VerySmallKitchen, Annexe and Pigeon have been invited by Ladies of the Press to collaborate on an exhibition entitled A Pigeon, A Kitchen, and an Annexe: Sites of Alternative Publishing at the Five Years Gallery, London, from 17 February to 3rd March 2012.
This blog post is a gathering of materials around VerySmallKitchen’s contribution to the show, which involves work by Paul Antony Carr, Sarah Jacobs, Paolo Javier, Lisa Jeschke and Lucy Beynon, and seekers of lice.
1. TOMORROW, HERE, A GATHERING
In X Marks the Bokship, Lucy Beynon and Lisa Jeschke unfurl a 2m x 1m drawing that is one part of Five Live Performances (Ink on Paper), a project which will take different forms in the exhibition and on this blog.
The different parts of this project range in scale from this large drawing to a box of sixty A5 pages and a text in 3pt font. What happens to scale across these different formats? When physical size and quantity is removed, what becomes invisible and what is emphasised?
Five Live Performances began as a response to a set of workshop instructions from Chris Goode. The work produced becomes a score for its own movement across formats; a musical score for actual and conceptual performance; it scores itself into histories of black squares and blank/black pages.
It is looking at the different parts of Lisa and Lucy’s project that suggests PAGE as an organising principal for VerySmallKitchen’s contribution to this exhibition.
A page that mediates entry into space and conversation. Changes of meaning and emphasis from web page through page into sculpture. A page-facilitated space.
2. A LETTER TO ALEX, PAOLO, PAUL AND SARAH
Dear Alex, Paolo, Paul and Sarah,
I have been thinking about how to present your projects for the exhibition. After various options, I have decided to present three archival boxes (photo attached) – one for each of you.
I would like to use the exhibition to both give a presence and a distribution to these works and also show something of the process and ambition of VerySmallKitchen. The exhibition provides a now that combines both past, new and potential projects. So for Sarah the box is an archive for a published book; for Paul an archive of virtual residency on the VerySmallKitchen site in 2011; for Alex and Paolo the box is an “archive” for a book to come later…
Some motivations: The (archive) box seems a useful container for thinking through what kind of space is being formed by this project. It can be an archive or not, an art work or not (Cornell’s boxes/ Duchamp’s boîte en valise/ Warhol’s Time Capsules, Hiller’s Freud Archive)….
There are other historical examples I turn to as I think through this mediation of space and exhibition by the “page”: Mel Bochner’s Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art; and the index card catalogues of Lucy Lippard’s 557,087 and 995,000 exhibitions
plus the index card writings of Lev Rubinstein; and the A4 Gallery, founded by Andrzej Pierzgalski in Lodz, Poland, in 1972 (whose shows comprised a single sheet of A4 paper placed within the 80×140 Gallery).
All navigations between writing and art practice that are valuable sources whilst also highlighting the different emphases of your own work and this moment….
Alex and Paolo – I envisage the principal component of your box will be a print out of the OBB book. People will be able to look through the boxes – I am imagining an unbound stack of pages - and the exhibition will be used to “publish” the book so that it is available and distributed, but only within the Five Years gallery. Perhaps, Paolo, you imagine other publications in the box? Other books by yourself (those you have sent me?)? Other materials? Let me know if so.
NOTE: This publishing of a book during/as an exhibition develops a trajectory from Paolo’s VerySmallKitchen residency at the AC Institute, New York for the Department of Micropoetics project in 2010, which used the gallery as a work space for finishing a collaborative project.
Sarah – I have tried displaying the printed pages of Uh Duh on the wall. I thought such a display might be a useful way to insist upon Uh Duh as a text to be read, but I don’t now think this is how I want to use the opportunity of this exhibition. Instead, I suggest we have a pile in the box (in chronological order) of all your printed books, topped by Uh Duh, along with a bibliography.
