December 30, 2009

Gauging Freedom and Constraint




The Text Festival and the Language Moment have led me to engage more recently with Live Art practice. In January I will be talking to the Live Art Development Agency http://www.thisisliveart.co.uk/ about running some of their DIY artists’ training sessions with a language slant as a Text Festival partnership. So I approached with interest a creative dialogue that has started on the related http://www.thisisperformancematters.co.uk/news.1.10.html website between Live Art theorist Adrian Heathfield and choreographer Jonathan Burrows. This dialogue also attracts me because my Gauge Symmetries work with Helmut Lemke (sound) and Ruth Tyson-Jones (dance) is a live project with issues still to be resolved. So adopting the same conceit of correspondence, I write to Adrian and Jonathan:

Dear Adrian and Jonathan

It is interesting to see that you have taken up the discussion of the relationship between the writing of words and the writing of dance – it seems very much of the moment that other artforms’ relationship to poetry is being reconsidered. That said, I am a little underwhelmed but at the same time not surprised by the poetry you reference. I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with the work of the poet Michael Donaghy. When I checked him out online I realised why I didn’t know his work. It doesn’t surprise me that his line on form is located in tradition; apparently ‘he chooses the analogy of a traditional dance, the form of which acts as a container for what is shared without restricting the freedom of each individual to be spontaneous in response to it.’ This fits completely with the comfortable output of Hegemony of the Banal in UK poetics
- from what I read online, Donaghy was more talented than a lot of his peers but it is still Official Verse Culture, to use Charles Bernstein’s term. The problem with the container with freedom for individual is, as William Carlos Williams said, “all sonnets are the same”.


Adrian asks: ‘Can one consider forms without first considering traditions?’ Of course; not only can one, one must. I would counterpose (paraphrase) Raymond Queneau’s line that we should be rats who construct the labyrinth from which we plan to escape – after all who needs to escape from a labyrinth that’s already been cracked? Again, Adrian identifies the impossibility of the absence of constraint, “and the ways in which constraint is absolutely necessary to the movement that resists and surpasses it.” I think that any formal constraints are what you make them. Referenced in the title ‘Gauge Symmetries’ which I am working on with Ruth Tyson Jones and Helmut Lemke, the only constraints that are impossible to avoid are the gauge symmetries of gravity and the laws of physics. Far from it being compelling that tradition is invoked as a space of freedom, I find it rather dismal; specifically because the ‘tradition’ which is venerated in UK ‘poetry’ is pre-modern. This phenomenon is readily recognisable to contemporary poets - “those who are truly contemporary, who truly belong to their time, are those who neither perfectly coincide with it nor adjust themselves to its demands” as Agamben wrote. The oft turning to tradition never seems to register the poets who actually had something progressive to contribute to Adrian’s ‘nowness’ (and dance) such as, most notably, Bob Cobbing. I hope that Jonathan’s sense of liberation when his cherished notions of dance were challenged by Peter Stamer can also apply to the language challenge to his notions of poetry.

There was a discussion at the recent launch in Salford of the Journal of British & Irish Innovative Poetry along the lines that the UK mainstream is now so artistically bereft that the journal would be wasting its attention to critique it; instead it should focus on the innovative and experimental. Certainly that is true, but as I said in that discussion, there is a field of contention wherein contemporary poetic practice has to engage and this is the dialogue with other artforms. As the Language Moment posits, despite the global art stylistic multiplicity, language is the increasingly unifying, if often unrecognised, constant. Your correspondence on “Performance Matters” manifests the urge of the Language Moment. As does Hans Ulrich Obrist’s recent Poetry Marathon at the Serpentine Gallery. But as I fear both your conversation and Obrist’s Marathon indicate the disconnection of innovative poetic practice from other artform discourse, the void which is filled by the School of Quietude, to use Ron Silliman’s phrase. As a poet I know little about current choreography theory and practice, so why should I expect dance, live art, music or any other form to know where poetry is. As Caroline Bergvall wrote of the Poetry Marathon: “it was something of a disappointment to see so many of them [non-poet artists] react with undisguised anxiety at that same word, ‘poetry.’ Otherwise lucid, articulate artists found themselves in the throes of open self loathing, “I don’t know poetry,” “I don’t know what to read,” choosing to calm the audience by reading from known values such as Eliot, Ted Hughes, Lorca, and Hamburger’s Celan, rather than tracing their own engagement with writing”. I wonder which Celan translation Adrian is using. My concern voiced at the Journal of Innovative Poetics launch is that the poetry mainstream’s only hope of artistic credibility is a critical relocation with an illusory validation from other artforms that have had a path of progress rather than stagnation. It becomes vital for poetry, and for other artforms themselves, that the other artforms know that this is a cul-de-sac which will sideline a vital field of cultural enquiry.

I don’t want my contribution to this conversation to appear patronising about non-poets grasp of contemporary poetics, just to point out that there is a cutting edge and blunt edge and a lot of other artform practitioners and curators are frequently using the poetry latter.

I am interested in Jonathan’s comments about his dedication as a performer to trying to be more 'in the moment'. I had the challenging experience of realising this problem in the first (and often subsequent) development rehearsals with Helmut and Ruth for Gauge Symmetries. Although their interest was the response and dialogue with my linguistic spatialisations, I was forcibly struck by the remarkable ease with which a dancer and a musician can immediately generate ‘nowness’ drawing on their artform’s traditions and capacity for improvisation. As my writing is generated through long slow processes of edit, textual reference, and poetic structuring, it would take me weeks to generate a meaningful text to work in spatial relation to dance-sound actions, to which they can respond spontaneously at the point of unveiling. We did develop forms of interaction over time: I tried various strategies such as pre-installation, so I was slightly ahead in generating a language space, in addition to projections of text but none of these seemed particularly successful or that interesting – projecting texts in a performative space just repeated what many other performance poets have tried. In the sound landscape created by Helmut with his amplified strings attaching him physically to the space plus his use of the sax, I developed a process of installation of lines aiming to uncover spatial geometries and the temporal thickness of Ruth’s responsive movement – the three forms intertwining with each other. However, Adrian’s description of Boris Charmatz’s crashing movement in comparison to dancers in the workshop rings a bell for me. This happens inevitably: an untrained, uncontrolled body has to be clumsy and lumbering beside a crowd of dancers. Having generated the same effect myself, despite my desire to be invisible, in relation to Ruth Tyson-Jones' Laban lyricism, it seems to me a pretty slim and obvious manifestation – what does it actually say other than juxtapositions of some artforms can clash with the aesthetics of others? I am still working on how to delete this effect from our collaboration as I think it doesn’t move the dialogue forward and has little formal value.

