Website for thecorpses.com
Also in this issue Ians poems
Photo credit for Laura Bell: Photo by Terry Bisbee
Laura Bell, a painter based in NYC, and Ian Ganassi, a poet living in New Haven, met when both were artists-in-residence at the Millay Colony for the Arts. In 2005 they entered into the collaboration that resulted in the ongoing series The Corpses, a group of collages that began with a half-finished poem and several hand-scrawled phrases on a piece of printer paper stained with coffee rings that Ganassi mailed to Bell. With each mailing, words and images were added and additional pieces were begun; at any point, either of them could declare a piece finished. (The concept is a variation on the Surrealist exquisite corpse.)
The Corpses travel wherever Ganassi or Bell happen to be. The gathering of materials has become a consuming habit: the studio, the street, basements, and gardens offer up inspiration. Poems, drawings, ads, photos, and found objects are joined to paint, ink, crayon, and pencil and attached with glue, staples, tape—a visceral and basic process, the anti-Photoshop. The Corpses turned us into scavengers, says Ganassi. We ended up trying to get the whole world into them.
Completion is variable—a Corpse might travel back and forth many times or make only one circuit before being called finished. Some pieces are minimal, some layered. Some develop themes; others function almost as diaries (a hospital glove, a postcard). Politics, religion, history, and literature make cameo appearances. A note dropped by a stranger may become the starting point for a new Corpse.
While the process has retained its initial sense of play, the series quickly became more esthetically profound and demanded a level of attention and ambition equal to the work Ganassi and Bell were publishing and exhibiting individually. The Corpses became a third entity, greater than the sum of their separate contributions. At present, there are more than 250 finished Corpses, with a dozen or so usually in transit.
A Touch of Oranges