Posts Tagged ‘pedagogy’


In Uncategorized on October 10, 2011 at 12:12 am

seekers of lice, creamy language, installation for I AM NOT A POET, Totalkunst Gallery, Edinburgh, 2011


VerySmallKitchen writes: Recent talks, exhibitions and workshops have lead VerySmallKitchen to consider its relationships to teaching and pedagogy, how its explorations of writing, language and art practice can create and unfold within a diverse array of learning situations…

The following document is a draft that will be revised as appropriate over the coming months, as well as supplemented with other materials (book lists, essays, notes…).

The STUDIO project is also part of VerySmallKitchen’s residency at London’s X Marks the Bokship, an outline of which is here.





VerySmallKitchen is currently exploring ways of teaching connections of writing, language, and art practice. The work emerges out of a number of projects over the last year, notably Art Criticism Now and Art/ Writing/ Talks in Ireland, as well as sessions devised for MA Dance Practice at Laban in London, A FRANCIS PONGE POETRY STUDIO for Cannon magazine, the SUMMER SCHOOL OF SILENCE at I AM NOT A POET, and Writing (The) Space at The Wild Pansy Press project space/ University of Leeds.

Ongoing involvement with Free School projects organised by Edward Dorrian/ Five Years Gallery has also been key…

Like the projects on this blog, this teaching concerns distinctions and overlaps in/ between histories of conceptual writing, experimental poetics, fiction, criticism and the essay, both the content and forms of such work, how it is distributed and published, and the practical and theoretical understanding of the practice of writing itself.

If the project has a hunch it is that this focus on writing practice – and various histories of literature –  produces something related to but different from the recent “educational turn” in art practice or the re-consideration of publishing and writing principally within frameworks of graphic design…

… A focus upon acts of reading and responding, how the individual nature of these acts can also become communal, public forms, or private, idiosyncratic forms, as necessary….




VerySmallKitchenSTUDIO has several strands. A basic outlining of bibliographies and materials, often in areas for which there are no readily available resources of materials; the development of STUDIOS’s of such materials that can be used in different teaching contexts; a practical and theoretical exploration of distinct forms of pedagogy that emerge from this work. If such forms promote particular histories, in an educational context they also  offer supports and techniques for studying and working more broadly…


nick e-melville's EDITORIAL for I AM NOT A POET invited public alteration of the day's news...


Studios have so far been developed and used for workshops in Art Writing and Criticism, focussed particularly around notions of “Essaying”; Minimal Poetries; Olson’s Projective Verse; Artist Talking/ Lecture Performance. Between now and December – as part of a residency at X Marks The Bökship I am developing a  studio around scripts, scores and the re-print in contemporary art writing…

Materials will be published on this site as the project develops. For more information contact David on Here is a brief outline of the various studios so far:





A consideration of how writing relates to/ as/ around/ on/ about/ with art practice. The studio proposes histories and practices of the “essay” as a linkage between these different practices, exploring tactics of “essaying” across criticism, performance, fiction and poetics. It explores how writing functions at different stages in the life cycle (of itself, the art work, the exhibition…).

A key source here is Richard Kostelanetz’s Essaying Essays anthology, both as an actual gathering of texts, and (given the texts unavailability) a proposition about a way of working between various writing and art practices. The introduction to the text is here.



Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez Xerox on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm for XALPHABET / 26 Xs by 26 Artists


Thomas Jeppe Xerox on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm for XALPHABET / 26 Xs by 26 Artists


As it unfolds, the studio moves towards an erratics of writing, as a way of conceptualising both acts of writing themselves and the uncertain contexts of commission and publication of a writing practice at all stages of its life cycle, informed also by a “Literature of the No” as formulated in Enrique Vila-Matas Bartleby and Co.

In this studio the prevalence of (post-) conceptual notions of site, institutional critique and document, are utilised but also placed alongside histories of New Journalism, experimental poetics and fiction, which offer different and conflicting priorities and methods. Different forms of paradox as a structural principle of the studio is articulated in the following quotation by Nathanael:


“my own need to very aggressively resist, or think through, what an essay is or might be and to find my own way to a text that isn’t one, that isn’t one that’s compliant with a particular form, right? That doesn’t interest me. I understand these forms viscerally. They’ve been inculcated right? But I don’t want that. So in a sense, the thing that’s internalized, the sense of having to be kicked out again, even though we can sort of agree that there’s no outside, but somehow there’s that tearing or rending that has to happen – or breach out of which might emerge this thing. That is this particular text.”

SOURCE: Kate Eichorn and Heather Milne, Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women’s Poetry & Poetics (Coach House Books, Toronto, 2009), 64-5.





