I ♥︎ John Giorno
John Giorno and Ugo Rondinone

June 22nd - August 13th, 2017
Red Bull Arts
New York

exhibition brochure

selected press

This exhibition, part of a larger festival of the artist’s work mounted throughout the city,  presents a selection of John Giorno’s audio works amidst a dense display of paintings and video works generated from his poems, reflecting the repetitive and layered nature of Giorno’s poetry itself.

Offering random access to poems, Giorno’s visionary work Dial-A-Poem anticipated mass-media communication and the commercial success of telephone hotlines. As he saw it, reading a book in your armchair was a hundred years out of date and the traditional voice-only poetry reading was “so boring,” according to his friend Andy Warhol. For Dial-A-Poem, Giorno asked 250 artists to record their voices, mingling the poetry of John Ashbery, the energy of Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, the minimalist music of Philip Glass and instructions for making a Molotov cocktail in a poem by Diane di Prima. It was not poetry as a literary genre that interested Giorno, but rather the presence of the voice as sound; a noise or a message recorded and then communicated intimately via the telephone. After an initial tryout organized by the Architectural League in New York in 1968, Dial-A-Poem became a sensation, jamming the telephone lines during the Information exhibition at MoMA in 1970. “The majority of the calls,” Giorno remembers, “came between nine in the morning and five in the afternoon, which means in New York people imprisoned in their glass office buildings, sitting behind desks nervously dialing.” The Dial-A-Poem phone line, which has been reprised for this exhibition, can be reached by calling (641)793-8122.

For the Paris iteration of Ugo Rondinone: I ♥︎ John Giorno, Rondinone incorporated the text of Giorno’s poems on scrolling video screens which simultaneously play the audio of Giorno’s performance of the poem. These works are featured at Red Bull Arts New York amidst drawings and paintings by Giorno, all made in collaboration with his longtime designer Mark Michaelson. Between 1965 and 2004, Giorno worked with sound engineer Bob Bielecki to create 14 sound poems. Bielecki is known for his innovative use of technology, and together he and Giorno pioneered experimental audio work. All 14 sound poems can be experienced through earphones attached to monitors suspended from the ceiling of the gallery that simultaneously transcribe the text of each poem.