Posts Tagged ‘curating’


In Uncategorized on March 3, 2010 at 3:21 pm

An essay about my collaboration with the Vienna based collective CONT3XT. NET has just been published on the groups website here. As the introduction to the article explains: 

Writing Exhibitions was a two day event at the Stanley Picker Gallery in Kingston-Upon-Thames, on November 28 2009, exploring connections of language and exhibition making… For this event I curated a series of micro-exhibitions by artists and groups not present in the space – Jonathan Keats, Alexander Hetherington, and CONT3XT. NET.

Each was a different act of translation: Keats’ Experience Exchange was a participatory work originally designed for the commercial arena of the Berlin Art Fair; Hetherington’s A Million Lies; Once and Only Revealed After Death (Triangle of Need) involved adapting a large scale multi-screen performance installation for the spatial, temporal, technological and budgetary restrictions of the Writing Exhibitions event.

The project with CONT3XT sought to to create a new version of their exhibition You Own Me Now Until You Forget About Me. 

The process was as follows: out of our email exchange I developed a curatorial script, in which the exhibition (originally a group show at the Museum of Modern Art Ljublana, 16 May- 22 Jun 2008) became adapted as a 20 minute intervention in the 7.9 Cubic Metres space.

None of the original artists, art works, or curators were present in this new version, which, of course, raised many questions about where and in what form the original exhibition was present. Many of these questions, as the email dialogue explored, were ones CONT3XT.NET had themselves faced in exploring the role of a physical exhibition for digital and/or web based art works. 

Like any script, the eventual performance was somewhat different to what I intended. In the essay I try to explore some of the reasons for this, and offer some proposals about the role of script making in a curatorial process as it relates to (a) the materials of an exhibition, (b) the nature of the script; (c) the physical experience of the exhibition, and (d) its aftermath, legacy and memory. Regarding the script itself, the process led me to propose the following:

Once the exhibition is reduced to a set of materials, then the script becomes the architecture for those materials and a set of proposals concerning the relations between them. The script is a fantasy of relationality, its coercive intent a way of articulating often hidden power relations in the process of exhibition making.

The script has a range of possible relations to what is realized. It may be a closely followed set of actions, or something valuable for its contrast to what results; private working document or exhibited object. It may be adapted and changed at the last moment in response to changing circumstances, or be erased by the paradigm shift of the exhibition itself. As here, the exhibition is likely to necessitate the script’s re-writing.

Of course, the essay itself becomes one further version of the exhibition. For this reason, I did not want to illustrate the essay with photo documentation of the event itself. I use an image of the empty cube, a drawing of the event (by Hyun Jin Cho, who produced a drawing of/for each micro-exhibition), and a series of black squares bearing the words “PHOTO DOCUMENTATION REMOVED.”

This explores what about the experience becomes communciated more broadly (as the exhibition is translated from form to form), and what remains specific to those who participated in the event. It is also a way of holding the exhibition itself to a script format, something that might be engaged with and realised elsewhere. 

Hyun Jin Cho, drawing of an exhibition by CONT3XT.NET (as presented by David Berridge), at Writing Exhibitions, Stanley Picker Gallery, 28 Nov 2009


One area the essay does not explicitly explore is the form of the micro-exhibition itself. For the Writing Exhibitions event, eight 20 minute exhibitions followed one after the other, the format meaning that the get-in and get-out of each show were part of the exhibition experience. A constant group of 12 shifted between being exhibiting artists, participants, critics and  exhibition goers.

Of course, in some ways this format made the exhibition into a performance. But there was also something particular that came from the (micro-) exhibition frame – a particular way of looking, and experiencing, and, possibly, remembering. 

Thanks to Sabine Hochrieser, Michael Kargl (aka carlos katastrofsky), Birgit Rinagl, and Franz Thalmair of CONT3XT.NET for their work on this project. VerySmallKitchen is developing a number of projects around the concept and practice of scripts for exhibitions (both by curators and artists) and welcomes information and submissions of relevant projects. Please contact


In Uncategorized on February 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm


Rachel Lois Clapham, Notes with Finger, Copenhagen, Dec 2009.