To seriously develop this correspondence, I don’t think that there is much mileage in looking at why a written text or dance is what it is, and when it might not be useful to write? Certainly on the latter, it’s not really very useful for a writer to not write. Similarly ‘unpicking the opposition between dance practice as a seemingly uncontained and prolific generator of “the immediate gesture” and language as a more restrained form’ may put me in an analogous danger of Charmatz-like of not recognising the problem you describe. If you locate poetry and dance in Cobbing’s view of poetry as a convergence ‘between’ all various performances, considering dance “perhaps the key to them all” the opposition doesnt exist. Indeed, amongst innovative poets “language as a more restrained form” would sound a very strange idea (OULIPO not withstanding). And maybe I need to get out more, as I have not heard of people comparing the powers of an artwork as like a wound or scare – is this common parlance in dance circles? If this relates also to the burning that Donaghy speaks of – it simply sounds like Romanticism to me.

I find it interesting how discourse about production of art, of whatever form, nowadays so easily shifts to discussion of its reception or consumption – as Jonathan terms it: the old argument about where we place the audience, or readership, in relation to the practice of art making. This argument was also there at the Innovative Poetics Journal launch. It was proposed that Matt Welton’s recent programme in Bolton which placed, for instance, Allen Fisher on a bill with Simon Armitage, and Scott Thurston with Sophie Hannah was valuable because it gave audiences which would come to the mainstream poets the opportunity to access the more innovative practitioners. I recall that Ron Silliman has also been on a bill with Armitage somewhere. I should ask him whether that was to allow an audience access to Armitage's less interesting work. It is the same attitude which informed the Serpentine Poetry Marathon. Although there wasn’t time to argue against this practice at the launch, on reflection, in relation to this correspondence, I feel it needs to be challenged for a number of reasons. Contemporary visual art never gives over exhibition space to traditionalist figurative painters or watercolourists, because historically visual art has been driven by the emerging, by the innovators, by the new. In live art I don’t imagine anyone has attempted to programme Tehching Hsieh in the same programme as X-factor style dancers – correct me if I am wrong. I just don’t see the aesthetic point in the juxtaposition. It will obviously expose the work of Armitage or Hannah or any of the others as not very interesting, but that is obvious anyway without the juxtaposition. Much more interesting is to create experiment: http://www.colin-herd.com/2009/05/can-you-curl-your-tongue-text-festival.html

I agree with cris cheek’s observation about Cobbing that “a performance of writing, in the majority of these cases intended to be in conversation with the possibilities for the poem, was an occasion of a moment”. When I started developing Gauge Symmetries I held to a position of not ‘sounding’ my texts, which I have now modified, as I blogged back in November (http://tony-trehy.blogspot.com/2009/11/on-jazz-or-comedy.html) so I look forward to investigating the possibilities this holds up. This may seem contradictory to the powerful validity Adrian attributes to choreographers and performance makers negotiating performance propositions in social space. But I take Bob Perelman’s position that writing in all its dimensions is fully social. It has been said that the difference between an innovative poetry reading and a mainstream reading is that the latter has an audience of readers and the former is an audience of writers. Something similar to Adrian’s comment that the audience is a co-creator of the work and is integral to its meaning, they are not simply spectating ‘upon’ it. Indeed I think that an audience’s job is to contribute a magnifying intensity to the artist’s deeper ontological investigation of the work. Charles Bernstein observes that “To speak of the poem in performance is, then, to overthrow the idea of the poem as a fixed, stable, finite linguistic object; it is to deny the poem its self-presence and its unity. Thus while performance emphasizes the material presence of the poem, and of the performer, it at the same time denies the unitary presence of the poem, which is to say its metaphysical unity.” I am not sure I'd go all the way with Charles on this, but I think, in performance the artist is generally characterised as outward
facing from the work, offering it up; conversely I believe that the existential dynamic of the audience’s Otherness focuses the moment of presentation, it offers the artist an implosive potential energy to turn inwards to the work, and with this intensity for future works.

Best wishes
Tony

December 27, 2009

Review of the Year: 2009



Tis’ the light-hearted season of reviews of the year. Not that anyone cares, but I might as well play the game too – a personal review of my top cultural experiences.

Best Exhibition of 2009: I saw a lot of shows this year and straight away the problem of how you compare one thing with another rears up. The tour de force show was “Holbein to Tillmans” exhibition at the Schaulager in Basel


I blogged it back in June (http://tony-trehy.blogspot.com/2009/06/as-mentioned-schaulager-is-great-space.html). Also worth consideration, coincidentally seen at the same time was “The World of Madelon Vriesendorp” at Basel Architekturmuseum. A strong contender for show of the year would have to be the Darcy Lange exhibition at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. http://www.ikon-gallery.co.uk/programme/current/event/263/work_studies_in_schools/ . Blogged in January, I’d also recall Grazia Toderi’s excellent video installation “Fantasia” at Base in Florence, http://www.baseitaly.org/Grazia%20Toderi.html . Though you can’t include your own curating in this sort of review, I think “Not At This Address” at Bury Art Gallery was a cracker too. And the name in the gold envelope is “Holbein to Tillmans” at the Schaulager.

Best Museum: Moominvalley Museum, Tampere, Finland.

http://inter9.tampere.fi/muumilaakso/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22&Itemid=45

Best Film: I realise now that I saw very few films this year so this category is a bit thin on the ground. With no claim to greatness other than I am a fan, I give this one to the new Star Trek.

Best music: will seem a funny mix; Norwegian Jazz - Håkon Kornstad: Dwell Time http://www.kornstad.com/dwelltime/ contemporary music - various works by Luigi Nono http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Nono indie-pop from everything everything
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFM_kTAYVsU and 17th Century Tobias Hume’s Poeticall Musicke http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobias_Hume - this one can go to whichever I am in the mood for.

Best Book: Phil Davenport’s “About Everything” was a great piece, though as I saw it from early draft stages, so I feel a bit too close to it; Tony Lopez’s “Darwin”, of course, and the other book I particularly enjoyed was Carol Watt’s “When blue light falls”; however, the one that I reached for when thinking about this was P.Inman’s “Ad Finitumhttp://www.ifpthenq.co.uk/books.html

Out of a lot of sound works I heard this year, the Best sound work ‘award’ goes to Ben Gwilliam for his ice-vinyl playing of 'molto semplice e cantabile'. http://www.thosesoundsbetween.co.uk/


Best Poetry Reading both Ron Silliman’s readings, at Bury and at Birkbeck, were great to see; but the Text Festival gig was more adrenaline filled for me because of the experiment in juxtaposing Hester Reeve, Claus van Bebber, and Catriona Glover, which meant that I couldn’t really relax to enjoy it. So the reading that I most personally enjoyed was the Bury Poems (Carol Watts, Phil Davenport and Tony Lopez) event.
From art to luxury:

Best Hotel: Marriott London Grosvenor Square

December 26, 2009

Speak is Code

(News from Phil in China)

Jiao Tong Teahouse 28 December 2009

Yao Bo, Philip Davenport, Wang Jun

Jiao Tong Teahouse is a mesh of conversations, meetings, deals made, gambling and over it all, parrots swing on their perches, aping the human noise. It is an intersection and into it the work of three artists is placed for the Speak is Code exhibition. The works explore the space between us all, locate the holes in language and - as Davenport’s poem says – “The impasse between skin.”

