Virtually omitted from established narratives of American modernism, yet central in the histories of the reception of European Surrealism in the US, Charles Henri Ford’s life and work have been recovered in important queer genealogies within Anglo-American modernism. Yet within this process or recovery, Ford’s poetic work is still largely overlooked, and this may have to do less with its marked Surrealist influences and/or derivative aspects than with the somewhat unclassifiable and composite texture of Ford’s poems. This article revisits Ford’s early poetry as a space of convergence and dialogue between distinct yet interrelated poetics: from the 1938 A Garden of Disorder to the 1949, Sleep in a Nest of Flames, a queer subjectivity assimilates concurrently Surrealist poetics and Djuna Barnes’s equally unclassifiable queer modernism with and against American poetic modernisms.
Vito Acconci’s early artistic practice combines textuality, visuality, and the involvement with the physical body. It also revolves around the tension between the transience of the performance and the various forms with which the artist’s activities have been devised, recorded, and documented. The voluminous archive that was assembled by Gregory Volk in the Diary of a Body 1969-1973 is worth examining in that respect, since these visual and verbal documents are not only secondary to the event, but make up an integral part of the artist’s early work. Therefore this essay revisits Vito Acconci’s notes and photographs as an assemblage that preserves the experiential substance of the artist’s practice, and also speaks of its in/transitive character, inviting reflection on the connections between writing, performance, and the ground of experience. A paratext to the performances and a continuation of his early writings, the diary is a storehouse that has a documentary value against the grain, which the essay dwells on.