July 31, 2015

Total Recall

Phil Davenport installing his "The Weather, in lipstick" -
and part of Marco Giovenale's "asemic encyclopedia"
As mentioned in the previous blog, this year is the 20th anniversary of me starting work in Bury - the 4th of August to be exact. I only came across this by accident in some old job papers and thought maybe we'd have a party or go for a quiet meal - whatever. Anyway, I mentioned it to Phil Davenport some months back in passing and it turns out a surprise was hatched. Phil talked to Derek Beaulieu over in Canada and the two realised that it was not only my 20th anniversary but also the 10th anniversary year of me creating the Text Festival. To wit, the pair invited various artists involved in the Text over the years to make a commemorative artwork. Though I should say that I am humbled and honoured that so many artists actually did (I am, of course), typical of Phil and Derek, instead of celebrating my genius or my contribution to the history of art/poetry, adopted a framework of memory -  as they say: "How do you remember the people who are important to you? How do you conjure your shared past? Is it in images, a sound, a smell, a touch? Or do you use words?" I've obviously not quite cracked the cult of the personality, but still it's flattering and very nice of everyone. 

Part of Erica Baum's Total Recall
The result is a pop-up exhibition which was installed this week. Originally it had a fancy/obscure title TEXTfestschrift but Erica Baum's piece "Total Recall" so nailed the moment, that as the installation unfolded it felt like that had to be the title of the display. To make it manageable/low cost, Phil and Derek limited everyone to A4 paper, which magnifies the displays guerrilla aesthetic in the classical space of the Gallery ring balcony.

The exception to the A4 rule came from Lawrence Weiner who suggested installation of a work originally made for Leo Castelli in 1977. It was very flattering for Lawrence to make the connection between me and Castelli. 

TOTAL RECALL includes work by local, national and international text-based artists and poets - lots of whom have become friends over the years of dialogue and exhibition (eating and drinking) together: angela rawlings, Barrie Tullett, Bob Grenier, Carolyn Thompson, Cecilie Bjørgås Jordheim, Darren Marsh, derek beaulieu, Emma Cocker, Eric Zboya, Erica Baum, Jaap Blonk, James Davies, Jayne Dyer, Jesse Glass, Karri Kokko, Kristen Mueller, Lawrence Weiner, Leanne Bridgewater, Liz Collini, Lucy Harvest Clarke, Marco Giovenale, Márton Koppány, Matt Dalby, Mike Chavez-Dawson, Paula Claire, Penny Anderson, Peter Jaeger, Phil Davenport, Rachel Defay-Liautard, Ron Silliman, Satu Kaikkonen, Sarah Sanders, Steve Miller, Seekers of Lice, Steve Emmerson, Steve Giasson, Tom Jenks, and Tony Lopez - more works than we had wall-space to display so there are various conceits that allow access to all the works. 

I was joking earlier - I am very grateful to everyone who sent something - there's some great things - I'll revisit and talk more about individual works in a later blog. 
Marton Koppany: "Concrete Poem - for Tony Trehy"

July 29, 2015

Past Pain

As the 20th anniversary of me working in Bury approaches, it was difficult to resist the urge to nostalgia (Greek: past pain): I recall the first exhibition I ever curated was Michael Sandle's etchings - I knew his work because we went to the same art school in the Isle of Man (separated by some years). 

Satisfyingly, though my next thought turned to what comes next? (John Peel used to say that it was next record that he wanted to hear not the one he'd just heard)

Over the last couple of days it's really felt like some exciting times to come: Riiko Sakkinen finding his concept for his show next year: The ABC of Capitalism; Hillary Jack finishing her new commission in Bury; Great Dutch sculptor, Auke de Vriers visiting to discuss his show next February and a big new public art commission; And there's the pop-up in the gallery pulled together by Phil Davenport and Derek Beaulieu - which I'll blog about shortly.