I Exi(s)t/ exit I

22 April 2015

I Exi(s)t / exit I
by C. Isa Lausas and Tyson Atkings
Published by JackPine Press
Review by Jessica Bickford
$30.00 978-1-927035-15-3

I Exi(s)t / exit I is in the most basic explanation, three books musing on the same subjects brought together in one. Two monologue poems meet in a third text message dialogue between two people preoccupied with love, death, and existence. Of course, like all good art, it isn’t that simple.

This book, with its white vinyl covers, titleless, and embossed with a triangle on each side begs for exploration, and it does not disappoint. With magnetic clips, it opens three different ways, revealing new content with each iteration and deepening the sense of mystery I feel clings to this book.  It never quite wants to tell you everything. I spent probably the first five or ten minutes with this book in my hands just playing with different ways to open it and finding the unique points of entry into the stories within.

At the very centre of the book I found a selection of three digital photos, numbered and signed (as I Exi(s)t / exit I is limited edition), and revealing just one more detail about each of the three sections of the book. I found all of the black and white photos to be at once distant and intimate – maybe a little voyeuristic in the case of the one titled “divisions,” with a hand clutching a cell phone slowly coming into focus in the bottom right of the frame.

To say this work is transformative is an understatement. The combination of the two highly visual, soul-searching poems from the two authors, and then the dialogue between them through texts is unlike anything I’ve seen before. The dialogue section was by far my favourite though.  It felt so familiar to me, and perfectly captured the kind of disjointed collaboration that comes from technological communication – like the participants are taking separate routes to the same destination.

I Exi(s)t / exit I is beautiful and slightly heartbreaking and above all, honest. For something so purely artistic, there isn’t a hint of pretension in it, and it lets you explore it at your own pace, in your own way, and really invites you to rummage through the three intersecting introspections.


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