Spatial Poems by Shiomi Mieko

Starting in 1965, Mieko Shiomi conducted a series of nine events that she called Spatial Poems. Each one began with an invitation to a large number of friends and colleagues to respond to a simple instruction, which often took the form of an intimate action poem that anyone could perform. The responses she received in the mail would then constitute the work. In 1975, Shiomi published a booklet documenting the nine Spatial Poems and including a collection of responses to each of these works. The accumulated responses give a glimpse of the wide network of artists who were connected through Fluxus activities, from those engaged in the eclectic arts and letters scene in New York City’s downtown to artists located in Tokyo, Łódź, Montevideo, and New Dehli. In this Feature, you’ll find entries from Shiomi’s 1975 booklet selected by post Editors. These entries reflect the nature and range of the responses to the Spatial Poems and the geographic dispersal of their authors. In several instances, Shiomi published maps that charted the locations of the respondents—a fitting visualization for a project that she considered a global event. You’ll find a few of these maps in the images below.   

You will also find other Spatial Poem materials from MoMA’s Library and Archives and the Museum Collection. These materials document the various published iterations of this project between 1965 and 1975. Some have been in the museum’s library for several decades, others were recently added to the Archives and the Museum collection as part of the Silverman Fluxus Collection. 

Another aspect of the project is inspired by Shiomi’s dedication of the 1975 publication “to the people of the 30th century.” The inscription conveys the spirit of an open invitation. In this spirit, post has invited the artist David Horvitz to conduct his own project, which directly references strategies used by Shiomi and pays homage to her way of working. Horvitz’s project will have a home here on the post site in the coming weeks. In addition, former MoMA colleague Gretchen Wagner, who is now Curator at the Pulitzer Foundation, will contribute an essay that further elaborates the work on Shiomi’s Spatial Poems that she presented at MoMA in her exhibition, Thing/Thought: Fluxus Editions (2011 – 2012). Both essays will be linked here once they are available.

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A talk and performance by Shiomi presented in conjunction with the exhibition MOT Collection Chronicle 1964–: Off Museum at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, on April 29, 2012.