Posts Tagged ‘script’


In Uncategorized on March 18, 2010 at 10:39 am

In April I will be taking part in Reading for Reading’s Sake, a four day event at the Islington Mill in Salford, exploring “reading as activity.” As part of my preparation for that event, I have been gathering together ideas, texts, quotations and notes concerning acts of reading.

One aspect of this work is finding particular performance structures for the reading of certain texts.  The structures seem to be ways of finding public modes for private acts of reading, thereby proposing a space where reading is “published.” I am interested in the transformations and translations evidenced by this act into showing and telling.  

Reading Room at Jinhua Park Pavillion, China by Herzog & de Meuron


The following text is a script for reading Kurt Schwitters’ poem  Wound Roses Roses Bleed (1918). Recent interest in Schwitters has often been based around the methodological implications of the Merzbau. Focussing on the poems, highlights a different set of concerns. I use them to create group structures over space and time, propose forms of (dis-)sociality, and elucidate how poems can be active plans, texts, and sources, in the same way as the notes, re-constructions, and images of the Merzbau’s various incarnations. 

(1) I am interested in vocal performances; (2) In voices working together without bodies; (3) The process of making a performance being an illustration of the process of the group; (4) Arriving somewhere, meeting people and the group formation taking place through reading; (5) Through the performance through the text; (6) Through the text through the performance; (7) No rehearsal; (8) The process of the group orienting itself to itself is foregrounded; (9) Foreground and background both; (10) Therefore I propose the following:


I will arrive on _____/_______/______ at __ __. There will be a space available for us to work in. By “us” I mean myself and whoever is there. Each of us will be provided with a name badge labelled “KURT”.

All of us will answer to the name of “Kurt” for the duration and only speak to one another through this name. As an introduction, I – Kurt – will read the following text whilst copies of the poem are distributed:

Hallo Kurt! Kurt here. Kurt must spend an hour performing the text according to the time constraint indicated. Kurt may speak any word from the script at any time in any order within the time constraints listed. Have you got that Kurt? Kurt should focus on reading at all time and Kurt must be attentive to how reading is also a speaking and group process. Thank you Kurt. Kurt, we start now. Thank you. The text, Kurt, is: 


Poem 23 circa 1918. Time durations have been added.


Wound roses roses bleed

Wound colossus wound wound

Roses languish languish roses

Torrid wound torrid torrid

Languish roses languish languish

Wound torrid wound wound

Roses torrid torrid roses

Embers trickle trickle ember

Embers trickle trickle ember

Bleed roses wound torrid

Languish wounds rose blood

Night languish roses night

Night wound blood blood

Night bleed night

Blood night blood




Wildwoodwondrous silversound

Wildwoodsoothing silversound


Silence trickle blood

Kurt Schwitters Merzbau (Teilansicht: Grosse Gruppe), um 1932 zerstört (1943) Foto (Repro): Kurt Schwitters Archiv im Sprengel Museum Hannover © Pro Litteris, Zürich



(1)Because the reading of this text constitutes an act of construction in time and space, it may be useful for readers to consider the following assessment – by Pierluigi Nicolin – of why Schwitter’s Merzbau has proved so popular amongst contemporary artists and architects:

the new and irresistible fascination of the incomplete… the act of assembling a multitude of plastic forms and materials, found objects, “spoils and relics” that were enclosed and partly walled up so that they could serve as records of previous states. Incomplete on principle, growing, changing constantly… The theme of assemblage has become a basic condition of the new globalized world… Taken as components to be assmbled rather than designed from scratch, the various frames, curtain walls,  escalators, elevators, ceilings, floors, etc. and sometimes even pre-packaged models of buildings represent an archive of solutions for the deisgner of metropolitan megacomplexes… composed of accidental patterns… Lateral motion, three-dimensionality, fortuitousness… emphasizing horizontal structures… creating symbols of centrality rather than aiming at convergence at a point, the new Merz architecture emphasizes tangents, vanishing points, twists, and crossings, without renouncing the expression of a certain Piranesian drama in the predisposition of its new figures.

SOURCE TEXT:  Hans Ulrich Obrist and Adrian Notz eds. Merz World: Processing the Complicated Order (JRP Ringier. 2008), 22.

(2) Because when I read this text it immediately suggested this process. Actually I didn’t read the Kurt. I just saw Kurt on the page, saw the Kurt systems of repetitions, bleedings from Kurt to Kurt. I saw this as a massive extension in Kurt folded in upon itself with a system of linear Kurt extension in time that was also simultaneously compressing and enfolding Kurt in and out of Kurt. For this reason a glimpse of Kurt torrid on the page was also to imagine an experience in its own Kurt time, dizzy, uncertain of its acoustic Kurt-space wound. In the reading aloud of the text Kurt was for the first time reading Kurt fully for the first time as Kurt reading. Prior to this I had hardly absorbed the specificities of Kurt structure, the lines before Kurt and the single space following Kurt around. 

(3) When the hour ends all Kurts share a meal together during which Kurt identity is eaten and participants return to their prior names then exit. 

(4) TRANSLATION BY JEROME ROTHERNBERG in Jerome Rothernberg and Pierre Joris eds. Kurst Schwitters pppppp poems performance pieces prose plays poetics (exact change, cambridge, 2002), 9.

(5) For information on LITTORAL’s  The Merz Barn Project, restoring  Schwitters last Merzbau at Elterwater in the Langdale Valley, Cumbria, see here.



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 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.