Posts Tagged ‘writing exhibitions’


In Uncategorized on April 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm


Rodney Graham, catalogue for Through the Forest, MACBA, 2010


What follows is a compendium of “reading as publishing” strategies derived from the work of Rodney Graham, based on my reading of two texts in the catalogue for  Graham’s recent Through the Forest MACBA show: Grant Arnold’s “It Always Makes Me Nervous When Nature Has No Purpose: An Annotated Chronology of the Life and Work of Rodney Graham” and Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes “Rodney Graham: Literature and What an Artist Does with It.”

Lerm Hayes essay is structured around the following taxonomy, which serves as a useful taxonomy of Graham’s “reading as publishing” concerns: The Study; Writing (or Not); The Book; The Typewriter, Paper; The Bookshop; Slipcases, Architectures for Reading. “Reading as Publishing” is a term I have been exploring for my presentation and workshop as part of Reading for Reading’s Sake at Islington Mills, Salford, 9-11 April 2010. As Hayes proposes:

[Graham] approaches literature… not as an opposed pole, but with ambivalence, similar to how he engages with cinema: quoting, appropriating literature’s methods, motifs, and forms, critiquing, at times lampooning, as well as revering and even reviving its traditions. What emerges is a way of working with literature that (re)presents it in innovative ways to new (and old) audiences… It provides a current and coherent (albeit idiosyncratic) way of harking back to the times of the universal artist/ scholar, while in all its idiosyncrasies and ambivalence showing how even today a critically reflected unity of all the arts may be possible. 

Rodney Graham problematizes what it is to produce and receive literature today, to read, to interpret it visually and textually, to write, design, print and sell books, to exhibit them as well as the outcomes of his complex, visual investigation into literature. (65-6)  

Rodney Graham, Reading Machine for Lenz, 1993



Lenz (1983) is an appropriation of a short unfinished work of fiction by Georg Buchner. As Lenz journeys through a mountain landscape to find a pastor, experiencing psychological breakdown, Graham takes the first 1,434 words of C.R. Mueller’s translation, typesets them so they fall on five justified pages, and creates a narrative loop so the reader, like Lenz, continually retraces their steps. The resultant work is produced in two forms: a 16 page prospectus (in edition of 210) and cloth bound book of 336 pages (in slipcase).

Also working with the loop is Dr.No (1991), a bookmark with text by Graham ( derived in part from Alain Robbe-Grillet) that can be inserted between pages 56 and 57 of the original first edition to extend and loop a scene in which a poisonous centipede transverses Bond’s naked body.

As Hayes summarises this method:

In using selection and the loop as strategies, Graham also conveniently caters to the art context’s comparatively shorter attention span or expected reception time. Like Joyce, Graham strategically rearranges literary history, showing the disturbing, evocative, fresh and colourful nature of earlier writing, “recycling” sources, placing himself within both a nineteenth-century and a Viconian context, that of a cyclical world order, for which the book, an object that one can turn around on its spine, is certainly a good image. (70)

Graham considers inserting his own text into existing books. Finds Lacan unsuitable, but turns to Freud. Freud Citation is a photograph of the cover of The Species Cyclamen L by Friedrich Hildebrand with a text referring to the books role in Freud’s anaysis of his “Dream of the Botanical Monograph.” Freud glimpsed the book in a Viennese bookshop and then dreamed about it.  

This project develops into Installation for Münster, a 1987 installation for Skulptur Projekte Münster in which 24 dummy books – their cover a replica of Hildebrand’s texts, their pages blank, if you could open them to see – are installed in windows of Münster’s bookshops. As Max Wechsler observes the book:

has become an object,  a symbol of its content rather than an actual container for them, and the starting point for an autonomous chain of associations… this is an art that wants to retreat under the hood of the everyday, to withdraw, if not into invisibility, at least into a discreet reserve. (100)


The System of Landor’s Cottage: A Pendant to Poe’s Last Story (1984) is a book based on and encompassing Edgar Allan Poe’s Landor’s Cottage: A Pendant to “The Domain of Arnheim.” Poe describes a small cottage set in an idyllic valley. Graham makes  the story into a novel by adding an extensive description of an annex to the cottage. The project becomes an architectural model, drawings, a dummy book, and a 312 page novel (in edition of 250).  A leather bound deluxe edition of 4 is also produced. 

