|Page 1 of the Codex Abyssus|
Codex Abyssus is in the lettrist vein, but the abysses I see (or imagine seeing), make it more conceptual, and coherent - and also funny. I look at an otherwise innocent circle or dot or a black rectangle, and see another pit, because the small icons (many of them definitely stairs, funnels, mazes, black rays from the underworld) interfere. The title is instructive of course, but this work could not be replaced with its description. The main reading pleasure comes from the fact that first I see, say, a window-like object, drawn with childlike simplicity, then I realize that it must open to a precipice, and I look down and start feeling dizzy. The great variety of compositions combines with a great economy of forms. After a while I already search for their abyss-like qualities. Expectations and impressions meet halfway. And each page as a whole, too, has a third dimension, owing to the hand-drawn, irregular frames. Anything with contours becomes the icon of an abyss. Some icons are even multi-abyssed, for the sheer joy of creating danger, and escaping it (perhaps), in the same process. If you need ideas for falling, here are many-many options, tirelessly and playfully intuited.
Two-dimensional depth calling attention to itself is also a joke about representation. Thanks to this wise and humorous work, we are saved again and again by a new pit, precipice, abyss from the void of the blank page, from the fear of emptiness. But it is always momentary only. Who knows what comes next.
Volodymyr Bilyk is a writer, translator and visual artist from Ukraine.
His book of visual poems was published in the series This is Visual Poetry, book of asemic short stories, CIMESA was published in White Sky Books, book of visual poems SCOBES was published by No Press and book of poetry, Casio’s Pay-off Peyote published by The Red Ceilings Press. His works were exhibited on Bright Stupid Confetti Asemic Show, Yoko Ono Fan Club and Venti Leggeri in Bologna. His works appeared in The New Post-Literate, A-Minor magazine, REM magazine, Cormac McCarthy’s Dead Typewriter, The Otolith, Altered Scale, Ex-Ex-Lit, Truck, Maintenant, Apparent Magnitude, The Gin Mill Cowboy and many others. Among the authors he has translated are Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Jack Spicer, Mina Loy, James Joyce, Kurt Schwitters, Anne Waldman, Charles Reznikoff, Billy Childish, Leonard Cohen and others.