Monday, May 31, 2010

Larkin's DARC

Maryrose Larkin read with Bruce Boone earlier this month in Portland, where along with a cross-section from her various books, chaps, and procedural projects, she delivered a live film narration to Carl Dreyers 1928 The Passion of Joan of Arc. I wrote a little about her piece the first time around; for the reprise, she created a handsome new objet darc (ark! ark!) for her and Sarah Mangolds FLASH+CARD press.

Larkins text for Dreyers silent mashes language from Joans trial transcripts with pre-recorded phrases found on cards made for use with the Language Master, a boxy mid-tech speech therapy device designed to help 80s kids talk more pretty. In performance, Larkin intercuts her spoken script with short robotic phrases produced by the cards, which she feeds through the box—sometimes straight, sometimes tugged to scratch and wobble—in a way that seems to parallel Joans fate at the hands of all those Dutch-angled celibate monks. By the end of the piece, Dreyer’s frantic montage of whirling spiked wheels, Larkin’s inexorably sliding word cards, and the flat legalese of the trial text itself form a grammar against which Joan’s only option is to stutter, scratch, and iterate in the hopes of slowing down the process, or even exposing it as process, instead of the Way Things Are.

For DARC, Larkin turns the Scantron-sized Language Master cards into fields for the printed text, which replicates the Joan vs. received grammar” dynamics of her performance through clashing colors, diverse fonts, and eccentric lineations that play off the straight magnetic speech strips affixed to the bottom of each one. Packed in a transparent envelope, the series holds Larkin’s whole redaction of the trial in potentia, a grammar that given the right hardware can happen again and again, like history. There’s a paradox in language so ugly in intention being made so attractive in print, but thats the dark at the bottom of any poetry. Given current showroom models, I’ll have Larkins darkness audible.

1 comment:

rodney k said...

Late-breaking P.S.: Artaud's famously in "The Passion of Joan of Arc," but I just read in Simon Karlinsky's bio of her that Marina Tsvetaeva's husband, Sergei Efron, also played an extra.

Sergei, who fought with the pro-Czarist Whites in the 1917-1922 civil war in Russia, fled to Prague, then Paris, where over the course of the '20s he drifted to a pro-Soviet position, not totally uncommon among the political refugees of the Russian diaspora, that first put him in the employ of the Cheka, then repatriated him to the Soviet Union in the '30s, where he eventually ran afoul of Stalin's agents (everyone did) and died in a camp.