Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page


In Uncategorized on September 13, 2010 at 8:25 am

Reading Mark Manders Traducing Ruddle – one of a series of publications and installations by the artist involved with the idea of “fake newspapers” – got VerySmallKitchen thinking more broadly about the genre of the artists newspaper,  how it appropriates the newspaper form – its shape and paper, its implications about distribution. What happens to the form when artists use it? As Kathleen Ritter observes in an article on Ruddle for Fillip 12: 

Exactly how does one read Manders’s fake newspaper? It is not something to be read from beginning to end. It is not to be studied or cited. It is not to be gleaned for pertinent and timely information as one might normally read the daily paper. Rather, this object suggests a kind of meta-reading, that one reads while consciously critical of the act of reading itself. I would argue that Manders’s work is about the very activity of reading and, in this case, how such activities are articulated and performed in public.

For Ritter the history of the newspaper is a history of changes in reading practices: the where and how of reading.  

The performance of reading has changed over time; indeed, reading has a history. In the eighteenth century in particular, the increased consumption of reading materials was considered key to many social and political developments in Europe. Some historians have argued for the existence of a “reading revolution,” pointing out that until the mid-eighteenth century reading was performed “intensively,” in that people would own a small number of books and read them repeatedly, often for a small audience. 

After this point, people began to read “extensively,” going through as many books as possible and increasingly reading alone. During this period, Europe saw a proliferation of libraries, coffee houses, salons, and other spaces designed to accommodate the new practice of reading.

She concludes:

It was during this era that newspapers began to proliferate as well. 

Thinking of Manders’ project – both its printed form and its use to block up empty shop fronts in Window with Fake Newspapers– I think about the artists newspaper as a ghostly parallel of the original newspaper and its bold claims to public space, occupation of the everyday and all pervasive distribution. Hoping to find a new function, a new kind of news and immediacy and public space, that, as Mander’s project observes, comes from an embrace of varieties of irrelevance,redundancy, and invisibility. 

This post is a brief survey of  artists newspapers encountered through my own research. The focus of this article largely ignores artists who actually use “real” newspapers – such as Kenneth Goldsmiths transcriptions of The New York Times in Day; Dieter Roths bulk newspaper bindings in his own Collected Works; or Gustav Metzger’s pile of Evening Standards at his recent Serpentine retrospective. Although these obviously help dilineate a broader field of artist-newspaper fascination. 

One brief note: a sign at the Serpentine asked visitors to consult an invigilator if they wished to look at the newspapers.  Surely, engagement with newspapers has to embrace the brief life of the form – sitting uncomfortably with artists careers, or even the duration of an exhibition – one reason why I was so delighted that YH485’s *periphery newspaper  – to which I was a contributer – had a second life as chip paper in the fish and chip shops of Great Yarmouth. 

One other project to bring into mind: in the catalogue for Every Day is a Good Day: The Visual Art of John Cage, Cages assistant Laura Kuhn tells the story of how, when Cage was writing his Norton lectures, Merce Cunningham suggested that to make the lectures more contemporary he should take material from each days New York Times. Cage is delighted, but Kuhn arrives one day to find him in tears and pointing at an article about “crack babies.” Kuhn observes how Cage seemed to be totally thrown to discover such a thing existed and she writes:

I began to wonder whether what we might reasonably call the weights of the world ,and I would include crack babies in this category, were unusually heavy on him. That letting them in, so to speak, engaging with them, on any level, paralysed him, making him question the viability of his work as an artist, making him wonder whether his work wasn’t in some very real sense futile. 

It’s a useful story to ponder when considering artists newspapers, and how many of them relate to that tumult of experience that defines the form. 

Finally, by means of introduction, its curious to note how Ulises Carrión writes about newspapers in his 1980 essay BOOKWORKS REVISTED (recently reprinted in facsimile as part of James Langon ed. BOOK, Eastside Projects, 2010). For Carrión it is the newspaper form that moves the traditional book both towards Carrión’s notion of a time-space sequence,  the complexity of the everyday environment, and a form informed by histories of visual art, notably cubism (which, as he observes, often incorporated newspapers):

When compared to a book page, the newspaper page offers quite a contrast. More movement, more vivacity, even some messiness. You can start reading on different points of the page. Every column can be written by a different individual. Texts can be printed in a variety of types, with or without illustrations. 

All this means a more sophisticated use of the printed surface, and reflects the great complexity of the external world that the newspaper is intended to reflect as compared to the univocal point of view a book page offers. 


The difference between these two kinds of pages has been compared with that between Cubist and pre-Cubist painting… The newspaper is also apprehended sequentially, therefore it’s a spatial and temporal structure. In contrast to the book, it offers a plurality of points of view that’s expressed in  a varied, vibrating typography. 

So some projects: Eleanor Vonne Brown’s The Newpaper,  with tongue in cheek , sees the artists appropriation of the form as a shift from “news” to “new.” Or “new” is what passes for “news.”  In an interview for The Self-Publishing issue 10 of the  Korean publication GRAPHIC  Brown describes the theme as “that tradition is only repetition” and observes of the process:

The Newpaper is a newspaper about the work of artists and writers who use the language, visuals or structure of newspapers in their work….. it’s very much sitting for hours in an empty room emailing people from around the world. I spend a lot of time conceptualizing The Newpaper and because the subject matter (work about newspapers) is the same as the project (a newspaper about newspapers) I have met a lot of people through it with who I have a lot of shared interests…. I am planning to start work on a Local Newpaper in the autumn. It will use the themes of a local paper and I hope to create an open access newsroom to produce it from (to get out of the empty room!)

Brown’s remarks highlight the different varieties of the newspaper form (local/ national/ special interest) and also the particular environments of its production (the newsroom) which the artist also appropriates in new (more solitary?) ways. 

Brown has recently collaborated with Michalis Pichler  on the Newspaper Research & Reading Room. The project is described as “gathering conceptual publications and/or artpieces that use form or content of newspapers.”

Chto Delat: Newspaper at the printers in Petersburg. Photo: D. Vilensky


The Reading Room includes Chto Delat who, amongst the long list of artists involved, have made one of the most sustained engagements with the newspaper form. All their newspapers can be seen in full here  (throughout Sep-Oct Chto Delat are in residence at the ICA in London). Chto Delat define their newspaper work as follows: 

Each newspaper addresses a theme or problem central to the search for new political subjectivities, and their impact on art, activism, philosophy, and cultural theory. So far, the rubrics and sections of the paper have followed a free format, depending on theme at hand. There are no exhibition reviews. The focus is on the local Russian situation, which the newspaper tries to link to a broader international context. Contributors include artists, art theorists, philosophers, activists, and writers from Russia, Western Europe and the United States.

Dot Dot Dot 19, whilst still in the journal’s usual paperback format, is printed on newsprint paper and re-works a project of the group for Performa 9:

1 NOVEMBER 2009 — Recently described as “wheat paste,” DEXTER SINISTER are set to produce a newspaper twice a week for three weeks this fall under the umbrella of PERFORMA 09, New York’s well-regarded bi-annual festival of performance art. 

Together with a hastily assembled staff of international writers and photographers, the Lower East Side “pamphleteers” will occupy a disused, street-level space in New York’s Port Authority bus terminal on the corner of 8th Avenue and 41st Street, directly opposite the new New York Times building. According to sources close to Sinister, The First/Last Newspaper (TF/LN) will be “as much about the current state of news media as anything else.” 

