Haikus are the subtext of a couple of museum shows this summer. The Getty’s European drawing rotation, “Poetry on Paper,” offers original haikus in lieu of prosaic gallery texts and encourages visitors to write their own 17-syllable poems. LACMA is showing Kitasano Katue, an actual Japanese poet, albeit not of haikus. The exhibition argues that surrealism resonated in Japan because of the native tradition of illogical juxtapositions, as seen in haikus.
If one reduces haiku to its essentials—a few short lines that don’t rhyme, making the familar strange through unlikely combinations—then the city’s most worthy haikus at present might be André Saraiva’s Dream Concerts posters, teasers for a small installation opening Thursday at MOCA Grand Avenue. NWA vs. Public Enemy (with A$ap Rocky and Big Daddy Kane)? The Beatles and Kinks back up the Rolling Stones, with David Bowie and The Who—for one night only?
As in almost all poetry, the sound matters. Joan Baez / Rodriguez. The latter would be Sixto Rodriguez, the reclusive “Sugar Man” who came on the radar screen only with a 2012 Academy Award-winning indie documentary. Containing dates but no years, Saraiva’s posters are equally (in)credible as documents of past, present, or future. They suggest the power of music and nostalgia to capture a moment or leave the listener unstuck in time.
Pop will eat itself
A radio oldie blares
Wake to Groundhog Day