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Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time

A Conversation, Annotated, Interrupted, (…) Andy Holden and Dan Cox

Structured around conversations recorded in Andy’s studio, Dec 24th 2010 - Feb 2nd 2011

With contributions by: Juan Cruz, Lizzie Fisher, Ursula Le Guin, Richard Hore, Darian Leader, Joe Saunders, Aimee Selby, Jon Shaw, Tyler Woolcot.

For Dan Cox June 6th 1982 - Feb 4th 2011

Bouvard and Pecuchet, 2011

Introduction The idea was to be able to go back and rework the dialogue, annotating each other’s sentences, to look for the thing galloped past in the momentum of conversation, expanding it, changing it from speech to text; we also wanted others to interject, interpret, plumb vertically, at points in which the conversation overlapped with their own interests. We saw the dialogue as horizontal, a metonymic unfolding, from Charlie Brown’s round head to the Boulder to the Cherry, which would then be annotated with moments of interruption, close readings, contradictions, metaphoric moments that paused the movement for a minute. These would be extensive footnotes, digressions, attempted conclusions, by writers both Dan and I hoped could shed more light on subjects which were, after all, their subjects. Dan came to the studio every Friday between Christmas and his death on February 4th. On his first visit, Christmas Eve, we worked out the plan. My questions were: how much should we make legible?, Where is the meaning located? Is it in one object or between the objects? Dan’s suggestion was that we should take two books as our guide: Bouvard and Pécuchet by Gustav Flaubert, and Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Dan, I don’t think, would mind me pointing out with hindsight the irony of choosing

as a model one book that remained unfinished due to death, and another in which the main character simply vanishes. Each week we’d bring a new subject to the table, and put it in relation to one or two works, set up the tape recorder, and begin talking. As the conversation developed we’d ask others to contribute ‘footnotes’, texts that took our text elsewhere, contradicted us, interrupted us, that would give us a new text in turn to discuss. My idea was to invite Dan to develop the show with me as a dialogue, not simply because of his curatorial abilities, but because of his entangled position as both friend and interpreter, someone who understood my work better than anyone, better than me. Dan was also to write the introduction to this show. He sent through his draft at 3.30pm on Wednesday 2nd February. One hour later his bike collided with an HGV and Dan was knocked unconscious, dying two days later. His last words were in a text message to me a few minutes before the accident. We had googled our title: Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time, and the only thing to come up in the search engine was The End of Art, by Arthur Danto. I sat at home reading it. Dan read it before hopping on his bike to go to work. Dan’s text message read, “hmmm Danto. Didn’t realise the end of art would be so tedious. A disappointing Apocalypse”. 7

The first day I met Dan we stayed in each other’s company for well over twenty-four hours, not thinking to go to bed. Our conversation lasted all night, and throughout the next day. The following evening, still reluctant to pause the conversation we headed to my studio so I could show him some works. Dan, in his first act as my Theoretical Advisor, drew a large diagram on the studio wall. Pointing to the tip of what looked like an iceberg, he said “you are here”, and then pointing to somewhere way down below, “But you’ve got to get to here”. [F1]


Bouvard and Pécuchet Bouvard and Pécuchet (1881) is a novel by Gustave Flaubert. It remains unfinished as Flaubert died (1880) before completing it. The eponymous Bouvard and Pécuchet begin the novel as copy clerks working in a Paris. They meet on a bench, and – through their similarities and enthusiasm – fast become best friends. Inheritance affords them the chance to leave the city, and they head for the country to try their hand at (amongst other things): Agriculture; Science; Archaeology; Literature; Landscape Gardening, Politics; Love; Philosophy; Religion; Pedagogy. All of these endeavours are undertaken with endearing enthusiasm, but are met with (at best) middling results – everything falls apart in their hands. Bouvard and Pécuchet give up. The novel finishes with fragments from Flaubert that sketch out what was to become of our protagonists. They decide to resume work as copy clerks, and “copy haphazardly, whatever falls into their hands”. They order a specially made two-sided desk for this purpose.


