Mr. Iommi Goes to Paris

Detail, Godofredo Iommi: Morincoux, September 1962. Printed in Ailleurs 1 (1963), 18. Ailleurs 1 (1963), 18.

Detail, Godofredo Iommi: Morincoux, September 1962. Printed in Ailleurs 1 (1963), 18.

The past 24 hours have been a frenzy of amazing discoveries about Godofredo Iommi’s time in Europe. Until I fell down this rabbit hole I frankly doubted its existence. Godo’s time in Europe—ca. 1959 to ca. 1964—is not well-documented; hence my estimates regarding his departure and return. But using the tidbits I did know (friendship with Carmelo Arden Quin, long stay in Paris, prolific writing tendencies) I was confident I would find something. 

Ailleurs 1 (1963), cover.

Ailleurs 1 (1963), cover.

Ailleurs 1 (1963), 15.

Ailleurs 1 (1963), 15.

Iommi’s “Carta del Errante” is one of his seminal texts. I knew it had been published in the 1960s in French by the Parisian journal Ailleurs, which was at one point under the direction of Henri Tronquoy (an affiliate of the School of Valparaíso). For some reason I had never tried to locate this essay, most likely because I have a very poor understanding of French. But today I got the bee in my bonnet and spent a good hour tracking down any lead I could find. Finally, a PDF of Iommi’s original essay appeared and with it some magnificent photos.

Godofredo Iommi: Morincoux, September 1962. Printed in Ailleurs 1 (1963), 18.

Godofredo Iommi: Morincoux, September 1962. Printed in Ailleurs 1 (1963), 18.

I don’t need color to know that Godo was wearing his “poetic act outift” in the above photo: chunky white sweater and red tights. I am so grateful to the photographer for capturing the scene from this perspective, with Godofredo’s back to us, so we can fully appreciate the curiosity and amazement of the locals in Morincoux. Godo’s mission was for these poetic acts to interrupt daily life, to create a spectacle, and I’m sure an Argentine man shouting poetry while wearing tights accomplished just that.

Poetic act: Paris, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, June 1962. Printed in Ailleurs 1 (1963), 14.

Poetic act: Paris, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, June 1962. Printed in Ailleurs 1 (1963), 14.

Paris, Place des Vosges, June 1962. Printed in Ailleurs 1 (1963), 20.

Paris, Place des Vosges, June 1962. Printed in Ailleurs 1 (1963), 20.

Montpellier, square de l'Oeuf, June 1962. Printed in Ailleurs 1 (1963), 22.

Montpellier, square de l’Oeuf, June 1962. Printed in Ailleurs 1 (1963), 22.

These three photographs document three distinct poetic acts that took place in France in the summer of 1962. They are remarkable images since, to my knowledge, there is little documentation of these poetic acts, let alone imagery. It is difficult to identify the people in these photographs but based on what I know Iommi’s network included renowned poets and visual artists, like Tronquoy, Arden Quin, Sheila Hicks, Enrique Zañartu, to name a few. Being friends with Arden Quin alone would expand anyone’s network since he seems to be the still point of the turning (art) world.

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