Volta is a term used to describe a turning point that occurs in varied forms of fourteen-line poems collectively called sonnets. Sometimes a volta undertakes a profound reversal; other times it is just a subtle shift that the poem presents or, better, performs. This installation includes a presentation of sonnets, but also represents an exchange with visual art. The word volta translated directly from Italian to English addresses a larger concern of all of the work: time.
The sonnets are from an ongoing series, ‘Reading Poems’, that are based on the experience of processing and absorbing text. From this perspective, they are a reading journal, albeit one that reflects the random appetites of a 21st-century consumer. What they record is uncertain, less biography than hybrid genre known as ‘autofiction.’ The paintings are the product of attraction in slow motion; gradually developed over years, they have become hosts to symbiotic sculptural processes that incorporate found objects, printed matter and cords, ties and tethers of all kinds. Presenting the sonnets alongside the paintings compares text, a deceptively transparent presentation of time, with ponderous process-density; rhythms and breaks are called out by ligatures and frames.
Sonnets are often meditative, lyric or confessional, all approaches that imply an authorial personality. One use of putting writing and assemblage together is to flesh out that suggestion of such a presence more fully; another is to evade it in the gap between them. The solidarity of memory and imagination activated by the practice of overhearing oneself reading is everywhere. The hunger for signs of time made visible as the accumulation of matter is as common as dirt. But they remain available staging grounds for mystery. These are cult practices.
John Luna is a Canadian/Mexican-American artist, whose practice as a visual artist and writer includes painting, sculpture and installation, critical writing and poetry, and teaching in the areas of art, art history and theory. Publication of his written work in art criticism and poetry has appeared in Ditch, Canadian Art, Border Crossings, Canyon, Cordite, Train and Matrix, among others. Luna’s first collection of poems, Listing, was released through Decoupage Publishing in 2015. His second book-length manuscript was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry in 2017. He the recipient of a 2017 BC Arts Council Project Assistance Grant for an ongoing project involving text and visual art.