Dan and I often used to speak of our (future) “grand collaborative project”. We both knew that nothing would likely materialize. Like Bouvard and Pécuchet, our grand collaboration was our friendship. Raymond Queneau ends his (1950) preface to Bouvard and Pécuchet by quoting a (1850) letter of Flaubert’s. I will too:

Dan’s Introduction Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time

Ineptitude consists in wanting to conclude … I see a past in ruins and a future in embryo; the one is too old, the other too young. Everything is in a state of confusion. But this means wanting only noon or midnight; it means not understanding twilight … Yes, stupidity consists in wanting to conclude. We are a thread and we want to know the pattern. Joe Saunders

This implies a relation between the two terms such that a general increase in cosmic chewiness leads to a proportional increase in the duration of time, duration being determined through the speed of mastication. There are then two poles. Chewiness = 1 being solidity, Chewiness = 0 being liquidity. Both lead to the impossibility of chewing, although they do seem to open onto possible universes of biting, sucking, drinking and licking – and the apocalyptic events of spitting and swallowing. In general the chewy cosmos oscillates between these two poles. Sometimes it will approach infinitely close to 1. At this point, the increased viscosity of parts of the chewy cosmos will permit only the slowest undulatory movements, apprehensible, if at all, on geological or possibly cosmological timescales. This is the Thingly Time of mountains and planets, stars and galaxies. At this point it seems neccesary to introduce an important distinction. Chewiness is related to the density of space, rather than to its size. Although the Thingly Time of the most viscous parts of the Chewy Cosmos seem to be embodied only in nature’s most Sublime creations, this need not necessarily be the case…

Double Desk (for Dan), 2011


The Third Attempt, 2008

[Tape 1: Studio. Starts mid sentence.] AH: But it’s not That. We always seem to start by saying what it isn’t, I suppose that’s how interpretation works. That was the first question, the premise of the first afternoon, how do we interpret? What framework do we use? What’s my interpretative community? Who should we draw on? Is meaning located in a piece or is it between pieces? Do the pieces constitute a language, and if so who can read it? We should re-read the Acacia Seeds by Ursula Le Guin. [F2] DC: Yes, I love it…animal art, plant art, geo art, cosmic art. What you are trying to do with this one though is fold the cosmic back onto the Domestic. (capital letters for common nouns, borrowed from Robinson Crusoe, as suggested by George.) AH: That’s what I’m going for. The only way you can open things up and unfold them onto the cosmic is to…from formica to the milky way… stick wobbly eyes on a page from Patrick Moore’s guide to astronomy (Dan laughs), using outmoded ideas, like the star charts in a box by Cornell, ideas I’m not sure I agree with, but they shouldn’t be discounted, what I’m doing is definitely not ironic. And using images of space can make the Boulders seem like Comets. Like Halley’s Comet, appearing in both ancient China and the Bayeux Tapestry, coming round every 76 years. I think it appeared the day Mark Twain was born and again the year he died. I remember going to the window of my grandparents house as a kid to try and see it, but it was cloudy. It’s inert matter but it still seems to have a consequence, we orientate ourselves by it, we can say what comes before and after. DC: A dark precursor. AH: But it’s trying to get that movement, from

Formica to the Milky Way, perhaps Latour and network theory will help, or it’s something Deleuze seems to be able to do, I’m not sure how to articulate it, Kafka does it, everything is discontinuous, so you can enter a door and the building on the inside need not have any correlation to the outside… As I see it… [The Fall playing loudly in the background, drowns out the tape. Discussion of context of Domestic in relation to Kettle’s Yard House, gallery as adjacent to house, piece in courtyard between the two, sound of arcade machines transcribed for string quartet – at this point there is no Thingly Time, that comes later]. DC: Kafka does it well. AH: But should I do this? (show source material in a cabinet). Should it all be jump cuts, should I include all the options, all the strands? DC: It’s like a paranoid dream, you can just keep building and building, connections everywhere till it stretches out and fills the Cosmos, which will bring you right back to the domestic, being trapped. That’s your Kafkian Trope. AH: Back to the Subject. DC: Gravity’s Rainbow will help you, that has everything. AH: What about the shot from the Godard, with the cup of coffee, swirling like a cosmos. DC: You mean 2 or 3 Things I know About Her…. AH: Do you know Daniel Kitson’s comedy?. DC: No. AH: He fakes disjunction, cocking up on purpose so he can recover and make a Joke about it, then if he genuinely does improvise, make a new connection, he’ll let you know so you can appreciate it…. the point I was getting to is I just made a new connection, the links with 11

