September 12th, 2013

Layered Ekphrasis Collaboration
Lina ramona Vitkauskas

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[Delve into the article below by Mutable's own Lina Vitkauskas, and at the bottom you will find a string of poems that were inspired by a chapbook that was inspired by a film.]


I first saw Fando y Lis in 2001. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which the main characters—lovers Fando and Lis—search for a mythical land, Tar, where it is said that all dreams come true. The film documents the journey to Tar—lays before the viewer a series of exquisitely odd and profoundly symbolic experiences; if dreams come true in Tar, it is no matter if we ever arrive, for dreams are fulfilled simply observing the unfolding excursion. The film itself is a poet’s dream—a grand pageant of formidable imagery: burning pianos and high-society aristocrats wandering barren landscapes littered with demolished structures, once beacons of culture/civilization; marionette shows illustrating the rape of innocence; canned peach-testicle metaphors and gaggles of erotic women and transvestites tempting the characters away for moments of sensual curiosity; mud nudes meshing with one another in the soft earth: flower consumption, body-painting, and melodramatic, reclining graveyard poses—a whirlwind of remarkable hallucinations strung together, coupled with intriguing and affected dialogue.


The viewing experience reminded me a bit of the night, years before, that I’d first seen avantgarde troupe, The Residents (televised). I sat on a dusty floor in an unfamiliar flat, late at night, the soup of mid-summer settling, submerged in a pitch-black room with only the yawn of white light from the television spewing at us—a group of sleepy, inebriated fellow humanoid forms/star travelers… strangers I’d just met on a city street not hours before. The static-ridden, VHS tape of their performance elicited a feeling of one needing to act covertly: here were eyeball-headed men from the future singing—seemingly directly to us—in espionage-laden riddles, all with a wicked, high-pitched synth-sizzle—sending electric messages from beyond. In my bedroom at home, many nights, I could visualize these ocular soothsayers, and felt a connection to them, having almost completely gone blind twice in my life due to retinal detachments. Post-surgery, 1996, I’d felt like a huge eyeball myself. And these eyeball men seemed to narrate exactly, in their opaque communications, what I experienced as my own vision in the darkness—a shrouded morass of universal truths delivered from beyond…especially for me… in this particular moment in time.


Plainly, for me, the film Fando y Lis essentially represented what I saw in the throes my healing process from eye surgery, each spurt of vision a cinematic flicker of blurred light—soaped lens capturing nothing but formless, spectral figures and voices from all directions. Through ragged, red threads of throbbing blood vessels, through the stickiness of damp gauze, deep bruised flesh around sockets, through my tapedeye-patch, at the tender age of 23 (and with a cruel young man at my bedside nightly to suffocate my calls for more pain pills) I now clearly saw Lis as she was—left behind and strung about on a wheelbarrow-stretcher to vicariously experience the world as it manipulated her lover.


When offered the chance to be a part of an artistic collaborative process addressing the film, I sought to use ekphrasis—one art form speaking to another—as a way to screen through my own visual experiences as well as to see through the eyes of a beautiful and “visionary” conceptual artist and poet, Tashi Ko. Thus, here I have written my own poems in response to hers (which respond to Fando y Lis). It is a kind of “layered ekphrasis” which is dreamlike in quality, as it not only echoes and mirrors images back to one another, but perhaps represents in some way “levels” of dreams themselves (see the film Inception) in that it shows us states of consciousness that overlap/overlay, an experience similar to being tripped into metacognitive states (lucid dreaming). This series of poems is, perhaps, simply a response to a response, yet, stylistically: a dream speaking to a dreamer who responds in a dream language (poetry) that inspires additional dream language (poetry).


Before you exists the output of two minds across miles, seeing through the eye-gauze of Jodorowsky’s masterpiece film.



Speaking to 10 poems from the chapbook Fando y Lis
[which was itself based on Jodorowsky’s Fando y Lis]


Come #1
it seems, when you’re younger, it seems
when you are younger it seems




skin-drum-cities war on
grape-scorpions curl
rock & cock
my ocean swans swirl giant


in the house all little pups come


leaves of soldiers
blow away



Come #2
so close like a whole structure
about to come


like new york city always




         it’s paralyzing



Come #3
suit eating potatoes
ivory burn plays powdered nuns
the un-conversation
the bandstand
we made aloof this
bread, none of it matters


come to culture



Come #4
A lady never shows
or cuts you
cuts you up
yarns up syllables, lip-glare-glaze


dance with me in the back
give me what’s inside you
I promise to never



Come #5
lock box money begs


fur boxes


upon box stones


coming for cactus pricks


sleeping umbrellas


          a giveaway nebula



Come #6
untamed housewife scent   prisoners
ate the hair products


guacamole blindfold come
don’t you want the women
to love you?

           floral shower


follow me



Come #7
I love you crisp
like fire automobile fists
just a prisoner of love



Come #8
laughing yarn graveyards little miss lover
You’ll get the world
          receive come-kiss-mud
Hold me
          the men have inspected me
key me         come on



Come #9
Culture leaves


to destroy another civil


falcon girl


savour the     rose petal come
shield the sound
of her scream



Come #10


Die culture viva-la-not-see-me
viva la cultura coming
all over knotted commentary
teeters night lovers


           I will die and no one will remember me



Come #11
Automatically white
mortal flowers cellos shine
come sky to me blue yawn
all oracle-glazed