Last Thursday saw the beginning of NierghtravAOnWint’sIf A Teller: a book in 8 chapters and 4 dimensions, edited by Simon Lewandowski for 24/7 at the Gooden Gallery on London’s Vyner Street (Sep 16-Nov 25 2010). I am one of 8 artists taking part in this project. Our collective description is as follows:
Each chapter lasts one week and is visible 24 hours a day from the street.
Each artist will construct a chapter
Each chapter will be embedded in the previous one.
Each will change, incorporate or move aside what is already in the space to develop a series of unfolding chapters.
The work is rule-based
• 8 chapters will follow a preface and in turn be followed by an afterword
• The order in which artists make a chapter has been randomly determined in advance
• Each chapter will be a response to the previous one
• Material can be introduced into the space but not taken out. Anything can be altered, moved, reconstituted (even destroyed) but must stay there till the end.
• The rules are a part of the work so subject to the same rules.
• New rules may be introduced but not removed.
The Artists (in alphabetical order): David Berridge, Wayne Clements, Cinzia Cremona, George Eksts, Anna Francis, Hugh Gilmour, Daniel Lehan, Simon Lewandowski, Richard Price, Barbara Ryan, Ben Woodeson
The images in this post are from the first weeks installation by Simon Lewandowski. My own week in the space will be October 15-21st.
We offer the following two passages by way of explanation:
“Alternating between second-person narrative chapters of this story are the remaining (even) passages, each of which is a first chapter in ten different novels, of widely varying style, genre, and subject-matter. All are broken off, for various reasons explained in the interspersed passages, most of them at some moment of plot climax. After reading the first chapter, the reader finds the book is misprinted and contains only more copies of that same chapter. When he goes to return it he is given a replacement book, but this turns out to be another novel altogether.
Just as he becomes engrossed in that, it too is broken off: the pages, which were uncut, turn out to have been largely blank. This cycle repeats itself, where the reader reads the first chapter of a book, cannot find the other chapters in his copy of the book, so he goes out to find another copy. But the new copy he gets turns out to be another book altogether. …Themes which are introduced in each of the first chapters will then exist in proceeding narrative chapters, such as after reading the first chapter of a detective novel, then the narrative story takes on a few common detective-style themes.
There are also phrases and descriptions which will be eerily similar between the narrative and first-chapter chapters. The ending exposes a hidden element to the entire book, where the actual first-chapter titles (which are the titles of the books that the reader is trying to read) make up a single coherent sentence…”
” … the … project was, a scheme for entirely abolishing all words whatsoever; and this was urged as a great advantage in point of health, as well as brevity. For it is plain, that every word we speak is, in some degree, a diminution of our lungs by corrosion, and, consequently, contributes to the shortening of our lives.
An expedient was therefore offered, that since words are only names for things, it would be more convenient for all men to carry about them such things as were necessary to express a particular business they are to discourse on. … many of the most learned and wise adhere to the new scheme of expressing themselves by things; which has only this inconvenience attending it, that if a man’s business be very great, and of various kinds, he must be obliged, in proportion, to carry a greater bundle of things upon his back, unless he can afford one or two strong servants to attend him…
But for short conversations, a man may carry implements in his pockets, and under his arms, enough to supply him; and in his house, he cannot be at a loss. Therefore the room where company meet who practise this art, is full of all things, ready at hand, requisite to furnish matter for this kind of artificial converse.”
SOURCE TEXTS: (1) Wikipedia entry describing Italo Calvino’s ‘If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller’; (2) Extract from Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gullivers Travels’