Forum Artistic Research

Oral Presentation

Tending Towards Each Other: Between Breath and Inscription

Thais Akina Yoshitake Lopez

on  Sat, 10:30in  Neuer Saalfor  30min

This research is grounded on the relation between listening and orientation through a kindred gesture: ‘tending towards’. It brings an embodied and spatial take using as an object of inquiry the dialogue between the poems from Paul Celan and the etchings from Gisele Lestrange-Celan in the publication of ‘Atemkristall’ (Brunidor 1965, France). The choice for this pairing is based on the possibility of combining two elements: the breath and the ground (both present in Paul Celan’s poetics and etching’s material inscription). I am interested in the flux and exchange between breathing gestures (translating Atemkristall as breath-crystal) and inscription within the series of poems and etchings, proposing images not as illustrations or representations of the text but as possible spatial configurations of encounters (as readers, listeners, makers and witnesses). Departing from this specific word-image encounter, supported by their essays and letters, the research translates the gesture of listening to the tending towards a shared practice. The choice of this specific object was instigated by Paul Celan’s references to geomorphism and breath in his late writings. Attendance as a gesture of attention is embodied when the poet imagines that ‘the poem is pneumatically touchable’ and that ‘the reader breathes into the poem’. Concerning this turning-towards-the-poem, the dialogue with the etchings invites a reading of the poet’s gesture, inclining his attention towards someone else’s practice and medium. My interest in this dialogue lies in how both mediums affect each other in this publication. It allows for a spatial possibility where the reader is invited to perform the breathing pace of the poems (also their interruptions and ellipsis) in relation to the images (avoiding a static view of the print). At the same time, the gesture of imprinting puts at work a materiality of elements that Celan intertwines with the materiality of his medium: language. In letters to Gisele, Celan mentions, “In your etchings, I recognise my poems; they go through them and are there still”. To ‘go through’ opens a channel where we, as readers, may encounter an openness initiated by their inclination towards each other. Extending this particular form of ‘listening’ means approaching the relation word–image as a possibility of generative spaces of attention, of listening before any immediate attempt to translate.

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