The Ice Cream Empire

Kit Poulson


Book, 14.6 x 22.5 cm, 101 p, language: English, publisher: Book Works, ISBN: 9781906012342.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2024/689).

Literary synopsis

The Ice Cream Empire is an experimental narrative in which three characters, freed from the flow of causality, inter-twine through the experience of conversation. Arguing that building is not a structure but an activity of thought –less concrete, more porridge– the Alien Architect encounters the Persistent Midwife, fucked-off with toyshop utopias and declaring herself a suspension –an Ice Cream Empress– and Lou Loa, perhaps the most difficult to understand, not least, or in part, because he claimed to have been present at the creation of the White Horse of Uffington, and to hold the stuff of his being in a leaky bucket of black ink. Evoking the writings of Kazimir Malevich and Kurt Schwitters with the pastoral moments of Traffic and the ventriloquized insanity of Little Richard, history is revealed as a flow of conversations as they chance upon precious artifacts, all shaped by the fluid crystalline structure of the most delicious of desserts, ice cream.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

At the core of his work there is a sense of conversation and collaboration, which has been pursued in many different ways. He has worked with painting, installation, dance and music, and with text. Kit Poulson is fascinated with extension and fragility, the intersection of memory and perception, and the persistent haunting power of illusion, and how these might combine to produce some kind of sustainable narrative, some kind of sustainable life. The Ice Cream Empire emerges from his visual practice, a constellation of text-images that orbit and eclipse each other. It explores conversation as a fragile collaboration, generating fugitive meanings which flow around and connect static blocks of image/memory. The novel also emerges from Poulson’s experiences in Fine Art practice-based research, and to this end is designed to accentuate performative and affective elements and their relation and interruption of distanced reflective analysis. The Ice Cream Empire uses various overt and covert patterns of ordering, a flow that the reader can experience at different “speeds”. It functions as a progressive narrative, as a set of quotations and discussions of ideas (Kazimir Malevich, Kurt Schwitters, Giordano Bruno, Velimir Khlebnikov, Elena Guro). Can the strategies of historic Avant-garde art communicate as something other than radical nostalgia? Beneath this is a structure of waves independent of the meaning of the text, but which shapes the pattern of the book.

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