Neon Galax by Andrew Brenza and Kristine Snodgrass, Unsolicited Press
by Terri Witek
Galax plants can be propagated by seed, root division or cuttings.
Michael Leung wondered recently (in an MFA of the Americas craft talk 6/22) what would happen if we thought about translation not so much as its customary horizontal reach across a divide but, rather, vertically: we might ask, for example, what seeps in from above or what pushes loamily from below. Leung’s wish to disrupt what he thinks of as a usual horizontal practice offers a helpful way to consider the poetics of Neon Galax, a recurring shimmer of a book by collaborators Andrew Brenza and Kristine Snodgrass. The duo’s bright entry into a strong current field of visual poetry invites us to boldly re-think how we translate lines in space: that is, how we think about (among other things) poetry.
From the first page, Snodgrass and Brenza offer strong materials: the saturated colors, thick lines/ thin lines and often striking color combinations all inhabit recognizable dimensions. Each image is held in a page’s repeatable shape, that is to say, no matter what happens inside. That acknowledged, the way their images can be pieced/read/seen across the book’s gutter is often particularly fine: when their images make an unexpected centerfold we suddenly understand how a book’s deepening joint is another easily traversed vertical. We should notice but not be trapped in any gridwork of form, the pair is suggesting. Look at the way color now bends and holds our gaze across the various up/down/across movements an orthographic reading (as in a paged text poem) might provide. Where does the color fall from? Above? Below? Behind? It’s particularly pleasurable when bits seem to spin off or out of the dark horizontals several pages offer about 2/3 of the way down. Sometimes floaters appear linelessly: is the color block then invaded, re-seeded or opened?
from twitter :
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Snodgrass reports that their collaborative method was that Brenza sent images she subsequently glitched. Brenza’s often geometric concrete visual poetry shapes are instantly recognizable in the field (see Some Notes on Geometric Mantra at periodicities as well as his many excellent publications) and of course glitch-witchery is signature Snodgrass: see her newest posts on the subject at the WAAVe Global Gallery: Women Asemic Artists and Visual Poets site, her editorship of the wildly eclectic 2021 volume of that group’s work and her own boldly various, always lively books. Despite their individual work’s differences, the duo’s production method in Neon Galax gives every sign of a happy translation practice as predicted in Leung’s wishful thought. How we apprehend what they have on offer is delivered in differently-timed visual and readerly pleasures that expand as considered. For example, it’s particularly agreeable that Brenza and Snodgrass aren’t monumentalist about any image but push into multiples: each seems to go on riffs or runs (could these go on forever?) before touching down at the next one. The book’s 44 pages thus achieve a synopation that’s obviously a hallmark of their collaboration, and keeps redistributing itself when you start over. At first I was less drawn to the fullest images, for example; after re-reading/seeing/thumbing through enough x, I welcomed them like moments of dense, urban nightlife with built-in fleshtones. That is, I began to look at Neon Galax as if at a series of imaginary maps —each part chance and part plan growing out from a plural of axis (as in galaxis). I happily became the letter that fell off and bent over into this ever brighter book from above.
Reviewed by Terri Witek