Rodney Graham, Standard Edition, 1988


Graham also produces book sculptures. Die Traumdeutung, (1986) inserts books into replicas of minimalist sculptures by Donald Judd. Sculptures are also produced including works by Raymond Roussell(Nouvelles impressions d’Afrique), as well as La Séminaire (Lacan), Cours de Linquistique générale (Ferdinand de Saussure) and Jokes/Case Studies and Standard Editions (Freud). 

Casino Royale (Sculpture de Voyage) (1990), another project derived from Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, is installed in a hotel room so you could lie in bed and read above you a section where Bond, tied to a chair  from which the seat caning has been removed, is thrashed on buttocks and genitals. As Hayes observes of Graham’s focus on slip-cases and “mini-architectures” for books, they make reading impossible but, through echoing the books subject matter, provide “associative and interpretive companionship.” (80-82)

Rodney Graham, White Shirt (for Mallarmé), Spring 1993


In White Shirt (for Mallarmé), Spring 1993. A black cardboard box contains a white men’s dress shirt folded as if on display in a clothing shop. Inside the shirt is a sheet of white paper with with the text of Stéphane Mallarmés poem “The Demon of Analogy.” Through the fabric of the shirt can be seen a sheet of tissue paper with the poem title, the phrase “La Pénultième est morte” and Mallarme’s signaure. The shirt fits Graham. It is intended to be exhibited simultaneously in gallery and shop front.

Irradiation (1993) is a boxed set of 8x 10 inch glass negatives of the first forty-four pages of section four of Bibliographie analytique des principaux phénomènes subjectifs de la vision by Joseph Plateau, which describes optical effects caused by the observation of stars at night. 

Graham’s confinement of the book to the luxury edition enables a foregrounding of the book as both impossible and ideal. Illustrating the former, a project on Czerny’s piano exercises links them to Galileo’s fomulation of the law of free fall, to produce a text variously exhibited as a 1,443 page wall text, and 24 volumes (one hour of music).

Projects (1988) begins from a glimpse – like that which leads Freud to his dream of the botanical monograph – that mistakes a cardboard box for a book “such as I myself should someday like to write” Graham observes:

This later idea set off a new speculation – a daydream in which I found myself mentally assembling a whole series or recent thoughts about books into a more or less coherent form, into a prescription for my ideal, future book. I should most certainly (I recall telling myself) have the work’s title and my name composed in the romantic-style topography I love (in black, red, green and gold ink – I had recently seen an example of this, the engraved title page of an old architectural pattern book, at the home of my brussels friend) the paper of the book should be soft and supple ( I like a book that yields to the hands and drapes when opened) its pages of a creamy white etc. etc. 

In Five Interior Design Proposals for the Grimm Brothers’ Studies in Berlin (1992), CAD drawings of the brothers matching studies were manipulated and moved around creating a series of varying doubles, then rendered as nineteenth century interior design illustrations. 

Rodney Graham, Rheinmetall / Victoria 8, 2003


In the film Rheinmetall/ Victoria 8, the typewriter becomes covered in filmic snow/ flour, which Hayes interprets as an end to optimistic views of technological progress. It offers an image of “reading as publishing” that both reveals and conceals. In Hayes useful phrase Graham practices “a conceptualism that overdoes it” (78)

Graham’s more recent work has moved away from a focus on the book and reading, although Allegory of Folly: Study for an Equestrian Monument in the Form of a Wind Vane (2005), a pair of black and white light boxes, features Graham as Erasmus, reading a phone book whilst seated backwards on a model horse used to train jockeys.