This studio explores the histories and contemporary practice of minimal writing, both as a practice in itself and as a way of thinking about writing and art practice more broadly. Starting points include the poetry of Aram Saroyan, concrete poems, scores by Yoko Ono and Alison Knowles, the small ads of Dieter Roth, and the one word poem issue of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s POTH.


Yoko Ono, Cloud Piece, 1963


Seen as historical progression, the studio moves through diverse histories of poetry, music, fluxus and conceptual work, to such current practices as (the pwoermds of) Geof Huth and Jonathan Jones, James Davies, and Márton Koppány. A preliminary consideration of some of this work is the essay SMALL AD SWEETHEARTS OF THE IMAGE VIRUS DO-POETRY which can be read here.


Márton Koppány, Csend (Silence)

The studio also explores projects such as Coracle, where minimalism can be observed not just as a page based textual form but as a wider aesthetic, a form of architectural intervention and curatorial methodology… See Thomas A.Clark’s 1989 essay “The Gallery and the Book” reprinted on VerySmallKitchen here.

…Epigram, aphorism, pun, (anti-) haiku, also become forms of compression under consideration, contributing to a constellation of concerns around thought, language, instruction, score, condensery, application…



In a teaching context, what characterises this studio is how a wide range of work can be presented to participants in a short time period. Whilst this must not oversimplify the work, it does offer a particular teaching situation regarding the relationship of material and class time, readings and responses, that should be experimented with.

… This VerySmallKitchenSTUDIO is also useful for exploring the boundaries between literary and art practices (minimal poetry. conceptual art, musical score…) particularly the notion of what is expected of texts, how they are read, published, distributed, what responses they invite or refuse…

For example, how such texts explore a relationship of writing and sculpture through their focus on materials and presence in space, is one focus that has emerged, drawing on this quotation from Ian Hamilton Finlay, talking about the relation of title and word in his formulation of the One Word Poem:


“I am a little fascinated just now by the idea of one-word poems… My idea is, that the one-word poem should be composed of a title plus  one word. All (true) poems have form, and in this case one should see the title and the word as being 2 straight lines, which come together to forming a corner: the corner is the form of this poem. Only, these corners must be so constructed as to be open (opening) in all directions. That is the paradox.”

SOURCE: Ian Hamilton Finlay, A Model of Order: Selected Letters On Poetry and Making (Glasgow: WAX366, 2009), 39.





This double VerySmallKitchenSTUDIO began with a study of Charles Olson’s manifesto-diagram A CURRICULUM FOR THE SOUL (below) and a publication project after his death that saw words from the diagram allocated to different poets who wrote a chapbook with that title. The studio is interested in exploring the model of learning, publication, and economy that can be unfolded from this.


Subsequently, the studio has explored Olson’s teaching as demonstrated in texts such as “A Bibliography on American for Ed Dorn”, as well the implied and stated methodologies of numerous correspondence and poetics essays, principally “Projective Verse” (1950), an exploration that continues in collaboration with Open Dialogues Writing (The) Space project.

This studio involves lineages of writing and thinking which can be traced from Olson to 2011, considering, for example, the notion of a research-led practice, as well as gender focussed critques and readings of Olson by Susan Howe, Kathleen Fraser and Laura Mullen. It also considers related contemporary projects such as the Olson Now documents and the CHARLES OLSON: LANGUAGE AS PHYSICAL FACT section of EOAGH.

The studio has also sought to respond to a particular aspect of Olson’s practice – as it is distilled in a lexicon of “field poetics” or “projective verse” – by exploring the notion of a PHRASE POETICS.


Rachel Lois Clapham and Emma Cocker, re-. installation view, Wild Pansy Press Project Space, Leeds, 2010


… explores such lexicons and coinages alongside, for example, Brecht’s “alienation effect” and Artaud’s theatre of cruelty” or Harald Szeemann’s “self-institutionalisation” of himself as the Institute of Spiritual Guest Work. It explores how such working phrases function for their authors, as well as the independent life they then have, where they might be constructively misunderstood and reinterpreted…

Weaving between the two different aspects of this studio, we might ask how, for example, both methods relate to, for example, Jill Magi’s recent CADASTRAL MAP, which, whilst enacting an Olson-like research of place, also seems to start investigating from a position deliberately more defined, counter to, resistant of such a self-claiming expansionist poetics:


“The cadastral map is drawn as if from an aerial view, composed by surveyors to determine land ownership for the purpose of taxation. The cadastral map does not indicate where the land is fertile, swampy, or rocky. It does not indicate knolls, forests, valleys. Nor does it express the collaboration and exchange between farmers or those who move through the land. Its lines respect one purpose, one knowledge, state sponsored commoditization.