Yao Bo, ceramicist and painter premieres a version of her continuing major work On Reading Beckett: a long text response to Beckett is handwritten in Chinese script onto manuscript paper. As counterpoint, a series of collapsed pots – like collapsed lungs – are placed onto each piece of paper. From some of the pots comes the sound of the piece being read aloud. Yao Bo’s work explores the delicate seams of identity – where we join and where we fall apart.

My Paintings are Invisible by Philip Davenport is a poem sequence combining Chinese and Western alphabets. The work is dedicated to Hai Zi (1965-89) the Chinese poet. Alphabets of East and West entwine to make word pictures, ‘invisible paintings’, each given an imaginary colour. They are on translucent paper, scripted half in Chinese (by Chinese artists) and half in English. The two alphabets sometimes join, sometimes separate. These are ‘paintings’ of absence, images that never grow clear – and Hai Zi becomes a symbol for all who are missing, all that we cannot say.

Wang Jun is an artist whose works balance meaning against nothing. His recent pieces cross-breed industrial processes with the landscapes of hanzi that fill his paintings. He crunches together the Tao Te Ching, Wiggenstein and postmodernity into mould-presses misfits.

Exhibition curated by Philip Davenport, artist in residence 501 Artspace. Contributing artists to My Paintings are Invisible: Deng Chuan, Mao Yan Yang, Pang Xuan, Wang Jun, Xu Guang Fu, Yan Yan, Zheng Li, translation Deng Chuan, Yan Yan and Zhong Na. Philip would like to thank all for their kindness and for the beauty of their writing.

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas


for the first ethic of christmas my true love sent to me an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the second ethic of christmas my true love sent to me two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the third ethic of christmas my true love sent to me three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the fourth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the fifth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the sixth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the seventh ethic of christmas my true love sent to me seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the eighth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me eight possibilities of realising seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the ninth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me nine ladies dancing eight possibilities of realising seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the tenth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me ten favourable circumstances nine ladies dancing eight possibilities of realising seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the eleventh ethic of christmas my true love sent to me eleven singular conjunctures ten favourable circumstances nine ladies dancing eight possibilities of realising seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the twelfth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me twelve harmonious equilibria eleven singular conjunctures ten favourable circumstances nine ladies dancing eight possibilities of realising seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth

December 17, 2009

The crisis of COMMENT





Due to a short gap in Bury Art Gallery’s programme, a Crafts Council touring exhibition was brought in, called “Deviants”. Not being curatorially responsible for it, in fact knowing not much more about it than the title, I’d thought it an unusual opportunity to review an exhibition in Bury. It may also surprise you that my original degree is a craft degree – ceramics. I quickly gave that up because I got tired of having wet muddy hands, but the show felt that it should be familiar ground. It is; Deviants is a very small survey of crafts from the 1970s to 2000, so small, with so few objects, that the sweep of 30 years is like surveying a life by saying ‘Birth. Death’. When I was finishing my degree in 1982, since the sixties, ceramics had already divided into domestic wares/ceramic design, fine art ceramics – the one-off pot seeking some relationship of perfection of proportion, glaze or form, in the UK at least, influenced by the Japan and the pottery revival of Bernard Leach – and finally ceramic sculpture: this latter tended to be a rather fastidious sub-genre, because its practitioners had first trained as potters/’ceramicists’ and so rather than their work being sculptural, it was riven with Lilliputian scrutiny of surface or redundant formal enquiry. The most repetitive of which was the questioning of function – no self-respecting ceramic sculptor could resist ‘challenging accepted notions of function – ie tea pots that don’t pour, vorticist disruption of a coffee cup, porous or crawling glazes on domestic ware, etc: grandly claiming some glamour in ‘deviance’.


Deviants therefore represents this wing, it has to, given that this discourse was so endemic. I am not surprised to see it in the show; indeed, it gave me a sort of warm comforted feeling to be in such familiar if silly ground. Of course, it was also a dismal feeling that in the nearly 40 years since I was involved nothing much has happened. If this was all there was to say about the show, it probably wouldn’t be worth writing about it; and in fact, the show content is actually a digression from the issue which struck me as I viewed it.











Actually the biggest element of the display is a table with blank cards with punched holes at the top and the word COMMENTS printed. Backing the table a large board covers part of the wall. The board has a geometric grid of pegs and a large sign: DEVIANTS.

  • Before the show opened this board and configuration of cards had an aesthetic rigour which was quite attractive. But now it is open the board has filled up with ‘comments’. A flavour:

    Sean O’Brien (age 2 years) likes it here thank you. (accompanied by a child’s scribble)
    I love it.
    I really enjoy all the art
    This museum is cool by Grace Hogan (accompanied by a child’s drawing)
    Wayne from Old hall School had a great day today (smiley face)
    I love Gabby by Davy Cardiff
    I waz here: it’s only fun if you’re involved and included not left out and shut out cos you just don’t fit in to there little boxes
    Didn’t find this very interesting – Jordan
    I like this museum so much I want to come here for the rest of my life.

    I don’t usually waste anytime reading comments boards which are now ubiquitous in UK museums. I scanned this one because the exhibition designer had made the board such a large and integrated element of the show. Momentarily I found some of the comments vaguely interesting. The fact that Wayne from Old Hall School refers to himself by name rather than in first person and the way that ‘today’ magnifies his great day but also adds a hint of poignancy; the fact that some child wants to visit the gallery forever; the curiously excluded visitor – accumulatively was more interesting than any of the crafts objects in the show. To be honest, I have made the accumulation more interesting than it was because there were many more children’s squiggles – which are only of interest to their parents – and teenagers leaving their names or names of other youngsters they ‘love’.




So I couldn’t help wondering what was the curatorial point of this board, so specific an intrusion into the concept of crafts’ deviance. It is titled DEVIANTS but the act of comment implies conformity. Coincidentally, the same day I spent time in the show, I received a bulletin from the Arts Council of England, in part, announcing a new website http://www.helloart.org.uk/ wherein you can log on and share your feelings, COMMENT, on recent artistic experiences that you have enjoyed. The site showed that 197 people had COMMENTed so far, though as with Google I only looked at the first page. Although the user profile of the site is much older and more articulate than the COMMENTS board in DEVIANTS (or most other comments boards), the expressions on the site weren’t substantially much different. I was reminded of Lawrence Weiner’s comment that graffiti can be justified, engaged with as a discourse, if the graffitist says something; if they just scrawl their name they are simply manifesting an existential crisis.

