I often comment in conversation that by the time Text Festival arrives it will already be over for me as I will have seen all the exhibitions before anyone else arrives. Obviously I won’t have seen buzz of so many artists hanging out or experienced the performances – but sadly I am able to enjoy these less than most because I have the stress of carrying the event and hopeful making sure it all comes together. The run up to the last festival wasn’t so good for me because I had an agonising broken tooth so preparations for the shows were a little distracted.
Without that pain, this time round is doubly exciting because the Text has achieved a presence in many artists’ thinking so lots more practitioners than previously have engaged with it.
Each time I walk into the receiving office at the gallery there are tables full of newly arrived works, packages wait to be unwrapped, fresh printed digital submissions: beautiful visual poetry from Japan via Vienna, the first 50 of 100 vispos by Geof Huth, a delicious limited edition by Eric Maximillan Zboya (pictured), Alexander Jorgensen’s prints from Prague, an unexpected video poem by Kazuo Takakatabe & Peter Jaeger which will be in the Transport Museum; two brand new, unseen, works by Aysegul Tozeren, a dozen poems from Zeynep Cansu Başeren arrive by email. A long Skype conversation with Steve Miller in Berlin about how the fonts should work on his powerpoint work; email exchanges with Marco Giovenale in Rome about his performance, with Derek Beaulieu in Calgary about his conceptual text response to the UK arts cuts, the complicated arrangements for Christian Bök’s construction schedule, Helen White’s early installation in the museum, the confirmations of On Kawara and Ian Hamilton Finlay for Requiem at the Fusilier Museum; testing sound works in location – Matt Dalby’s sound great in the Greenroom; contacts from Poetrifestival Berlin or the Journal of Contemporary Visual Culture in Dubai wanting to set collaborations; comings and goings of various media enquiries – BBC interview schedules, a possible World Service documentary (Catharine Braithwaite our media expert is doing a miraculous job as usual) – , advising on travel arrangements, suggesting hotels; checking the proofs of “The Bury Poems” publication which we hope will be ready just in time for the Festival. This was just the last few days. It’s been like this for weeks and it will just ratchet up day after day as the opening gets closer. On Monday, Christian arrives to start work; Helen White the week after; the big delivery of artworks from various London artists and galleries is awaited with great anticipation. On Friday we curate and install the museum Tradestamps show and curate the Transport Museum and maybe the Fusilier Museum too if we have time. The following week the Wonder Rooms (visual poetry) show is installed and on the Friday the first gig - Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, Maggie O’Sullivan, Phil Minton and Ben Gwilliam & Phil Davenport. Blimey! It’s getting close!