by Kiki Smith, Leslie Scalapino
The following commentary by Leslie Scalapino is excerpted, in part, from "The Division Between Fact and Experience" click here for the full essay.
"The Animal is in the World like Water in Water is a collaboration of drawings by Kiki Smith and poetry by Leslie Scalapino (myself), published by Granary Books in 2010. Kiki Smith sent me color Xeroxes of a completed sequence, forty-three drawings, which she’d titled, Women Being Eaten by Animals. I wrote the poem using the sense of an unalterable past occurrence: One female, apparently the same girl, is repeatedly, in very similar images as variations, bitten and clawed by a leopard-like, lion-like animal. Both person and animal have abstracted features, giving the impression of innocence or opaqueness. As in a dream of similar actions or a dream of a single, timeless action, the girl flecked with blood while being unaltered by the animal’s touch, there is no representation of motion except stillness of the figures floating in space of page. Neither the girl nor the animal articulate expression, as if phenomena of feeling(s) do not exist.
The words make in an outside/space a sense of the undoing of social tyranny as undoing of any hierarchy in individuals' feelings and perception as well as in people's values (public indistinguishable from private). Without hierarchy, past-reality-future is apparently free paradise of childhood and of birds. This outside space of the word/or that is my words abuts the other visible space of "Women being eaten by animals" (Kiki’s original title). While reading as well as seeing the images (but also if only seeing the visual images?), the viewer has the experience of body and mind being separated as if that is caused by the outside world. This experience of the viewer arises from their sense, in seeing, that one is separated from the scene of the girl and the animal alone together as if making love; and a sense of separation arises from the girl and animal not mimicking expressions of experiencing sensations. The disconnect that's itself the dreamlike dialogue between 'not being experienced (by the senses)'— and separation or union (both together?) of mind/eye and body/sight—has to be first enacted by Smith's visual images, in order for the language to broach this (subject) matter at all. Is dialogue possible without language?" —Leslie Scalapino
The digital prints (by Justin Israels) are individually hand-colored by the artist. The book is accordion-bound in ultra suede by Daniel Kelm at the Wide Awake Garage and housed in a clam-shell box. There are 45 copies in the edition numbered and signed by poet and artist; approximately 30 are for sale.
The image shown above left is excerpted from page 19.