I gave a presentation on artists’ use of diagrams, as part of Diagram Day, organised by Ante Press in residence at London’s FormContent (Feb 13th 2010). My presentation began from a collaborative article on diagrams (with Rachel Lois Clapham and Alex Eisenberg) that will be published in the next issue of Dance Theatre Journal. The presentation was a chance to return to some of the diverse range of materials that I collected for that article, as well as considering the diagram as it has appeared in the projects – by myself and others  – documented on this site.

I began by comparing two images – Claude E.Shannon’s drawing of a General Communication System from 1948 and one of Joseph Beuys Blackboard Drawings. The differences and connections of  those two models underpinned a lot of what I wanted to explore: the diagram as systematic and linear condensery, and the diagram as spontaneous and gestural  drawing-writing-thought. My hunch was that when it comes to contemporary practices, the attraction to diagrams – evidenced by the day itself – seems to be how it enables both of these possibilities. To support this I referenced much of the work contained in two recent publications on this site, including The Secretary is Fired, a minute taking project of Pippa Koszerek, and the various drawing-reading projects of Alex Eisenberg and Pete McPartlan. 

The collaboration for DTJ began with Richard Kostelanetz’s celebration of the chart in the introduction to his anthology Essaying Essays. This reads:

One kind of innovation is the conceptually resonant chart, which ideally reveals the essayistic function of compressing a large body of perceptions and/or connections into remarkably little space. Though necessarily simplifying, a chart offers the compensating advantage of vividly documenting the entire picture – a concise image of the whole that reveals contrasts and connections that would not be so apparent if spread over many pages of prose.

A chart is particularly useful in documenting multiple relations among several discontinuous elements. Since charts tend to lack explicit beginnings or definite ends, they cannot be read in the conventional way – steadily, in one predetermined direction, at an even speed. Instead, charts must be read around and about, indeterminately, much like geography maps which are, after all, visual essays of a different sort; for a rich chart offers many levels of meaning, generalization and relatedness… 

A further starting point was the isotype of Otto and Marie Neurath:

I was drawn to the Neurath’s diagrams by their sense of the diagram as comparative, for their social and geographical reach, and their sense of measure  – where each mark in the diagram represented a definite quantity (of people or goods). I have also been trying to think of my own work in relation to Marie Neurath’s definition of “The Transformer”:

From the data given in words and figures a way has to be found to extract the essential facts and put them into picture form. It is the responsibility of the ‘transformer’ to understand the data, to get all necessary information from the expert, to decide what is worth transmitting to the public, how to make it understandable, how to link it with general knowledge or with information already given in other charts. In this sense, the transformer is the trustee of the public. He has to remember the rules and to keep them, adding new variations where advisable, at the same time avoiding unnecessary deviations which would only confuse. He has to produce a rough of the chart in which many details have been decided: title; arrangement, type, number and colour of symbols; caption, etc. It is a blueprint from which the artist works. (77-8)

Thereafter I told of the tragedy of George Macunias. In diagrams such as Expanded Arts Diagram (1966), Macunias represented the diagram at its most condensed and ideographic, but Macunias’ obsession lead him to make charts of ever greater size and complication. His handwritten diagrams –  such as Chronology of Russian History (1953-4) –  involved handwritten sheets, glued together into fragile agglomerations, to which were added further sheets and lift up flaps. The appeals of the chart as an instant form of communication became negated in a product ever more gnomic and unreadable.   

Following the Claude E.Shannon image I looked at George Brecht, who notebooks reveal how he re-worked Shannon’s diagram as part of John Cages night class at the New School. I juxtaposed Shannon’s image with some of Brecht’s scores to highlight similarities and differences of the model of communication implied and activated by each: 

Following Beuys I looked at some of the blackborard drawings of Rudolf Steiner. Although the specificity of these images –  their “diagram-ness” – is lost without having Steiner himself to explain them (as he draws them), I’m fascinated that the form of the blackboard – and its often mechanistic implications of knowledge transfer – should be used to express Steiner’s sense of other worlds and spiritual kingdoms. 