…In Sinister’s own characteristically melodramatic words: “You don’t want to start quantifying things or you’re dead.” 

Dexter Sinister’s self conscious (mock-) blurb offers a useful summary of how the artists newspaper is often equated to political pamphleteering. It explains why publications such as Variant also adopt a tabloid format, distributed for free in galleries (as, too, it explains why the newspaper should be so popular in an age of Seth Price’s DISPERSION and other projects foregrounding the distribution part of the writing/ publishing process – and the PDF as the artists newspaper 2010 could be the subject of another post). 

NOTE: It’s noticeable, too, that in The Artist Publisher, Coracle Press’ 1986 exhibition/ survey catalogue for the Crafts Council Gallery, the section on “Alternative Newspapers” has a much more counter-culture, alternative lifestyle, radical politics tone than any of the other sections. Titles include the Haight-Ashbury Tribune, Free City, and The International Times.

What is also interesting about Dexter Sinister’s project is that it preserves what they call the “mosaic” quality of the newspaper format whilst several examples here – such as YH485’s *Periphery – adopt the newspapers form but in a very much ordered and tided up way, reconfiguring it as a series of artists pages. But as Dexter sinister observe:

In other words, and this amounts to an aesthetic system, the only meaningful way in which art can speak of man and his world is by organizing forms in a particular way and not by making pronouncements with them. Form must not be a vehicle of thought: it must be a way of thinking. . . . Here I must repeat that the newspaper, from its beginnings, has tended not to the book form, but to the mosaic or participational form. With the speed-up of printing and news-gathering, this mosaic form has been a dominant aspect of human association; for the mosaic form means, not a detached “point of view,” but participation in process. . . . No real news followed for 14 years.

For financial and aesthetic reasons, newspapers seem to be finding much popularity in exhibition contexts.  The New Museum in New York are just about to launch their exhibition The Last Newspaper. If the title suggests a sense of requiem, then its press release reconstitutes the newspaper as the site where Borges’ Library of Babel meets Relational Aesthetics, and the newspaper acquires status as potent cultural figure: 

Conceived in response to pronouncements of the daily newspaper’s demise as a tangible record of events, “The Last Newspaper” investigates what is possibly lost and what might be gained in a world where an avalanche of interpretation compromises the increasingly vulnerable privileging of facts. 

“The Last Newspaper” is a multi-platform, multimedia laboratory inhabiting an art-filled landscape surrounding an architecturally innovative office… These research and reportage-based activities will be surrounded by artworks including photography, collage, sculpture, and installation. These works reflect newspapers’ infinite permutations and possibilities while critiquing their complicity with dominant ideologies. 

The catalogue full the show will the collated weekly newspapers, produced by Latitudes under the title THE LAST POST/ THE LAST GAZETTE/ THE LAST REGISTER…

Reading all this can also give VerySmallKitchen a desire to reclaim something of the printed newspapers anachronistic awkwardness, the unwieldy as opposed to its now usually tabloid-shrunken format, its refusal to be neatly page turned, to stay confined to a single persons space on a train or bus… artists newspapers like the London Metro and Lite that now seem like a gone tabloid blizzard blowing through the London underground…

It also makes me wonder about the newspaper as methodology, as practice, whether there is some other way of unfolding it as spatial practice?

Nelson Guzmán, Cilla Black, Liverpool walk of fame, 2008


Coming closer to home, my own engagement with artists newspapers began with an article I wrote for FUTURE VISIONS OF HISTORY, an artists’ newspaper curated by Daniel Simpkins and Penny Whitehead/ OPEN EYE PROJECTS. 

As the editors observe:

On the Long Night of the Liverpool Biennial a group of artists and art students assisted me in gate-crashing the Capital of Culture party, disseminating alternative view points to the hegemonic art and literature so profuse on the streets of the city throughout Liverpool08. This one-off, free publication explores some of the issues, themes and locations that do not feature in the official 2008 programme. The hidden, the neglected, the absurd, the contentious.

I recently met Penny and Daniel as part of Reading for Reading Sake at Islington Mill in Salford, where they discussed the Politics and Aesthetics Reading Group and its spontaneous field trip to Lincoln to distribute copies of The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee. In this context it’s useful to think of this project as characterised by a certain tactics of the artists’ newspaper- following some of the particularities of the newspaper form into social relations and action that aren’t confined to tabloid or broadside. 

Other discoveries: the excellent Mono whose description reads as follows:

Mono is a free quarterly paper dedicated to publishing image based essays. Each issue is selected by invited artists and curators. Mono aims to provide a unique platform for the exploration of ideas through images.  

Mono adopts the often fraught format of the freely distributed newspaper (often moved out of the way by gallery bookstores…) but it makes this a definite project space,eager to engage with the newspaper as a place of sequencing akin to exhibition making. I haven’t yet spotted a copy of issue three lurking anywhere. 


Dieter Roth’s The Sea of Tears was a collection of aphorisms published on the small ad pages of the newspaper Anzeiger Stadt Luern und Umgebung, between 17 March 1971 and 15 September 1972. After 114 ads the newspaper terminated the contract ( having earlier refused to print 3 of the ads). 

Dieter Roth, Das Tränenmeer, installed at Kunsthalle Luzern, 21 Aug 2010- 20 Oct 2010


At the same time as The Sea of Tears was published in 1973, Roth published The Lake of Tears, comprising 1200 original pages of the newspaper.  

Roths own comment on The Sea of Tears project, and its choice of the small ad pages: 

Those pages are so brutal, they’re like a gigantic junkyard. So I thought I’d just stick a little tear in them.

News Animation. Photo © Carol Petersen.


Secondly, Simone Forti describes her NEWS ANIMATIONS project as follows:

When I’m in motion I can more easily access the raw store of fragmentary thoughts, feelings, and speculations out of which I build my understanding of the world. A News Animation performance involves improvising with movement and spoken language, taking off form the fluid, flickering, dream like image of the world brought to us by the news media…

My father used to read a couple of news papers each day and I always felt protected by that… When he died in 1985, I began to read the news myself. It wasn’t coming easily to me. I did start to experience a sense of familiarity with

the stories, with the personages, but most of all, as a dancer, I started to have kinesthetic impressions of pressures, currents, accumulations and pending collapses. 

I was noticing terminology like ‘the dollar in free fall’, and Lebanon being called ‘a slippery slope.’ Soon I was dancing the news, talking an dancing, being all the parts of the news; tankers moving up the Persian Gulf, ‘human waves’ of Iranian youths crashing into the Iraqi forces invading from across the Shat al Arab estuary. 

The movement included the kind of gestures one makes when explaining and describing, but here the gestures were taking on the whole body.     

SOURCE TEXTS: Dieter Roth, Inserate/ Advertisements 1971-2 (Edizioni Periferia, Luzern, 2009); Simone Forti, “About the News Animations” in   Simone Forti/ Jeremiah Day (Project Press, Dublin, 2009), 92-93.



In Uncategorized on September 10, 2010 at 6:22 am


Photo: Matthew MacKisack


WRITING/ EXHIBITION/ PUBLICATION presents Initial and Reprise, an evening of films by Matthew MacKisack, 17 September, at The Pigeon Wing, 7pm.  Matthew writes: 

For Initial and Reprise three works will be presented, each with two parts, one verbal and one audio-visual. Each part explicates and exemplifies the other.

