A collaboration between the visual and literary arts is hardly a newfangled thing--it's been goin' on from the moment the two art forms locked eyes above the hot sparks of the campfire, undeniably drawn to each other's unique strengths of expression, driving them to converge and dance together until long after the light of the last ember was extinguished. In other words, it was love, people.
But what makes a union of these two divergent disciplines genuinely successful and, therefore, a cut above the rest is the thoughtfulness of process and power of execution brought to the creative marriage by the artists themselves.
As evidenced by their 2-year online project, shutters/dead ends/lens/pens, both visual artist/photographer William Zuback and writer David P. Press have consistently delivered the high level artistic goods necessary to claim such a genuine success. Now all that's left is to bring it from the digital into the physical world through an exhibition at Inspiration Studios.
Loosely based on the age-old call-and-response tradition--ya know, somethin' like when I say "Art!" you say "Love It!" "Art!" "Love It!"--shutters/dead ends/lens/pens is anything but traditional. Beginning with a prose poem call by Press and followed by a photographic image response by Zuback, the caller and respondent alternate over 14 chapters. So the pattern is write/shoot, shoot/write, and repeat.
But what really makes the project stand out is the execution, as the responses are not literal interpretations but rather born of intense focus on detail and intangible atmosphere.
As Zuback put it during an interview over coffee, his approach as respondent was to zero in on specific phrases while also feeling the internal rhythm of Press' prose, very much like jazz musicians do while engaging in improvisational jams.
Press expanded on that by stating that the project was really a contrapuntal exercise--which is just a fancy and much less wordy way saying a place where opposing or independent ideas meet--which provided room for spontaneity and nonlinear story-telling. For him too, it was in the detail and mood of Zuback's images where he found the root of his responses.
Just as the collaboration follows its own method, so too does the exhibition schedule. There will be three openings of shutters/dead ends/lens/pens, which runs January 31-February 28, 2015 at Inspiration Studios, 1500 South 73rd Street in West Allis:
• Opening Day Reception on Sunday, February 1, 2-5PM
• Special Mardi Gras Reception on Fat Tuesday, February 17, 6-9PM
As a super bonus, actors from The Village Players will be giving staged readings of Press' prose poems while Zuback's images are projected on the gallery walls during each opening. It's multi-media madness!
Keep in mind that all 14 chapters--each one comprised of a photo and a prose poem, framed and ready to hang--will be for sale, so be sure to bring your wallet, coin purse, or comically marked money bag.
(Thanks, Bill & David!)