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Art Criticism & Theory

textual vishyuns

image and text in the work of bill bissett

by (author) Carl Peters

Publisher
Talonbooks
Initial publish date
May 2011
Category
Criticism & Theory
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780889226616
    Publish Date
    May 2011
    List Price
    $24.95

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Description

Although internationally recognized as a pioneer of visual, concrete, sound and performance poetry, few people recognize bill bissett’s work in the visual arts to be of equal aesthetic importance. While his drawings, paintings, collages and three-dimensional assemblages were the subject of a 1984 Vancouver Art Gallery solo exhibition, Fires in th tempul, despite bissett’s substantial and ongoing contributions to the practice of the avant-garde tradition in art, very little critical work exists on his poetry, and almost no theoretical discourse exists on his visual work.

In textual vishyuns, Carl Peters attributes this to the fact that bissett’s entire body of work consists of an integrated aesthetic praxis of “the whole art”; that his drawings, paintings, collages and assemblages?challenge artistic conventions of visual language in the same way that his poetry challenges linguistic conventions of syntax and grammar to escape the strictures of Western modes of binary and hierarchical thought and perception.

With a focus on the technique of “the continuous line”; the related and carefully constructed ambiguity of the figure/ground relationship; and his technique of “molecular dissolve” to allow his subject and its environment to escape the frames and margins of representational art; Peters argues that in bissett’s artistic practice all things breathe because all things exist in the immediacy of the moment, which is, as well, ­spatial.

Drawing primarily from statements and manifestos of aesthetic ­theory by practitioners of the major modernist movements of impressionism, cubism, fauvism, surrealism and abstract expressionism in the visual arts; the poetics of Gertrude Stein, William Burroughs, Charles Olson and bpNichol; and the experimental films of Andy Warhol, Stan Brakhage, David Lynch and David Cronenberg, here, finally, is a book that locates bissett’s textual and visual artistic praxis within the larger context of the history, theory and practice of art.

About the author

Carl Peters
Carl Peters wrote his master's thesis on bp Nichol and the Kabbalah and his doctoral thesis on Nichol and the practice of the sacred. His critical study of bill bissett was published by Talonbooks in the spring of 2011. Dr. Peters teaches poetics and avant-garde art at the University of the Fraser Valley.

bill bissett

originalee from lunaria ovr 300 yeers ago in lunarian time
sent by shuttul thru halifax nova scotia originalee wantid 2
b dansr n figur skatr became a poet n paintr in my longings
after 12 operaysyuns reelee preventid me from following th
inishul direksyuns
?bill bissett

bill bissett garnered international attention in the 1960s as a pre-eminent figure of the counterculture movement in Canada and the United Kingdom. In 1964, he founded blewointment press, which published the works of bpNichol and Steve McCaffery, among others.

bissett’s charged readings, which never fail to amaze his audiences, incorporate sound poetry, chanting and singing, the verve of which is only matched by his prolific writing career?more than seventy books of bissett’s poetry have been published.

A pioneer of sound, visual and performance poetry?eschewing the artificial hierarchies of meaning and the privileging of things (?proper” nouns) over actions imposed on language by capital letters; the metric limitations imposed on the possibilities of expression by punctuation; and the illusion of formal transparency imposed on the written word by standard (rather than phonetic) spelling?bissett composes his poems as scripts for pure performance and has consistently worked to extend the boundaries of language and visual image, honing a synthesis of the two in the medium of concrete poetry.

Whether paying tribute to his hometown lunaria or exercising his native tongue dissent, bissett continues to dance upon upon the cutting edge of poetics and performance works.

bill bissett was recently a featured poet on the Heart of a Poet series, produced in conjunction with Bravo! TV.

Among bissett’s many awards are The George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award (2007); BC Book Prizes Dorothy Livesay Prize (2003) peter among th towring boxes / text bites; BC Book Prizes Dorothy Livesay Prize (1993) inkorrect thots.

Carl Peters' profile page

Editorial Reviews

A much-needed study, by turns polemical and proselytizing. Peters’ book signifies a crucial starting point for investigation of bissett’s important contributions to Canadian literature.” —Canadian Literature

“Carl Peters has written—nay produced!—an astonishing book on how bill bissett thinks within his art. Here is a discovery of poetic space and time coming together, where we glean time and space entering into empathy with the object. Peters’ learned awareness of the image’s relationship to bissett’s surreal vulnerability to surface and depth reveals the graphic touch of the voice and hand, whether on paper or canvas. In Peters’ eye and mind images are touched by voice to the letters on the page. We glimpse through film shots Magritte and Malevich-views that illuminate the intimate in the eye and ear of the beholder. This is an aesthetic right at home in its sensual perception of the uncanniness of these times. textual vishyuns is not only a book on bill bissett, but also a way of bringing modernist thought and vision together without taking either apart.”
—Jerry Zaslove

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