For a long time, Letterism – established by Isidore Isou – has remained the unknown avant-garde of European Post-war art. Using copies and documents, A Paradise of Letters looks at two aspects of the movement’s production: their notion of a ”metagraphic” or ”hypergraphic” novel, and their experiments with a ”discrepant”, ”chiseling” and ”nuclear” cinema. The display and accompanying lectures will ask the speculative, hypothetical question: what would be the result if these largely forgotten practices were reinscribed into the narrative of post-war poetry, art and cinema?
A Paradise of Letters is organized by Jonas (J) Magnusson and Kim West. Both will give a lecture (each 1h) about the following topics:
”Hypergraphics, or the art of re-reading and re-writing our world-text” by Jonas (J) Magnusson
Jonas (J) Magnusson will discuss the hypergraphic novels by Isidore Isou (Les Journaux des Dieux, ”The God's Diaries”, 1950; Initiation à la haute Volupté, ”Initiation to High Voluptuousness”, 1960; Jonas ou le corps à la recherche de son âme, ”Jonah, or the Body Searching for its Soul”, 1984), Gabriel Pomerand (Saint Ghetto des Prêts, ”St Ghetto of the Loans”, 1950) and Maurice Lemaître (Canailles, ”Riff-raff”, 1950).
Metagraphics (or post-writing), invented by Isodore Isou in 1950, and four years later renamed hypergraphics (or super-writing), aimed both at subverting the novel as it was known at the time, and at extending Letterist painting to the totality of characters of all writing systems in their existing or invented transcriptions, seen through their ideographic, lexical and alphabetic categories.
”Nuclear cinema: Letterist film experiments” by Kim West
With their first Letterist films, Traité de bave et d’éternité and Le film est déjà commencé? (both 1951), Isidore Isou and Maurice Lemaître wanted to radically extend cinema’s scope of possibilities. Scratching the film frames, separating images and sounds, voices and bodies, and employing the cinema theater as an aesthetic element, they introduced a number of innovative techniques that predated the experiments of ”structural” and ”expanded” cinema, as well as the renegotiations of film language by the Nouvelle Vague filmmakers.
In his combined lecture and screening, Kim West will discuss Isou’s and Lemaître’s classic films, as well as the work of other Letterist filmmakers such as Marc’O (”Nuclear Cinema”, 1952, Closed Vision, 1954, Les Idoles, 1968), Gil Wolman (L’anti-concept, 1952), and Roland Sabatier (such as Pensiez-vous (vraiment) voir un film de Roland Sabatier?, 1973).
Isidore Isou, Les journaux des dieux
Opening hours: Thursday and Friday, 5-7pm; Saturday, 12am-5pm
The project is made with support by Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Allianz Kulturstiftung.