It’s been nearly a month since my last article, and though it may seem that I’ve neglected my duties as an aesthete by not attending any events or shows as of late, I really have been on the ball. Despite the biting winds, I’ve been out and about, perusing David LaChapelle at Seoul Arts Center, Candida Höfer at Kukje Gallery, Ellery Queen (the absence of, rather) at Space O’NewWall, and a whole array of other great exhibitions. In fact, I’ve been quite dedicated to Seoul’s art scene lately, doing my part to contribute where I can, even if only to leave behind traces of carbon dioxide and a trail of eau de perfume.
One of my highlights of the past month was attending a private poetry reading at a friend’s studio in Anguk. Titled ‘A Secret Love Affair’ the event was hosted by a group of Korean artists and curators, each sharing their own personal creations or favourite works. Naturally, the theme of the event was love, and seeing as I have limited romantic experience (there’s no point in lying), I was a bit hesitant to read-aloud my short, sensation-laden piece. Perhaps to ease the pressure, readers were given the choice of either leaving the lights on or turning them off. Red wine, candles, love and whispers… rather than let things spiral out of control, I figured it would be best if the lights stayed on for my performance.
After picking cheese from my teeth, I quietly read a poem titled “Sacro Speco”. Inspired by a Canadian hike, some readings I had been immersed in at the time, and the prospects of a European tour in the coming summer, I wrote the poem in the spring of 2010 (really dating myself here), not expecting it to ever see the light of the day. The audience seemed to enjoy the work, though I am certain they were unable to understand much of what I was saying. Similarly, my ability to understand Korean is infantile at best, yet I was genuinely moved by the emotionality and sincerity of the others’ performances. Such is the case with auditory art forms: the textures of voice and volume transcend both definition and denotation. Even a nervous stutter or an extended pause can have the most exquisite effect. Ultimately, all of us present at ‘A Secret Love Affair’ were just happy to have each other’s company, despite our linguistic differences.
A certain familial sensibility hangs over Seoul, draping its inhabitants in a warmth that I have yet to grow accustomed to, and although the temperature outside is steadily dropping, I am certain I will continue to find great comfort in the company of those met indoors. Further, I look forward to continuing my work in the coming year, fueling the not-so-secret love affair that I have with this city.
When golden leaves glow from beneath
I think of tiny bumps on parchment
and how Morse had no idea
when he painted The Chapel of the Virgin at Subiaco
that he would set you free.
Like an eclipse cannot contain the spark
I am filled with a delicate anguish
encircled by river water, hanging from cypress boughs
at peace with aplenty in which I am born
but solemnly caught between sanguine and sea.
Despite my condition and your conditional vision
we burn brighter than hot oils caught in the salty winds of summer.
For those brilliant fingers, chapped and fluorescent
did nothing to illuminate the caves of our fathers;
bound, our graphite hands will forever be.