Jill Magi, installation for DEPARTMENT OF MICRO-POETICS, AC Institute, New York, 2010


“I enter as a writer, one kind of mapmaker, needing to ask, is traditional nature writing in English a cadastral map?… is “nature writing” still our flawed point of origin, creating ideas of the land and nature that tend to erase people and local knowledge as we go?” (108)


Magi’s essay offers an answer as its conclusion:


“At every turn, degrees of legibility, a focus that comes in and out, position-depending. Don’t look away. Listen, there is history. Earth and bones beneath your map give weight back with each authoring step.” (110)

SOURCE: Jill Magi, Cadastral Map (Bristol, Shearsman, 2011).





Finally, this studio begins with a focus upon presence of talking among contemporary arts and writing practice. It explores the reliance upon models of stand-up and storytelling, and how these have come to replace early reliance upon the format of the academic lecture.

The studio is currently in a more embryonic form than the others and emerges as a direct response to recent events in London, including electra’s Dirty Literature festival, and Performance as Publishing at the South London Gallery.

The studio explores the interrelation of the talk and the printed text, focussing on the work of Steve Benson and David Antin, whose very different forms of “talking” attain published form as “poetry.”

How such talking poetry constitutes a particular form of talking and thinking is explored in the work of Leslie Scalapino and John Cage. As with the minimal poetry studio, this can be then related to different forms of art practice, and to talked based forms of scenography and choreography, such as in the work of Guy de Cointet and Tino Sehgal.


nick-e melville reading of collated interventions at the conclusion of EDITORIAL


… consideration of talking within the learning situation brings focus to the forms by which we engage with such material, conceptualise and enact discussion upon our own practices.

… The question of how a practice might itself explore and involve talking on many different levels is of central concern to this studio. Hence an interest in the following quotation from Chris Cheek on his own practice:


“The talks attempt(ed) to perform a variety of strategies for public-private discourse. Titles of the texts and therefore some more general enframing were announced in advance of the series. Otherwise what occurred was utterly in the moment, though each day had a provisional series of talk strategies. For example, whilst each talk was improvised and responsive to the site on each occasion, ideas of: scale, perspective, contradiction, deliberate misunderstanding, anecdote, vernacular obsession, fictive quoting, imposed character, cartoon depiction, carnivalesque interpretation, historicising, demonising, sports commentary, theoretical exposition, emergences (and emergencies) of catchprase, listening to prerecorded texts or previous talks on headphones whilst talking (thereby mobilising conflict between listening and uttering), overhearing fragements of passing conversations… and so on were mobilised. Sometimes I toyed with direct address to those I could see participating as listening watchers in the window, Sometimes I imagined that there was a friend there, when in fact there might well have been nobody present at all. Sometimes I thought I was talking to the taxi cab call operators, sometimes passers by. My guess was that this work would offer a doubting interface.” (191)

SOURCE: Chris Cheek, THE CHURCH- THE SCHOOL- THE BEER (Oxford Ohio, Critical Documents 2007).


John Cage, Lecture on Nothing(thanks to Tim Griffin for drawing this to my attention)

Opening page of John Cage, Lecture on Nothing, from SILENCE: Lectures & Writings (1961)




If the STUDIO is a gathering of books, and a gathering of ideas and methods that come out of those books…

…I have been thinking about how to translate this into teaching situations in the broadest sense, both planned and unforeseen, both to convey information about histories that inform the present, and construct teaching structures where that which is not to do with information can unfold…


Mary Paterson leads a silent memory walk of Edinburgh as part of the Summer School of Silence at I AM NOT A POET


Below, then, are a series of tests that appear at present to be useful ways of questioning this material, both the individual studios and how each reverberates through the others, towards an active pedagogy and practice of reading and (art-) writing:


how each studio can re-figure itself over varying time lengths (say, 1o minutes to 10 weeks and more) and formats (talk, lecture, seminar, workshop, event, performance, blog…).

how each studio records a particular historical and  contemporary practice, whilst providing tools for thinking about writing and artistic practice more broadly…

how each studio is a distinctive set of materials yet also open to exchange and dialogue between (the nature of its modularity)…

how the studio balances individual and chora(l),  consensual and agonistic, thematic and grammatical…  defines a moment and commits to an (open) unfolding…





Thanks to Mirja Koponen, both for co-curating I AM NOT A POET and for taking the photographs of that event here. As this project takes shape I note it as one part of a broader conversation in which other colleagues and collaborators are also engaged. See, for example, some notes on Open Dialogues critical model, NOTA Workshop.