The works concern visions – ecstatic, dreamt, utopian – what has been and what is to be done with them: decoded, co-opted and ejected, what remains is negotiation, that is, initial and reprise.

The evening will also include the second installment of Julia Calver’s month long performance/ writing project. Julia describes the project as follows: 

SUNBEAM and FOREST exist inside an interminable argument which takes place at the level of the forest floor. They argue over who forms the ultimate frame for their ongoing dialogue. This work switches on and off through various iterations as SUNBEAM slips into periods of silence and then ‘reawakens’ in new ideas. Performances throughout the exhibition; texts in the space to take away.

ALSO THIS WEEK: A participatory installation by the Eindhoven based project space Onomatopee, specifically commissioned for WRITING/ EXHIBITION/ PUBLICATION. Freek Lomme described the project, and the work of Onomatopee as follows:

In response to David Berridges request to participate in his research project concerning WRITING/ EXHIBITION/ PUBLICATION, Onomatopee proposed to realize a participatory work; a tablecloth utilizing a grid of information and about some of their projects related to this quest. Books posited upon this cloth enable participants to experience and engage with the parameters involved!

Onomatopee operates in between theory and praxis, in between design and art, combining sense and sensibility. Operating this way, Onomatopee often releases progressive textual communication as part of this play. The sum of their projects parameters wishes to create a vibrant, coherent yet fragmented, overview on such specified fields of designed culture, linking up knowledge and experiences. 

Sunday 19th September, 2-4pm, APHORISM AS ART PRACTICE. An informal conversation, writing session, and sharing of material around the use and practice of aphorism. Participants include David Berridge, Julia Calver, Matthew MacKisack, and Mary Paterson. Participants welcome, but places are limited, so please reserve a place by emailing David on

COMING UP: Phil Baber will be working in WRITING/EXHIBITION/PUBLICATION on 22-24 September, exploring relations of installation, essaying and geology. He will launch the work on the 25th, and also participate in the LemonMelon Publishing Seminar. See here  for the full line up which also includes a performance lecture by seekers of lice, and contributions from James Davies/ If P Then Q and Marit Muenzberg/ LemonMelon.

WRITING/EXHIBITION/PUBLICATION will conclude on Oct 2 & 3 with two days of performances, installations, discussions and residencies. Full details to follow. And…

Some of the projects unfolding throughout the month of WRITING/ EXHIBITION/ PUBLICATION do not feature in a list of public events. Press Free Press’ A TIME FOR WORK will conclude with a performance on the final weekend, which is one part of a project that sees Ryan Ormonde and Becky Cremin working writing-shifts in the gallery every day, in response to instructions received from their collaborator-employers.

Tamarin Norwood is unfolding a new writing project collecting methodologies from other practices and disciplines, some of which is documented on her Homologue blog here:

So I’ve been trying to approach the birds via the smoother detours of other non-writing practices: human practices rather than avian ones, but physical, material, manual practices distinct from writing by their direct interaction with the physical properties of the world. Writing like bottle collecting. Writing like potholing. Writing like ornithology. Writing like repairing drains… manhandled into instructions for writing.

Pippa Koszerek continues to document the event in shorthand; Hammam Aldouri is coming to the space to find out what tasks Helen Kaplinsky has asked him to perform as part of their contractual arrangement (you can read the contract on the gallery wall); and myself and Marit Muenzberg have also been working in the space on our book project BIG LUSH NIP, a pseudonym for the FESTIVAL OF NEARLY INVISIBLE PUBLISHING.

As one of our generative phrases for the book has it: “A book that…. a book could ruin everything…”


In Uncategorized on September 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm


Márton Koppány, Ellipsis No.8



In July 2010 I invited the Budapest based poet Márton Koppány to contribute to WRITING/EXHIBITION/PUBLICATION, a month long exhibition and residency project at The Pigeon Wing gallery in South London (3 Sep-3 Oct 2010).

I first encountered Márton’s work through his 2003 collection Investigations & Other Sequences and the online version of the Institute of Broken and Reduced Languages. Thinking about how writing moves (or not) between the different locations of the exhibition title, I returned often to Investigations and Márton’s more recent work, much of it available online.

The following is an edited version of an exchange that took place by email between 22nd July 22nd and 18th August 2010. 


DAVID:  Hi Márton. In thinking through your contribution to the exhibition, perhaps we could also have a dialogue by email. Looking at your work, I’ve been thinking about connections between poetry, conceptual art, and the absurd.

MÁRTON: In some sense you’ve summarized my own interests/inclinations as well!   

DAVID: Perhaps we could focus on that phrase.  

MÁRTON: We could start from any point, and than go where the whims of our self-reflexivity lead us. My short comment on your phrase didn’t mean anything more special than a nod. (By the way, how will we note our metacommunicational reactions?) (How will we replace poetry with essay?) 

Generally speaking I’m very careful with generalisations and labelings also because I’ve never been good at them. I prefer comments that remain close to a text or situation or a mental condition – and “visual” poetry is a good example of it.  

You write: “Making connections between traditions of poetry, conceptual work, and traditions of the absurd.” Yes, but they’ve never been separated in a fine work like that of, let’s say, Finlay’s. He had a basic feeling or recognition, which we can analyze now, but I don’t imagine that he ever wanted to add, say, a hint of conceptual flavor to his poems. 

I mention Finlay here because you respond to his work in your Otoliths piece. Finlay says: “Just so, ‘concrete’ began for me with the extraordinary (since wholly unexpected) sense that the syntax I had been using, the movement of language in me, at a physical level, was no longer there…”  And of course nobody wants to sound “absurd” (except for those, perhaps, who participated in a literary movement a few decades ago). I dare to say this because Kafka is my favorite writer. 

DAVID: The phrase that came to mind today was A PRIMER IN CONNECTIONS OF POETRY, CONCEPTUALISM AND  THE ABSURD. By which I mean we could gather some examples, incidents, case studies of each, seeing how each word functions for you, and for me in response. Tentative, working definitions of each word… final text maybe a mix of essay/ interview/ anthology… 

MÁRTON: I don’t want to hide behind my limitations with English and explain away my other limitations through it, but my English is really an obstacle (as you can see). I ask for your (and the potential reader’s) patience. For me it is almost impossible to talk of these kind of things, especially in English – but also in Hungarian. Yes, we should refer to concrete works (of ours and others) as we go ahead, and put them in the focus of our discussion!

How does the word “absurd” function for us? Is it an intrusion and a threat or rather a kind of relief? It was both for Kafka, I guess.

DAVID:  Send me twelve images. Think of it as a selection of the  work you would like to make as an intervention/ contribution to this project.”

MÁRTON: Good. (I feel as if I’d always been writing the same poem.) I’d like to do something similar with your work. Could you please send me something over?


MÁRTON: I should specify/try to tell again a lot of matters I mentioned yesterday but the core of the thing is that I would like us to begin with the concrete works (with one concrete work that you select from the dozen pieces I’ll be going to send you?), ask you first to comment on it or ask me about it, and then go on with the dialogue.

And it should be YOU who choose a label/frame for my collection in the show. It should reflect YOUR experience with them. I have nothing against “conceptualism” (on the contrary), and “absurd” is as good as “mysterious”. But why don’t we wait a bit with the frame and examine first the concrete works?

