Visual Poetry and Public Action

Alain Arias-Misson, Julien Blaine and Ignacio Gómez de Liaño

Wednesday, 18 December 2019 - 6pm
Plaza de Lavapiés and Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200   
In collaboration with:


Organized by
Museo Reina Sofía

This activity, inside the framework of the exhibition Ignacio Gómez de Liaño. Abandon Writing (Museo Reina Sofía, 18 December 2019 – 18 May 2020), brings together artists Alain Arias-Misson, Julien Blaine and Ignacio Gómez de Liaño in a round-table discussion which aims to shine a light on visual poetry from the 1960s in Spain, activating previous works in both the street and the Museo.

Arias-Misson, Blaine and Gómez de Liaño were pioneers of abandoning writing and, paradoxically, of not ceasing to “write” by way of new artistic ideas that entered the fold in the 1960s and 1970s. In their works, text mixes with action and reading becomes diluted in public space, expanding writing beyond the book. These three artists often collaborated together, becoming involved in each other’s projects; for instance, between 1969 and 1970, Arias-Misson conceived the action poem A MADRID (To Madrid), in which Gómez de Liaño’s participation was crucial. The work set out to wander across different spaces in the city bearing the letters, in metre-high cardboard, that spelt the title, looking to create, through different combinations, new words linked to the places chosen. For his part, in 2015, Gómez de Liaño recalled Arias-Misson in the poem entitled O LA ISLA (OR THE ISLAND), made in Ibiza. That same year, Arias-Misson referred to this work with the poem Sinking of Venice, which was presented in the same city.

On 14 July 1966, four artists which were key to the origins of visual poetry in Spain randomly ran into each other at a French petrol station: Elena Asins, Luis García (LUGÁN), Julio Plaza and Gómez de Liaño. The first three were in a car headed for Brussels, while Gómez de Liaño was travelling around Europe to acquaint himself with certain key figures and reference points in the sphere of experimental poetry, for instance Carlo Belloli, Max Bense, Julien Blaine, Henri Chopin, Adriano Spatola and Paul de Vree. Shortly after this chance encounter, Asins, LUGÁN and Plaza came together in the Cooperative of Artistic and Artisan Production, a group founded by Manuel Quejido, Gómez de Liaño and Herminio Molero, among others, and a focal point of experimentation in 1960s Madrid. Throughout this decade, a series of poetry movements appeared, expanding the literary world as they incorporated image and body and suspended the monopoly of the word.


Alain Arias-Mison (Brussels, 1936) is an artist, poet and novelist. After gaining a degree in Greek and French Literature from Harvard University (USA), in 1967 he co-edited, with Paul de Vree, the magazine Tafelronde in Antwerp, and created a number of public poems. In 1972 he participated at the Pamplona Encounters. He has regularly exhibited his work in art spaces the world over, and his personal archive, donated to Yale University (USA), is one of the most comprehensive sources for the study of experimental poetry, including works, correspondence and artistic documentation from the period spanning 1965 to 2017. 

Julien Blaine (Rognac, 1942) is an artist and poet, and editor of magazines such as Doc(k)s and Action poétique. He has produced a multitude of public poetry works, and the list of international exhibitions featuring his work is long. In 2007, in the documentary Julien Blaine, l'éléphant et la chute, he re-encounters two of his creations from 1962: La entrevista de los elefantes and La caída por las escaleras de la estación de Saint Charles de Marsella. At 60 years of age he declared his time as a performer was over and today he produces démonstr'actions and déclar'actions.  

Ignacio Gómez de Liaño (Madrid, 1946) is an artist and writer. Since 1969 he has worked as a university lecturer in the fields of Sociology, Aesthetics and Eastern Philosophy, teaching at the Advanced Technical School of Architecture at Madrid’s Polytechnic University (1968–1972), in the Department of Political Science and the Department of Philosophy at the Complutense University of Madrid (1975–2006), and at Osaka University, Japan (1984–1985) and Peking University, China (1989–1990). He has been part of Spanish cultural landmarks like the University of Madrid’s Computing Centre, the Pamplona Encounters, the magazine Problemática 63 and the Cooperative of Artistic and Artisan Production. In 1975 he published Los juegos del Sacromonte, winner of the New Critics award for essays, and La sensorialidad excéntrica - Rúbricas marginals. Other recent publications include En la red del tiempo 1972-1977 (2013), El reino de las luces, Carlos III (2015) and Libro de los artistas (2016).


Lola Hinojosa is head of the Performing Arts and Intermedia Collection at the Museo Reina Sofía and curator of the exhibition Ignacio Gómez de Liaño. Abandon Writing.

Aramis López (Alicante, 1965) is a researcher of experimental poetry with a PhD in Geography. His most recent works belong to the sphere of the geography of perception and behaviour, standing, more specifically, at the crossroads between geography and art: Encuesta sobre el amor, a research project from the Aix-Marseille University (2017), La democratización del placer o Corografía de la miseria en la provincia de Alicante, an ongoing research project, and El Centro de Calculo. 1968-1973, cinco años de ciencia, arte y creación computacional (Editorial Complutense, 2019). He also curated the exhibition 1972, Los juegos del Espinario, experimentaciones poéticas de Ignacio Gómez de Liaño (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Ibiza, 2015.


6pm - Plaza de Lavapiés, route to the Museo Reina Sofía
Action: Iluminations [Ilumination, 2019], by Alain Arias-Misson
With the voice of the soprano Rosemary Forbes Butler and the collaboration of CRUCE. Arte y pensamiento contemporáneo. In this public poetic action thirteen performers carry the human-scale letters of the word "iluminaciones" and, in relation with the themed route through the city and at the artist's indications, they swap the letters with each other and compose new words. The action refers to the public poem A MADRID (1969) and is a tribute to Ignacio Gómez de Liaño from the title of his book Philosophical Illuminations (2001).

6:40pm - Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200 Lobby
Action: Je parle à la machine (2009), by Julien Blaine
Recorded video. Blaine composes and recites a poem to the typographic machine in which the first public poems of the late 1960s were written. The action refers to the memory of a generation of artists that gave birth to the new medium, that of public poetry.

7pm - Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200
Conversation between Alain Arias-Misson and Ignacio Gómez de Liaño, moderated by Lola Hinojosa and Aramis López

8:15pm - Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200 Lobby
The actions of Ignacio Gómez de Liaño: La imposible presentación [The impossible presentation, 1970], Asurbanípal tocaba la flauta [Asurbanípal played the flute, 1971], Canto del vaso de agua [Song of the water glass, 1971] and Poema aéreo [Aerial poem, 1972-2019].
Series of poetic and public actions by Ignacio Gómez de Liaño recovered for the first time for this event. Located between the verbal and the performative, these are a historical example of the expanded field of writing to the visual arts in the late 1960s and early 1970s.