John Gior­no - Ugo Ron­di­none

L'officiel Art - - Artists' Voice Cover Story - In­ter­view by Ya­mi­na Be­naï

Stan­ding tall. Yes­ter­day and to­day. More than ever. John Gior­no, 78, son of Ita­lian im­mi­grants to New York Ci­ty, has span­ned de­cades. Ne­ver bo­wing to conven­tion. A child of the Beat Ge­ne­ra­tion rai­sed on coun­ter-culture in an Ame­ri­ca (still? fo­re­ver?) ri­ven by se­gre­ga­tion, white su­pre­ma­cy, and the dik­tats of fa­mi­ly va­lues, so­cial confor­mism and ho­mo­pho­bia. Gior­no is an apostle of dissent, a pio­neer of a genre of poe­try: the sound poem. Gior­no is a sur­vi­vor of eve­ry pos­sible ex­cess, a unique lan­guage due­list. “Wha­te­ver hap­pens, it's part of the trip.” The conci­sion of English, the im­pla­cable acui­ty of the poet's vi­sion. A figh­ter whose wea­pon is his voice and that of hun­dreds of Ame­ri­can and Eu­ro­pean poets, whose spo­ken texts he has col­lec­ted and of­fe­red as ob­jects of re­flec­tion, sup­port and ac­tive lis­te­ning to the hun­dreds of thou­sands of people who have sub­scri­bed to Dial-A-Poem or come wi­thin reach of any of the fif­ty-two al­bums re­lea­sed on the Gior­no Poe­try Sys­tems (GPS) la­bel that he foun­ded in 1965. Poe­try as a broad-spec­trum vi­rus. In­fil­trate the brain, ex­plore eve­ry pos­si­bi­li­ty of the bo­dy and heart. To ex­haus­tion. “I want to cum in your heart.” Then re­birth. Over and over. The Swiss ar­tist, Ugo Ron­di­none, Gior­no's part­ner for near­ly two de­cades, has de­vi­sed an exhibition-oeuvre that is ex­tra­or­di­na­ry in its com­po­si­tion, in­tel­li­gence, ge­ne­ro­si­ty and in the pre­ci­sion of its intent. In Pa­ris to put the fi­ni­shing touches to the event at the Pa­lais de To­kyo, John Gior­no and Ugo Ron­di­none gave their first in­ter­view to L'Of­fi­ciel Art. An en­coun­ter with two great crea­tors uni­ted in the love of art, poe­try, free­dom, and in love, per­iod. Ugo Ron­di­none re­fu­sed to in­clude any of those col­la­bo­ra­tions in the ex­hi­bit, which de­mons­trates a sense of pers­pec­tive with the sub­ject. The exhibition at­tempts to de­fine to what extent a poet can be pre­sen­ted to the pu­blic and how to pro­ceed in doing so through the me­dium of art. The vi­si­tor may not be in­te­res­ted in poe­try, but may be so in art, which becomes a po­ten­tial vec­tor. While the poe­try genre has ge­ne­ral­ly fal­len in­to dis­fa­vor, art has be­ne­fit­ted from a re­sur­gence of in­te­rest in the last thir­ty years. My aim was to re­vive cu­rio­si­ty for poe­try, which has been mar­gi­na­li­zed world­wide, and res­tore its le­gi­ti­ma­cy in the pu­blic eye. I am lu­cky en­ough to have been with John Gior­no for eigh­teen years and the re­search I un­der­took be­fore plun­ging in­to the rea­li­ty of the exhibition was an op­por­tu­ni­ty to dis­co­ver ma­ny of his texts of which I knew ab­so­lu­te­ly no­thing. It see­med im­por­tant to me to share them with the wi­dest pos­sible au­dience. I or­ga­ni­zed the se­quen­cing with a view to the phy­si­cal im­pe­ra­tives of the ve­nue. At the Pa­lais de To­kyo, things are dic­ta­ted by the space it­self, so I adap­ted the ma­te­rial to the idea that the Pa­lais de To­kyo was a house with eight be­drooms. Each of them has a spe­ci­fic sur­face area and a tem­pe­ra­ture all of its own. I then co­lor-co­ded them to al­ter­nate bet­ween moods. I star­ted with red, with mo­nu­men­tal let­te­ring to open the ex­hi­bit, and conti­nued with the black and white of Thanx 4 No­thing, be­fore mo­ving on­to the co­lors of the rain­bow for the vast ar­chives wall, and so on, un­til we com­plete the vi­sit in the mul­ti-co­lo­red space of the Gior­no Poe­try Sys­tems (GPS), contai­ning around fif­ty al­bums of poems spo­ken by their au­thors.

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