Thursday, August 19, 2010

On Seeing Small Clothes

Poem of the Day:
"There's a War in My Country" by Yael Shinar
The Carolina Quarterly, Summer 2010

Today, following my internship, I made a visit to the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art). Thursdays are free after 5 PM. I was there at 4:57 PM. My promptness nearly cost me.

One of the exhibits featured the work of New York-based artist Charles LeDray. His pieces are domestic miniatures, mostly clothing and houseware. For instance, there was glass case upon glass case of tiny vases. There was small suits and teeny trousers. The outfits were not cutesy, like those of a doll. They were more jarring, unnatural in their small scale.

Shinar's poem tries to make sense of war through ideas of evolution, humanity, and the earth. She writes, "In the Levant, human violence appears late/in prehistory./A slit in the sternum, a knick in the skull—/the worn, warm skeleton,/unearthed & stained/with millenia's diverse/mineral sediment" (lines 1-7), portraying humankind's violent tendencies as damaged fossils, which at one time were rotting corpses. In this first section of her poem Shinar -- who upon "Googling," I discovered to be a Cambridge resident -- pays careful attention to minute details of human anatomy; she is an archeologist uncovering a body.

During my museum visit today I felt the scope from which Shinar speaks. I was an observer removed, looking down upon these small articles of clothing, arranged for my viewing, and arranged, in many ways, in anticipation of my judgment.

Shinar is stepping back from her own people, and looking just as I have. Her conclusions are more relevant, as they draw conclusions about the state of humanity today. I merely wondered if LeDray could make some of his shirts in my size.

A Poem A Day Audrey

P.S. Happy Birthday to a beautiful Patricia McGlinchy. Sometimes I think you're the only person who reads this = )


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