In Uncategorized on June 24, 2010 at 6:41 am

As a contribution to LECTURE HALL.FREE SCHOOL at the Bethnal Green Library, VerySmallKitchen are delighted to make available Cid Corman’s Origin Memo 1 entitled THE WORLD AS UNIVERSITY/ THE UNIVERSITY AS STUDIO, first published in Kyoto, Japan in 1968.

VSK’s motivations are both archival and contemporary. Corman’s memo is usefully viewed alongside the more well known poet-educational models of his contemporaries and correspondents, such as Charles Olson’s  A Bibliography on America for Ed Dorn, which, whilst functioning at a different level, asserts a related view of self-directed poet-learning as Corman explores here, and a parallel desire to extrapolate a model of learning from a poet’s own methods of writing and community.

To re-publish this document now – a response to its own concluding invitation that “this article may be reprinted and circulated freely – only, please, indicate source” – is to make a nuanced poet intervention into a plethora of recent pedagogy focussed projects. It’s also to try and learn from both the clarity and the failings and obstinacy of Corman’s approach, tracing into VerySmallKitchen’s own practices the tension between Corman’s macro- ambition and the micro- scale of his own operation and distribution. 

More specifically, THE WORLD AS UNIVERSITY/ THE UNIVERSITY AS STUDIO enters into the sessions of the LECTURE HALL. FREE SCHOOL project, a problematic contribution to its own ambitions of community, exchange, need and hopefulness. 

See a bio of Corman here. Poetry readings by Corman here. An interview with Philip Rowland is here. Read Corman’s THE FAMOUS BLUE AEROGRAMMES here





Recently a teacher-friend from within the complex of schools in Western Massachusetts of which Hampshire College is the latest development sent me their only too elaborate “pitch book”: The Making of a College: Hampshire College, Working Paper Number One. The authors are Franklin Patterson (chiefly) and Charles R.Longsworth, president and vice-president respectively of the school. 

Beyond what they wish for their model undergraduate college – worked out with a great many educational experts as consultants – they seem to think of themselves as exposing (according to the report’s subtitle)” “Plans for a New Departure in Higher Education.” Ironically, at least to me, they have brought home the sense, first, that they are incorrigibly obsolete in their “thinking” about education – despite their expressed concern – with modernity – and second, that their projected college is quite unnecessary; indeed, that ALL colleges are unnecessary. 

Since my sense of this derives immediately from their own presentation, any merit my ideas have must admit a debt. And for whatever stimulus value these ideas may have towards a basic reconsideration of educational possibilities – on a universal scale – let me sketch my reaction to the report out in a little detail.


The obsoleteness of such a report – well over 350pp – is reflected in its hopelessly jargon-ridden language – no matter how “sincere” and “honest” the pitch may be and likely is. (I say “pitch” advisedly. The authors themselves stress “hard facts”, so-called, and speak of inculcating culture as providing “individual freedom and a sense of virtue in order” “ as a central matter of business.” The whole report merited perhaps 50pp: in terms of what is communicated. And Hampshire, it may be noted, is especially proud of its radical sense of how vital “language” – in every sense – is in the modern curriculum.)

One of the report’s major points is to suggest the possible intimate role of the college in the community, but again this role is quickly set into an economic scene. And the point turns out to be no more than the “hard fact” that the college could and should be a “successful business enterprise.” My point is not to debate the economic issue, but to get at education and its procedures. 

They, the authors, never seem to wonder if it might not be better, in every sense, to educate people within their native communities – a need that becomes more obvious if seen in the light (if it is light) of underdeveloped areas of the world – rather than drawing them out (providing scholarships yet at pre-highschool level) into an artificial community. In the same way, they boast of the idea of offering “simulations” of foreign communities in studying foreign languages. It is neither economical nor possible, in “hard fact”, to offer the actual in an admitted substitute of it. And since the actual is available there is no call to resort to subterfuges. 

An extention of this idea – not to be pushed here – is that scientists in their simulating laboratories also tend to lose their powers of total perception, and proportion, by isolating themselves from actual occasion in all its multiplicity. The intensification of this process must and, of course, does narrow human vision.

Any frank reading of this report must, I feel, induce a sense of educational claustrophobia, not perhaps unlike the total-environment company system as it operates here in Japan. Instead of offering and educing a profound and genuine sense of freedom, it offers the simulation of freedom – so that any youngster attending such a school will be beyond knowing what freedom might mean and will be swamped by the contradictions his life after college presents and will either go insane and/or entrench himself in the “set-up”, such as it is.


More immediately cogent, perhaps, is the realization that  dawned on me in reading this report of how effective our rapidly moving technology allows us to be – not only in the field of education, but everywhere.

