Thorsten Dennerline, “A Cloud in Trousers”

IMAGE LIST

A Cloud in Trousers, MCBA Prize, 2017

1

(Open view)

Title: A Cloud in Trousers

2016

Medium: Book: Plate Lithography, Letterpress

Edition: 38

Pages: 22

Dimensions open: 36 x 22 cm

Dimensions closed: 18 x 22 cm

2

(Open view)

Title: A Cloud in Trousers

2016

Medium: Book: Plate Lithography, Letterpress

Edition: 38

Pages: 22

Dimensions open: 36 x 22 cm

Dimensions closed: 18 x 22 cm

3

(Detail)

Title: A Cloud in Trousers

2016

Medium: Book: Plate Lithography, Letterpress

Edition: 38

Pages: 22

Dimensions open: 36 x 22 cm

Dimensions closed: 18 x 22 cm

4

(Detail)

Title: A Cloud in Trousers

2016

Medium: Book: Plate Lithography, Letterpress

Edition: 38

Pages: 22

Dimensions open: 36 x 22 cm

Dimensions closed: 18 x 22 cm

5

(Detail)

Title: A Cloud in Trousers

2016

Medium: Book: Plate Lithography, Letterpress

Edition: 38

Pages: 22

Dimensions open: 36 x 22 cm

Dimensions closed: 18 x 22 cm

 

Thorsten Dennerline
Bennington, Vermont
www.birdpress.com

A Cloud in Trousers
2017
Plate Lithography, Letterpress
38
22
36×22 cm
18×22 cm

Thorsten Dennerline
MCBA Application 2017
A CLOUD IN TROUSERS: ARTIST STATEMENT
This project emerged from my interest in El Lissitzky and his collaborations with the poet Vladimir
Mayakovsky. I became fascinated by the incredible intensity of Mayakovsky’s work and life, and by the
influence that his historical moment had on his art and thought. I wanted to make work about it. Rather
than just illustrate a book of his poetry, I kept the project open-ended, letting it change and evolve, into
a portrait of sorts. I started with the notion of the “monster artist” with broad gestural strokes of
drawing ink, and then began to add layers of detail that reflected my sense of his complexity. As layers
of ink built up on the paper, I began seeing the drawings as bodies, less as monsters and more as
physical, mortal, vulnerable beings.
I then invited the Russian-born American poet Michael Dumanis to collaborate on the project. He
juxtaposed the images with a new translation of the prologue and first section of the Mayakovsky poem
“A Cloud in Trousers.” We wanted our collaboration to put both of us in dialogue with Mayakovsky, as
well as to reflect Mayakovsky’s own interests in collaborative experimentation and the relationship of
text and image.
—Thorsten Dennerline
TRANSLATOR’S NOTE
Vladimir Mayakovsky, Russian modernist poet and cultural icon, was born in Baghdati, Georgia, in
1893, and committed suicide in Moscow in 1930. A cosignatory of the Futurist manifesto “A Slap in the
Face of Public Taste,” he was a towering, swaggering figure, whose personal life was as tumultuous as
his wild public performances. “A Cloud in Trousers,” his first long poem, appeared in 1915, the same
year as T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” It consists of a prologue and four sections,
roughly delineated as “Down with your love,” “Down with your art,” “Down with your social order,” and
“Down with your faith.”
Thorsten Dennerline’s twisting artworks suspended against a blue-sky backdrop seemed fitting for the
existential crisis in this poem. Mayakovsky writes in verbal cartwheels and associative flights of
language, allowing wordplay, sonic riffs, and rhyme to drive his rhetoric and imagery. I sought to
preserve both each line’s intended meaning and Mayakovsky’s rhythm and music. I also attempted to
make the poem’s diction smooth, accessible, and idiomatically modern to a 21st century American ear.
— Michael Dumanis