August 31, 2009

If Not This

Ben Gwilliam, Helmut Lemke, Lee Patterson, Matt Wand
Curated by Tony Trehy

Friday 4 September

19.00-22.00 FREE

As part of the Exhibition Not At This Address (1 August – 7 November), Bury Art Gallery presents an evening of new performances from four of Manchester's most active Sound Artists working today. If not this is a survey of works that explores sound in performance, crossing the terrain where music and sound often meet inside and outside of Contemporary Art.

Ben Gwilliam performs 'molto semplice e cantabile' a new work for ice records and turntables on the relationship between opus 111 and listening descriptions. Helmut Lemke will perform a durational piece specifically for the gallery that utilises live sound and amplification. Lee Patterson will present a new work containing pre-recorded and improvised elements, where the recordings used are sourced from wire fences in Birtle and within bodies of water in the Bury Metropolitan area. Matt Wand will probably perform 'I owe it to the girls'.

Lucid yet obscure, If not this overlaps durational performance, improvisation and structural scores as constructs in time and space – memory and the moment.

August 28, 2009

Back from London

A really productive time in London - met with the Live Arts Development Agency, Carol Watts and Hans Ulrich Obrist, all to discuss plans for the Language Moment. Yet more meetings on returning up north and things are taking shape. My mailbox overflows with emails from all over the world from artists and writers confirming they want to be involved. The deadline to pull all this together for the final selection panel is insanely short - hence my cursory presence here.

Food and drink are always more important than art, so I am pleased to announce Sue has launched her own blog in which she gives her latest lifestyle and food tips - soon to become unmissable I predict:

August 24, 2009

Language Moment progresses

I don't really have time to blog much at the moment. The Language Moment proposal has to be presented by mid-September, which is intense - create a plan for an International Language Event in 2012 with confirmed artists and venues. Things are coming on very well with many artists and writers from many countries and many languages already signed up. Tomorrow, I go down to London for various meetings to pull more elements together.

August 20, 2009

The Big Story behind the Headlines

It would be easy to think that the big event of last week was the day in the swanky London 2012 headquarters with its flash Tony Cragg sculpture in the entrance or later being driven round the new Olympic park (building site) or being briefed on the coming plans overlooking East London ...

when actually the story I am sure people would most like to hear is Barney's first trip to London.

The Barnster at Piccadilly Station

Then the Train adventure!

trotting through the London Underground

a promenade in Canary Wharf

And finally a soft bed in the Hilton...

August 19, 2009

The Moment of Text

Sean Bonney commented during his reading at the Other Room that no-one writes manifestos these days (so one of the poems performed functioned as one); there is a sense that such change-the-world declarations are too grandiose for modern times – so of course, the first Text Festival launched with a manifesto. Modelled on John Cage’s Credo for the Future of Music, it is a complex of themes but I can pull out an overarching statement:

“Conventional language is about its subject and with the ubiquity of (commercial) typography, the omnipresence of a plenary uniformist language in the public domain has enmeshed the text into the ‘efficient’ and ‘transparent’ – principles of graphic design/language unified as the visual hegemony of packaging, identity and commodity. The aural debris of furniture music burying consciousness in organised marketing noise is the shared fate for text. Restricting the definition of literacy to consensualised standard public organisation, language is co-opted to approved central meanings and decanted through a hierarchy of mediations to allow only poetry expressions of exemplary personal narratives. The question of form is our only constant connection with the past. Although the great forms of the past were the sonnet or free verse, Text, the future will dialectically rise from a Glass Bead Game of
Restricted Languages

Faced with the paradox of language’s militarisation and de-militarisation, invention of new language forms, new literacies, language as a material and field of enquiry must be the response to the challenge of changing experience. Innovation is the negation of the given – the continuity of discovery beyond the colonized sector and the future of text, will rest not with the gatekeepers, but as it always has, with the restless, the investigators of language who disclose and construct experience and meanings in the substantial ambiguity of language.”