It is always difficult to decide where to start. Please let me know what you think. 

DAVID: Yes, lets start from the specifics. 

MÁRTON: Yes, absolutely. I’m looking VERY much forward to our dialogue – which has already started. (We can find a lot of examples of first step last step “dilemmas” in Kafka, Beckett, George Brecht, Bern Porter, and of course in any dialectic logical system, old or new, and we can perhaps deal with them as we go ahead…) Unfortunately I couldn’t open your zip file for some reason. Could you please send your work again as a Word or PDF document? I’m VERY curious about it! 

The twelve images Márton sends are: From “Endgames”, Otoliths, 2008:  Csend (Silence); The Secret; Ellipsis No. 8; Forecast; Waves No. 2. From “Modulations”, Otoliths, 2010: fish 1-3; or; Translation; Vacation; Asemic Table No. 2; Still. I email Marton the manuscript of Kafka Thinking Stations: A Chora(l) Song Cycle.  


MÁRTON: Your Chora is great! Here I send a quotation (you may know it) for your italicized Kafka-crows: while translating Fluxus stuff for an art institute in Budapest, I found a footnote by Dieter Roth which immediately sounded familiar. It was nicely hidden in Spoerri’s Annotated Topography of Chance and was related to a third person: “At this point Josef Albers would say: I have nothing to do with variations: I make variations!” (And a small coincidence: I have a piece, titled “Italics”, in the new issue of Otoliths.) “Please clarify ‘impossibility’” (Chora) Do you know Bern Porter’s “impossible”? (It is the phonetic transcription of the word.) 

Márton Koppány, Waves No.2



DAVID:  I started making these comments after looking at all the images you sent me. Then I picked one, [Waves No.2] as they seemed to fit most specifically around it. Then my thoughts became specifically about this image. I tried to follow a chain of thoughts but – in a way that maybe relates to the images – I think such chains endlessly stopped. I had to re-write, start again, express a similar concern in a different way or through a consideration of some other aspect of the image…. 

MÁRTON: I’m VERY grateful for your comments, I found them intriguing! But I was in trouble with my responses.

DAVID: But the point of starting with an image was to be more concrete! Sorry! Please pick whatever interests you from the rather lengthy notes that follow. 

MÁRTON: I tried several things in the last couple of days but nothing worked well enough. Whenever I start exposing something to generalizations it becomes very soon unmanageable. (Of course it is my English but not only that.)  I have been retreating from textuality for a long time. Even in my Hungarian textual period (several decades ago) my inclinations had directed me toward the (actual, ever-changing) limits of verbal communication.

The last half of the sentence is quoted from an interview included in my book of 1993, Investigations. I will use my earlier notes written for different occasions when they are relevant, and when I can’t put it any better. 

DAVID: I thought about how, in your poems – should I say images? poems? –  there are objects at the point of becoming letters. And letters at the point of becoming an object, and what happens when we have this balance.

MÁRTON: I started writing something that turned out (?) to be “visual poetry” thirty years ago because by the late seventies I’d understood that if I didn’t want to give up the faint hope of communicating, I should “get rid” of my mother tongue.  So the main source of my way is a deficiency, which makes things simple in some sense. 

I don’t respect/need/enjoy words more OR less than the empty spaces between them, or the sheet of paper they are written on, the rhythm of the turning of the pages, unknown and forgotten symbols, fragments, natural formations like clouds and “objects” found on the internet – each of them and any combination of them may be an invitation. When I feel easy (and ready to make something) I experience their complete equivalence.

DAVID: One thing that happens is we smile. Sometimes we smile, and sometimes we laugh out loud. Different kinds of humour, although whether this is something we can control, in the creation of such works, I don’t know. I sometimes think it is your humour , as maker of this, that the poem evidences, – and  when we smile or laugh we recognise how much we participate in your humour.

MÁRTON: Hope you’re right. Concerning humor, what I think in this quite humorless period of my life (I wrote in 2001)  is that I have two basic states of mind. One is the suffering/confused, when I can’t write at all. The other one – which is more exceptional and keeps sometimes only for a few moments – is the happily confused one, when I can somehow cling to the air and enjoy the panorama. 

But if I write (or more exactly: take) down what I see (which doesn’t happen too frequently), the composition generally gets humorous because suffering and confusion are still present and I see myself in the air. The only relief is that I can accept all those contradictions, at least for the moment, and humour is perhaps just accepting contradictions.

DAVID: Another thing that happens, as objects become letters and letters become objects,  is that we make a picture.  A boat on the sea. Sort of.

We also make a setting. A photo of sea. An artificial sky. Now the balance is between things we think of as landscape and nature, and things that seem a flat surface of colour, something made on the computer. 

The  image is called WAVES. Perhaps this highlights that the zone of importance is more than letters and punctuation, which could otherwise be the figure to the seas ground. 

Márton Koppány, Csend (Silence)




Is this more all over focus where the desire to work in colour came from, after the black and white work of INVESTIGATIONS? Do you still work in black and white? I suspect not. It feels to me, without knowing if this is so, that some definite break happened.

MÁRTON: I’m still working in black and white as well, but you’re basically right, most of my pieces since 2005 have been in colour. When I understood how isolated I was in (or rather out of) the state-controlled culture, I felt I should “leave” my mother tongue behind and reach out. 

That was at the end of the 70’s. I got involved in mail art, started making collages and writing extremely minimalistic poems on small cards. I tried to metacommunicate with the potentials of the sheet of paper itself (it can be torn etc.) and with sequentiality. Color visual poems date back only to 2005, when, all of a sudden, I started seeing color punctuation mark landscapes during a walk. 

Generally I have a basic image first which just emerges. But most of my visual poems significantly (or completely) change in the process of their elaboration, thanks to the call coming from the unexpected “blemishes” of their digital carriers. It is a dialogue, I hope.

Could you please explain to me, what kind of break you meant? When you’re doing something day after day (in my case rather month after month because I’m very slow and produce far fewer items than most visual poets do), you don’t recognize the shift which might be evident for an attentive observer. 

I do feel that my “images” are even more silent than my similarly minimalistic conceptual sequences were. And they might seem in some cases a bit less “poor”. But my “problems” are basically the same. I was thirty years younger when I wrote the bulk of my black and white sequences. Well, that’s a real difference.

DAVID: If we try to row away in the boat, we discover that it is made of punctuation! (Of course, we always knew this really) If we find a way of making this punctuation boat work, we discover this bit of sea isn’t connected to anything else, although it sort of promised it was, or we kidded ourselves that this was the case.

MÁRTON: I can only add that since this is a visual poem and has two dimensions (I framed it to emphasize the fact) (although recently I’ve stopped using frames), it has a vertical reading as well: a white (erased?) (already “missing”?) comma-man is sailing, quietly, in a small black boat consisting of an opening bracket, and under a series of opaque closing brackets consisting of some fleecy clouds in motion.

DAVID: I’ve started writing my notes as “We…” Perhaps “we” navigate into such an images as this on the basis of what we share (punctuation, colour, sea), not on the basis of our individual personalities.

MÁRTON: Yes, you’re absolutely right as far as my intentions are concerned. I don’t want to express anything more than a balance and the lack of it, the mystery “and” absurdity (they’re not “and”, not separated) of… (You know this “of”: you made it talk in your Chora.) What remains if I abstract away from the anecdotical and psychological details of my personal history? Certainty of Death and Certainty of Nothing at All are playing ping-pong in the final of an elimination tournament.

