Lorraine O’Grady’s Poetry of the Present in Headlines of the Past
The iconic Lorraine O’Grady is now exhibiting, Cutting Out CONYT, at Alexander Gray Associates. When entering the gallery, you may experience some déjà vu to her 2015 solo exhibit at AGA. That show included part of her 1977 series of 26 text-based images assembled from headlines and advertising tag-lines resulting in poetry, Cutting Out The New York Times. This feeling is valid because it’s from this series that O’Grady has gone back to a re-imagining of her original 26 poems to create new narratives into “haiku diptychs”.
O’Grady’s Cutting Out CONYT (1977/2017) collage series has an immediacy and almost a scattered quality to them, with certain headlines standing out more, different fonts being used. Looking at the works, I feel like I am seeing my brain displayed in front of me. Thoughts all together with seemingly no connection, certain ideas more pronounced, and bolded. But from this stream of consciousness, order can be found. Once finding the order O’Grady’s “counter-confessional” poetry is revealed.
The headlines she used may have been taken from the past, but they speak even louder in the present. They are choreographed into poetry, helping to allow the viewer to read them in a lyrical way, making it possible for the viewer to draw connections from the current news as well as their own lives. With headlines like, “In the Amber Glow of August Skin there is no escape from terror” (Cutting Out CONYT 15, 1977/2017) and “Some people go IN SEARCH OF The Trauma of PRIVACY” (Cutting Out CONYT 09, 1977/2017) it is easy and even correct to make connections to our current political climate. The pairing of the poetry into diptych form helps to draw connections that were not possible before and makes this latest series even stronger than the original.
Lorraine O’Grady: Cutting Out CONYT is on view at Alexander Gray Associates through December 15, 2018.