Blank by Linda France

Blank is another in a series of collaborations between film-maker Kate Sweeney and poet Linda France. Sweeney’s artist statement about the film:

In the administrative section of the Bloodaxe Books Poetry Publisher’s archive, there is a post-it note stuck to an invoice. The note has slipped through the archival ‘cleaning’ process and rather than being discarded, has been preserved by accident. In 2017, I drew and digitised a font from the letters making up the short message written on the note. For every missing letter in the font, there is a dot; a hole, an ellipsis. I called the font, ‘Janet’.

‘Janet’ an ephemeral trace drawn from an archive has become a conduit for other voices and the starting point for collaboration with other artists and writers to speak, not about or for, but through ‘Janet’.

In 2019, I invited poet Linda France to write a poem using ‘Janet’. Blank is a response to both the metaphorical and the structural potential of the font, ‘Janet’. France has extracted the implicitly feminist possibility of ‘Janet’ as a tool for articulating the female experience of the effect of the male gaze (and consequently the effect of its absence).

As a printed document it is possible to see how France has utilised the concrete and structural qualities of ‘Janet’. The poem printed on the page is punctured but readable. In order to make the video, Linda and I had to translate and devise a way to ‘sound out’ the poem. And so, as a video poem, Blank becomes a playful presentation of the relationship between the visual and audible characteristics of the mark – the period, the omission – and its use within poetic texts presented on the page, the screen and in performance.

Blank is one of a series of video-poems produced in collaboration with other poets and artists. It is part of my practice-led PhD project; working with the Bloodaxe Books publisher’s archive as a site and source for my research into the ways collaborative practice can be used to look at the shape and form of the hidden archival artefact.

Both film-maker and poet have featured several times before here at Moving Poems, on projects together and and with other artists.

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