Márton Koppány, Asemic Table No.2



DAVID: … the poem attains life as its own system, maybe. But what kind of system is it?”

MÁRTON: I have no idea. But – how to put it? – it is certainly not about language. (My intuition, based on “Chora” is that your main interest is also different. They spring directly from a strong sensation (recognition) (or a sensational feeling of no recognition). They “talk back” in the process of realization and (in good case) surprise me. At that point I’m done. The less is the better.

DAVID: … Simultaneity and development. Between surface and depth, 2D and 3D.

MÁRTON: Yes, the surface. We need it, don’t we? I don’t want to imitate 3D (to compete with computer games etc.), but some of my pieces suggest three dimensionality – or use its concept. Nothing can be repeated: the original version of Waves was done in an early period of my digital activity when I had no idea what pixels mean. (I’m still low-tech.) So that version doesn’t exist in higher resolution. In  2008 I reshaped it, and the resolution of the new picture is much higher. It is a bit different / it is the same. Generally speaking my works are rather conceptual but not completely.

DAVID: I did a theatre workshop once where they said to move slowly means having an attention that is very fast and moving all over the body. To move fast requires that attention be very still and slow. 

MÁRTON: Yes, that’s absolutely true!

DAVID: In trying to be concrete I’ve emphasised the positive, playful side of these images, but they could also be read as about impossibility: the disaster of making a boat from letters. What determines whether we read such images for their positive or negative meanings?

MÁRTON: They’re the two sides of the same coin in motion. “Our” total collapse is always at arm reach. I’ve been interested in Judaism (first in Hasidism, later in Talmudic J) and in Buddhism (first only in Zen, later also in Madhyamika, San lun and Hua-yen) and a few other religious and sceptical traditions for more than thirty years, but I can’t say anything wiser. (Perhaps because I’ve remained an ignorant.) 

It really depends on the reader. It will sound idiotic but I vote for harmony. To “work” on these poems, I mean to catch the basic image in the air,  has always been a positive experience for me. I can never create anything when I’m depressed or angry. I need momentary easiness to be able to present that coin – on whatever side of it is more emphasis at the moment. What does it mean?

DAVID: Perhaps the clue is in the title. WAVES. As in “someone waving.” Poem as greeting.

MÁRTON: Yes. Thanks!!!

DAVID: I am thinking about a scene near the end of Tarkovsky’s Solaris. Have you seen it?  If so, maybe you know the scene I am thinking of? 

MÁRTON: I’m a bit ashamed but I left it out. And on top of it all I worked as a film critic for many years in the late eighties and early nineties! I’ve hardly gone to the movies (or watched video) since then.

I skipped a few parts of your letter because I couldn’t relate to them for the moment. 

MÁRTON: Erratum: “I was thirty years younger when I wrote the bulk of my black and white sequences. Well, that’s a real difference.”

I was twenty five years younger…

DAVID: I am at my parents house tonight. My mum shows me a small notebook belonging to  her grandfather. She says all it contains is some blank pages on which are written his union membership number and names of some horses he wished to bet on. This is the only writing or object that remains of her grandfather.

In response to Márton’s email I sent a long response in which I unpacked some ideas – about the education and practice of the writer, how a writing practice sustains itself and develops, and how Márton’s work positioned itself regarding different locations of writing, exhibition, and publication. It felt close to the concerns of Márton’s poetry although, in its 1800 words, it did not once mention a poem…

Márton Koppány, Forecast




MÁRTON: I could relate to several comments of yours, because our dialogue is potentially open in many directions. But we are getting farther and farther from the concrete pieces. (Only one of them has been touched yet.) I must repeat that I’m totally sceptical about general talk over art. My reactions would be meaningless without the momentum (if any) of the concrete poems. If that momentum doesn’t exist, my ideas have no importance. I’d like to stay as close to the poems as possible. 

We could turn back to them. But since both of us have other obligations we could also claim that our text is done – at least for the time being. 

DAVID: I’m sorry if my letter seemed inappropriate. I was uncertain how to engage with the materiality of these images, when it is precisely that materiality these images put into play in different ways (what is natural/ digital, representational/abstract, how parts relate to wholes…) 

MÁRTON: No, no, nothing has been “inappropriate” at all! I’m simply not good at general talk – I lose the thread quickly.  

DAVID:I have begun editing our emails, but I would also like to try and stay with this little “knot” or “crisis” in our dialogue. 

MÁRTON: Others might be different, and that’s fine. I’m happy to talk about any topic (also about poetry and exhibitions) as far as we remain in (or at least close to) the context of the concrete work(s).

DAVID: I feel trapped in a somewhat paradoxical activity: trying to articulate in language that which is at the “limits of expression” and moving beyond the verbal. But not wanting to have a sense of “reclaiming” it, or simplifying it in any way, nor to set up a “mystery” of the image…. 

MÁRTON: You are right, it is a paradoxical activity, but even walking is a paradoxical activity according to Zeno. Some Chinese sources call this use of language “liminological speech”. But the limit is always “somewhere else”. What I mean is that there’s no “beyond” (at least not in my vocabulary, but it can be fine and meaningful in other cases). 

Seeing is still reading, reading is seeing. Words can be mute, while clouds, table legs and water waves, subatomic letter particles can easily start speaking because they’re words AGAIN, signs among signs. I’ve been inclined to use less and less verbal elements, but it is a mental process, which I’ve experienced and also witnessed. 

There’s no methodology involved. Perhaps I’m simply getting older. And as I wrote you in my previous message, I have NOTHING against verbality: if there’s anything I really admire it is first class, pure textual poetry!!! Unfortunately I can’t afford it because I’ve lost my mother tongue and the capacity of articulate speech. No “mystery”. I’ve remained (or would like to be) a writer.

DAVID: So I shall write down what has been persistent for me each time I looked at your twelve images. There is, for example, the element of constructions. Aside from your own sense of form and structure, there are the specific machines of Ellipsis No.8 ,the boat we talked about before, and the fish in, aptly, Fish 1-3:

These are are given an order and movement that is also like that of the metronome in Ellipsis – it has a pace, a measure, a rhythm  – things with a tone, also an instruction for another activity. 

MÁRTON: My work is rather conceptual but my concepts are completely intuitive (there’s no theory behind them), and I’d like to show both. That might have a (dysfunctional) machine-like precision effect in some cases.  

DAVID: Or the brackets of THE SECRET – a spectrum, offering a set of variations, repetitions of a kind, but also that other structure of a mirror in the middle, that offers a reversal, an echo…

MÁRTON: The brackets of the Secret are asymmetrical. (Most people don’t realize it first.) I tried to represent how we construct a secret. (That’s a real secret as Kafka would say.)

Márton Koppány, The Secret




DAVID: It makes me think about seeing and not seeing, refusing perception in some way, not allowing an easy apprehension of the form as object. Sometimes your work isn’t this at all ( the punctuation boat, where the punctuation is evident). But other times it is. I found it hard to decode the reflection in STILL. It evokes figure-ground, op art, perceptual psychology tests…  

Márton Koppány, Still




MÁRTON: “Still” is the reflection (in the water) of something which can’t be seen anymore. “Still” is its only presence. And it is “still” present!!!