What is allowed becomes startlingly clear when the  report quotes: “The net message, in reply to queries about what education can expect to have from communications technology in the next decade or so, is: ‘Anything you want.’” It also becomes clear the educators really dont know what they want – for after detailing, interestingly, some of what has already been achieved through technology, the authors timidly let the whole possibility drop – as if it would all just take care of itself. 

The issue is underlined by an instance they provide of a young physicist at M.I.T. who teaches about one and a half hours a week there and with associates helps train a dozen grad students and for his own research project has to “commute frequently” to Stanford to use their unique equipment – and his university covers the costs. They add: “This young man does not see how even a major teaching and research institution can expect to have first-rate scientists without providing for very light teaching loads and time to travel to and use expensive research facilities elsewhere.”

My own suggestions of how this situation could be answered – and it certainly needs answering at every level – will follow in due time. The Hampshire authors admit, simply, that they cannot hope to compete with such schools, but see their answer in a pooling of resources within their own five-school orbit: certainly a feeble answer. 

The answer, of course, must be sooner or later far more revolutionary than anything they will let themselves envisage. To be sure, such a realization jeopardizes their own, no doubt hardwon, positions and that could hardly be attractive to them. (This “drag” and “drain” in human conditions is true everywhere and in all spheres of activity, but in the face of the increasing ponderousness of “things” – which was effectively never as heavy as now – radical changes become extremely difficult to effect on a strictly physical and economic (and thus political) level.)

The answer, it seems to me, to the educational “economy” of the world rests dramatically and decisively with technology and our intelligent use of it.


As a practising fulltime poet, of all things, it might well seem an anomaly for me, of all people, to be advocating a complete technological takeover in the transmission of education, but the point is not to put education in the hands of technology, but to use the technology given us, handsomely, so as to revolutionize and radically improve educational procedures on a universal scale. (I grant, of course, that such a move must proceed on a more modest scale to start with – but that is another matter.)

Let me detail some of the issues. In my own experience, and it has been extensive (on several continents), as both student and teacher, I have found myself bedevilled by pointless lecture systems and seminar programs involving students and teachers who should never have been brought together in the first place. (And this has been characteristic everywhere.) Hampshire mentions several tentative freshman seminars tried out at various schools in America, but doesnt get at the more fundamental issue that in any college rig the likelihood of bringing the “right” students to the “right” teacher is most remote. 

Let me put it another way. As an undergraduate (1941-45) I took many seminar courses in writing poetry (I would have been glad to study day and night and, by myself, effectively did) – more, in fact, than are listed in my college record, for my interest was in the work, not the credit. But in several years of attendance in this course – more selective than most – I was the only serious writer in the groups – not only as it “turned out”, but as was apparent to both the teacher and myself, at least, at the time. And he was “lucky”, if you will, to have had even one (1) such student in a decade. You can say that the others benefitted in marginal ways, but that is beside the point. The point is that every student of his ought to have been and could have been just such a student as myself. But the situation, the set-up, militated against such a possibility. And it still does – everywhere.

The utter waste and futility any genuine teacher must  feel in such situations – beyond rationalizing them out – are overbearing. And the cases where this is not true must be exceedingly rare today. Perhaps less so in the relatively aristocratic (truly élite) and monastic arrangements in many places in the past – or in their counterparts now.

Against this prevailing situation, let me cite – and as above, without any self-adulation at issue – the personal situation I find myself in at the moment (and one that has been rather constant for the past twenty years). Unaffiliated with any school formally or informally, I am corresponding “in depth” with a host of young writers from all parts of the world who write me, whether mistakenly or not, in the hope that they may receive the more personal and detailed help that they cannot get or arent getting elsewhere – or over and above other assistance. And this, in fact, includes some serious writers who are as old as or older than myself; i.e., not so young, let’s say. (Some few have even troubled to come over to Japan to live in the area, for there are some other helping poets here in addition to myself.)

My point, if it isnt already too obvious, is that in this situation ALL the “students” are self-chosen and intensely concerned. And their dedication evokes my own that much more and provides much mutual interplay. It’s true, of course, that I earn no salary for this work – but when one makes love – in any scene – one doesnt expect pay, unless one is a prostitute. And then, just as clearly, it isnt “love”, but business.

All this, however, though useful, is preliminary. Where and how does the technology fit in?


