The third day of our Double Dialogues conference at the National Opera Center in New York was devoted to visiting MoMA where we explored some Ekphrastic possibilities. Our co-editor Dr Ron Goodrich, who was largely responsible for setting up a number of issues in the journal Double Dialogues that deal specifically with poetry, suggested creating a separate section for this issue that involved people engaging with a painting of their choice and responding via their chosen medium. The Ekphrastic spectrum was thus broadened to include prose , dance, film and music aside from poetry. Our brief was not prescriptive. We could enter MoMa with the following in mind upon exiting:
- A poem that translates what you experience when looking at a painting into poetic form
- A short essay that again responds to the ideas or which might wish to critique it
- A spontaneous narrative that comes to your mind when engaging with a work
- A dialogue with imagined people haunting the work
The possibilities were in fact endless, as the discussions at MoMA and, later, the submissions to the journal demonstrated. We gather here the fruit of our reflection.
Ron Goodrich opens the ekphrastic issue of In/Stead with ‘Futurist Ruptures? Cubist Ruptures?’ to contextualise our experience: for copyright reasons, we could only write about artworks confined to the third floor of MoMA, that devoted to Modernism, Cubism and Futurism. Next is a performative essay on ekphrasis which focuses on Willem de Kooning’s arresting ‘Woman I’ to explore the sexing of representation. ‘Double Dialogues at the MoMA’ then offers the reader to participate in some kind of ekphrastic flầnerie. Both ‘Two Versions, One Eye’ and ‘Iam: Reflections on the False Mirror respond to René Magritte’s ‘Le Faux Miroir’ while ‘I thought I Saw my Father in the Picture’s Glass’ considers the troubling impact of I Thought I Saw My Father in the Picture’s Glass
Rufino Tamayo’s ‘Animals’. Jamie Hayes may have been peckish, for he chose to write a poem titled ‘Those Apples’, after Paul Cézanne’s ‘Still Life with Apples’. Finally, Tilly Houghton invites us to exit MoMA and ekphrasis with an essay that returns to the themes explored in the first part of this issue of In/Stead, especially the Law and the porous borders of the Symbolic in the era of brokenness.