Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Issue 34, October 2013—Visual Arts by Poets Issue)

Brandon Downing

Lake Antiquity came out as a monograph in 2009 and the whole process of producing it was extremely gratifying. For more than a decade I’d been spending a huge wedge of my writing and studio time creating these color-laden hybrid visual ‘texts’ without any real or clear picture of how they might find their way to a readership. The final book ended up presenting probably about 60% of the total works from 1996 – 2008 that I felt were complete, and with my mentor and co-designer, Emanuela Frigerio, it also seemed like we achieved a cogent narrative of sorts from it, something proper, sequential.

The publication of the book, however, did not mean in any way that the project was complete. Far from it. Lake Antiquity has continued in the 4 – 5 years since the book’s selections were finalized, in some new ways. The text-driven works that formed a large part of the book remain pretty central to my practice. They’re also incredibly labor-intensive, analog acts; slide my registers all over the place; and come in little bursts of 2, 3, 4 works at a time once or twice a year. Two newer works in this vein lead off and close the selection. Another “series” has taken on a slightly new direction lately, becoming largely figural, and a bit of a project in their own right. Set under a working title called The Figures, they were also found in a more embryonic form spread throughout Lake Antiquity. They’ve become more codified, I think, from taking a more-design driven approach to the pictorial field: rather then the blunt foregrounding of rearranged and pasted language of the earlier collages, which can sometimes overwhelm the pictorial collisions I’ve introduced, these more “typical” collages explore quieter tensions between the made image, the figural ground, and the theatrical possibilities and ironies therein. That’s what I think.

One last thing I should mention. Not long after Lake Antiquity was published, Emanuela Frigerio passed away very suddenly. As a woman who not only first hired me and taught me “the ropes” as a professional graphic designer, but also showed me the baroque balancing effects of lateral composition and the smooth force of color (and who was also an incredible hardass)... I suspect that many of these Figures pieces could be perceived as my tribute to her eye, her drive, and discipline. I could always use more of that discipline.

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image of Opening of the Exposition

Opening of the Exposition

image of TImon & Flavius

TImon & Flavius

image of The Figures (CVII)

The Figures (CVII)

image of Bambi (Torpedo Raja)

Bambi (Torpedo Raja)

image of Register of the Centennial

Register of the Centennial