In Uncategorized on March 20, 2010 at 9:53 am


The e-flux Reading Room, New York


Two projects by VerySmallKitchen have been selected to be part of THE READING ROOM in Berlin, curated by Dominique Hurth and Ciarán Walsh. Both Writing Exhibitions and Essaying Essays will feature in what Hurth and Walsh term “a curated archive of artist’s printed projects.”  

My proposal for THE READING ROOM explored how the form of both publications occupied an overlapping space between print and online, magazine, exhibition and essay. The format for each publication – each contributer has 3 pages of A4 – was rooted in a hard copy concept of publication, but for convenience and economy the publication has been distributed almost entirely as an online PDF. THE READING ROOM is thus a chance to re-imagine both the individual contributions and the whole publication as a printed object.

Because of the relaxed yet specialised reading experience THE READING ROOM hopes to cultivate (see below) I have been thinking of both publications as unbound folios, that enable both authors and readers to approach the materiality of each contribution. The writers and artists involved have all been asked to re-imagine their contributions for this possible new format.

The curators describe their project as follows: 

The Reading Room is a project based in Berlin with the aim to maintain, archive and represent products of contemporary art practices evolving within printed and published formats. Through archival methodology, critical reflection and strategic methods of presentation, The Reading Room will focus on these representations of contemporary practice that both utilise and interrogate the published form as their primary medium.

In addition to the traditionally understood artist’s books, monographs or exhibition catalogues, the published format is now widely utilised as a primary site for various art practices. Often secondary when compared to the established presentation space of the gallery, the act of publishing has diversified and widened into self-contained body of artistic method and research. The Reading Room will focus on the publication as medium and context for artistic practice, in which the artists choose deliberately and critically the publication as support, while using its materiality, edges and frame as tools for both visual and semantic expressions. 

An event by Amalgum at the ICA Reading Room, London


The Reading Room will only consider books, printed material, publications or magazines that are actively interrogating or reconsidering the textuality, materiality and context of their chosen medium: works by artists who use the concept of publication or book as a primary and independent mean of artistic production without serving purely the representation of earlier artworks or illustrating physical artworks. 

The Reading Room is based on former institutional “Reading Rooms” (such as the one of the British Museum in London), and functions as such: it will be open for public viewing, with those wanting to use it being required to make an appointment and also register beforehand their particular interested in the publications or project. The Reading Room takes its initial presentation location from the idea of the “Salon”, gathering its printed matters under the roof of an inspiring hostess or host. The visitors and readers of the Reading Room will ring the bell of a private apartment, climb up the stairs to it, and then be able to sit in a study room. Refreshments will be served. 

The organisers of The Reading Room will maintain a curated monthly selection of approximately 25 publications that can be seen at one time. Those will be chosen based on changing criteria, such as topics, size, colour, content, and links to each other. A monthly index will be published online. By special agreement, the remaining publications of the archive can of course be read and viewed, next to the monthly selection.


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 28, 2010 at 12:08 pm



A PDF version of this text is available here. The first edition of VSK Projects will comprise 5 projects by artists whose work places language within visual systems of thought and understanding.  This project by-line is itself re-improvised by the curator after each project, to try and chart how each artists’ intervention changes my sense of the unfolding whole.  See previous projects by Rachel Lois Clapham and John Pinder.


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.


In Uncategorized on February 23, 2010 at 2:02 am

Please join us for the next incarnation of the ART WRITING FIELD STATION on Mar 7th 2010 at:

Unit 9, Sara Lane Studios
60 Stanway Street 
London, N1 6RE

from 5.30- 8.00pm. A map is here

The Story so far: During our event at the Five Years Gallery, Marianne Holm Hansen created a lexicon of art writing  (see images above) out of performances/ lectures/ screenings by David Berridge, Tamarin Norwood, COMPULSIVE HOLDING (Hyun Jin Cho and David Johnson) and Matthew MacKisack.  For our discussion on the 7th we will return to these lists, to see what can be proposed and unfolded from them.

The lexicons are part of Marianne’s  For The Record (A written conversation) project. The evening on the 7th will be an informal series of readings, interventions, performances, that use these images and their vocabulary as the starting point for a conversation. Proposals for presentations are invited. These may as simple as selecting a particular word for our consideration, replacing a word, suggesting ways of grouping words, and/or offering a short commentary.

