‘With my fantasy alone,’ brags the importunate head,
Arrogant among rook-tongued spaces,
Sheep greens, finned falls, ‘I shall compose a crisis
To stun sky black out, drive gibbering mad
Trout, cock, ram,
That bulk so calm
On my jealous stare,
Self-sufficient as they are.’
But no hocus-pocus of green angels
Damasks with dazzle the threadbare eye;
‘My trouble, doctor, is: I see a tree,
And that damn scrupulous tree won't practice wiles
To beguile sight:
E.g., by cant of light
Concoct a Daphne;
My tree stays tree.*
*excerpt from Sylvia Plath's "on the difficulty of conjuring up a dryad"
In 1956, Israel, the United Kingdom and France invaded the Western part of the Suez Canal in attempt to oust Egyptian control from the region. Opening nearly a century prior, the canal had proven to be an important site, a link between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean; propelling trade between east and west, and becoming strategic at times of war. Shortly after opening, Egypt sold nearly its entire share of the canal in response to its ever-growing debt crisis. In the years to follow, the UK invaded Egypt and took control over the region.
The invasion was a failure. While the three nations made significant advances, Egypt maintained a stronghold over the shipping lanes of the canal. This aggression came to be seen as Great Britain’s last gasp of colonialism, and as the three nations recoiled, the event turned into a push back against globalization. The region subsequently became highly divided as nationalism took hold, and has remained so ever since. Plath's poem has been interpreted as an allegory for this conflict, while reflecting on the state of the world at the time and her place within it as an artist. Sixty years later the world has received little reprieve from the underlying issues examined in the poem, and central concerns of authority, border control, control of resources, nationalism, and globalization endure.
Ian Swanson (b.1983 Detroit, MI) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received his BFA from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI; and his MFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY. Recent solo shows include cynics milk at David Shelton Gallery, Houston, TX; our shallow psychic death at Simone DeSousa Gallery, Detroit, MI; feels like feels at ashes/ashes, Los Angeles, CA; and studios pretty much an office rn at Welcome Screen, London, UK. Recent two person and group exhibitions include Ignorance is Rich at 67, New York, NY; Dychtopia with New Scenario; Vital Shift in Central Observer, at BOSI, New York, NY; F R I E N D S at Evelyn Yard, London, UK; Ego Drift at WAKE, Detroit, MI; Or Or and at Free Paarking, St. Louis, MO, and EDENunlimited.tbc/tbc with Frankfurt am Main, Berlin.