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époque press
pronounced: /epƏk/
definition: /time/era/period
The rejected woman had had enough.jpg
The blue evening of her lover_s bed.jpg
Juliette III.jpg
vermillion red morning.jpg
Untroubled Afternoon.jpg

JC Alfier’s (they/them) most recent book of poetry, The Shadow Field, was published by Louisiana Literature Press (2020). Journal credits include The Emerson Review, Faultline, New York Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, Penn Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Vassar Review. They are also an artist doing collage and double-exposure work.


Of the images featured here, JC Alfier states:


‘The motivation behind each collage is approximately the same: I look to create with the intention they become a bit mysterious, reassembled into new narratives, intimate yet anonymous, and suggestive of emotional pathos — like a shadow text, or understated intimations. This is also the reason faces are obscured; not to hide identity, but to universalize the images: they are not one person, but potentially all people. Yet, it’s also the case that the collages speak therapeutically to me, mirroring or illustrating Carl Jung’s concept of the Anima: the female part of the male psyche. Thus there’s a confessional element to the collages, yet not something so buried in my own psyche and unconscious that viewers can’t see some of themselves in them. I believe in a touch of sensuality achieved through obliqueness. So there is no resolved narrative, per se, as the viewer makes their own associations that will often reflect themselves in unintended or random ways. Mine is an art in fragmentary discourses. Hence the reason some pieces are given conversational fragments as titles. I look to enhance the fragmentary approach by using coloured backgrounds that exhibit torn or frayed edges. That is, a kind of cinematic disruption. Overall, as a mainly a poet, what I aim for in these collages is what Keats called “negative capability”, that uncertainty, obscurity, or doubt without any reaching for resolutions. Or, at the risk of sounding too academic, what Italian Surrealist de Chirico identified as “inhabited depth”, reminding us, for instance, that what is disturbing about a calm sea is not the distance from us to the ocean floor, but what lurks unknown at the bottom. 

When I assemble the photos, I note how they’re drawn toward each other in an almost unconscious way — almost like a coincidence. The photos often sit on my worktable for weeks before my mind’s eye catches them and begins to render possible collages from the apparently disparate pieces. I also seek a resonance between photos that indicate interrupted movements, or similar poses. In “Giselle”, for instance, we have two female faces glancing in nearly opposite directions. Or in “The rejected woman had had enough”, the eye of the woman in the upper photo seems a snide response to the despairing shout of the woman in the photo below it.

Oftentimes a colour presents itself as a border to accent something I can’t quite identify except to say they reflect or implicate subtle emotions, or even pathos. Veiled sensuality lies in the red border and lips in “matin rouge vermillon” and in the purple nails of “Untroubled Afternoon”.  One collage calls for a blue strip of construction paper for the background, or fringes of the joined photos, while another calls for red. Sometimes hints of colour are applied through pastels, chalk or coloured pencils. Colour can accentuate and obscure what is not directly stated, like the colours of a noctilucent cloud at dusk. There is also some oblique cinematic influence, particularly from film noir.’

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