Or they may be as complicated as no-budget, a studio space,  and up to 15 minutes allows.  Throughout the evening we will compile the final pamphlet in the first ART WRITING FIELD STATION chapbook project.

Please email if you would like to attend and/or present. Please note that it is not necessary to have attended the original Five Years event as we will be working solely from Marianne’s lexicon. Please bring a bottle.

The night will also feature the grand(-ish) launch of the ART WRITING FIELD STATION ARCHITECTURAL OPPORTUNITY COMPETITION.  

ALSO COMING SOON: ART WRITING FIELD STATION goes to Leeds, MAR 27th 2010, 10.30 -1.30pm (in collaboration with OPEN DIALOGUES & Writing Encounters). More details to follow.


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 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm


Activist No.1, Monday 13th December, Demonstration, Copenhagen (photo: Alex Eisenberg)


As part of  Question Time, which took place in Copenhagen during the COP15 Climate Change negotiations in December 2009, I took part in the writing project STATEMENTS OF INTENT with Rachel Lois Clapham, Alex Eisenberg, and Mary Paterson. We described this project as follows: 

Each day Question Time hold a summit somewhere in Copenhagen- in cafes, street corners, domestic apartments, and train stations – after which a new statement of intent is produced towards an alternative declaration of the way forward on climate change. 

Statements were written by the person taking minutes during the daily meetings, and would have to be completed and published the same day . They were initially published on the project blog. My own first statement read as follows: 

Summit Date: 8 December 2009
Attending: David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Alex Eisenberg 
Location: Red Cross Cafe Zusammen
Minute Taker: David Berridge

Tuesday 8th December 2009

We chance encounter. We design. We subject to change. We smallness and the individual voice. We social. We ambition. We abandon. We aim for higher emission targets. We post-global meltdown universe. We writing machine.

We embrace the uncertainty of our position – participate or die – within a community of hosts and guests in Copenhagen, within economies and governments and global climate systems. We collective voice. We minute. We proliferate.

We never ask a question we know the answer to. We work as artists, reclaiming the interview as about more than information or jobs, politicians or celebrities. The interview is about encounter and conversation as ecological systems on the edge of collapse, but full of suggestions towards prosperity.

We social sculpture. We propose categories holding clusters of related ideas, ever adaptable to any particular situation. These categories are: (1) START; (2) COP15; (3) SOCIAL SCULPTURE; (4) HOSPITALITY; (5) ACTION; (6) PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE; (7) HOME; (8) ENDING; (9) CHANCE AND FUTURE; (10) WILD CARD.

We graphic continuity. We draft. We disaster. We turn thought into manifesto. We New Life. We globe. We guilt. We science fiction. We don’t know. We host. We tone. We light up through pedal power. We wild card. We deal with urban development. We preparatory.


Activist No.2, Saturday 12th December, 2009, Demonstration march to the Bella Centre, Copenhagen (photo: Alex Eisenberg)


When it was my turn to be minute taker again my sense of the Question Time project, COP15, and being in Copenhagen, seemed to be finely balance between presence and negation:

DATE: 11/12/09


PRESENT: David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Alex Eisenberg, Sara Seerup Laursen, Sarah Wingate.

MINUTE TAKERS: David Berridge and Sarah Wingate.

STATEMENT 4: “Boring Rhetoric Your Question”

Boring rhetoric destroying the house of cards. Destroys questions. Destroys the room of space. Destroys music.

Boring rhetoric binds non-verbal actions. Boring rhetoric the action of now. Boring rhetoric not lived out yet.

Boring rhetoric can get weird. Boring rhetoric “with my mind.” Boring rhetoric pledge mimics boring rhetoric.

Boring rhetoric magic of choice. Boring rhetoric utopia becomes two statements: “Boring and “Rhetoric.” Begins with ending. Refuses to answer question. Boring rhetoric turn over. Let’s all jump up and down at the same time.

