by Bob Perelman and Francie Shaw

ISBN 1-887123-64-4

Artist/Author Bios

Playing Bodies is a work in poetry and paintings by Bob Perelman and Francie Shaw. This work is, at once, a deeply specific, personal account and an undesignated construction which provides the perfect space on which to project our own ideas of self. The series of fifty-two paintings by Shaw and fifty-two poems by Perelman reflect an intensely united collaboration.

In describing the project, Shaw writes: "Exploring the space where terror and comfort, pleasure and pain are overlaid, I have done a series of 52 paintings using three small figures, two per painting, in various provocative and ambiguous poses. The figures are familiar toys: a bendable person (either a male or a female), and a plastic dinosaur. The paintings are done in a light style similar to ink brush drawings, in blue paint on high gloss white, reminiscent of Delft tiles. The paintings are metaphorical in that each gesture or pose suggests an often contradictory variety of emotional meanings. The relationship displayed can be read as between 2 figures or between different parts of oneself. At the same time they are clearly paintings of toys. The 52 paintings as a whole do not form any narrative progression; instead, each painting poses a variation of some basic questions: is this play or struggle, or both at once, who is carrying whom, who is in control?"

Bob Perelman writes: "Francie finished the series in 2000. We had been planning to renew our collaborative work for some time, and as I saw the paintings emerge, I kept wanting to write poems to them, but didn't begin until the fall of 2001. I tried to do justice to the exhilarating and terrifying primal meanings that I see the paintings display with such passionate wit."

Playing Bodies is a conversation between poet and painter, artists and readers which rewards in a more profound way than simple repartee. There is a plaintive depth below the surface of clean intelligence and that pitch of feeling is what makes this a complex investigation.This artists book features an introduction by Susan Stewart.

"Mortal beings are finite, but in play the outcome can be open-ended. In Bob's sequence of brief lyrics, a single voice seems to speak to an absent other. Each lyric is bracketed by silence, as printed lyrics always are. But because these poems were read aloud in response to the projection of one slide after another, they emerge in the silences between the clicks of the projector and against the hum of the light. They have the tone of someone struck in retrospection by a visual memory, someone struggling toward an understanding of whatever it is in experience that has made the very terms of understanding possible. Preoccupied with this history under the interest of another, the lyric self is split into a train of insights that are alternately ironic, erotic, saddened, and joyful. This isn't the first collaboration between Francie Shaw and Bob Perelman, but there's something that seems about to be born in these works." —from the Introduction by Susan Stewart

7.5" X 7.5", 116 pages, 52 images. ISBN 1-887123-64-4 (paper). $19.95

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