DAVID: A shifting sense of “nature.” What do categories like nature and artifice mean when brought into the image? It is something to be played with, and also a way of organising the images: Fish in water and fish in the sky; fish breathing and fish having thought balloons/ clouds/ trees, like we associate with cartoons. 

MÁRTON: Yes, some motives – like the fish or the clouds – have been coming back in different contexts. I like to modify (or completely change) their role: against my own expectations with naming, categorizing etc.

DAVID: You talk about “silence” in colour images. I think the silence is to do with these gaps, and your manipulation between them. Fish…sea…sky…thought balloon… cloud…tree… a certain spectrum (of the comedy/conceptual/absurd) maybe?

MÁRTON: I can’t add anything else!

Márton Koppány, Translation




DAVID: Does it feel reductive to you to talk of a grammar? A set of elements that are identified and explored in repeated ways? In your work it seems more intuitive than this. A repeated image (like the comma emergent from a block of colour) has to be found each time?

MÁRTON: You’re absolutely right, my grammar is intuitive and fluid. I don’t want to set up a rigid sign system. (And I don’t believe in an universal grammar or anything like that. But I do believe that cultural barriers can be crossed in any direction in space and time!)

DAVID: And the titles are a curious element in a practice trying, as you say, to “retreat” from the literary. Sometimes – Forecast- they seem to offer a clarification. Other times, Ellipsis or The Secret – it is more transformative to read the title after looking at the image. The titles are a bit like the purple frame perhaps? Have you ever made an untitled work? 

MÁRTON: Yes, the function of the titles is different in each case. Sometimes they’re very neutral, like, say, “Study No. 3” or “Sans Titre No. 1”. I need them only to slow down a little bit. In other cases they’re important (even core) elements of the composition. There’s no rule.

DAVID: I imagine a reversal: the image as the title, and the title as a miniature poem underneath – like Ian Hamilton Finlay’s one word poem issue of Poor Old Tired Horse where the title could be any length!

MÁRTON: Absolutely! I have a sequence in Investigations, titled “Titles”, where the title becomes the picture and vice versa.

Márton Koppány, The Mist



DAVID: It feels appropriate that The Mist got separated off in an email by itself! It has a feeling of ending, opposites, and reversals. The object of the suitcase also highlights something about (human) presence and absence that recurs in these images, a referencing and avoidance of the body; journey/ progress/ accumulation alongside nothingness/emptiness. 

MÁRTON: I like a lot your interpretation!

DAVID: It articulates the paradoxes this exchange often returns to. This “landscape” allows a clear articulation of ideas, of materials in themselves – THE. But there’s also a sense that the individual elements in the image have agency, like that “E”, almost thinking of them as human “characters”…

MÁRTON: Yes, I feel the same. I’m VERY happy that you’ve noticed it! 

DAVID: On the subject of breaks. The colour images removes that discourse of the “white space” and how that is constructed in poetry from Mallarmé through to concrete poetry and so on. There is no white space, although maybe The Mist is a way of trying to articulate how it functions, its claims and its illusions – 

MÁRTON: I still use white space (it has central importance in “Still”, for instance), but it has become one “color” among the others. White, whiter, color.   

My frames, as many things in life, came from a coincidence. In the late 70’s when I started tinkering with my first non-just-textual black and white sequences, I cut the xeroxed A/4 pages into four because I wanted to put my work into normal size envelopes and send it out as mail art. But it was difficult to handle the borders without frames, so I glued the originals on black cardboards, and it was convenient to keep the frames as well. 

Very soon I became conscious of their presence. They started to represent limitations – and the opportunity of changing them into a playfield. I noticed another white layer “behind” the black one – and also that there is no “background” anywhere at all.


MÁRTON: David, now that we have more material on the concrete works, I can turn back to your more general comments, and try to make short reflexions.

DAVID: How would you characterise your education? Did you have an apprenticeship? Is writing solitary?

MÁRTON: I’m an economist by profession. I’ve never used my degree. I worked as a film critic for several years. I’ve been translating and editing for a long while.

DAVID: I’ve been reading the work collected as part of the Institute of Broken and Reduced Languages. Could you talk about this idea of the individual working as organisation? I’ve been organising a project called DEPARTMENT OF MICRO- POETICS, so I’ve been thinking through the implications of carrying out poetic- artistic activities under such a banner. 

MÁRTON: The Institute grew out of exchanging messages with a few friends, especially with Gábor Farnbauer, Clark Lunberry and Peter O’Leary (in Slovakia and in the US) in the second half of the nineties, after coming back from Milwaukee where I’d spent three academic years with my wife who was an MA, and later a Phd student and teaching assistant. (I was officially a “family member”, and had different odd jobs.) 

It came from the wish of finding an umbrella different from labels like “concrete” or “conceptual”. 

DAVID: For myself, I’m not copying an institution, or satirising it, so much as trying to create something which is a container and prompt for my work and can also be an invitation to others. 

MÁRTON: During the nineties I had the opportunity to bring out a series of small books in collaboration with a small press in Slovakia. (And a couple of magazine special issues with the same publisher.) At the beginning of new millennium the Institute went online. Karl Young, the poet and essayist gave it a new home at his Light and Dust Anthology, and agreed to co-edit it. Unfortunately it hasn’t been updated for a long time. 

And one more “organization”: with Nico Vassilakis I coauthored a book titled From The Annual Records of The Cloud Appreciation Society. We needed somehow the bureaucratic base – to leviate. A bit later we (or rather our publisher) had some surrealistic debate with the “real” organization wearing the same name.

DAVID: I’m wondering about poetry in exhibitions, poetry as art, poetry exhibited, and writing as an art practice as opposed to a poetic practice.  Do you have any sense of this in your own work? 

MÁRTON: I’ve participated in several shows (the first one was a group show for Eastern European book artists at Franklin Furnace in 1982) and I would be happy to exhibit more. I like the gallery context as much as the book context. Both have their advantages. I can’t fathom the difference between a “text artist” and a “visual poet” in that respect – why on earth one of them inhabits the gallery place, meanwhile the other one is living in books. It is a social game most of all.

Márton Koppány, or




I don’t see any aesthetic difference. In good case we are motivated by the work to see the pages of the book and read the images on the wall. It shouldn’t be mythologized. And turning (clicking) the page is not so different from moving between the elements of an installation. Both connects and separates.

Kitasono Katue’s Magic (in oceans beyond monotonous space; edited by Karl Young and John Solt) is printed on two pages (and should be read in columns, and from right to left). First we have the block of “ocean of ocean of ocean…”, then a single column follows: “a graceful novel and a graceful novel for a novel and a distance between me and all of you”. 

Next comes  the block of “light on water light on water light on water…”. But the flow of the columns of that block stops at the page break. Then it continues on the opposite page, ending in the middle of it. So where can that “graceful novel” and that “distance” be found exactly?

DAVID: WRITING/EXHIBITION/PUBLICATION asks if writing moves fluidly between these different spaces, and/or if there are blocks, stoppages, distinctions between these different locations. 

MÁRTON: I think it is totally fluid.

DAVID: Someone I met at a discussion on education sent me the following quotation which I have been thinking about a lot. It is by an anthropologist called David Graeber: 

“Bourdieu has long drawn attention to the fact that – always a matter of frustration to anthropologists – a truly artful social actor is almost guaranteed not to be able to offer a clear explanation of the principles underlying her own artistry. 

