increase) the intensity of the unspeakable, unexplainable, the aesthetic something that it has. Or, as we used to know it in the context of poetic experience — something mystical. In a weird way this draws my mind back to the etymology of the word, namely, the ancient Greek word poieisis, “to make” or “to create.” Largely through the work of Aristotle poetics has also lost this object-related connotation in favor of puristic creation of language-based forms (allow me to generalize a bit here). However, what about making objects? Exactly, I want to talk about objects. About making things. Especially that poetics never left them, right?

There is a second moment that interests me. We do sometimes talk about art pieces being poetic. We do talk about a bus ride being poetic, or a date at Starbuck’s being poetic. Is it repetition, the sound of it that makes something poetry? A Form? Aesthetic experience? The exposure of modified — applied, exaggerated, pimped — environment? There comes a third moment that interests me — I think I can see the model of a reality show resembling the poetics in art. And by that I mean poetics as something which is constructed, formulated according to both pre-existing patterns and presuppositions of major qualities (be it beauty or meaning or whatever simulacrum), but in the end is still unable to be articulated and therefore to be tracked down. But there is some mystery there that makes it attractive as hell.

What I propose in the following is a list of sentences without an end. Basically I do not want to ask questions. I give you the sentence to complete (if some of them are already completed — then to follow up). And I leave you all the liberty of reaction. You may complete a sentence, you may skip it, you may cross out a sentence, or start a completely new one. The only rule is to react to them. No reaction is also a reaction.


— I don’t know if art needs poetics artists as its spine …. but I hope it does. I suspect it does. Art in essence is poetry, a formal language, something that articulates, broadens, loosens the limits of what is possibly understood.

— If poetics in poetry is the virtuosic usage of language, then poetics in art is the virtuosic acting of physical displacement… Maybe it is more of a virtuosic arrangement of ideas and forms? Artists paint with with paint as much as they do with concept.

— Building up the status of an artist reminds me of creating a poem, with all the necessary rules, required forms, rhyme… “Status” is the blunt necessity or aspiration of being an artist, that comes with the commercial evolution of the work itself, whereas poetry denies crudity at every turn.

— The art that is real as reality itself, must provide heroes… Temporary ones, which are not “real heroes.”

— Probably it is most easy to talk about poetics in art when having in mind transgressive pieces… Not necessarily (though this initial reaction is transgressive). Every art object can be said to have less or more poetry, so in that regard, it is always easy talking about its poetics.

— Daring to make things in art is also poetic, …. The “risk” is the initial step to any worthwhile creative process. To living, even. To make is to have dared. Poetic? Maybe? Stupid? Maybe. Necessary? Definitely.

— One can speak of the production of an art piece, one can speak of producing a poem, yet in both cases there is nothing romantic to it; it is as technical as producing a TV show. But it is exactly this technicality, that determines the poetics of the end product… Agreed, in physical terms. However, in cognitive or conceptual terms, the poetry is always swirling.

— Repetition is an amazing quality — it plays with expectations of spectator, it promises to disappoint, and does so without spectator noticing it… which is why history repeats itself again and again.

— I like to think of the artistic practice in which I am involved as an opposition to anything easy. I believe in treading.

— The fact of the matter is that there is no physicality, no object-hood; there is just our desire for them… But our desires are weak, lack the faculty of articulation, and are incapable of seeing without the visual complement.

— Traveling around Italy I can really see how poetics conquers art I can’t separate art from poetry. I can’t look at the colors in Michelangelo’s tondo at the Uffizi without thinking why, how, or wow. I can’t separate myth from reality from art from poetry from comedy from tragedy. I can’t stop looking at Cellini’s “Perseus” without thinking that of the artist’s autobiography, of the subject’s story which would have been impossible without the bronze statue itself.

— We need stories being related to objects, to our heroes, to that bar we go every week to meet our friends… We need stories, period. We have to talk, we have to share, we have to be human. We don’t care what it relates to because that is relative.

— When I think about tension in art form, I remember… Ulysses’ bow.

— And of course, showing off is a poetic form that is shared by both the nature of art, and by the nature of reality show… “Showing off” is another branch of “communicating,” and that is what art does. Television does that too. Both narrate a tale. Both have their commercial tendencies. Both are mating acts, showing the peacock feathers in an effort to enrapt and possess the viewer.

— There is one art piece of mine — or of someone else — that I could write a poem about…  I’ve never written a poem about another piece of work (mine or anyone else’s), but I have written poems that inevitably romanticize what I am feeling and experiencing. I have made works that incorporate poems. So in that regard, the poem becomes another art element mixing the media.

— Poetics of art manifests through expectations, it is like writing a travel guide, where you create a vision of a space, and make those who read it believe it actually exists … I always want the work of art to be more than what it is capable, so in that sense, it always fails a little. My expectations of the work and what the viewer actually gets out of it will probably never be the same. People generally romanticize artists and the art they create, so the “poetics of art” begins the first chapter with it already being manifested. Furthermore, whether it fails or succeeds in creating and “realizing” this untraveled realm doesn’t seem pertinent.