Perhaps it begins to loom out at you without my saying it: that any college today needs be no more than a transmission center: a studio for communications. (Perhaps research centers could be placed together in such locations, but it may not be either practicable nor necessary: their labors can certainly be drawn upon, as warranted.) And a center for communications storage” “education banks.” All that are needed are technicians and coordinators at such “plants”, The physical layouts of colleges, schools, universities, can be and should be drastically reduced. No students need ever “go to school”: the education can be brought to them, either at home – in an “education room or facility” – or in some local “education center” or centers. The hours could be those of a laundromat or a Hayes Bickford cafeteria.

(Think of how much space could revert to needed private housing and green zones. “Green Zones”: that ugly admission of defeat, meaning woodlands and fields, extended gardens, as well as smaller individual home-sites. Think of the reduced traffic. Think of how active education suddenly becomes!)

Here each student (no age limits: each aware and limited by his own capacity) is his own grader. He can choose whatever he wishes to try his hand at, his spirit, his intelligence. Public information centers locally (available by phone) could carry listings of what can be had and specialist consultant-contact could be arranged in those cases where individual “conference” might be wanted. Tests – taken at the students convenience and self-graded largely – could be received either by mail or telecommunication. All lectures would be received by either tape or TV (or whatever other devices may come into use).

The students – note – would be learning whenever they “felt” like it and within their own communities. (Travel would be encouraged and it would not cut off anyone from pursuing studies at the same time, while providing an active supplement.) It would, no doubt, harass commercial TV, etc., for it would compete vigorously, naturally, with it – but no one would honestly regard this as a negative factor.

It would cut down the number of teachers needed drastically and keep only the best teachers (selection would be generous, but mostly “natural”) “in stock”. The teachers would record their lectures at their own convenience and would not have to commute to a school or live in an artificial environment and often far from where they “really” want to be. It would eliminate all the weak souls who retire into teaching and the relative seclusion of a campus. 

It would mean that anyone ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD could tap in on this resource. Wealth would not be required, nor examinations. One would pay for education as one pays for any utility – in terms of actual service and service charges.

It would mean that some lectures would be favorite lectures for generations possibly. It would mean that a specialist in physics could tap in on the key developments almost immediately EVERYWHERE and not be reduced to one, often isolated, point of view. It would mean parent and child could share the same courses: the parent would see and hear what the child is exposed to. It would mean much more time for children to play together outside. (Rainy days, etc., would be ideal study days.) It would enliven intelligence and feeling everywhere.

All the artificial and useless pressures of education would be removed. The government itself, or better – international organization, could provide the necessary facilities out of a common tax or simply out of the savings such a presentation naturally creates. 

It would be a godsend to the poorer nations as well as to downtrodden minorities where schools cannot be afforded and teachers are scarce. It creates a common fund of human excellence. (Even translation machines could come into play.) It would create an incredible amount of stimulation for all human society and increase the desire and chance to share ideas and live together. It would remove the basis of such much human bickering and misery – or at least open them at more profound levels. (The autobiography of MALCOLM X is a moving example of how even a little dedicated self-education, improved by travel, mingling, and experience, deepened a man otherwise deplorably ignorant and malicious – even if his life was lost just when it was worth saving.)

Anyone with questions could contact, directly or indirectly, sources where he could get true response and a variety of response. Discussion would be stimulated and enhanced within communities and groups interested in the same range of ideas. Contact could be effected quickly between people in distant regions concerned with similar problems. How much more educated – drawn forth – liberated – would the entire world society be!


All that I have imaged here very broadly others can and, I trust, will develop according to their better knowledges. This is only the generative idea. 

Countless problems are evoked by this new approach, but none of them seems to me anywhere near as terrifying or insoluble as those we are now forcing upon ourselves at a steadily accelerating pace. What I am suggesting neither can wait, nor should wait, upon more “worse”.

And then the more fundamental issues of education remain. I refer chiefly to that of a guiding vision. And if I am inclined to feel that this vision is, necessarily, that of poetry, please understand that it is not mere bias but out of a sense of poetry’s larger meaning. For I think of poetry as human being par excellence, as the human sense of all that is found in circumstance met generously, fully, and realized out of the deepest awareness that death subsumes us all. Such a vision begins at home; it cannot wait for “higher education”. For me the higher education starts at birth. 

13-14 April 1968


Fukuoji-cho 82

Utano, Ukyo-ku

Kyoto, Japan

(this article may be reprinted and circulated freely – only, please, indicate source)


Other components of VerySmallKitchen’s DEMOTIC ARCHIVES OF ART WRITING are  (1)Thomas A Clark’s THE GALLERY AND THE BOOK which can be seen here, and (2) Richard Foreman’s  ONTOLOGICAL HYSTERIC THEATER: A MANIFESTO which can be seen here.


In Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 at 9:43 pm


Martha Rosler, Losing: A Conversation With The Parents, 1977, 18:39 min, color, sound


On Friday 21st May 12-2.15pm I will be part of Live Weekends: Futures and Pasts at the ICA, curated by Tim Etchells with Ant Hampton and Lois Keidan. I will be taking part in a discussion  on pedagogy, performance and feminism, curated by Mary Paterson in the “Some of the Pasts” strand of the event, which the ICA website describes as follows:    

Over three days the gallery is transformed as the site of an ongoing investigation on the power of performance, as a succession of invited artists, curators and writers linked to the field frame investigations on the exuberant and influential past of the form. Audiences can arrive anytime, stay, leave and return at any point. Conversations, interviews, slideshows, mini-performances, video-screenings and all kinds of playful hybrid interventions unfold in the gallery as different perspectives on the archive are explored. Personal recollections sit next to attempts at authoritative time lines, inexplicable images and sounds sit next to narratives and interactions of different kinds. 

Mary’s shift will begin with a screening of the Performance Saga interview with Martha Rosler, before opening into a discussion with Sonia Dermience, Martin Hargreaves,  Rachel Lois Clapham, and Theron Schmidt around themes and questions arising from the film. As Mary writes in brief for the session:  

How is performance different to its documentation? How can you communicate about past performances? What is it about performance, that you might want to communicate? How do artists and artworks become present to audiences in the future? What roles can an artist/ art practice play in creating knowledge about the past? What kind of framework do you need in order to understand the past?  

What role does writing have in taking control of the debate? What are the different relationships between performance, documentation, and different kinds of public?

My own contribution to the event is currently entitled A CURRICULUM OUT OF A CONVERSATION. I will be writing throughout the film and discussions, working towards a piece of writing that explores a boundary between documentation and curriculum. 

The eventual text aims to give a sense of what was seen and said, but by presenting the material orientated to the future rather than – maybe as well as – the past or present. It will be a programme of study/ attitude/ stance (words subject to change). 

This gives the session a written legacy, but maybe not what anyone intended. The writing may turn out to be at odds with or in contestation with the original event and its participants. It could include space for later re-workings or be defiant in its singularity (or some combination). I will navigate this boundary of the event for its own sake, and the event as material for something else. 

Martha Rosler, Losing: A Conversation With The Parents, 1977, 18:39 min, color, sound


Several sources have been formative in thinking through this project. The first is the notion – in the writings, of, say, Charles R. Garoian – that performance and live art (and experimental writing practices) involve methods and attitudes equivalent to radical pedagogies  of, for example, Paulo Freire and Ivan Illich. Is this true?  It’s certainly an assumption I’ve felt underpinning much of the work documented on this site.  I would like this piece of writing to test this proposition.

The second starting point is an art-writing practice of talking, and I have been thinking through the work of John Cage and David Antin, as well as (since I saw the film yesterday)  American: The Bill Hicks Story

These – in very different ways – structured, planned, and improvised practices of talking, are of course different from how I imagine the discussions on Friday will unfold. But they unfold questions about the prompt for speech, what kind of thought it enables, and how that speech is represented (if it is) on the page. I am looking to explore these further through A CURRICULUM FOR A CONVERSATION.

A THOUGHT: Conversation – and conversation worked into writing – appears suitable for a radical pedagogy/ curriculum, because it unfolds around and about  a subject, rather than pretending to define something. It does not package information that is exchanged like money for goods, but offers a model accomodating of what David Graeber has written of Bourdieu and Vygotsky:

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.’



Charles R. Garoian, Performing Pedagogy: Toward an Art of Politics (State University of New York Press, 1999).

Joan Retallack and Juliana Spahr, eds. Poetry and Pedagogy: The Challenge of the Contemporary (Palgrave Macmillian, 2006).


In Uncategorized on February 26, 2010 at 1:41 pm


This project returns to Ivan Illich’s 1967 manifesto Celebration of Awareness, originally written after the 1967 March on the Pentagon. It reconfigures this text as a site specific response for a guerilla re-enactment on the roof top of the Welbeck Street NCP Car Park, a short distance from London’s Oxford Street.

Upon arriving on the ninth floor of the car park, participants are greeted by one of the artists, invited to take a protest banner and proceed on to the roof. There, from an ACCIDENTAL PULPIT made from the car parks own architecture, a series of readers pronounce the following text from Celebration of Awareness. Audience members are invited to enter the pulpit and read themselves, fitting – seeing how the words do or not fit their own bodies and voices: 

We call you to join man’s race to maturity, to work with us in inventing the future. We believe that a human adventure is just beginning: that mankind has so far been restricted in developing its innovative and creative powers because it was overwhelmed by toil. Now we are free to be as human as we will. 

