Since the late 1950s, it has been impossible to imagine New York’s bohemian culture without poet, artist and activist John Giorno (b. 1936 in the USA). Within the milieu of Andy Warhol’s Factory and the beatnik writers’ scene surrounding Allen Ginsberg, Giorno developed an oeuvre of his own, which manifests itself as a synthesis of poetry, performance and art. Inspired by pop culture, Giorno already had his tweet-like poems printed on T-shirts in the 1960s. In 1968, he developed a free hotline for his poetry, under the motto “Dial A Poem”.
The popularisation of cultural energy is a matter of importance to this avowed Buddhist. In the exhibition New North Zurich, John Giorno presents two rocks, each of which has a poem engraved into its surface in capital letters. In the context of Schwamendingen and Oerlikon, where they can be seen on green lawns, Giorno’s poems generate new interpretations. Becoming, being, vanishing: these are the grand cosmological themes that Giorno’s poetry addresses – themes that are also strikingly reproduced in these neighbourhoods, which are strongly affected by structural and social transformation.
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich / New York