Explosion of Words is a cinematic photo installation and imaginary library of modern poetry in translation, testament to the power of language and poetic forms.
The exhibition is a culmination of Swiss artist Hannes Schüpbach’s (b. 1965) response to the oeuvre of east London-based poet and language activist Stephen Watts (b. 1952). Through the installation, we are called on to recognise and engage with the vast wealth of poetry in translation that has been, and still is being, written and performed today out of many different histories and environments.
40 years in the making, Watts’ monumental Bibliography of Modern Poetry in English Translation has been transformed into an immersive physical experience, extending as an ocean of text across the central gallery walls. Through this ‘storehouse of language’, we can reflect on Watts’ life-long love of poetry in every tongue which equally permeates through Schüpbach’s intimate readings and documentation of the poet’s habitual spaces in the swirl of worlds that is London’s East End.