What are these invitations to comment for? I presume that the website is the Arts Council’s ineffectual response to the sense of doom gathering as the arts are decimated by the economic crisis – it’s a form of petition, if it gets big enough it can be pointed to showing how important the arts are in people’s lives. The COMMENTS boards are slightly different because they don’t frame the invitation as either positive or negative. Primarily, comments that are left are from children or families – parents engaging in familial gesture of comment. This could be a self selecting mechanism because under the Central Cultural Imperative children and families are the most valued audience. To comment if you are a lone visitor could I imagine feel quite strange, intrusive somehow. What are the galleries/curators going to do with the comments? The ones that struggle above the non-verbal grunt, that are positive, will go into the evaluation that shows that the exhibition was useful to its audience. The audience will also be counted; probably surveyed too, if possible, so their geography, ethnicity, social class can be monitored. All this will prove that the arts are reaching the people who need them most: hovering unasked the frequently recurring question of the relationship of the artist (poet) to the audience (not the audience to the artist).

The Bury Arts & Museums Service will shortly be inspected to see if the governmental bureaucracy finds it not failing – this may not be a shoe-in because the criteria is the same one that is used for everything from refuse collection to highways maintenance; so it has a checklist of questions which the Service must provide evidence to prove itself. These inspections can only measure failure, of course, because such a system could not recognise the innovation or creativity which would characterise a gallery which had cultural value. I also find it interesting that targets are set for user satisfaction, but inspectors never consider artists as ‘users’. (Any artists who have ‘used’ Bury Art Gallery are welcome to COMMENT toward the inspection, by the way). The system assumes only the consumers of cultural objects have measurable value, not the producers. The audience of children and their handlers, their vacuous COMMENTS bear no relationship to the work on display – even paper-thin ne’er progressing vorticist teapot. They either ‘love it’, ‘hate it’, ‘love someone they know’, scribble, or write their names: right there in art galleries themselves the crisis has become a cultural object.

December 09, 2009

Launch of Journal of Innovative British and Irish Poetry

new canon
innovative = pragmatic
relationship of academia to the wider society

Why important? What challenges? How develop?

remembered from his time
between
readership and
writership



conflicts of interest
inform. history. production

December 07, 2009

The Montana Group


Taking part in the Lucerne conversations there were artists/creative practitioners with professional roles which put them in positions of management or institutional leadership. Organised by Metasenta http://www.metasenta.com.au/ in Melbourne (picture - Irene Barbaris of Metasenta and her research assistant Sarah Duyshart) and the University of Arts London, there were professionals from the continent, UK, northern America and Australia. It was agreed early on that the title of the conversation “artists in leadership” was problematic and so for now the dialogues will carry the title 'the Montana Group' – after the hotel in which we were meeting http://www.hotel-montana.ch/. It was also agreed that although there will be a website and subsequent publication, the content of the conversations should remain within the group for the time being to allow people to speak freely about the issues they faced negotiating their practice within their institution.
So for now I’ll just say that the discussions were deeply thoughtful and insightful. My one frustration was the fact that so far I am the only participant who is not located in academia. The problem with this is the macerating distortions that the structures of higher education introduce into an artist's creative practice while seeming to support it. So the conversations had a wearisome propensity to drift back to assumptions that students and developing their opportunities are important and even a creative driver for artists. I am always happy to do what I can for young artists but students are of no interest. I couldn’t stay to the end of the sessions so without me there I expect the drift to a debate focused on art education was unabated. I don’t want to sound too critical though; as this was the first meeting of the group, it was natural for people to locate their thinking in their daily reality and with the other ten or so participants sharing the same experience it was inevitable. Despite these reservations, I am looking forward to the next one.

December 05, 2009

Kunstmuseum Luzern


(view of Lucerne)

Luzern Art Museum is a striking architectural gesture on the banks of the Lake Lucerne. I saw 4 shows there today. With the annual show featuring 40 artists there were obviously a lot of works of little interest but I was impressed with the 4 untitled small drawings of Nathalie Bissig, which while very simply delineated in what looked like a waxy pencil carried very powerful images of helplessness and power, the distressing power which provokes eroticism over liberalism. Lukas Hoffman displayed some very thoughtful photos of the empty margins of public car parks in grey winter; his trees had the visual definition of lung diagrams footed with the indestructible alienated shrubs beloved of municipal parks departments. Miriam Sturzenegger showed 3 small note books pinned to the wall with ever so faint pencil drawings almost absent-mindedly doodled; but hovering in a dimension out of reach, immaculate tiny handwriting reversed slightly through the pages from the other side – made more inaccessible to me because of them being in German.
(kunstmuseum)
In another show “Tamed Light” – videos by Judith Albert were not very interesting.
In another show Irene Bisang’s paintings were enjoyable gouaches which mixed innocence with sudden shocks, a sequence of decorative portraits with thought bubbles, a woman being beheaded by a knife the size of her body, a happy penis; of course, missing Barney, I was drawn to Wise Dog I and II.
(I love the way they pollard on the continent)

From the stable of Barbara Thrumm in Berlin, I think, Valerie Favre’s big show was a variable experience. She had a lot of galleries which seemed to me to expose her strengths and weaknesses. Her large scale landscapes and allegories were stodgy, monotonously coloured and meaningless, whereas her Lapine-Univers [She-hare Universe] was superheroic, vibrantly painterly and erotic. Her series of small Selbstmord [Suicide] canvases with the restricted palette of yellows and greens hung in a long line across 3 walls were gripping but this was dissipated by the location of a monumental not very good painting of a Cockroach on the facing wall. A final room of her motifs intermingling with art historical references returned to muddy ill-definition, except for the strong presence of “Secret Service for the Queen”.


December 03, 2009

Inaugural Dialogue of Artists in Leadership

I have been invited to participate in the inaugural Dialogue of Artists in Leadership organised by University of Arts London & Metasenta Melbourne. So tomorow I am off to Lucerne, Switzerland. I arrive a bit before it starts so hope to see some of the city and do some writing - all being well I will be able to post thoughts from there.

November 30, 2009

Inspection to infinity

Has the UK Government found the resources to go beyond the Russell Paradox?

"Suppose that every public library has to compile a catalog of all its books. The catalog is itself one of the library's books, but while some librarians include it in the catalog for completeness, others leave it out, as being self-evident.

Now imagine that all these catalogs are sent to the national library. Some of them include themselves in their listings, others do not. The national librarian compiles two master catalogs - one of all the catalogs that list themselves, and one of all those that don't.

The question is now, should these catalogs list themselves? The 'Catalog of all catalogs that list themselves' is no problem. If the librarian doesn't include it in its own listing, it is still a true catalog of those catalogs that do include themselves. If he does include it, it remains a true catalog of those that list themselves.

