Dismember the Night
A Gathering of the Tribes
Kofi Fosu Forson and Dianne Bowen were having weekly intense dialogues about Art and Art and Art on Facebook when they decided to take it to another level. They created art out of Facebook. Their threads became increasingly poetic which prompted them to set up specific times and do poetry slams online. Sometimes the threads went on for 37 comments. This book is a result of two unique artists’collaboration in creating a new form of art - a thread slam. Rooted in Beat culture, this experiment would have intrigued Burroughs as it deals with fragments and automatic writing. Yet they are more immediate and public and live than the Beats could dream of.
I watched a relationship unfold on Facebook between Kofi, a theatre and words man, and Dianne, an accomplished multi-media New York visual artist. I was intrigued, Dianne made a friend request, I accepted and checked her out. Scrolled through her photo world. A woman, shape shifting, different in each image, standing before great bodies of work. Her raw energetic drawings and colliding spirals on a massive masculine scale. Her absorption in her own creation, maternal and rejecting. I felt like I was spying.
Kofi is the poet of Facebook. His posts have caught me by surprise more than once. In a steady stream of casual news and inanities suddenly there is Kofi. His status updates are provocative, demanding, declarations on race and gender, streams of consciousness from the streets of New York. His brain, encircled by thorns, held out for all in cyberspace to inspect and comment on. He matches these outbursts with an ever changing set of images. He is looking right at you as you read into him. I’ve recoiled more than once.
He is live art on a social networking site. Unfolding daily. This year I met Kofi in Central Park behind the Alice in Wonderland statue. In his rolling, deep melodious voice, he told me about Dianne. He said she was his favorite living artist. When you meet Kofi he reflexively grabs you into him and extends his arm and captures your joint image. Moments later you are hurled through cyber space and the meeting recorded and broadcast. There is no lurking about, no hiding with Kofi.
Kofi is Shaky and vulnerable on dry land, but in the river of the cyber world he has been able to put forward his presence in a series of striking self portraits. The arm outstretched just out of view. But in his portraits he’s usually not alone. He has shadows. He is the shadow. One of the keys to Kofi is that he is not a self obsessed artist, rather he is obsessed with the other. His photos are reflections of that. This book and exhibition is a collaboration. Though created in the nebulous, shifting, world of cyber space it is still a work that is indisputably rooted in New York City.
Kofi/Dianne. Male/female. Black/White. Artists from different mediums. Born on different continents. Two lines that never meet. Until now. These are essential New Yorkers. It is not important where one voice begins and the other ends. The structure is two parallel lines on a twisted planet.
Emer Martin is a Dubliner who has lived in Paris, London, the middle East and various places in the U.S. Her first novel breakfast in Babylon won Book of The Year 1996 in her native Ireland at the prestigious Listowel Writers' Week. Houghton Mifflin released Breakfast in Babylon in the U.S. in 1997. More Bread or I'll appear, her second novel was published internationally in 1999. Her new book is Baby Zero, published in March 2007. Emer was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000.view all articles from this author