Bookmarking Book Art – Mario Diacono

a METRICA n’aboolira (1968)

a METRICA n’aboolira (1968)
Mario Diacono
Papercover, stapled. H x W mm, unnumbered pages.
Photos: Arengario, displayed with permission of the artist.

Besides being first out of the gate with an “homage by redaction” of Un Coup de Dés, Mario Diacono is perhaps the first hommageur to give a sociopolitical cast to the effort. In an interview in Ursula, Diacono comments

1968 was a year in which many things were abolished, or felt tempted to be abolished. Language was one of them, at least the traditional language of poetry, but also the language of ‘bourgeois/capitalist’ society. Berkeley is also present in the book through the reproduction of three frames from a cartoon in a local magazine, which functions as a kind of preface. The title alternates not only colors, black and orange, but also uppercase and lowercase letters. The wordplay in essence says: the absence of metrics, of language, will not abolish poetry. Neither will the American taboos.(Nickas, 2019).

Those comments align with the element of “pop” art and the underground comic in this homage.

Later in the 1970s, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub would pick up the thread of social critique by staging and filming a choral reading of the poem on the lawn of the Père Lachaise cemetery,

where there are the great memorials of the concentration camps: Ravensbrück, Auschwitz… it is in the corner of the cemetery where you can guess something about the city. Under this hill are buried the last members of the Paris Commune, who were shot in that same place. – Jean-Marie Straub

© BELVA Film. Image and permission to display, courtesy of Jean-Marie Straub et Danièlle Huillet: des films et leurs sites.

And then just after the turn of the next century, Didier Mutel extended the critique with his three-volume Four Speeches by George Walker Bush [together with] Four Speeches by Tony Blair [together with] Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard.

These three connected volumes explore graphic transpositioning from oral speeches to a visual representation. Though a new way to read/experience the speeches–to visualize their patterns–you can [still] not tell the truth from fiction. You can not tell what you are reading. “In the 3-part, 4 Speeches/Coup de Des, the images of audio waves are the same—but one purports to be a group of speeches by Bush 43 ; another, a group by Tony Blair; and the last—the real thing—is an unidentified man reading Mallarme’s “Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard”, that modern masterwork that launched a thousand artists’ books. The concept is trenchantly funny; the books are beautifully executed. [from the preface to Didier’s Manifesto by Tim Young]

© Didier Mutel. Photos: Books On Books, taken at the KB|nationale bibliotheek van Nederland, The Hague. Displayed with permission of Didier Mutel.

Like Huillet, Straub and Mutel, Diacono is trying to balance his socio-political drive with the visual and historical homage to Un Coup de Dés. Huillet/Straub’s performative vocalization delivers its message only through the visual of its location. Mutel delivers his message by muting the poem with its sonographic visualization and sleight-of-hand substitution for political speeches. a METRICA n’aboolira delivers its message by balancing the textual and the visual, reminding us that Mallarmé wanted Un Coup de Dés to be looked at as well as read.

The entire work has been digitized here.

Further Reading

Derek Beaulieu“. Books On Books Collection. 19 June 2020.

Jorge Méndez Blake“. 16 September 2020.

Sammy Engramer“. Books On Books Collection. 1 June 2020.

Ernest Fraenkel”. Books On Books Collection. 30 October 2021.

Alexandra Leykauf“. Books On Books Collection. 1 October 2020.

Michel Lorand“. Books On Books Collection. 19 June 2020.

Benjamin Lord“. Books On Books Collection. 19 June 2020.

Guido Molinari“. Books On Books Collection. 13 April 2020.

Michalis Pichler“. Books On Books Collection. 19 August 2020.

Cerith Wyn Evans“. Books On Books Collection. 16 April 2020.

Eric Zboya“. Books On Books Collection. 1 June 2020.

Boglione, Riccardo. 22 September 2010. “Dadi illeggibili. il Mallarme cancellato di Mario Diacono e Marcel Broodthaers“. The Free Library. Accessed 1 May 2020.

Getty Research Institute. n.d. “Manuscript of A metrica n’aboolira“. ArchiveGrid. Accessed 15 April 2018.

Nickas, Bob. 2019. “Bibliotheca Hermetica: Mario Diacono and the arts of alchemy“. Ursula, Winter No. 5.

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