The Importance of Being Iceland

Spent much of the day curled in the living room by the fire reading a book of “travel essays in art” by Eileen Myles, The Importance of Being Iceland.  Contemporary art, travel, cultural criticism, and poetry–everything that excites me woven throughout the volume.  She writes from such an experiential point of view.  For instance:

Paul Lee’s work excites me because of its disproportionate or maybe inverse relationship to scale.  I saw a group of tiny photo collages of his a year or two ago–the exhibited pieces were composed of small bits of photographs, rearranged into versions that often included a pearl among their parts.  My response to these first pieces was to want to hug the work yet it was so small.  I felt larger and bulkier than unusual.  My body was troubling and felt oddly squeezed out of the contraption of this photo culture as if I myself were the pearl.

(from “Paul Lee’s Piracy,” 2005, page 74)

Throughout the collection, her writing is compact, minimal, sometimes too spare in commas for my liking (poetic license, I guess), but always visually rich, thought-provoking, layered.

She frames the essay collection with her experiences of being in Iceland, and now I want to visit the magical island that is still being formed by volcanoes even now, the place from which the earliest prose comes, the Icelandic sagas.

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