Summary: We Bury the Landscape is an exhibition of literary art. Ekphrasis, collected. One hundred flash fictions and prose poems presented to view. From the visual to the textual, transmuting before the gallery-goer’s gaze, the shifting contours of curator Kristine Ong Muslim’s surreal panorama delineate the unconventional, the unexpected, and the unnatural. Traversing this visionary vista’s panoply of “rooms of unfinished lives,” the reader unearths and examines and reanimates—revealing the transcendent uncanniness that subsists underfoot.
Review: I gave this a 5 out of 5.
Most of the time, I don’t necessarily “get” art. I enjoy it and find reasons why it’s pleasing to me. I find a piece of art and look at what the artist has to say about what they were trying to do and it’s always something way different from what I see. For example, one of my friends is an artist and I have one of her paintings in my home. I see a wine bottle with darkness around it, possibly representing the deepness of a red wine, or maybe even a higher level of the dark things drinking can do. She tells me she didn’t even mean to paint a wine bottle and still doesn’t see one. But that’s what I see.
Anyway, the reason I loved this book is because Muslim gave me such amazing stories about each painting, stories that made sense to me and were creative and inspiring. I was unfamiliar with most of the art, so I looked each painting up and gave it good hard look before reading the story. Her stories reminded me of an imaginative person sitting in an art museum making up fantastic histories to each painting, something that I might do. And when some of those paintings that I looked up had some artist commentary, it was always something that I didn’t “get” and Muslim’s stories made more sense to me, despite the fact that they are fiction. I don’t think I could pick a favorite piece of art and corresponding story in this book, but perhaps the first one, Landscape with Grenade, would be it. I love it because I don’t know what the artist was trying to say with that and I’m sure it’s probably something about society, but Muslim wrote about a landscape with a giant grenade in it and what the people who lived there might think if they saw it. It was so refreshing and creative and interesting. I love some of the post-apocalyptic stories she wrote about some of the surreal paintings, too.
Muslim wrote short stories for each piece of art, but it read like poetry. Her writing was descriptive and had a flow and rhythm to it that I enjoyed a lot. I would definitely read her other work and look forward to doing so.
This book was a bit different from what I normally read, but it was refreshing and wonderful!