Friday 15 November 2019

The poet cries before Georgia O’Keeffe

The poet knew from the experience of others about the emotional confrontation or inner-electric shock that occurs when confronted by paintings that summon memories deliberately stored away. She thought about all the documented spiritual experiences that must exist in personal archives, attics or carefully tucked behind skin and skulls:

…sitting in Rothko’s Chapel in Houston, Texas, for example the blacks, the acid trip in variations of monochrome pigment that causes headaches and the heart rate to quicken, blood pressure almost never voluntary.

She both waited for this moment and dispelled its possibility, disbelieving it, debasing it as myth, and refusing to abandon her intellect and participate in irresponsible acts of losing oneself.

The poet stands before the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe in an exhibition aiming to situate the artist outside the common rhetoric equating her flora to female sex.

Landscape never seemed so important. Watercolour topography had yet to be so apt, so private, yet also about the planet we love but didn’t choose. The poet examines photographs of naked Georgia, taken by her photographer husband, man/maker: Georgia was everywhere and the poet let herself cry without restriction.

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