ANC054: New Recordings by Philip Sorenson
Begin by standing in the loosestrife and describing the way the dirt feels on your feet.
As a seed gives way to roots to stem, poet Ian Hamilton Finlay’s life work took on dimensions far greater than its humble origins suggested. Finding the page an unsuitable setting for his efforts, Finlay spent decades in his creation of Little Sparta, a five-acre garden in the Scottish lowlands. Inscribing his words into stone sculptures, he gave new meaning to the term concrete poetry. Over time, upwards of three hundred pieces were scattered throughout the greater composition along with paths and pools, flora and forest. While the scene may conjure a sense of pastoral frivolity, assessing Finlay’s work reveals philosophical contemplations and a rhetoric contentiously aimed at various institutions. No idyllic oasis, he viewed Little Sparta as a political provocation, observing, "Certain gardens are described as retreats when they are really attacks."
Of a reduced scale but similar intent, Philip Sorenson’s New Recordings documents his attempt at assuming a radical posture via the act of gardening. Through agrarian labor, a clearer sense of time emerges, revealing the slow and ever-unfolding cycle of nature’s manifold phases. This awareness allows for a deeper understanding of the gardener’s role in a corrupt system beyond the greenery they sustain. Sorenson explores his place in a racist, misogynistic, and capitalist structure, as well as its effects on his mental health and the restorative calm provided by acts so simple as witnessing the “sounds of a wasp hitting a leaf with its wing.” Another New Calligraphy is proud to share this collection in a rare polychromatic presentation, featuring supplementary materials exploring its many organic and manmade themes.