According to the Godelian/Piagetian perspective, it is easy to see why this should be. The logical level on which one is operating is always at least one level higher than that which one can explain or understand – what the Russian psychologist Vygotsky referred to as the ‘proximal level of development.

MÁRTON: I like this! With the extension that of course it is true about philosophers as well. And that is why we (still) can’t do without metaphors.

Márton Koppány, Vacation




DAVID: I’m interested how much or how little could be satisfying in making an image.

MÁRTON: It is very satisfying! In a sense I’m really grateful for my “deficiency”. 

DAVID: I am thinking again about your phrase “retreating from textuality.” I am interested in what is retreated from, and where one retreats to. I am interested if the micro- engagement of your work with language, signs, punctuation, is usefully a working out of relations on a larger level, of families, then neighbourhoods, then economies, nations maybe. Or whether its a separate realm, with different realities of play and gift and…

MÁRTON: No, it is just the same realm. Or we have been “beyond” from the very beginning.

DAVID: Does writing feel practical to you? I often have a sense of a “utility” of writing, a need for it to be “useful.” But I’m not sure quite what uses I have in mind. 

MÁRTON: It is “the support of contemplation”. Very useful! (Nothing is more useful for me.) It can totally change our initial ideas, or give them an unexpected twist. 

DAVID: Our starting concept for this exchange: A PRIMER ON POETRY, THE CONCEPTUAL, AND THE ABSURD. How do you think we’re doing? 

MÁRTON: Please choose a title for our text: it should be the last phase of your editorial work, I guess, and should reflect your experience with it and with the images… I’m curious.

I’ve already found a couple of things that should be corrected in my last two responses. (For instance: I’m not an economist “by profession”, rather “I studied economics but never used my degree”) etc. etc. You can also find a few details confusing (thanks to my English) – and I’ll try to recompose or clarify those details. 

It would be good to keep the dialogue form, I guess, because each response emerged from a concrete question, and they belong together.

DAVID: I’ll edit this while you are on holiday and send it by Friday.  



1. Csend (Silence) is dedicated to Geof Huth

2. Asemic Table No. 2 is a comment on Tony Trehy’s Reykjavik.

3. The Investigations interview was conducted by Jesse Glass.


As well as a reference list of books mentioned in this exchange, the following is also a list of texts exchanged by the authors. 

David Berridge, Kafka Thinking Stations: A Chora(l) Song Cycle (The Arthur Shilling Press, 2010).

David Berridge, The Moth is Moth this Money Night Moth (The Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010).

David Berridge, Nutshell Axioms: An Experiment in Reading as Essaying, in Otoliths, Winter 2009.

Kitasono Katue, oceans beyond monotonous space: selected poems of Kitasono Katue, ed. John Solt and Karl Young (highmoonoon books, 2007).

Márton Koppány, Immortality and Freedom (Coracle Press, 1991).

Márton Koppány, To Be Or    To Be (The Runaway Spoon Press, 1996).

Márton Koppány, Investigations & Other Sequences (Ahadada, 2003).

Márton Koppány, Endgames (Otoliths, 2008).

Márton Koppány & Nico Vassilakis eds. From the Annual Reports of the Cloud Appreciation Society (Otoliths, 2008).

Márton Koppány, Modulations (Otoliths, 2010).


In Uncategorized on September 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm


Today and tomorrow are the last chance to see DISPERSALS, an action at the Totalkunst Gallery in Edinburgh that is part of the FESTIVAL OF NEARLY INVISIBLE PUBLISHING. Actually, you might already be too late, if Mirja Koponen’s sticker-poem distribution has gone to plan, and small language pieces have already been taken and dispersed. Or you will encounter the work as it will feature when it arrives at The Pigeon Wing: a sheet testifying to what has been removed and what remains.

This micro-exhibition develops out of THE SHADOW OF A TRAIN project that was a collaboration between myself and Mirja in the summer, in which numerous artists responded to my script for an exhibition, itself unfolding from two paragraphs by the Russian writer Arkadii Dragomoshchenko. As Mirja has written of this new project, which unfolds the dialogue in the context of the FESTIVAL OF NEARLY INVISIBLE PUBLISHING: 

The first dispersal is in the gallery right now. It’s a short event, a burst really, and I think I’m going to send the sheets to you after they have been picked over by the TK audience. I think there is a geographical suggestion here as much as there is an actual dispersal, a belief that the labels with words still will exist there somewhere… an oddly incomplete feeling. 

And earlier, conceiving of the project, Mirja wrote: 

… is simply an attempt to literally disperse the text of ‘The Shadow’. I’d like to print the text of the shadow on sheets of labels ( but as pages of the text as they visually appear in the score) and these are set out  for the audience to peel off and attach to their diaries, notebooks, bags. There is something inherently magical about selecting your favourite words ( or blanks…!), it makes them special in that moment and thereby fixes them onto your life (literally).

This Dispersal turns the work into a series of personal mementoes, gifts, passwords into the exchange   – between the words and the audience – and spreads these out into the space. I like the idea of reversing the process of what we did in june, bringing the words in to the space, and also the idea of materialising the work of the first day of the Shadow in Edinburgh, where the aural experience of the text was the only thing to ‘take with’ from the space. I felt that every line, two lines, combination of lines was potentially meaningful,  in theory a simple thought of course, but  when I was listening to people reading the text in so many different ways when left to their own devices, I was suddenly  quite struck by this.

So, the first Dispersal, a small and quiet piece, makes the Shadow disappear, move on, little by little, perhaps in parts, perhaps entirely.

I would like to do it in the Totalkunst space of course, as the text has materially been there, but it could also travel into The Pigeon Wing through a wormhole in the universe and be dispersed from there. Perhaps there could be somewhat different circumstances for doing this… some sort of augmentary framing of the project. What you think?  More could be written/thought about this approach of course, too. Other ways of dispersing?

The materials and traces of this event, when received, will be added to the unfolding array of material at The Pigeon Wing. Submissions are welcome for the festival. Please see the call for works here.


In Uncategorized on September 5, 2010 at 9:10 am

Jill Magi will be the first artist in residence at the DEPARTMENT OF MICRO-POETICS, VerySmallKitchen’s long distance residency at the AC Institute, New York. Jill will be in the space on Sat 11th, Wed 15h, Thurs 16th, and Sat 18th September, conducting her project SMALL TALK SMALL BOOKS.

Jill’s description of the project is as follows: 

SMALL TALK SMALL BOOKS is a four-day residency/poets retreat taking place in the DEPARTMENT OF MICRO-POETICS. Jill Magi will be in residence for four days, inviting four New York area poet publishers and editors to come and talk informally about poetry, respond to the text works installed in the DEPARTMENT, discuss the relationship between publishing and writing, and chit chat about other topics perhaps not related to poetry. 

A cross between coffee klatch, talk show, cooking show (where something is made together), and workshop, each SMALL TALK SMALL BOOKS session culminates in Jill and her guest making a small book together. The text for the small book—it may be prose, poetry, a survey, an essay or manifesto—comes out of the time they spend together talking, responding, and doing some writing together. 

The small book will be formatted there on the spot, printed out in a small batch, and stapled together.  Copies of these books–a small box set–will be kept at the DEPARTMENT “on file,” and sent to the U.K. for The Pigeon Wing sister exhibition. Others will be distributed under the auspices of SONA BOOKS, a chapbook press organized by Jill Magi, and also according to the poets’ desires.