The celebration of man’s humanity through joining together in the healing expression of one’s relationship with others, and one’s growing acceptance of one’s own nature and needs, will clearly create major confrontations with existing values and systems. The expanding dignity of each man and each human relationship must necessarily challenge existing systems. 

The call is to live the future. Let us join together joyfully to celebrate our awareness that we can make our life today the shape of tomorrow’s future.


This event comes from a perceived connection between the NCP Welbeck Car Park and a series of radical educational paperbacks, published by Penguin in the series Penguin Education Specials in the 1970’s. These included: Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Opprressed ; Paul Goodman Compulsory Miseducation; Ivan Illich De-Schooling Society; Everett Reimer School is Dead. 

The striking graphic design of these paperbacks is reflected in the modernist brutalism of the car park itself. As the paperbacks themselves feel dated, the car park has been almost empty since the introduction of London’s congestion charge scheme. If this reading seeks to re-activate such educational ideas, the car park awaits its new function.

To read the paragraphs aloud here is, we propose, to experience a vertigo of time between future, past and present akin to looking straight down from the top floor. Some readers may be immune to the emotive temporal flux of these texts, as others will look over the rooftop edge without any feelings of vertigo.  

The image of an Ivan Illich duvet cover came into my mind with a surprising frequency




ACCIDENTAL PULPIT – (1)a feature of architectural space that provides unintentional opportunities for public speaking and public address. (2) Physical or mental space  resulting in the spatial configuring of speech acts. 

LOCATING INCOMPREHENSIBILITIES – a way of reading that focusses on what becomes incomprehensible in a text through distances of geography, time, or situation. A distinction is drawn between surface practices – texts in unknown languages, for example – and more deeper engagements with the nature of incomprehensibility – texts easily read, spoken and comprehended but certain of  whose effects and intentions have become illegible. 

Welbeck Street Car Park, a model made for the study of re-use by Colin Wharry, Ben Fallows, Julian Merille and Richard Penman.



FOR READERS: Consider the phenomenology of THE ACCIDENTAL PULPIT. How do you respond to the distinct experience of the space, and how does it inform your encounter with the text now in your hand? Think of (a) the political speech; (b) a speech at a wedding; (c) an intimate conversation in a noisy bar; (d) private reading; (e) traditional Swiss yodelling. Draw and ignore from each of these in your reading as appropriate.

Many of the artists, when first reading this text from the pulpit, laughed – in response, perhaps, to the strangeness of the situation. If as readers we concentrate intently on the words do we laugh more or less? THE ACCIDENTAL PULPIT will tell you.

FOR AUDIENCE: Stand at a distance as at a conventional rally or public lecture. The acoustics are terrible, particularly if it’s windy. You will probably hear only one or two of the speakers. Move closer, onto the top of the ramp, looking up, to hear the content of the speaker’s words. Experience a false intimacy: a conversational closeness, but towards an other distanced by position, location and script. Whilst hearing and/or not hearing the words reflect on their mixture of opacity and transparency. Stand at the back and enjoy a purely inaudible, visual spectacle. Disregard these instructions.


When everyone who wishes to has read the text aloud from the pulpit, postcards are distributed containing directions to a local pub, for further discussion. The performance at the Welbeck Street car park will take place without permission of NCP Car Parks. Cards instruct audience members to leave by different routes, to avoid large groups of people being recorded on CCTV cameras, and possibly prompting a response by security officials.  


This project is a preface for larger scale projects, by ourselves and others, exploring the relevance of Call for Celebration, and, more broadly, the ideas of Illich, Freire, Reimer, Goodman and others. Future projects could move from readings into discussions and other events, or expand the number and style of readings. Like Illich’s own ideas, they could explore the applicability of these ideas to a number of different issues and areas of society. 

Template for Ivan Illich open source wallpaper


The possible range of these ideas can be mapped on to the NCP Wellbeck Street Car Park. Separate floors of the car park are dedicated to particular areas of investigation as follows: 


1a             A CALL TO CELEBRATION











6b             SCHOOL: THE SACRED COW


7b             LEARNING WEBS 



9a             PLANNED POVERTY




This piece was first written as part of a performance/event  at the NCP Welbeck Street Car Park devised by David Berridge, Hyun Jin Cho, David Johnson, and Pippa Koszerek. Celebration of Awareness was the final performance in an event that led visitors through the car park, encountering performances, curated by Birdseye Prouductions.  

Celebration of Awareness is presented here as a script for events that may or not involve any of the original artists, explicitly mention Ivan Illich, take part in or otherwise reference any NCP car park.