Sunday Morning Coming Down, 2007

Charlie Brown and the eyes in space; I know that wasn’t improvised, I was repeating myself, but the Godard shot, I hadn’t thought about that before, the Coffee to the Cosmos, you can make that jump, incongruous yet inseparable, but my problem is how much of the bit in between should I show? DC: How do you incorporate those Lines in the Work you mean? AH: Yes, so my first plan was to take one work, like I do when I do a talk, for example the Boulder pieces, and say everything I could about it in an attempt to show how it functions for me: on the one hand Halley’s Comet, on the other Dumb Motif, interloper, incongruous in the landscape, then the idea of the Folly, taken from architecture but applied to the Romantic Idea of the coherent self, the Jungian Symbolism of the Sphere, construction as a Performative Action, sculpture as an Event, Monuments, Camus’ reading of Sysiphus, Public Sculpture, temporality, context etc. And then with another work I would just give the title, Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will, and hopefully you’d take that type of thinking and apply it to this one. I’m not really sure Gramsci and Charlie Brown work together, but my gut says they do, so I’d rather not explain that one. DC: But with the way you explain it there are always a lot of Red Herrings there. I’m sure you’re aware of them. Like the Jungian stuff, it’s nonsense. I know it plays some kind of role, but your integration is entirely Tangential. But that works, fragments of Jung in places illuminate possible Meanings. AH: So with the Stalagmites. They are manifestations of Studio Time, additive, the slow building up of an idea in the studio, like the first poster for Guston’s Boulder, using the formation


“The Author of the Acacia Seeds” And Other Extracts from the Journal of the Association of Therolinguistics MS. Found in an Anthill The messages were found written in touchgland exudation on degerminated acacia seeds laid in rows at the end of a narrow, erratic tunnel leading off from one of the deeper levels of the colony. It was the orderly arrangement of the seeds that first drew the investigator’s attention. The messages are fragmentary, and the translation approximate and highly interpretative; but the text seems worthy of interest if only for its striking lack of resemblance to any other Ant texts known to us. Seeds 1-13 [I will] not touch feelers. [I will] not stroke. [I will] spend on dry seeds [my] soul’s sweetness. It may be found when [I am] dead. Touch this dry wood! [I] call! [I am] here! Alternatively, this passage may be read: [Do] not touch feelers. [Do] not stroke. Spend on dry seeds [your] soul’s sweetness. [Others] may find it when [you are] dead. Touch this dry wood! Call: [I am] here! No known dialect of Ant employs any verbal person except the third person singular and plural and the first person plural. In this text, only the root forms of the verbs are used; so there is no way to decide whether the passage was intended to be an autobiography or a manifesto. Seeds 14-22 Long are the tunnels. Longer is the untunneled. No tunnel reaches the end 13

of the untunneled. The untunneled goes on farther than we can go in ten days [i.e., forever]. Praise! The mark translated “Praise!” is half of the customary salutation “Praise the Queen!” or “Long live the Queen!” or “Huzza for the Queen!”– but the word/mark signifying “Queen” has been omitted. Seeds 23-29 As the ant among foreign-enemy ants is killed, so the ant without ants dies, but being without ants is as sweet as honeydew. An ant intruding in a colony not its own is usually killed. Isolated from other ants, it invariably dies within a day or so. The difficulty in this passage is the word/ mark “without ants,” which we take to mean “alone”—a concept for which no word/mark exists in Ant. Seeds 30-31 Eat the eggs! Up with the Queen! There has already been considerable dispute over the interpretation of the phrase on Seed 31. It is an important question, since all the preceding seeds can be fully understood only in the light cast by this ultimate exhortation. Dr. Rosbone ingeniously argues that the author, a wingless neuterfemale worker, yearns hopelessly to be a winged male, and to found a new colony, flying upward in the nuptial flight with a new Queen. Though the text certainly permits such a reading, our conviction is that nothing in the text supports it—least of all the text of the immediately preceding seed, No. 30: “Eat the eggs!” This reading, though shocking, is beyond disputation. We venture to suggest that the confusion 14