However, just as the librarian cannot go wrong with the first master catalog, he is doomed to fail with the second. When it comes to the 'Catalog of all catalogs that don't list themselves', the librarian cannot include it in its own listing, because then it would belong in the other catalog, that of catalogs that do include themselves. However, if the librarian leaves it out, the catalog is incomplete. Either way, it can never be a true catalog of catalogs that do not list themselves."

Today our Department had a Service Excellence Inspector in doing what governmental inspectors do. More interesingly, there was another inspector inspecting the inspector. I couldnt resist asking the inspector inspector whether he recognised the Russell problem and whether he was subsequently inspected by another level of inspector above him. He happily reported that yes he was inspected by someone above and as far as he knew they were also inspected by someone; after that, he thought it shifted to a intergovernmental agency which inspected that level and on and on.

In computability theory, this is called the halting problem: which can be stated as follows: given a description of a program, decide whether the program finishes running or will run forever. So it would appear that inspection goes on forever.

November 28, 2009

Forthcoming

Giles Goodland will be reading for Vital Signs at the Chapman Gallery, Salford University, at 1pm on Monday 30thNovember. Admission is free.

Giles is the author of, among other books, the excellent Capital
http://www.saltpublishing.com/books/smp/184471263X.htm)


The 13th Other Room takes place Wednesday, 2nd December. After at the usual venue, The Old Abbey Inn, 61 Pencroft Way, Manchester, M15 6AY (on Manchester Science Park). 7 PM start. Details of readers below. More details at www.otherroom.org

SOPHIE ROBINSON is a London poet whose work has appeared in various online magazines including Pilot, How2 and Dusie as well as Jeff Hilson's Reality Street Book Of Sonnets and Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century (Bloodaxe) Her most recent collection is a on Les Figues Press.

NICK THURSTON (b.1982) is a conceptual artist and writer whose primary concerns are the use of languages and the possibilities of languages. Thurston explores modes of reading, in both literary and ‘fine art’ contexts, in such a way that the two coalesce as one praxis of poetics. He is author of "Reading the Remove of Literature" (2006) and "Historia Abscondita (An Index of Joy)" (2007), and co-author of "THE DIE IS CAST" (2009), plus numerous journal articles and artists’ pages. He has performed or exhibited internationally, including presentations at Printed Matter, Inc. (New York), The Text Festival (Bury) and the Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven); and since 2006 he has served as the Editor of the independent artists’ book publishing imprint information as material (York). His work is to be featured in several forthcoming anthologies, and his next print editions have been specially commissioned by the Laurence Sterne Museum and the French Centre for Artists’ Books.

November 26, 2009

Not Curating For The Future

I had expected today to blog about the future of curating because I attended the Renaissance North West Conference "Curating for the Future",
http://www.mla.gov.uk/what/programmes/renaissance/contacts/renaissance_north_west
which should have given me some interesting things to get my teeth into. However, it turned out that the conference had very little to do with what I think of when I use the word "curate". Indeed, on reflection, I don't think I heard the word used. Come to think of it, artists werent mentioned either. It turned out that curating in the context of the conference meant "our sector strives for organisational and environmental sustainability to ensure we continue to exist, develop and provide relevant and inspirational services to the public we were."

The conference opened with a speech from the Culture Minister - delivered by the top civil servant from the Dept. of Culture because she had been required to do something more important in London. This "key note" speech padded with a dirge of statistics essentially told the delegates that government culture policy is a great success and its structure of Renaissance in the Regions museum hubs is a great success. But of course, as usual, culture still has to argue for the value of culture for it to survive, to gather evidence of its effectiveness; this circles back in the argument to prioritise visitor numbers and quantitative indicators. This paragraph is boring me - think what 30 minutes of this was like.

The panel discussion started with quite an interesting question: what will the museum sector look like in 10 years time and what should it look like in 2020; but debate was structured with sub-questions which were so uninteresting that I can't be bothered to type them out. The 'answers' were bogged down in how museums should survive the coming economic crisis storm. There was a feeling that in the face of financial threat, museums were more helpless because their crisis of purpose - the result of the 'success' of government cultural policy, I would argue. Surprisingly, Maurice Davis of the Museums Association proposed that the culture of standardisation that has been promoted for the last ten years and homogenised so much should now be relaxed. Diane Lees of the Imperial War Museum also suggested that the desparation of museums to be liked by everyone also has pernicious effects.

Maurice Davis said the most controversial thing (to the room) when he said that much as the public sector had been rolled back in the privatisations of the 80s-90s, maybe the idea that UK public museums collecting was no longer relevant to the 21st Century and "this should be left to Russian billionaires". Although this ellicited a sharp intake of breath in the room, the chasm between this abdication of curatorial vision and the only other imperatives being offered in this forum - amounting to "if we're lucky we'll survive" decorated with fashionable green concern - seemed to only to magnify the vacuum at the 'debate'.










November 24, 2009

fourmill plus quarterinch


Performance and CD Launch of Lemke/Gwilliam’s fourmill plus quarterinch

Castlefield gallery
Thursday, November 26, 2009 (18:00 - 20:00)

fourmill plus quarterinch is the duo of sound artists and improvising musicians Helmut Lemke and Ben Gwilliam. In this collaboration the two artists use different formats of audiotape; pre-recorded, prepared and unprepared. From individual banks of sound recordings on tape comes a subtle and often dense music that is both composed and improvised in concrete time.

FREE EVENT, BOOKING REQUIRED To book please call the gallery on 0161 832 8034 or email events@castlefieldgallery.co.uk with your contact details and number of places.

Castlefield gallery, 2 Hewitt Street Knott Mill, Manchester M15 4GB

November 22, 2009

From Space

Procumbent to be alone would be paradisiacal a walled garden,
solipsistic pause when no-one sees you facing the wrong way
and there is no other waiting no gaze, a state only achieved in
the morning shower before the regular routine of work.

November 20, 2009

News From Phil Davenport

Phil's in China at the moment - this just in:


Speech is code

Philip Davenport’s residency at 501 Artspace in Chongqing, China (2 Nov-31 Dec) features input from several Chinese artists, in a sequence of English/Chinese text art works, titled Speech is Code.

Davenport has made a sequence of 8-word poems, which collage together ancient Chinese poems, lines from iconic conceptual and text art sources and modernist and postmodern poetry, finding parallels in form and intent – and knitting together new meanings completely unintended by the originators.

Davenport moves between literary and visual modes, exhibiting works as in situ billposter/poems in cities throughout Europe, in galleries and as 3D objects. His 2006 Heartshape Pornography series was handwritten onto artificial apples; in 2008 he relabelled street debris; 1998-2008 his Imaginary Missing People, poems made from missing person notices, were billposted in Berlin, Edinburgh, Reykjavik, Paris, London, Bilbao.

The Speech is Code pieces are written onto large pieces of semi-transparent paper, one side scripted in English the other Chinese – they co-exist and intermingle calligraphies, significations, syntaxes.

Principal artists involved are: Wang Jun, Mao Yanyang, Xu Guang Fu and Deng Chuan.