Boring rhetoric meets one person and everything changes. Boring rhetoric self publishing. Boring rhetoric more important than the interviewee. Boring rhetoric New York.







The statements were later re-formatted as a set of downloadable press releases. A sample of the project is below. You can read the full set of Statements of Intent here

Statement o.o

Statement 2.3

Statement 2.4


In Uncategorized on February 20, 2010 at 7:24 pm

The above image and the two below are taken from the blog of the artist Anna Francis. Anna is chronicling the exciting arrival via the post of The Wild Pansy Press Book of Rainy Day Activities.  As well as Anna’s DIY Fridge gallery manual pages, the publication also, amongst its 19 contributers, includes my own essay YOUR GAMES ARE IDEAS THAT HAVEN’T THOUGHT THROUGH WHAT PLAYING AND PARTICIPATION INVOLVE.  My own tube containing a copy of the book is also currently awaiting assembly!

YOUR GAMES ARE IDEAS… is a collection of games, strategies, philosophies and quotations that in some way unfold from the following statement: 

Because a new economic situation and a new kind of game is necessary. 

Because I don’t want to be overly pessimistic but in this post-economic age we might not be competitive like we used to but also we aren’t that green = ecological either…. 

Because we’re seeking a kind of conceptual poetic gamesmanship that is not just an activity, a form of relationship or a type of improvised thinking but a variety of poetry for insects that only humans can access.

Because paper models of buildings are all we can afford, so better get smaller and get inside…. a credit crunch olympics… a without noun now….

And this quotation from Ian Hamilton Finlay seems particularly generative:

.. I don’t usually play games but it seems to me that most games are like many poems, in that they are so complex that luck (randomness) re-enters by the complexity – and that it is better, therefore, to have a kind of ‘concrete’ game, where the basic moves are very simple, but can result in a kind of measured complexity which one can see.

The Wild Pansy Press themselves describe the book as follows:

As our contribution to the exhibition CRUNCHTIME! Artists’ responses to the global credit crisis and its timetable of associated events, The Wild Pansy Press has produced a publication in which a range of contributors make concrete suggestions for new cultural activities in a Post-Crunch society, with an emphasis on the practical, the cheap and the sustainable.

The Wild Pansy Book of Rainy Day Activities will be available to all visitors free of charge during the exhibition.

The Wild Pansy Press put out a call for contributions last year and we’ve tried to include everything that came in as long as it seemed in some way to respond to what we’d asked for. The contributors are mostly artists of some sort but we hope that “some sort” stretches the definition pretty widely.

In essence, The Wild Pansy Book of Rainy Day Activities is an exhibition in book form. You, the spectator, are offered a range of ways to respond; you can curate your own show by making and doing the things we have included (and adding your own) or you can just enjoy the book as a documentation of possibilities. The first thing to do, though, is to assemble the book from the four sheets that can be collected by visiting both of the two CRUNCHTIME exhibition venues (you can make your own cover, too, if you like). Think of it as a warm-up exercise – once you’ve done it, making boots to walk on water or a bike out of a shopping cart will seem just that little bit less daunting. It also means that each person who folds and sews up their own copy can rightfully add their name to the list of contributors.

Just as the making process continues after we pass the book’s constituent parts on to you, the audience, so we hope you will respond by sending us new projects that we can archive on our website including your own responses to and modifications of the ones in the book.

The Wild Pansy Book of Rainy Day Activities is the first of what we hope will be a series of publications that bring together work from a wide range of contributors around different shared themes, all of them exploring (and expanding) the idea of publication as a medium, not just for the distribution of art, but for its making.

CONTRIBUTERS: David Berridge, Kate Brundrett, Wayne Clements, Tom Cookson, Jorn Ebner, Anna Francis, Alex Hamilton, Barry Hughes, Daniel Lehan, Simon Lewandowski, Harry Malkin, Graham Martin, Phil McCollam, Ellen Mueller, Chris Taylor & Craig Woods, Eric Wilhelm, Lynne Williams, and Zieak.