Saturday, July 06, 2019

Twoxism Poems by Claudia Serea. Photos by Maria Haro.

by Michael Markham

Poems by Claudia Serea. Photos by Maria Haro.
8th House Publishing, Montreal, Canada. December 2018.
116 pages. Color. Paperback.

is a collaboration between two artists, the poet Claudia Serea and photographer Maria Haro. The basic premise is the pairing of objects in a photograph and then the pairing of that photo with a poem. The photos are essentially documentary, being of found objects paired up, sometimes in suggestive ways.

The objects themselves are ordinary and day-to-day—things we might easily overlook or take for granted as we move about our hurried lives: traffic lights, bicycles chained together, a pair of abandoned shoes. A photo showing the shadows of a table and chair on a sidewalk is paired with the following poem:

A question for you

Tell me,
if I caught your shadow
and kissed it,

would you walk only
on the sunny side of the streets

so you wouldn't lose
my kiss?

The essential art, in a book such as this, is the collaboration itself, with one art form provoking or enhancing the other. When this is successful—as it certainly is here—the image and the poem engage and tease out associations that neither, on its own, might so easily suggest. The following is one of my favorites, which reflects also on the fact that Haro (Spain) and Serea (Romania) are both foreign-born New Yorkers, exploring, documenting, and commenting on their surroundings. A photograph of two paper signs taped together onto a wall reading "WET PAINT! / PINTURA FRESCA!" is paired with the following poem:

About languages

In what language
does the house painter paint?

Does the wind in Chile
speak Spanish to the trees?

Do the gulls over the Hudson River cry
Whitman's verse?

And what about
the Statue of Liberty?

In what language does she
keep silent?

As someone who's worked in a number of artistic disciplines—visual art, photography, music, poetry—I've always been interested in art that is multidisciplinary. There's a dynamic between the various art forms that is always suggestive and open to exploration. This interest extends to artists of differing backgrounds or disciplines or attitudes who collaborate, as if in conversation. This book is an excellent example of that kind of dynamic.

Michael Markham was born in England, raised in Canada, and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. He received his art instruction at the Instituto Allende (Mexico) and the Vancouver School of Art (Canada). He has exhibited in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Europe, and Australia. Markham is also a published poet and an active musician.

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