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  • By C Bennett
    Oct 23, 2008
    "Review by Geof Huth" Geof's review was 1st posted at and it goes as follows: The simplest of constricting structures can allow for the greatest possibility for experimentation and beauty. At least, such seems to be the case with C. Mehrl Bennett’s My Kimono Book, a collection of scores of visual poetry collaborations headed up by Cathy Bennett, each collaboration confined by the stylized outline of a traditional Japanese kimono. Who would think success possible under such conditions? What secret is there in the kimono? In its mere shape? None, really. The shape is symmetrical, providing a wide flat shoulder, two jutting arms folding back toward each other and flaring at the bottom of the gown. In terms of its cultural significance, the intellectual content that the concept of the kimono brings us, we have to think that the kimono signifies tradition, service, obeisance, and silence—all of which Cathy’s kimonos both... More > seem to emulate and struggle successfully against. First, we have to understand Cathy’s method of collaboration, for she collaborates here, primarily, in an atypical fashion. Most collaborations, in the visual poetry world, consist of two people trading items back and forth, one starting the process, then the other adding or subtracting to it, and this process continues until the participants agree that some state of grace has been reached with the piece they are working on. Cathy, instead, finds or solicits content for each kimono, and her collaboration consists of taking those contents (words, images, or combinations of the two) of other artists and integrating them into her kimono framework. What she does during this second and critical stage is give the kimonos individual life by emulating the styles of her individual collaborators even as she creates something entirely new out of the pieces she creates. It’s a breathtaking accomplishment, almost as if she is a chameleon that can change into any background it is put up against but which, at the same time, changes the content of the background to match its own. In her collaborative technique alone, Cathy both conforms to and goes against tradition. She conforms to the traditions of collaboration by reacting appropriately to the work of her collaborators, and she spurns convention by deciding on the final product herself, by being, truly, the full creator of these pieces. And it is a technique that works. Her results react to the data she receives. It is as if her collaborators whispered something into her ear, and she created from that an unexpectedly accurate representation of what they had imagined. Because Cathy has that collaborator’s spirit within her. This spirit makes her a servant and obeisant to her collaborators, to the work she starts from, to those germs of idea that only she can germinate into these rich tapestries, which range from the almost stark xerography of her Buzz Blur kimono (consisting of simple black and white self-portraits of that artist) to the muted colors and overlapping texts of the Joel Lipman kimono (thus paying homage to Lipman’s constant overprinting technique) to the almost shockingly vibrant colors of the Sheila Murphy kimono (which colors Cathy reverses whenever they fall outside the bounds of the kimono itself). Each of these kimonos is, more than a collaboration, a gift back to the original artists, an expression of comity, a gesture of kindness and servitude. Cathy is the geisha serving all who worked with her to make these pieces manifest.< Less
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Product Details

Luna Bisonte Prods
June 26, 2008
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Full color
0.51 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
7.44 wide x 9.68 tall
Product ID
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