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Twisted Spoon Press

PO Box 21 - Preslova 12, 150 00 Prague 5, Czech Republic

Book details:
User's Manual'

[ excerpt ]

photos of book

Czech writing

series: image to word

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  a user's manual

by Jiří Kolář

translated from the Czech by Ryan Scott

artwork by the author

Jiří Kolář composed the "action poems" in A User's Manual mostly in the 1950s before finishing them in the 1960s. Published in their complete form in 1969, they were paired with the 52 collages comprising Weekly 1967, the first of Kolář's celebrated series in which he commented visually on
a major event for each week of the year. Taking the form
of directives, largely absurd, the poems mock communist society's officialese while offering readers an opportunity
to create their own poetics through the performing of the given directions, which in turn can serve as a guide to self-understanding. The collages on the facing pages of each
poem are composed of stratified documents, image cutouts, newspaper clippings, announcements, letter fragments, reports, decontextualized words, oftentimes forming concrete patterns or the outlines of figures, to create a sort of "evidential" report on the events of that year. Text and image taken together, the volume displays Kolář's enduring interest in extracting poetry from the mundane to demolish the barrier separating art from reality, or even to elevate reality itself through this dual poetics to the level of art. What the art historian Arsén Pohribný wrote about Weekly 1968 equally applies to Weekly 1967, namely, that it "shocks with its abrupt stylistic twists" and is "a Babylonian, hybrid parable
of multi-reality."


What others say:

If we only regard Kolář's oeuvre as an assemblage of artworks we would miss its meaning, which lies in its overall message, in its synthesis of word and image, and most of all in its highlighting the fluid, protean, ambiguous nature of reality ...

— Marie Klimešová, Grimace of the Century


ISBN 9788086264547
142 pp.
52 halftone and full-color illus.
17 x 20 cm
poetry : art : avant-garde
RRP: $24 • £18

release dates:
UK: September 25, 2019
US: December 2, 2019

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