Cutting words

He walks into a local Borders or Barnes & Noble and buys some great books. He takes them home and slices them with a band saw or cuts craters into them with a 6-inch grinder. Then he returns to the store and places them back on the shelves. At 23, Miroslav Cukovic is one of the city's most intriguing young artists because his work really pushes for immediate engagement with the public. That's the reason he was asked to be the first artist featured in "Work in Progress," an occasional series appearing in Metro Times' arts section, calling for more interactivity with Detroit's créatifs by showing off art.

For this project, Cukovic thumbed through the pages of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, cutting out random phrases that create unintentional juxtapositions. "This all started because I was reading 30 books at a time, unable to finish any of them. That got me thinking — is it necessary to read all of a book? I began reading only the middle column of words from each page and it progressed from there." His efforts call to mind Dadaist Tristan Tzara's poems pulled from a hat, painter and poet Brion Gysin's newspaper cut-up technique (William Burroughs was a fan of this one) and even the chance operations performed by '60s artists John Cage and Dick Higgins.

For this page, Cukovic insists his poetry should be collaboration between Metro Times Art Director Sean Bieri and you guys — our readers. "Tell the art director, if he wants, he can flip some of the poems on their sides. That way, people have to physically maneuver the newspaper and interact with it in order to read them." Go ahead and try it, or not.

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