The SMALL TALK SMALL BOOKS schedule is as follows:

 11th: with Stephen Motika, poet and editor at Nightboat Books

15th: with Jennifer Firestone, poet and editor of Letters to Poets

16th: with Paolo Javier, poet and editor of 2nd Avenue Press

18th: with Sara Jordeno, visual artist/writer 

Jill has also contributed an installation work, that will be present in the space throughout the exhibition, which runs from Sep 9- October 16th. This invites reworkings to her book THREADS, according to the following score:

More about Jill’s work can be found on her website here, which documents both her own written and visual work and that of her small press, Sona Books. Her book TORCHWOOD is published by Shearsman books. Recent projects include the unfolding “text-image work-in-progess” LABOR, excerpts from which can be seen in PEEP/SHOW and Critiphoria

A correspondence with Cecilia Vicuna, part of the Letters to Poets project, can be seen here

More information on The Department of Micro-Poetics can be seen here.  Future residencies will include Kai Fierle-Hedrick and Rachel Zolf, and Paolo Javier.  More info to follow.


In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 10:32 am

Márton Koppány, Csend (Silence), from Endgames (Otoliths, 2008)


WRITING/EXHIBITION/PUBLICATION began last night at The Pigeon Wing ,and the opening featured readings by Julia Calver, Tamarin Norwood, myself (reading a text by Helen Kaplinsky) and Press Free Press. Pippa Koszerek was also documenting the event in shorthand. 

All of these artists have projects unfolding throughout the month. Here are short statements by each artist on their project, followed by a coda on the “secret performance” of installing Matt Dalby’s Visual Poem Boxes before last night’s opening (and a statement by Matt on the project):

Julia Calver

SUNBEAM and FOREST exist inside an interminable argument which takes place at the level of the forest floor. They argue over who forms the ultimate frame for their ongoing dialogue. This work switches on and off through various iterations as SUNBEAM slips into periods of silence and then ‘reawakens’ in new ideas. Performances throughout the exhibition; texts in the space to take away.

Pippa Koszerek

Inoperative Minutes. In the two weeks leading up to the opening of WRITING/EXHIBITION/PUBLICATION Pippa Koszerek will intensively study Shorthand from notes passed on to her by secretarial support staff during her recent residency in Dundee. In an act of public/private recording Pippa will act as the sole documenter of the opening reading/performance event taking place at the Pigeon Wing on 3 September. The resulting notes will be displayed in their original form throughout the month for visitors to decode and re-interpret.

During this month Pippa will be concurrently taking up her acting role as Secretary of the Dickens Museum as part of the three month Island Projects exhibition Beyond the Dustheaps where part of her position will include the exploration, study of and adaptation of Dickens journalistic use of Gurney’s Shorthand system.

Considering both secretarial and journalistic uses of shorthand and the latent potential of the space between notes and official records, Pippa will participate in The Festival of Nearly Invisible Publishing, undertaking a three day residency at the Pigeon Wing in the first weekend of October culminating in a presentation of her findings for the approval of Pigeon Wing visitors.

Helen Kaplinsky

The text which I read last night was entitled Script for the Initiate which Helen describes as follows:

Script for the Initiate. A script will be read on the opening night of the exhibition by writer and curator David Berridge. The text has been collaged from multiple press releases for exhibitions seen by the artist over the past year.

Her project throughout the month is a collaboration with Hammam  Aldouri:

The Artists Assistant: Acts of Obedience (Nebulous Readings). Premised upon a contractual agreement, this collaborative work sees the artist employ an assistant who is granted conceptual authority. For the period of the exhibition the assistant will give instructions to the artist. In this case the assistant will task the artist each week to read a given text in gallery space. These readings will not be announced but the scripts will be available to view, alongside the contract which binds the collaboration.

Tamarin Norwood

I want to look at writing in terms of ‘writing into existence’, and specifically in terms of writing not approaching its object but rather pushing it away, and instead approaching a represented version of that object which exists only because the representation writes it into existence. In this context, the prospect of ‘writing live’ presents contradictions I would like to explore both in writing and through a video intervention into the space. By intervening in the ‘liveness’ of the writing residency, I hope to present and contextualize some of the productive contradictions that arise in the practice of live and site-specific writing. 

Press Free Press

Press free press present A TIME FOR WORK, a month-long durational activity.  Within the space, they mark their non-space. This is their office. Two workers will operate under conditions of increased and decreased resistance, navigated by voices communicating from outside the city. They will attempt to map the exhibition through the means at their disposal: by writing, processing and editing a document that exists in constant flux. 

press free press is a poetic collective: finding, constructing and demolishing language following the invitation of language poets and performance artists; writing language that is poetry or performing poetry that is language.  

The rota for A TIME FOR WORK can be seen here


Installing Matt Dalby's Visual Poem Boxes at The Pigeon Wing, Sep 3, 2010


One other “secret performance” that took place yesterday was the installation of Matt Dalby’s Visual Poem Boxes. Matt’s instructions on installing the boxes had indicated:

The boxes should be distributed in small clusters of perhaps no more than three of each  size in locations where they may not be immediately obvious. They should perhaps seem to be incidental to larger works around them.

So when the show was installed I opened the box containing 18 6cm x 6cm boxes and wandered the space deciding where to place them in accordance with this instruction. 


Matt Dalby, Mill 24 Visual Poems, May 2010


A smaller set of 3cm x 3cm boxes are also part of DEPARTMENT OF MICRO-POETICS project at the AC Institute, New York (where the curators of the space will conduct a similar performance of installation) and for this context Matt wrote the following statement about the project:   

The visual poem boxes grew out of a series of visual poems. The visual poem boxes grew out of card constructions. The visual poem boxes grew out of a collection of street cutlery.

The visual poems were created in ink on paper and derived from letter forms. Derived from ascemic writing. Derived from Chinese characters. Derived from Caroline Bergvall’s Plessjør.

Caroline Bergvall’s earlier book Fig provided Matt with a first glimpse of innovative poetry at the beginning of 2008.  His first experiments were in visual poetry and were unsuccessful. Most of the next year was spent concentrating on sound poetry.

Plessjør provided a clue to approaching visual poetry in a more physical way. The boxes originate with an earlier project to construct card forms with otherwise conventional poetry covering the faces.

The construction project was revived as a way to present street cutlery. That is abandoned cutlery collected from the street. 

Critical discussions of work with friends, the work of a friend who had cut a deep slash in the pages of a book led to the decision to transfer the visual poems to boxes, to cut them from one face of each box. 

The boxes are absences and ambiguities. The letter forms, the reasons for choosing the letter forms, the possibility of the letter forms constituting part of a word or utterance, any mark on paper recognizable as print is missing. 

The visual poems are absences. The space inside the boxes is absence. The darkness inside the boxes mimics ink. It is ambiguous if the visual poems are cut or drawn.

There is tension between the handmade and the manufactured. 

The visual poems they come from are made by hand. The boxes are made by hand. The visual poems on the boxes are cut by hand. But it is not apparent how the boxes are made.

The boxes could be produced in volume with existing manufacturing techniques. The slow transformation of the visual poems by copying from sketches to inking from inked version to visual poem box would stop.

Without whom: Helen, Gary, Lou, Graham, Jen.