Tuesday 20 August 2013

SLAMB! - Review of Crunk Juice Remix by Bobby Parker

Just when I thought I’d gotten used to being smacked on the chops by the poetry and art of Bobby Parker – SLAMB!

Parker is the hip priest of high jinx remixology. Responding to an invitation from Steve Roggenbuck to rework his book, Crunk Juice, and a New York Times article referring to Roggenbuck as a “prophet”, Parker shredded the text and drenched it in lamb’s blood acquired from a local butcher. The result, posted at his blog, is a visual slaughterfest with a nod to Hermann Nitsch and the Old Testament Levitical priests.

Here, the word becomes flesh, ink is mixed with blood, paper is saturated in liquid life force. Are we to surmise that Parker is sacrificing his life for art, or offering his art to life? The poet is sacrificed, then sanctified, words and pictures are ripped up, soaked, made ugly, in order to acquire that whiff of absolute holiness. I thought about the countless sacrifices offered to Jehovah of Hosts, Quetzalcoatl, the mad frenzied processions of the Bacchae.

This is poetry as religion, not theological, philosophical, or wearily evangelical, but visceral; a spirituality of body, blood, flesh, and form belonging to the ancient Hebrews, the Druids, the Roman warrior cults. Or is it something purer? Are we to imagine the poet as Lamb of God, the poem as crucifixion?

Visually, the fragments of text, the torn paper, are smeared, smudged, ruined by blood, and so we witness the simultaneous destruction and salvation of a life in full blown ecstatic art ritual. There is a whiff of flesh, a stink of blood, an aftertaste of carnage, but still a purity, a cleansing, a washing away of sin. There is immense beauty in destruction.

It’s well worth working your way through the whole blood stained text, and remembering Parker’s written work. The elements of his poetry inform this work conceptually because we know what stains are being cleansed, what sins are being purged. I imagine this was an exhausting act of atonement for Parker. I imagine a clean heart and washed hands. I see him now climbing the holy hill to art paradise, with a sacrificial lamb on his shoulders, a poet, a prophet, hip priest for a new world.

“Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.”


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