American (post): an experiment in democratic participation

American (post) began with a question about “America” and “Americanness” and a trip to Havana, Cuba in May 2010.

Sunday afternoon at Callejón de Hamel, La Habana, Cuba, May 2010

I wanted to crack open binary oppositions like us/them, north/south, black/white, good/bad, and right/wrong to illuminate the whole system that creates and perpetuates the opposition. The exercise generated a formal experiment in poetry, which I’m calling “plane-poems.” In turn, the plane-poems generated a translation experiment, which I’m calling “translation-objects.”

Community members and Ashley David explore a “poem” from American (post) at the Red Mill Gallery Opening, Vermont Studio Center, July 13, 2012 (photo credit: Annie Jacobs & Lillian Morrow)

By writing these poems and subsequently translating them into objects, I am exploring how “America” and “Americanness” are experienced, understood, and mediated in the United States and beyond. My journey is not, however, an objective one. Rather, it is personal and subjective, and any intellectual activity is intended to serve visceral experience and awareness. I hope that readers and viewers will access and experience the work on a heart/gut level.

I begin with the following hypothesis:

If two points make a line (or a binary) and three create a plane (& a conversation), and a plane can be manipulated through Euclidean and non-Euclidean notions of space, then plane-poems can explore and interrogate space, time, and experiences in dimensions beyond four.

American (post) opening reading, Red Mill Gallery, Vermont Studio Center, July 13, 2012 (photo credit: Annie Jacobs & Lillian Morrow)

They can also be experienced (read & viewed) like a painting or an object, from any angle and in pieces or whole.

As such, plane-poems have democratic potential.

Check out photos and blog posts here and watch the play-by-play below.