Catalan Review

Experiments in Dialogic Poetics: J. V. Foix and Joan Ponç's La Pell de la Pell (1970)

Catalan Review (2012), 26, (1), 35–56.

Abstract

La pell de la pell started out as poetic prose written by J. V. Foix in 1968, presented as an open letter to the Dau al Set artist Joan Ponç. The painter's response to the letter was to collaborate with the poet in this artist's book, La pell de la pell (1970), where illustrations share the pages with the text, which is then followed by a series of 22 etchings signed by the artist. This innovative and exciting exercise would be replicated by most of the members of the group in multiple collaborative combinations, producing masterpieces such as the Nocturn matinal (1970) and Poems from the Catalan (1973) by Joan Brossa and Antoni Tàpies, 97 notes sobre ficcions poncianes (1974) by J. V. Foix and Joan Ponç, and Exploració de l'ombra (1974) by Joan Fuster and Joan Ponç, to name just a few. This article studies the dual experimental nature of this book: Foix's poetic prose and the intriguing effect that the addition of Ponç's images makes to the work as a whole. It will also address the treatment that they both make of the theme of roughness (both literal and figurative), identified by Foix in his earlier collection Sol i de dol (1936) as a meaningful and innovative element in his poetry, and the use of texture in Ponç's work. Foix's text will also be compared to D. H. Lawrence's "Snake" to discuss the sexual associations explored by both the poet and the artist in this book. The work will be evaluated in terms of its reproduction of repeated patterns and their mesmeric effect, and linked to the attributes historically associated to the snake ever since the mediaeval Bestiaries but also to Barthes' "Pleasure of Consumption." The method of analysis will involve the study of La pell de la pell from a Bakhtinian perspective, as a single hybrid text where the two media dialogue with each other, and attempt to decipher a common visual and linguistic symbolism. This will allow for the interpretation of this work as one that incites the reader to join in an intellectual game closely linked to Barthes' concept of Jouissance.

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Puig, Montserrat