It is the nature of manifestos that they are primarily a negation of the current as much as prediction the forthcoming breakthrough: The Text was written from my perception that there was change in the air, that at the beginning of the new century we faced one of those historic moments when something new would be made. After two Text Festival’s it is noticeable that language in art is an increasingly prominent element of what is going on globally. A look at the latest issue of the art magazine ArtWorld, for instance, shows text-based art on virtually every page, and even a feature in the Reviews section under the title “Basel: the joy of text” surveying the “preponderance of interesting text works: that genre, seen only in somewhat predictable neon at last year’s fairs, showed plenty of wit and provocation while playing off the way in which words can be both abstract and meaningful.” Having seen all these works at the fair myself, except for Elisabetta Benassi’s “Telegram from Buckminster Fuller to Isamu Noguchi Explaining Einstein’s Theory of Relativity” (how much does my soft spot for Fuller influence that?); I found most of the work still “somewhat predictable” and from a poet’s viewpoint, somewhat linguistically light.
ArtWorld is interest as it is the only art magazine I know which has a poetry page. Sadly, while the magazine’s art coverage reports and critiques contemporary practice, its poetry is mainstream and therefore more than somewhat predictable. In this month’s issue, there is a poor poem by Sean O’Brien inspired by a painting by Jock McFadyen. Jeffrey Side has a good piece on O’Brien at

Already mentioned here, text work made it to the London ICA (Poor.Old.Tired.Horse.), and I hear on the grapevine that Leeds City Gallery scouted out the Text Festival in preparation of them doing a text show. Even the Serpentine Gallery is preparing a Poetry event in the October. I will be meeting Hans Ulrich Obrist next week to discuss the projected two-day Poetry Marathon. This event will be the fourth in the series of Marathons presented by the Serpentine Gallery, the first being the Interview Marathon, 2006 during which Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist interviewed 66 leading architects, artists, philosophers, writers, film-makers and theorists over a 24-hours. This was followed by the Experiment Marathon, 2007, 50 live experiments by leading artists, writers, musicians, architects and scientists and the Manifesto Marathon 2008 which presented 70 manifestos for the 21st century over a two day futurological conference – so it turns out that there actually is a lot of manifesto production going on after all.

August 14, 2009

Artists Taking The Lead: The Langauge Moment

The London 2012 Olympic Committee and the Arts Council announce today the shortlist for Artists Taking The Lead - twelve commissions of £500,000 each for projects linked to celebration of the London Olympic Games. 2163 UK artists made proposals and 59 were shortlisted. I am one of the 59. The commissions are allocated regionally so I am down to the last five competing for the North West commission.

It's been a very strange ten days or so - we were told a while back but it has all been strickly embargoed, so I have been working on it without being able to tell anyone. My 'mystery' trip down to London over the last two days (more about this later) was to receive a briefing on what happens next and tour the Olympic Park development prior to today's announcement. The website for the commission is where you can read more about my proposal (below) as it develops and see the other shortlisted artists - though when I looked it had been overloaded by too many people logging onto it. Bodes well for the level of interest, I guess.
So what got me this far?

The Language Moment
In the ancient Olympics poetry was a key part of the celebration of athletic achievement. The 21st Century Olympiad has become a symbol of developing global friendship and so needs again to celebrate the importance of languages in world dialogue. The idea of “The Language Moment” is to create an international gathering of the world’s most innovative artists who use language – from web artists to poets, sound artists to sculptors. The event will include performances, exhibitions, films, readings, sound and media installations, internet projects, broadcasts, public art commissions, publications, schools and community events. It aims to create a moment in which language itself becomes the vehicle for celebration.
I have 7 weeks to map out what this will involve. This event is the opportunity for poets and artists who work with language to carry forward the ideas of the Text Festival to a new level of global profile. I will be inviting many many people to participate and I am particularly open to proposals for projects you would like to see in the event - but you have to be quick.

August 12, 2009

Things to come

Things have been very hectic this week with little chance to write here. Today I am off to London pursuing some exciting developments, which I will be able to blog on Friday.

August 06, 2009

The Other Room

Sean Bonney & Frances Kruk just before their great readings at the Other Room last night - no doubt the film of the event will be online soon.

August 05, 2009

Luigi Nono

During the conversations in the lead up to P.Inman 's visit to Manchester, we discovered a common interest in the Italian Socialist avant-garde composer Luigi Nono . You can hear some samples if you are not familiar with his work at

When Peter read, the resonances of Nono seemed very clear to me and got me thinking: I am wondering is there anyone else out there who draws on or is influenced by or responds to Nono. At this stage, I am not sure what this will lead to - maybe a collaboration, maybe a publication, maybe a celebration, an event or even a festival. Peter and I are developing ideas for new works, are you interested in being involved?

August 02, 2009

vispo workshop as seen by josefin

Proud father, Karri Korro, who organised the Saari poetry workshop in Finland, sent the link to his 14 year old daughter Josefin Strandell's photo record of the event:

The Other Room

Wednesday 5th August 7.00pm


Old Abbey Inn, 61 Pencroft Way, on Manchester Science Park, M15 6AY, UK.

Admission free.