July 25, 2009


Back in Helsinki from Saari. Unfortunately I forgot the camera lead so I can’t up load any photos, but Geof Huth has been blogging extensively what it is like. I arrived on Thursday and went virtually straight into my talk. I mainly surveyed the last two Text Festivals and compared text works that I had seen at the Basel Art Fair shows and the disappointing ICA show. I also responded to the question that has been bouncing around the workshop (according to the blogs) which is “What is the difference between a vispo and a graphic designer?” it seems to me that this is the wrong question, instead I asked “What is the difference between a vispo and a visual artist?” Generally it was felt that the answer to both questions is the same – poets don’t get paid. Christian Bök’s line was most interesting - that the reason why poetry can’t compete in artistic status is economic – the price of failure in poetry is so low as opposed to the 'capital investment' of say visual arts. In addition, unlike most other artforms, it isn’t possible for poetry to support the infrastructure of auxiliary business, ie there isn’t enough money in it to allow agents, gallerists, publishers, etc, to make profit from its re-sale. However, the distinction between the two questions is actually one of self-esteem. There are obvious stylistic and technical similarities between some vispo and some graphic design practice but implicit in the relation to graphics is the lack of connection between vispo and visual art. This is the vispo problem.

After my talk, Leevi Lehto talked (see Geof’s blog) and we had a dinner of fabulous Finnish smoked salmon with potatos, vegetables and a salad expertly dressed by Mr. Bök. The rest of the evening was great conversation and beer. All being well, Christian will be doing a project in the next Text Festival.


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