Taken as an exchange between two people, radioactive Pal? -Pal, radioactive proposes a simple question, “Are you afflicted?” and a delicate response, “My friend, I am.” The repetition and symmetry of this line delineates how a poetic structure can emphasize the complex cultural functions intrinsic to words and signs. In poetry, the goal is to present a large amount of affect in the most simple manner. This dialog, borrowed from John Berryman’s Dream Song #51, sets up a structure for the conversation in and between the work of Bill Conger and Adam Farcus.
The Dream Songs, which loosely adapt the structure of minstrel shows, use the vehicles of the interlocutor and end man as dual psychological composites for Berryman himself. Their relationship in this debased early American art form was for the end man through punctuating interaction to add comic relief to the interlocutor’s situation. Within Conger and Farcus’ individual works, and in relationship to each other, they often employ simplicity and playfulness, which counter and re-emphasize their ecstatic aspirations. Conger and Farcus do not support the racist origins which Dream Songs were produced out of, but rather are interested in how Berryman’s character, Henry, marries emotional strife to seemingly simple language. In analogous associative moves, Conger and Farcus utilize familiar objects to attend to the person and majestic. In these pieces, rigid structures like abstraction, geometry and repetition isolate the hidden romanticism, inherently present in everyday materials.