November 15, 2009

Book launch and the publishers fair

London Small Publishers Fair
















Reading from Space The Soldier Who Died For Perspective




As I said in my preamble, maybe a reading should be more about what the writer learns for the next work rather than how the audience are entertained, so it occurred to me there was something interesting to test in the rhythm of the way Space was written.

When I am writing a piece, each time I sit down with it I work from the start each time; this means when the first complete draft is done, the beginning section is much more worked. Over time, I hopefully work the whole piece to the same level of finish, but it occurred to me that in a book of 6 works written over 4 years, there may well be a relationship, a dialogue between all those beginnings. So for this reading, which had to be short, I read the beginnings of each of the sections. From Vertigo, I just read the first line:


"everything that is the case is a non-recursive set."
Which is, of course, my reworking of Wittgenstein's first line of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus:

"The world is all that is the case"



Carol Watts reading from her new book - 'This is Red'







Will Rowe reading from his new book - The Earth Has Been Destroyed




Piers Hugill reading his new book - Il canzoniere’





Aodán McCardle reading from Shudder (Stephen Mooney in background)



Sadly I didnt get a photo of Antony John reading ‘now than it used to be, but in the past’



November 14, 2009

About Space

(From a second conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist, which will be posted here shortly,) HANS ULRICH OBRIST: How much control does the artist have in the interpretation of his work?

Which got me thinking about the forthcoming reception of Space The Soldier Who Died For Perspective. When 50 Heads came out, I didn’t write anything about it or even read at the launch, so essentially there was no interpretation from me. As Ron Silliman noted: “This explains everything. That there won’t be any explanations in the usual sense of that word”. I wondered therefore: What would be different if I offered explanations of Space?

The book is structured to mirror the composition of Paolo Uccello’s “Rout of San Romano” painted in 1432 – a painting which has fascinated me for more than 30 years, and specifically the procumbent soldier in the bottom left corner, whom art history calls ‘the soldier who died for perspective’ – because Uccello, who was obsessed with the complications of perspective, appears to have got it wrong on that soldier. I don’t think it is as simple as that but that discussion is perhaps taking interpretation too far.


Within the overall structure, Space is constructed of six main sections linked by short nodal pieces plus an introductory poem. There is also a concrete structure referencing the construction of perspective in the picture plan and even, at the suitable point, a linguistic representation of the dead figure. Much as the poem ‘Contents’ was a key to unlocking 50 Heads, the first poem in Space Alice & Bob explains how to read the rest of the book. It actual opens with a private joke. Bob Grenier gave me a copy of his drawn poem “Afternoon Sunshine”, which I then quoted in 50 Heads, but as it is only two words, by quoting it, I appeared to be appropriating his whole poem. (In fact, his poem is
AFTER NOON SUN SHINE). Anyway, Bob emailed to say that he liked my use of it and therefore tongue-in-cheek granted me copyright approval – but he also asked whether there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do. So the first line of Alice & Bob is: “Bob emailed: Is there nothing you wouldn’t do?” though the poem immediately rejects the specific individual because the Bob of the poem is the Bob and Alice of cryptography and physics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_and_Bob or the way I use them – analogues for the writer and the reader.

The following major sections each written for a specific context or location investigate different ontologies of spatial experience.

Vertigo
The original version of this was written for my exhibition at the Sleeper Gallery in Edinburgh in 2005 but heavily reworked for Space. It is dedicated to Ted and Ted Hoban. My grandfather Ted Hoban and my uncle (also) Ted Hoban. Both men died of lung cancer. In both cases, there was horrifying experience of watching a man shrink before your eyes as the cancer sucks the life out of him. As life itself shrinks into the cancerous black-hole, the vertiginous gravitation of dying: the poem asks how is the space stretched around dying? How is it distorted around you as you look on?

“A man wastes away in an armchair, reductio ad absurdum, arbitrarily before your eyes one among the range of artistically acceptable rooms according to this principle any state of affairs must have the strong and weak forces not yet discovered which explains why it and not some other state of affairs pertains when it comes to our waiting room there must be some reason which explains why it and not some other room pertains by using the infinite continuum of rooms. He dies. By degrees the sinking in, room cannot be divided into what is there and what is seen to be there. Ribs in alto rilievo.”

Thickness (lusting) was written in Budapest, Hungary in 2006. In this poem a related question: what is the quality of experience of itself? The feel of its fabric between your fingers? The thickness of thinking? I am fascinated with scientific language and the scientific method; the dialogue between the creative artistic method and the scientific method is also a running theme through the whole book. A frequent approach in quantum experimentation involves monitoring the motion of invisible particles by their mysterious effects on observable phenomenon. So in Thickness, I have attempted to replicate this method by testing an absence: the act of lusting, a pouring in an outward direction to an object not synonymous with that content – and therein a gravitational flow analogous to the vertigo of the previous poem.

Flatness
Drawing on the curatorial thinking in the Irony of Flatness exhibition I organised in Bury, (2008), this poem shifts the spatial register to the question of the dimensions of the creative act in the viscous inertia of experience’s thickness …

“– significations, the measure of flatness, projectivity, and freeness are all equivalent. The concentrated axis (we happy few asymptotically combine to form a fused-group) – self reflexive, disdainful of the larger wheel that takes more effort to accelerate, moments of inertia moving/shifting interference; time appointed explosive only for observers who are ‘stationary’ preserving all distances. Now. How long does a moment require?”

The Mirror Canon Snips text was exhibited in Melbourne, Australia in 2008, in this case, rather than the creative act, I try to work out both the possibility of intentional motion in space and the question of the fundamental nature of the physical, the bodily, specifically building some model of action with the raw materials of my own (accelerating) medical atrophy.

Arriving at the Same Place at the Same Time was a phrase Lawrence Weiner sent to me as a response to my poem called “Sculpture” in 50 Heads which was a response to his work. Artistically I doubt that we were arriving at the same place at the same time but it was an interesting question of artistic/spatial/temporal coincidence. Subsequently a lot of this section was written to be a performance collaboration with sound artist Helmut Lemke and choreographer/dancer Ruth Tyson-Jones called “Gauge Symmetries”. Gauge Symmetries is the scientific term for the universality of phenomena - the results of an experiment are not dependent on where the experimental apparatus is, or in which direction it faces: we live assuming that gravity or light, etc, are the same wherever we are. The “Gauge Symmetries” work was re-worked and finished this year in Basel, Switzerland.