This idea both fits (conceptually) and does not fit (physically) the box, as (I remember from our conversation) it both expresses your affinity with and distance from the idea of being a book artist. It is sculptural at the same time as I hope it would be an invitation to visitors to look through the pile and read the books. The bibliography would make present an aspect of your work which I only know partially… let us know any thoughts…
Paul – I think one starting point for this project was the small card you sent me of one of the image-text pieces from your residency on the VerySmallKitchen blog. I was interested in the equal emphasis on both sides of this card (the image on one side/ text the other), and how – unlike the blog post’s downward scroll – to read the card required turning over, one side concealing the other in order to be comprehended.
This simple act of changing sides is contrary to the usual display of books in exhibitions – where the emphasis (when the publications are deemed too precious to be handled) is the spread, or where a closed book prioritises its role as object. That’s why I mentioned suspending this small card in some way. Maybe it also wants two readers who could each relay to the other what they were missing…
Actually, I think this card might be enough. But I offer the box space to you in this letter, whilst also wondering (and this applies to all of you) how two aspects of these boxes relate: how they are both an invitation to you and my own way of framing the work you have already contributed, taking into account budget, time, and the discussions I have had with Annexe, Pigeon and Ladies of the Press.
A key part of these discussions has been LOTP’s definition of themselves as “editors” rather than “curators” for this project. I am interested how each of us might define, imagine, choose between, combine, adapt, or outright reject these terms.
I think my own response here has been to foreground neither, seeing instead what identities and lexicon’s might in time emerge from thinking about the exhibition as a distinct form of publication and distribution for practices that also exist in many other locations.
The boxes will be displayed with this letter.
3. A PIGEON AND AN ANNEXE
VerySmallKitchen’s contribution to the show takes shape alongside those by Annexe and Pigeon. We have met several times to talk about the show, and are working simultaneously so I have an incomplete knowledge of what these projects will be. In one meeting we agree an aesthetic of the overall space connected to ideas of press room.
Nick Murray of Annexe posts a preview of VOLUMES OF TEXT:
Pigeon write in an email:
…. We are completely following the idea of creating a live press room “Pigeon Press Room” within the Five Years space, in which the main activity will take place during the Private View on the 17th (and the residue of this will be left over to remain throughout the duration of the exhibition’s run). This press room will be a hectic process of creating outputs, edited and effectively ‘manned’ by the three of us as editors.
The set up will manifest itself as a ‘line of process’ running from Online/Digital to Offline/Analogue through three stages (tables) of process and intervention…
4. I USED TO CALL MYSELF AN ARTIST
seekers of lice sends me a photograph. We have been talking about both performing and installing a version of the talk piece A Minor Poet of the Twenty First Century which involves the shuffling, reading aloud and discarding (throwing down) of texts written on index cards.
Maybe the cards get left where they fall in performance? I was particularly fascinated by one card which notates an origin for the project:
I used to call myself an artist,
then someone said to me
“You’re not an artist. At best you’re a
minor poet and that’s much worse.”
I decided to become a Minor Poet of
the Twenty First Century.
In my mind I connect this to my recent reading of Wayne Kostenbaum’s Humiliation, where he observes that humiliation depends on a triad of humiliated, aggressor, and witness. Maybe, I think, this quote/ insult always provokes the “churning stomach. Dry heaves” that Kostenbaum sees as “humiliation’s soundtrack.” seekers of lice says that it does not.
I ask about the installation in the image. It no longer exists. but it offers a model for thinking through the nexus that has arisen:
poet- visual artist – index card – sculpture
In an email from seekers of lice : “The tower is progressing – 10 out of 16 units completed so far. I’ve just got back from scavenging more cardboard from Homebase.”
I reply I am reading FLUITEN IN HET DONKER which offers a case study of the exhibition unfolding out of etymology and an associative reading technique.
seekers of lice writes:
It was called VAULT : vault, Voltaire, voltige, volte face, volatile
It came out of these connections: (this was written for the original curator)
Vault sb 1
3b. A burial chamber ( orig. with arched roof) usu. altogether or partly underground 1548
Vault v 2
1. to spring or leap; spec. to leap with the assistance of the hand resting on the thing to be surmounted
Voltaire chosen name of François Marie Arouet (1694 – 1778)
voltige Fr. acrobatics on a trapeze or horse
volte-face Fr. a spinning about to face one’s enemies
volatile originally, any winged creature
nightclub in Zürich, Switzerland founded by Hugo Ball with Emmy Hennings on February 5, 1916 as a cabaret for artistic and political purposes.