Regarding the long history of diagrams in relation to systems of movement notation, I showed Warhol’s Dance Diagrams – appropriating diagrams of foot movement for particular dances – and Julia Borns poster work, shown as part of the AA’s Forms of Inquiry show. 

Wanting to move beyond diagrams themselves towards the stance of the diagrammatic in an artistic practice,  I then showed two images by Alex Eisenberg, taken as part of the project QUESTION TIME  which happened in Copenhagen during the COP15 climate change talks in December 2009. These show the empty spaces of an auditorium set up to provide a place for UN delegates excluded from the official comference centre, following drastic reductions in the building capacity as security was heightened during the second week of the talks.

We found the space, near midnight on the final night of COP15, as the moment of Obama’s press conference was awaited. Presented in the context of a talk on diagrams, these images seem to become about how we might diagram an event, a place, an issue, taking account of the voids and absences that might be involved.   

One artist who might be interested in documenting such complexity, is Ricardo Basbaum, whose project  would you like to participate in an artistic experience?  begins as a diagram, takes other forms as event and installatrion, and then returns, after each stage of the project, into a new diagram of increasing size and complexity. I love the fact that, reproduced in the format of this blog, they almost seem to be shrinking towards invisibility as the complexity increases! 

I was first drawn, however, to more playful and informal aspects of Basbaum’s diagram practice, which – in the excellent CASCO publication THE GREAT METHOD, talking of his Diagram [love Songs] series – he described as follows:

Always composed by words and lines, the diagram is a sort of drawing (or visual poem) that mediates the dynamic flow between words and images – discursive and non-discursive spaces – or literary and plastic spaces, etc… Many times I have taken the diagrams as a tool to connect my practice as an artist to other roles in the art system – writer, critic, curator, agent – departing from the visual/verbal monochromatic composition for establishing dialogues with the other… it is always interesting to look through the diagrams searching for the potentially implied fiction layers – then, each diagram points to different plots, as screenplays for movies yet-to-be-done.

When it came to consider recent projects, the talk offered a chance to think through again the Toothbrush Project by Compulsive Holding. I curated this project last November as part of the Guess Work Guest Work project, and I’ m not sure any of us ever used the word “diagram” in relation to this work. The project documented all of the toothbrushes in the artists’ local branch of Boots, representing that as a two sided poster, one side of which was given over to drawings of the brushes, the other to the text taken verbatim from its packaging.

It was how that poster was presented (see image below) that was my reason for including it in this talk. The act required to see the back of the poster via the mirror  models what is involved in perceiving and understanding a diagram, where an apparently 2-D schematic identity is actually a front for a complex, 3-D, moving entity, rife with partiality, mirrors and other perceptual challenges ( consider how, to be read in the mirror, the text on the drawings has to be written backwards). 

Finally, I presented a video by Rachel Lois Clapham. This will be available on this site later this week . I think it was in Copenhagen during Question Time that RL first began exploring what we might want to call the methodology of the finger. It, too – “it” being “the finger” – seems to have some very diagrammatic traits – a need to point, to connect from somewhere to something else, to draw lines. But it is also somewhat removed from the diagram, both schematic and the gestural varieties.

When I first saw this video I thought the finger was somewhat reptilian, a later day art-writing incarnation of Durer’s rhinoceros. I wanted to show Durer’s rhinoceros in my talk to make this point but each time I re-opened my Power Point the image had vanished to be replaced by a question mark! This video, then,  seemed to me to demonstrate a practice of the diagram moving beyond the word “diagram” into more animal modes of art writing. 

