In 1965 Shiomi began Spatial Poem No. 1, the first of what would become a series of nine Spatial Poems, by formulating a language-based prompt: “Word Event: Write a word (or words) on the enclosed card and place it somewhere. Please tell me the word and the place, which will be edited on the world map.” Frustrated by the limits that geographic proximity placed on the participants and audiences for art, she used the postal system to connect artists and collaborators around the globe, sending her prompt out through the mail. As a member of Fluxus, a community of experimental artists headquartered in New York but with an international scope, she was able to ask the Fluxus artist and impresario George Maciunas to provide her with his mailing list of artists, friends, and supporters that were part of the group’s general global network.
Recipients of Shiomi’s “Word Event” request responded with accounts of the word or words they had chosen and the details of the locations where they had placed their cards. Each pin in the hand-drawn map carries a flag with the text she received. Together the pins visualize the entire collaborative process, one in which Shiomi relinquished authorial control and embraced chance. The result is a three-dimensional poem mapped across time and space.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)