An international group of major figures were brought together to perform in the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2009, designed by architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the acclaimed Japanese practice SANAA. The Poetry Marathon included performances of new work, collaborations, discussions and experiments.
There is a long and vivid history of exchange between artists and poets. Guillaume Apollinaire made a literary connection to Cubism with his great work of ‘visual poetry’ Calligrammes: Poems of War and Peace 1913-1916. In the same period, Hugo Ball wrote the Dada Manifesto (1916), a movement in which the poet, essayist and performance artist Tristan Tzara was also closely involved. A decade later, in 1924, André Breton, the proponent of ‘automatic writing’, published La Révolution surréaliste (The Surrealist Revolution).
In the 1950s, Abstract Expressionism was an art movement with strong creative connections with writing and poetry of the time, from the work of poets Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery to artist Robert Motherwell’s influential essays on the New York School. Later, in the 1960s, the international artistic network Fluxus formed innumerable close links between visual art and the written word.
The Serpentine Gallery Poetry Marathon was curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects. It was held in the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2009, designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA. The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion Commission was conceived by Julia Peyton-Jones, Serpentine Gallery Director and Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes in 2000.