Don’t forget Rodchenko: “Drawing as it was conceived in the past loses its value and is transformed into diagram or geometric projection.” For further materials, including diagrams by Alex and a written/ spoken dialogue between the three of us, see the next issue of Dance Theatre Journal.  


I also brought along the following books which were available throughout the afternoon:

Yve-Alain Bois ed. Gabriel Orozco (The MIT Press, 2009).

Richard Kostelanetz, Essaying Essays: Alternative Forms of Exposition (Out of London Press, 1975).

Zak Kyes and Mark Owens eds. Forms of Inquiry: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design (Architectural Association, 2007).

Marie Neurath and Robin Kinross, The transformer: principles of making Isotype charts (Hyphen Press, 2009).

Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt, Macunias’ LEARNING MACHINES: From Art History to a Chronology of Fluxus (Vice Versa Verlag, 2003).


In Uncategorized on February 20, 2010 at 4:54 pm

The first ART WRITING FIELD STATION took place at Five Years Gallery on 7 Feb 2010 2-4pm. It featured presentations from David Berridge, COMPULSIVE HOLDING (Hyun Jin Cho and David Johnson), Tamarin Norwood and Matthew MacKissack. Marianne Holm Hansen responded to the presentations and discussion, creating a lexicon of Art Writing as part of her FOR THE RECORD (A Written Conversation) project.   

The following is the proposal that I sent Edward Dorrian, in response to his Open Call for contributions to the FIELD RECORDINGS season:


Histories of experimental poetics and writing are often related to practices and metaphors of “the field” – from Charles Olson’s “open field” poetics to engagements with anthropological field trips and field notes as models for situational and performative writing.  The aim of this discussion for FIELD RECORDINGS is to try and explore how such ideas can inform current writing practices by offering an event that models the idea of ” a writer in the field” and also offers a “field recording” of such practices in poetic operation. 

 ART WRITING FIELD STATION began as a fictionalising of my work as a writer interested in connections between writing and contemporary arts practice. I gathered together a variety of texts from different virtual and physical locations (galleries, bookstores, events, websites) that together constitute part of the ever shifting “field” of my writing practice. I find conceiving of this practice as “field” helps foreground such texts not as finished, consumable products but as active EVIDENCE and MATERIAL, something malleable to be worked with, examined, taken apart, noted, and annotated, and also part of a broader cultural (eco-) system.   

I invited COMPULSIVE HOLDING, Matthew MacKisack and Tamarin Norwood to present their own response to this theme of “field.” The precise structure and nature of this event has unfolded from discussions between us. Each of us will present for 20 minutes. Marianne Holm Hansen will compile from all of our talks a lexicon of words and phrases.  This “field” of words and emotions will be seen as the field that has emerged from the bringing together of our individual practices within this event at the FIVE YEARS gallery. The final part of our event will be an open discussion of this emergent field.     

 ART WRITING FIELD STATION will also test the validity,  ourselves, of discussing and presenting work within a concept of the “field” and a “field recording.”

Each of the presentations will be published by VSK in March as a 20 page e-book. The second ART WRITING FIELD STATION will take place in Leeds on March 27th, with presentations from David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Emma Cocker, and Mary Paterson. Please email if you would like to attend.

As part of our preparations for the FIVE YEARS event Hyun Jin Cho sent us the following drawing of the space: 


In Uncategorized on February 20, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Guess Work Guest Work map

GUESS WORK GUEST WORK was an exhibition at 7.9 Cubic Metres at the Stanley Picker Galley, Kingston Upon Thames (Nov 4-28 2009). It was developed from a script by myself, and included the curation of project by Compulsive Holding (Hyun Jin Cho and David Johnson). The illustration above is a plan of the exhibition, drawn by Jin.