At the first meeting Ball read aloud from Voltaire as well as from his own writing.
Hugo Ball (1886 – 1927) German author, poet and leading Dada artists
Die Flucht aus der Zeit (Flight Out of Time: A Dada Diary) 1927
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926).
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910)
Rilke’s only novel written while Rilke lived in Paris. The novel is semi-autobiographical, neurasthenic and claustrophobic, obsessed with the quest for individuality and artistic expression in the face of death.
I was interested in the juxtaposition of the romantic poet, and dada and the beginnings of conceptualism, of that particular historical moment, represented by the different meanings of the word vault…
5. WHO ARE YOUSSSSSS
Pigeons, seekers of lice, very small kitchens, annexes, ladies of the press… A litany of pseudonyms, heteronyms, strung between a novelists fever and outsider corporation. Playful, animal, neutrally and abundantly gendered, architecturally expectant, saying what is not as much as what is.
In an essay written for the Press Release this “character-fulness” of a VerySmallKitchen is unfolded by LOTP:
Necessity for selection, cannot have 100s of jars of jam if you have one shelf and one table, one chair one spoon, plate, cup and so on. This is what you might end up with if you use Haiku as inspiration for interior design. Economy of means. And intimacy. How many of us can actually fit into a very small kitchen at any one time? It says something about the type of relations that contingently have to happen in a very small kitchen. And activities. Like cooking, eating, and talking.
7. PRINT ON NO DEMAND
08/02/12 I visit Sarah Jacobs in Islington to collect her books and the bibliography. The bibliography is intended to make evident a body of work. It does this, but it also makes evident a set of
questions mysteries. Part of the practice of bibliography, of course, but emphasised here by an artist for whom content is often related to a questioning and exploiting of a books potential and actual distribution.
Questions raised by the bibliography itself are expounded when I attempt to correlate the information on its two pages to the table of books Sarah has laid out. The “same” books recur in different formats; some books are missing (explorations of print on demand processes for which there was, it seems, no demand).
The exhibition is the only place to see these books. The bibliography is here.
In the introduction to his The Book on Books on Artists Books (The Everyday Press, 2011) Arnaud Desjardin cites Simon Ford’s observations – originally in the context of the situationists – concerning a “bibliographic moment”:
The bibliography appears at the point in a subject’s living death when criticism reaches critical mass. As such it indicates the death of any innocence in the face of the subject. The weight of material already published and documented will have to be carried by any subsequent writer. This will not, of course, restrict the field of interpretation; the bibliography opens the way for a multiplication of viewpoints from which the subject can be examined. (5)
9.WHAT COLOUR AM I? YOU ARE ORANGE
Thinking towards some sort of collaboratively authored text around the exhibition, Pigeon, Ladies of the Press, Annexe and VerySmallKitchen spend one evening writing a google document in response to pre-chosen questions. Different coloured cursors move across the screen as seven people in different locations across London and Brighton write, delete and edit.
I write: the reason for all these reading room exhibitions, displays of printed matter, is not so much proposing that people read in the gallery – a difficult thing to do because of time and situation – but to construct The Reader (in public) as an exemplary model of the gallery visitor.
Is this true? For myself, the live Google doc and the hour we have given ourselves for writing this text encourage such propositions to be later tested and unfolded.
Something else we talked about when we met in person was the notion of scene in relation to our different practices, how the exhibition constructs one that does not exist so distinctly at any other time and place.
A PIGEON, A KITCHEN AND AN ANNEXE is at the Five Years Gallery, London, from 18th March. Please join us for the Private View on the 17th from 6-9pm. More about Annexe here, Ladies of the Press here, and Pigeon here.