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Poets with a Video Camera: Videopoetry 1980–2020 – some overviews


Sadly Poets with a Video Camera exhibition curated by Tom Konyves at Surrey Art Gallery, Vancouver ended on December 11th.  The symposium almost didn’t happen, since a storm cut out the electricity the night before, but due to the quick-thinking and resourcefulness of the curators the whole event was moved from its original gallery location to the conference room at Surrey Library, and continued almost on its original time schedule!

One of the important points, beyond the actual films was the innovative way the gallery curators designed each film epoch to have a digital information screen at the side, which  gave information about which video you were watching out of the four in that particular time period or decade. A booklet accompanying the exhibition also gave a lot of detailed information on Konyves’ thinking and the artists’ work. I believe a longer version of this is forthcoming.

Since its opening in September, there have been a number of very good overviews of this leading exhibition, and so I thought I would share them here. Moving Poems asked two of the exhibitors – foremost Canadian videopoets Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel H. Dugas to review the symposium related to the exhibition curated by Tom Konyves – ‘Two or Three Things One Should Know About Videopoetry’, that we all attended on November 5th. Valerie and Daniel have given a great account of the day and the work, with accompanying gallery photos see hereNew Art Emerging: Notes from a Symposium on Videopoetry

Some of the artists being screened: Kurt Heintz, Sarah Tremlett, Heather Haley, Valerie LeBlanc, Daniel H. Dugas, Tom Konyves, Adeena Karasick, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Jim Andrews, Annie Frazier Henry and SAG curator, Jordan Strom. Javier Robledo and Matt Mullins weren’t able to attend and contributed memorable video presentations.

When Poems Transcend the Page – Poetry videos tap into the unconscious, the unspoken and the universal. Here’s why I love them

Vancouver’s Poet Laureate, Fiona Tinwei-Lam (featured on LW) also has penned a very interesting article here, which also shows her own journey with videopoetry and how poet Heather Haley’s Visible Verse festival included her first film Chrysanthemum in 2009.

And we have a recording of Tom Konyves’ talk at Surrey Art Gallery, November 26th, made by exhibitor and renowned visual and media poet Jim Andrews, from the legendary internet site www.vispo.com. More on him in due course!

Tom Konyves with his own work ow(n)ed, 2014

Many of the people and films included in the exhibition are works that are uppermost in my archive and/or included in The Poetics of Poetry Film, and I could write long essays on all of them. 

Secondary Currents, Peter Rose, 1982

But as someone who has an early background in experiments with text-on-screen, and not having seen many examples lately, I have a fondness for Peter Rose’s jumbled kinetic/sound text Secondary Currents from 1982, and also Jim Andrews’ playful Seattle Drift from 1997 – his first programmed poem. The link is the interactive version, not a video: https://vispo.com/animisms/SeattleDriftEnglish.html

Jim worked with the extraordinary poet Adeena Karasick on the video of her poem Checking In (Talon Books) (2018). Here is a version without her voiceover, but you have to see her in person with the video – mesmerising performance work.

The whole event was a totally memorable experience, surrounded by so many leaders in the field. A big thank you to everyone involved.

me and Natasha Boskic