The Queue & the Radio Broadcast
The final poem in the book was written for an exhibition in Berlin – which didn’t happen but has been the basis of the texts used in Bonn and Barnsley this week – and re-worked to conclusion in Finland last year. It responded to the context of scarcity. The title comes from an essay by Jean-Paul Sartre which demonstrates how capitalism alienates individual experience (instead of collectivising the experience of waiting for a bus, the artifice of scarcity turns the individuals in the queue into serial agents who perceive the Other as a competitive threat). This describes the Berlin context for artists with hundreds of galleries opening, hundreds of artists/galleries competing for space and for attention. This is the same context that Ron Silliman has analysed in the massive increase in the number of living poets and the problem of being heard. So Space The Soldier Who Died For Perspective has the same obstacle – who will read it? Does it matter if no-one reads it – especially, to repeat my favourite William Carlos Williams reference, if I built a bridge that I can cross. So logically the book concludes with Vasari’s 1550 judgement the ‘failure’ of Uccello’s project – his lifetime commitment to solve the problem of the soldier who died for perspective was not what the audience wanted.
And finally, the cover photo: I vividly remember crouching in that garden jungle in 1965; my first and last childhood memory - it was my rosebud moment.

(Veer launch the book - ISBN: 978-1-907088-06-3 - today at the London Small Publishers Fair. I'll be doing a short reading, and report on the events tomorrow)

November 12, 2009

Reading Room - Barnsley

Finished the installation of my text "Reading Room" in the "Reading by Light" show at the Barnsley Civic Gallery - things were still being hung and the lighting still needs to be sorted but I couldn't resist putting up these immediate pictures - official ones next week. The show opens tomorrow.





November 07, 2009

Fully Booked


Output-wise, it’s a busy week for me: two exhibitions and a book launch. First up is Fully Booked in Bonn; then (also on Friday) Reading by Light in Barnsley; and then on Saturday the launch of “Space The Soldier Who Died For Perspective” at the London Small Publishers Fair. More of the latter two later.



The Beethoven hotel in Bonn will be demolished in 2010 to make way for a large complex with apartments and a restaurant. The old, and now empty, hotel occupies a very central location – directly opposite Bonn 's opera house, and overlooking the west bank of the Rhine. But before it is pulled down, it is being brought to life with a varied program of artistic interventions. The website gives you some idea of the sort of things that are going on - including some exuberant installations.




http://www.moving-locations.de/eng_index.html








There are also a number of minimalists at work too, of which I am one. My text, called Broadcast Room, is an edit of "The Radio Broadcast & The Bus Queue" which was originally written for a space in Berlin and appears in "Space The Soldier Who Died For Perspective." In terms of the room, I wanted to keep the sense of the stripped out hotel, adding a simple thickness of language, (hand-written on the ceiling) as an act of passing, a work that is nearly not there.


The preview is on Friday from 6pm and the show runs till February.
My thanks to Christoph Dahlhausen for his help with the show and the installation.
Other artists in the show:

Nir Alon (ISR)
Nathan Baker (USA)
Carola Bark
Nicholas Bodde
Ingo Bracke
Lars Breuer
Silke Brösskamp
Götz Bury
Laura Bruce (USA)
Christoph Dahlhausen
Bruno Dorn
Reinhard Doubrawa
Martin Durham (GB)
Karsten Födinger
Manuel Franke
Marcel Frey
Sebastian Freytag
Tom Früchtl
Daniel Göttin (CH)
Wiebke Grösch und
Frank Metzger
Yvo Hartmann
Geka Heinke
Graham Hudson (GB)
Gary Jolley (AUS)
Laresa Kosloff (AUS)
Andreas Lorenschat
Antonia Low (GB)
Tumi Magnússon (IS)
Guido Münch
Aki Nakazawa (JAP)
Esther Neumann
Frank Piasta
Jan van der Ploeg (NL)
Trevor Richards (AUS)
Kai Richter
Rita Rohlfing
Christine Rühmann (CH)
/Sjaak Beemsterboer (NL)
Karen Scheper
Christiane Schlosser
Arne Schreiber
Nicola Schudy
Daniel Schürer
Paul Schwer
Cony Theis
David Thomas (AUS)
Tony Trehy (GB)
Jan Verbeek
Cornel Wachter
Achim Zeman

November 06, 2009

Lightboxes


Manchester's Piccadilly Metro station features a set of nine lightboxes facing the platforms which are devoted to display of artworks. Originally part of the Text Festival but delayed due to engineering works, the station has just reopened with text works selected by me supported by the Hamilton Project.

Various artists featured including Madrid-based Finn, Riiko Sakkinen (Future Cola) (below) http://www.riikosakkinen.com/







"Some Infinities are larger than others" part of a text work by me in collaboration with Kerry Morrison,


plus a couple of works by Márton Koppány from Budapest (introduced to me by Geof Huth).
40,000 people a day stand on these platforms looking at the work while they wait for their trams - an exposure reaching nearly 2 million by the end of the display in February. It would have been nice if the Station had not located those awful yellow "Piccadilly" signs next to the lightboxes, though.

November 01, 2009

On Jazz or Comedy

As regulars here will know it is only in recent times that I have begun to do readings. Previously I had taken the view that the work was specifically written for the page, with effects for the readers’ eye and silent voice. When I wrote “Mirror Canon Snips” for Melbourne the idea that it would be performed by moving readers through the installation caused me to become intrigued with the question whether it was possible to make them stumble by making the language of the poem too complex to read while walking. But then when I was persuaded to read at the Other Room, I discovered that there were things that I could learn from performing the poems which weren’t evident in silence. There were also dramatic effects that I discovered that were more for the entertainment of the audience – particularly the way Reykjavik opens when you read it. I remember recording the first part of the performance for me to review any insights in that reading, having not anticipated that it was also videoed by the Other Room and then put up on the website. While the things I needed to learn were captured by both recordings, it occurred to me afterwards that the movement of unfolding in Reykjavik or the reason why I wrote the poem “Lassitude” which informs the aural understanding of it would no longer be unexpected to future audiences. Around the time, I recall a comedian commenting that, while it paid much better than live performance, TV was very consuming of material. A routine on television could only be used once, with thereafter audiences knowing the jokes. Obviously having films and recordings online is an artistic resource, part of the poetic dialogue and an extension of a poetry readings meagre audience, but is there a down side? At Ron Silliman’s afternoon lecture at Birkbeck when he was over for the Text Festival, I asked him about this issue: whether each performance captured and broadcast online was in anyway like the consumption of the comedian’s material. Ron’s view was that the poetry performance is more like a jazz improvisation, with each reading being a fresh interpretation of the material.

I think this is probably true but the Oxjam reading last Sunday (again recorded) I was looking for something else again. I started the reading with “Doubt” from 50 Heads. Then the sections from the new book “Space The Soldier Who Died For Perspective”. For this reading I wasn’t interested in comedy or jazz.

