MinXus USA acquires a book from the “Transgressing the Page” series by Cheryl Penn (Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa)

MinXus USA is pleased to announce the acquisition of a collection of books, asemics, and visual poetry from Cheryl Penn. The material has arrived just in time for the Solar Festival 2012 exhibitions and includes this beautiful piece from the Transgressing the Page series.  Documentation is included:

Cheryl Penn’s Transgressing the Page has already received considerable attention elsewhere and for good reason. Always masterful with concepts, she is cutting up paintings and apparently previous books she has done, recombining them and distributing them as mail-art. A certain element of randomness is at play in this process. Serious questions are posed through the work involving the changing nature of a work over time (as opposed to the notion of a completed and unchanging work) as well as perceptions of wholeness and fragmentation.

The term “cut-up” is used in association with Transgressing the Page. What Cheryl Penn is doing does not follow the William Burroughs-Brion Gysin formula precisely. Yet there are parallels. I think she is using larger fields for composition, and her approach is less mechanical; but she is drawing from a mass of diverse material to build new structures and alternate narratives. The result is often self-referential, language-about-language that is such a pronounced characteristic of postmodern texts. This book does contain a splash of humor:

This center section shows a wonderful use of decollage-like overlays that create fascinating juxtapositions. A further incongruity is text appropriated from the IUOMA comment stream. We see an image of legendary MinXus hero De Villo Sloan (although actually a picture of Richard Hell) and disembodied reference to Thom Courcelle. A nice touch!

Postmodernism, at least on one level, was one long meditation on the authority of the author and the relation of the author to the text with all sorts of interesting contentions such as denial of the existence of the individual author and that the text wrote the author rather than the other way around. Those theories can get strange.

Transgressing the Page requires the reader to actively engage with the text and create meaning rather than passively accept established systems of narrative, rhetoric, and authority. Indeed, the reader must “Displace the Author” to “read” the New Book. This reaches a level of physical participation because the work is also an object poem that invites touch and movement far different from traditional relationships with text standardized through the long years of the Age of Print.

(Interestingly, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry – a manifestation of the postmodern – made grand claims that its readers had interpretive freedoms never before permited. However, the movement produced a massive body of theory to accompany the verse. Most of the theory served as a guide telling the reader how the poetry was to be read – thus negating whatever qualities of liberation it might have held as the result of an unbreakable Stalinesque theory-poetry-theory loop.)

Likewise, the activity (a performance?) of the “cut-up” by the author and artist who made the book extends the very concept of the book beyond the page and enlarges the notion of how a book is created. Print achieved cultural dominance during the industrial era of mass=produced and machine=made books. Like many others exploring the possibility of the New Book, it is exactly the role of the machine, commodification, and repetition involved in production that Cheryl Penn is abandoning. The frontier and the mode of production has already moved to the digital front. Once, Cheryl Penn’s approach would have been quickly dismissed as reactionary or quaintly archaic. Now, more and more, it seems a viable option for the future where, clearly, a new paradigm of the text will emerge.

Cheryl Penn’s blog is a hub for interesting new work, including her New Alexandrian Library and zine project. It is well worth a look:



7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. minxuslinxus
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 07:05:10

    Some people destroy, others chop up. An unreachable league.


  2. minkrancher
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 14:47:50

    One school of economics even has a name for it: “Creative Destruction.” In the larger arena, I guess there are total destruct buttons. You have to make sure who has access & who doesn’t.


  3. cheryl
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 16:09:13

    Dear Chop and Chew
    No more transgressing or authentic massacre – its only appropriate in certain circumstances.


  4. cheryl
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 16:11:27

    o – and De Villo – thank you – VERY good read – and as usual it has given me many things to think about. You know my working process – its caution to the wind and haphazardly cognitive at the same time. To have it discussed opens new doors – ALWAYS!! Lets see where this piece of writing leads 🙂 XX


  5. minkrancher
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 23:39:34

    Good one, Cheryl. some reflection should take place before cutting up and destroying your own work. Destroying the work of others without consultation… I suppose we should ask Ben Vautier. Most of the lost work has been recovered, and I’m trying hard to look forward rather than back.

    I tend to digress wildly when I’m looking at your work. Believe it or not, this time I tried to stick with a few main ideas that have been consistent and summarize them.

    So this super-blog I mentioned has you, Bruno, and JF so far: a kind of homecoming. Strange that neither Bruno nor JF are at IUOMA anymore. Anyway, I hope I’m up to the “War and Peace” of vispo.

    FYI – JF’s holism is in the new Braincell.



  6. minxususa
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 00:10:31


    • cheryl
      Jul 25, 2012 @ 15:24:52

      I’m hoping to send – just have to make something!!! I got an invite – have to find it – IF its close at hand, when was the submission date? I think you also posted it in this blog – I’ll check up X


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