The full script of the exhibition is now online here. Further realisations are invited, in whatever medium. Please send documentation to Below are visual and verbal descriptions of the process of the project by myself and COMPULSIVE HOLDING:

DAVID BERRIDGE: Guess Work Guest Work began with a script for an exhibition. This unfolded over several months as a sequence of notes, mini-essays, quotes, typographic scrawls, concrete poems and other hybrid text forms. As the manuscript took shape, these were often re-written and re-edited. I  wanted to make a text that worked if encountered on the page, but one also intended to become an exhibition in 7.9 Cubic Metres. 

 The starting point for many of these texts was an interest in two recently published texts on curatorial history:  the interviews of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s A Brief History of Curating and the photos, floor plans and archival documents of  Harald Szeemann: Individual Methodology. Both books sought to give concrete form and presence to the exhibitions of a formative generation of curators whose work would otherwise disappear. 

Whilst invaluable, I was struck by how often attempts to describe an exhibition ended not in a clear blueprint of the show but in a series of suggestive phrases, poetic images, and self-invented jargon. This either arose causally and spontaneously in conversation or was an example from an oft repeated personal working lexicon. 

Rather than lament this condition, I decided it was how legacy becomes manifest and the work of such curators became available to contemporary practice. The title Guess Work Guest Work, for example, derived from my own misreading of Harald Szeemann’s Institute of Spiritual Guest Workguest worker [gastarbeiter] being the German term for migrant workers. I wondered what would happen if I stayed within this space of mis-reading, using it as a form of engagement both with curatorial history and my own practice. 

One consequence was a need to open the exhibition and the script to the artists’ COMPULSIVE HOLDING, whose own toothbrush project I intuitively felt to be a closely related exploration.

If an exhibition has a script then there is also likely to be a performance. My original intention was to install the script as a series of A4 sheets. Instead, over the three days available for setting up,  I created the installation documented below. The script was available for visitors to read, but in the cube itself it was taken down, covered up, replaced by new text, and/or transformed into objects. 

If there was a surprise  within the process of making Guess Work Guest Work then it was the degree and nature of change involved in the shift from page to space. I continued adding, changing, and deleting until a few minutes before the open view began.

The script of Guess Work Guest Work was itself re-written during the process of installation so that it could function as an invitation to other practitioners, not solely a document of my own process.  This meant the project by Compulsive Holding and my own project in relation to the curator Pontus Hultén were removed, as future enactments of the script will be likely to make their own connections. 

On the show’s final weekend, the installation was taken down and the space hosted WRITING EXHIBITIONS, a two day seminar and a curated series of micro-exhibitions exploring connections of writing and exhibition making.  


In Uncategorized on February 20, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Sphere of Possible Comprehension

VerySmallKitchen is pleased to announce the publication of two new e-publications. 

WRITING EXHIBITIONS: AN ASSEMBLING  features contributions from: David Berridge, Anne Charnock, Hyun Jin Cho, Fiona Fullam, Matthew Giraudeau, Marianne Holm Hansen, David Johnson, Helen Kaplinsky, Pippa Koszerek, Matthew MacKisack, Tamarin Norwood, Kim Patrick, Heather Ring/ The Wayward Plant Registry. Curated/ Assembled by David Berridge. 

ESSAYING ESSAYS: AN ASSEMBLING  features experiments in essaying from: David Berridge; Rachel Lois Clapham; Emma Cocker; Alex Eisenberg; Fiona Fullam; Alex Hardy; Éilis Kirby; Jenny Lawson; Patricia Lyons; Pete McPartlan; John Pinder. Assembled by David Berridge as part of ESSAYING ESSAYS: A TEMPORARY COLLECTIVE OF READERS, one of seven projects by the FREE PRESS collective exploring economies of ideas and alternative modes of dissemination and exchange.

Both magazines adopted the methodology of Richard Kostelanetz ASSEMBLING publications, for which contributers supplied 1000 copies of their contribution of up to 4 pages. For both of these PDF-internet manifestations of ASSEMBLING, contributers were asked to provide three A4 pages in response to the project title.

The image above is from Pete McPartlan’s “Reader’s Blocks” project, which he undertook as part of ESSAYING ESSAYS.  Read more about it here.