Rewriting the World: Primers and Poetry in the Age of Confusion

Wolfonian Musum – FIU. From Apr 7 through Jun 5, 2011.

altThe Wolfsonian – FIU presents Rewriting the World: Primers and Poetry in the Age of Confusion. Drawing on the museum’s holdings of rare books from the early twentieth century, the selection of materials represents a range of attempts to define the contours of everyday life through renovations of language. Whether a motorcar-marketing booklet, a literacy manual for non-native speakers, or a poem comprised of innovative typography and non-sense sounds, these works emerged from certain social and political agendas. The exhibition surveys the ways in which such agendas are inscribed in the rudiments of language – set into speech and written into thought.

Rewriting the World is organized by Matthew Abess, curatorial research assistant at The Wolfsonian. The exhibit includes evangelical alphabet primers, National Socialist toothpaste pamphlets, Czech photo-texts, typographic fairytales, and end-of-the-world scenarios filmed by the angel of Notre Dame.

“For the writers, designers, and even corporations behind these works, the transformation of everyday life was something to be achieved by linguistic means, and especially by the transformation of language itself,” notes Matthew Abess. “At their most effective, these efforts to initiate readers into certain visions of the present and future are well concealed. This exhibition aims to make them manifest.”

The exhibition is organized in response to the stated mission of the O, Miami poetry festival that every single person in Miami-Dade County encounter a poem during the month of April. Following this call for encounters, The Wolfsonian also will be projecting Abeceda 2000 in its street front windows from nightfall to sunrise beginning on April 7, 2011. The film recreates the Liberated Theater’s performance of Abeceda – an icon of Czech avant-garde poetry, dance, and constructivist design – using the 1926 “photo-text” publication as its visual guide.

In conjunction with the exhibition and in collaboration with independent curator Brett Fletcher Lauer, The Wolfsonian has also invited five contemporary writers to contribute original postcard poems written through the themes in Rewriting the World. The postcards will be distributed in the museum and also will be used in O, Miami’s international call for mail art, a part of the Abe’s Penny Live installations at ArtSeen, where visitors will be sending the postcards to writers and curators internationally as well as to random addresses throughout Miami-Dade County.

Wolfsonian Museum – FIU
1001 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

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