Alec Finlay

BYNAMES are imagined names for real people. They suggest the self that lies behind ourself concealed. Less genealogical than poetic, the byname is allied to the pseudonym, anonym, anagram, playname, lovename, nickname. The bynames that we conjure for others are reinventions, generated by love or hate; the bynames that we take for ourselves are masks. There are records. Marcel Duchamp, a rose dressed in women’s clothes – RROSE SELVAY. Glen Gould playing parts – SIR HUMPHRY PRICE-DAVIES, HERR KLOPWEISSER, TEDDY SLUTZ, DR. HERBERT VON HOCHMEISTER, ZOLTAN MOSTANYI, SIR NIGEL TWITT-THORNTHWAITE.
Most of the bynames exhibited here are new compositions. A fair number are my own invention; others were written in response to my open invitation. In their arrangements and the affinities that they discover the names are poems.

Here too is the sky. Selections from the Archive of Wind Blown Clouds, a collection of slide photographs, presented in lightboxes. With neither author, place, nor date, the clouds outslip any scientific purpose. Meteorology is deferred. What remains is a portion of the sky of the world.

As with all of the forms that I have invited people to share I – haiku, renga, mesotic, circle poem, question, proposal – the wind blown cloud is another meeting place from which correspondences may emerge. These projects connect people within a single frame and the ways in which they respond extend the idea exponentially – clouds, a small white puff, banks, roiling masses of cumulus, filletes, cloud reflections in puddles and windows, contrails.

The ambition of the invitation is to involve anyone, or everyone. Amparo Montero Espina, an eight-year-old girl from Punto Del Este in Uruguay, is one of the archive’s most prolific and gifted correspondents. They are photographs by friends and by people that I have never met, whose lives I know nothing about. They are the effects of water and air that realize John Cage’s desire for an art that is far more than weather. WIND BLOWN CLOUD is poetic, utopian, and political. The clouds are proposed as flags, the only flags that would fly for a year over the cities of Derry, Jerusalem and Jamin. ‘Take down your flags, your colourful shrouds, live under the same sky.’

YOUR NAME HERE is the juxtaposition of two projects – one of words, one of images. Together they suggest a dissolution of identity – not a wretched fragmentation of the self, rather a gentle douking in the carrying stream, washing away the boundaries of the creative intelligence as if they were marked in chalk. A culture that thrives on celebrity will get the bynames that it deserves. A hanky is a cloud; a cloud is a flag; a name is a poem; a poem is words written on wind and water.

Alec Finlay

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