Group show The Dark Would focuses on artists of the written word
Featured poets and artists include Joseph Beuys, Stéphane Mallarmé and Alec Finlay
‘Everything needs to die in order to change, and that goes for poetry too,’ says Philip Davenport, the curator of this exhibition exploring language and art. ‘In the UK, poetry has been politely withering away, stuck in the early 20th century. Maybe an exhibition about death and rebirth is a good place to kick-start the rebirth of poetry.’ All of the work in the show is based around language, including work by poets and text artists such as Jenny Holzer, Lawrence Weiner, Caroline Bergvall, Ron Silliman and Richard Long, and late greats including Joseph Beuys and Stéphane Mallarmé.
*3The Dark Would*2, he says, is a reference to Dante’s ‘dark wood, a mid-life crisis on his way to hell’. It holds a personal resonance for Davenport. ‘I turned 50 recently and I had a strong sense of time flowing by me,’ he says, ‘but this exhibition isn’t just about my getting older – it’s about the world changing for all of us. The computer, micro-biology and the collapsing ecology are revolutionising our lives, and we need new ways to express this future, this “would”.’
Scotland, he says, is the perfect place for the show. ‘There’s a tradition here of radical poetry that stems from people like Ian Hamilton Finlay – a tradition that this exhibition is very much in debt to,’ he says. ‘In fact, we have a great work from IHF’s son Alec Finlay in the show.’
Summerhall, Edinburgh, Sat 7 Dec to Fri 24 Jan.