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Artist, Poet, and Thinker Etel Adnan’s Gorgeous Painted Poem About Life, Loss of life, Loneliness, and Our Cosmic Redemption – Mind Pickings

Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut: Artist, Poet, and Philosopher Etel Adnan’s Stunning Painted Poem About Life, Death, Loneliness, and Our Cosmic Redemption

“Whenever you notice you might be mortal,” the polymathic poet, painter, journalist, novelist, and thinker Etel Adnan (b. February 24, 1925) wrote in her sixtieth yr whereas wresting knowledge from the mountain, “you additionally notice the tremendousness of the long run. You fall in love with a Time you’ll by no means understand.”

These questions of area, time, morality, and transcendence, which proceed to permeate Adnan’s century-wide physique of labor and surprise, had come into formative focus twenty years earlier, in certainly one of her most authentic and unexampled works: a hybrid of poetry and portray — a brand new type Adnan christened leporello, after the Italian bookbinding time period for concertina-folded leaflets — reflecting on a triumphal and tragic second within the historical past of our species.

In 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had turn out to be the primary human animal — of all of the hundred-some billion of us who ever lived and died — to depart the planet on which we had developed a number of million years earlier. It was an period of terror and surprise — science had swung open new portals of risk for realizing the miracle of life extra intimately, and politics had hijacked science to construct new weapons for destroying that miracle.

When Gagarin perished in a airplane crash seven years later underneath mysterious circumstances, Adnan composed an eleven-part epic poem in ink and watercolor, titled Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut — without delay a memorial for the brand new Icarus and new scripture for the human mythos of area, painted into an accordion guide, exploring the biggest questions of existence: life, demise, loneliness, longing, creation, destruction, the connection between the ephemeral and the everlasting, our relationship to the cosmos and to one another.

Adnan’s Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut on show on the Guggenheim Museum. ({Photograph}: Maria Popova.)

you have been looking out via the arms of the monkey tree
that pipeline to the sky
a light-weight incoherent like a wave
was shifting behind the clouds
and also you went swimming into that distant
pool you went to be suspended there
cool because the western aspect of palm leaves
underneath the break of midday

there are potholes within the skyes
acquainted to the wanderers of the sierras
shifting icebergs which style like
antimatter when physics go wild
Gagarin Scott Gherman Titov McDivitt
Komarov   the brand new hierarchy of archangels
bringing messages from outer area
decoding the protons and shifting underneath
a bathe of travelling electrons.

seven sunsets for a single night
and the uninterrupted moon
rising into their eyes with the look
of moms trying again on us from the opposite
aspect of our deaths

Seven sunrises for a cosmonaut!

Web page from Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut on show on the Guggenheim Museum. ({Photograph}: Maria Popova.)

Born in Beirut and educated in Paris, Adnan was then dwelling on the foot of Mount Tamalpais in California, educating philosophy at a neighborhood college, portray and writing poetry — the polyphonous calling via which she quickly met the Lebanese-American artist Simone Fattal, now her associate of half a century, who has made probably the most astute commentary about Adnan’s work of rising and setting celestial our bodies, horizons perched on infinity, and mountains rising towards eternity: that they do for us what icons used to do for believers, conferring upon our on a regular basis lives a sure supranatural power, an aura of awe on the sheer miracle of existence.

Ending of Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut on show on the Guggenheim Museum. ({Photograph}: Maria Popova.)

Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut is an elegy for humanity within the basic sense, a hybrid of celebration and lamentation — an elegy for us creatures perpetually “consuming and remaining hungry,” “kissing and remaining lonely,” “talking and remaining doomed”; creatures who bomb and imprison one another, however who additionally by no means stop to “wrestle in the direction of freedom, wrestle towards that means” with the fury of a music. On this respect, it’s kindred to Maya Angelou’s staggering poem “A Courageous and Startling Reality,” which voyaged into the cosmos aboard the Orion spacecraft a era later.

Ulrike Haage with Etel Adan in Paris, 2019. ({Photograph}: Anton Maria Storch.)

In 2019, having simply turned 94 and dwelling in Paris together with her associate, Adnan collaborated with the German composer and sound artist Ulrike Haage on adapting Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut into an experimental radio requiem — a form of spacetime sound set up, stunning and haunting, fusing musical parts from the classical custom of Gagarin’s native Russia and the traditional Center Japanese custom of Adnan’s native Beirut, embodying the opening verse of the poem’s third sequence:

At first was the white web page
At first was the Sufi in orbit
At first was the sword
At first was the rocket
At first was the dancer
At first was colour
At first was music

Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut is the primary paintings greeting the wonder-smitten customer to Gentle’s New Measure — the Guggenheim Museum’s retrospective of Adnan’s work, launched halfway via her ninety-seventh yr, titled after a line from her 2012 poetry assortment Sea and Fog:

The guts is a stranger to patterns of matter or their distribution. In darkness, mild’s new measure.

Web page from Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut on show on the Guggenheim Museum. ({Photograph}: Maria Popova.)

Complement with Umberto Eco’s semiotic kids’s guide The Three Astronauts, written and painted in the identical period, then revisit astronaut Leland Melvin studying Pablo Neruda’s love letter to Earth and poet Sarah Kay performing her ode to awe, “Astronaut.”


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