I have referenced before William Carlos Williams analogy that writing (art) is like bridge building – the artist constructs the artwork cross a stream or mountain gorge, with the purpose of crossing: “Don’t blush to write a poem, stand up to it, provided it is a structure, a structure built upon your own ground to assert it, your ground where you stand on your own feet, in every man’s despite”. Expanding on his metaphor, he goes on to the next barrier to continue his journey, with the experience of previous bridges informing each subsequent solution. The function is the crossing. As Picasso said, it is for epigones coming after to make it look better. It is the job of critics to describe the bridge. It is for governmental hierarchies of mediation to erect signs and health & safety barriers to make sure the bridge or even obstacle of the stream are not perceived as worth crossing.

Often, especially if an artist’s work is not easy to fathom, I ask myself: what question (what gorge) is this artist trying to answer(bridge)? It is obvious I think for instance what question the Language Moment attempts to address. Although Sue says I shouldn’t say anything about the north west winner of the Olympiad commission – the Projected Cloud by Anthony McCall, because it will sound like sour-grapes, when you look at it from this perspective its question would seem not really worth asking. Most of its substance would appear to be engineering and technical – how the cloud is generated, how the projections work on the cloud, how it will ever exist in the windy environment of the Mersey estuary – not artistic. If the question context is the public realm question of the Monument, the bankrupt refuge of UK public art in the celebration of scale (Angel of the North, B of the Bang, Mark Wallinger’s White Horse, etc), the question to which all these refer has already been answered with more conceptual rigour by Lawrence Weiner with ‘AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE’. Coincidentally, having been brought up on the ‘Cheshire plain’ where presumably you will be able to see the new work, I can’t see how it can better than the steam columns of Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station (my Dad worked on that construction). This landscape was actually the inspiration for my poem “Yggdrasill” in 50 Heads. Maybe that was my answer to the question – deeper than McCall’s column will be, but depth wasn’t what the Olympics wanted obviously, maybe they wanted comedy.

Anyway, I digress. My reading of “Space The Soldier Who Died For Perspective” had a different function. By the time I came to read 50 Heads and Reykjavik I had lived with them for about 2-3 years, whereas Soldier was only finished in June. While some sections of it date back to exhibition installations around the world, the bringing them together, the re-structuring, the integration as a whole work are still as new to me as the audience who heard me read. A while back there was an argument going round that the radical understanding of the reader/audience was the most important aspect of contemporary poetic development. This is of course bollocks. It is the radical understanding of the writer that is most important. So the reading wasn’t a comedy or jazz, it was a test installation, it was stretching to grasp something spatial in the language - and so I wonder whether that is something that needs to be recorded.

October 29, 2009

Lemur

St Philip with St Stephen Church, St Philips Place( just off Chapel Street), Salford, M3 6FJ map below (0161 834 2041),
THURSDAY the 29th October , doors open 7.30pm, entrance fee: the usual £5

LEMUR are:

> Hild Sofie Tafjord performer and composer, plays french horn and electronics. She studied jazz and improvised music at the Norwegian Academy of Music. Tafjord has a solo project and plays in bands like Lemur, SPUNK, Agrare, Trinacria, Phantom Orchard Orchestra, She is one half of Duo FE-MAIL with the prolific and bonkers Maja Ratkje and she has collaborated with numerous artists like Wolf Eyes, Campbell Kneale, Matmos, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins,Otomo Yoshihide, Fred Frith, Zu, Evan Parker etc. She participates on more than 30 releases at a.o. Rune Grammofon, Asphodel, picadisk, ECM, Universal, Moserobie, Jazzland, Important Records, Psychform Records, Gameboy Records, OHM records. www.myspace.com/hildsofie


> Bjørnar Habbestad, flautist educated in Bergen, London and Amsterdam. Works as a chamber musician in INTONARE, improviser in LEMUR, noisemaker in REHAB, ensemble player in N ENSEMBLE, sound artist in HABBESTAD&LARSSON and electroacustician in USA/USB. His collaborators range from fellow N-Collectivists MoHa! through Lene Grenager/Hild Sofie Tafjord of SPUNK, pianist Ellen Ugelvik, bassist/bandleader Per Zanussi, John Hegre/Jazzkammer and a long list of ad hoc constellations. Habbestad founded the N Collective in 2003 and currently runs N ENSEMBLE, the collective ́s ensemble-alter-ego. He is also co-curator of the Bergen-based sound gallery LYDGALLERIET and half of the record label +3dB. www.myspace.com/quartetlemur


> Lene Grenager cellist, composer and conductor educated at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. She tours regularly with her main ensembles SPUNK (rune grammofon), Lemur (+3db) and a duo with Sofia Jernberg (olofbright) . Grenager also performes solo and in various ad hoc constellations. She has collaborated with artists such as Mattin, Lucio Capece, Ellen Fullman, Mats Gustafsson, Harald Fetveit and Unni Løvlid and has performed at festivals like FIMAV Victoriaville, Ultima, Borealis, Banlieues Bleues, Stockholm New Music & Nordic Music Days. In 2006 she released her first soloalbum “Slåtter, slag og slark” (Euridice) . www.grenager.no


> Michael Francis Duch was born and raised in Trondheim, Norway and plays the Doublebass. He has been involved in about 20 recordings released in various formats. Duch plays the music of Christian Wolff and Cornelius Cardew in a trio with John Tilbury and Rhodri Davies and is a member of the rockband Dog & Sky, the dronetrio TRICYCLE , acoustic postnoise with the duo ORIGAMI TACET with Tore Bøe, and different other constellations. Ad Hoc collaborations with
Otomo Yoshihide, Taku Sugimoto, Sachiko M, Mattin, Mats Gustafsson, Peter Brötzmann, Jaap Blonk, Gert-Jan Prins, Christian Wolff, Tony Conrad, Cadillac, www.myspace.com/michaelduch

October 19, 2009

The Other Room

most perfect days there is nothing horizon
in the protocol we employ
Unwent, urelements we are not, with our grey the same as theirs



THE OTHER ROOM AT OXJAM

Sunday, 25th October, 13:45 start
Apotheca, 17 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1FS.

The Other Room is organising an extra event as part of the Oxjam festival. For this event only, The Other Room will be at Apotheca, 17 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1FS. Entry is free, but a donation to Oxjam is suggested. Read more about Oxjam at http://www.oxjammanchester.org. I will be reading including extracts from Space The Soldier Who Died For Perspective (also above).
Hope to see you there. Also reading:

STUART CALTON has published four books of poems: three with Barque Press, and one on his own press, Fenland Hi-Brow. His fifth, Three Reveries, is awaiting publication. He is also a musician who records and performs Free Improvisation and Musique Concrète under the nom de Dictaphone T.H.F. Drenching.

JAMES DAVIES has two short e-collections: The Manual Handling Process (Beard of Bees) and Acronyms (onedit). He has a collection Plants due from Reality Street in 2012. He is one half of the poetry/photography duo Joy as Tiresome Vandalism who have a collection aRb (if p then q) and are currently working on Absolute Elsewhere found in progress at www.joyastiresomevandalism.wordpress.com. In addition he is editor of if p then q and one of the organisers of The Other Room.