over Seed 31 may result from an ethnocentric interpretation of the word “up.” To us, “up” is a “good” direction. Not so, or not necessarily so, to an ant.”Up” is where the food comes from, to be sure; but “down” is where security, peace, and home are to be found. ”Up” is the scorching sun; the freezing night; no shelter in the beloved tunnels; exile; death. Therefore we suggest that this strange author, in the solitude of her lonely tunnel, sought with what means she had to express the ultimate blasphemy conceivable to an ant, and that the correct reading of Seeds 30-31, in human terms, is: Eat the eggs! Down with the Queen! The desiccated body of a small worker was found beside Seed 31 when the manuscript was discovered. The head had been severed from the thorax, probably by the jaws of a soldier of the colony. The seeds, carefully arranged in a pattern resembling a musical stave, had not been disturbed. (Ants of the soldier caste are illiterate; thus the soldier was presumably not interested in the collection of useless seeds from which the edible germs had been removed. ) No living ants were left in the colony, which was destroyed in a war with a neighbouring anthill at some time subsequent of the death of the Author of the Acacia Seeds. —G. D’Arbay, T. R. Bardol Announcement of an Expedition The extreme difficulty of reading Penguin has been very much lessened by the use of the underwater motion-picture camera. On film it is at least possible to repeat, and slow down, the fluid sequences of the script, to the point where, by constant repetition and patient study, many elements of this most elegant and lively literature may be grasped, though the nuances, and perhaps the

essence, must forever elude us. It was Professor Duby who, by pointing out the remote affiliation of the script with Low Greylag, made possible the first tentative glossary of Penguin. The analogies with Dolphin which had been employed up to that time never proved very useful, and were often quite misleading. Indeed it seemed strange that a script written almost entirely in wings, neck, and air should prove the key to the poetry of short-necked, flipper-winged water-writers. But we should not have found it so strange if we had kept in mind that penguins are, despite all evidence to the contrary, birds. Because their script resembles Dolphin in form, we should never have assumed that is must resemble Dolphin in content. And indeed it does not. There is, of course, the same extraordinary wit, the flashes of crazy humor, the inventiveness, and the inimitable grace. In all the thousands of literatures of the Fish stock, only a few show any humor at all, and that usually of a rather simple, primitive sort; and the superb gracefulness of Shark or Tarpon is utterly different from the joyous vigor of all Cetacean scripts. The joy, the vigor, and the humor are all shared by Penguin authors; and, indeed, by many of the finer Seal auteurs. The temperature of the blood is a bond. But the construction of the brain, and of the womb, makes a barrier! Dolphins do not lay eggs. A world of difference lies in that simple fact. Only when Professor Duby reminded us that penguins are birds, that they do not swim but fly in water, only then could the therolinguist begin to approach the sea literature of the penguin with understanding; only then could the miles of recordings already on film be restudied and, finally, appreciated. But the difficulty of translation is still with us.

A satisfying degree of promise has already been made in Adélie. The difficulties of recording a group kinetic performance in a stormy ocean as thick as pea soup with plankton at a temperature of 31° Fahrenheit are considerable; but the perseverance of the Ross Ice Barrier Literary Circle has been fully rewarded with such passages as “Under the Iceberg,” from the Autumn Song—a passage now world famous in the rendition by Anna Serebryakova of the Leningrad Ballet. No verbal rendering can approach the felicity of Miss Serebryakova’s version. For, quite simply, there is no way to reproduce in writing the all-important multiplicity of the original text, so beautifully rendered by the full chorus of the Leningrad Ballet company. Indeed, what we call “translations” from the Adélie—or from any group kinetic text— are, to put it bluntly, mere notes—libretto without the opera. The ballet version is the true translation. Nothing in words can be complete. I therefore suggest, though the suggestion may well be greeted with frowns of anger or with hoots of laughter, that for the therolinguist—as opposed to the artist and the amateur—the kinetic sea writings of Penguin are the least promising field of study: and, further, that Adélie, for all its charm and relative simplicity, is a less promising field of study than is Emperor. Emperor!—I anticipate my colleagues’ response to this suggestion. Emperor! The most difficult, the most remote, of all the dialects of Penguin! The language of which Professor Duby himself remarked, “The literature of the emperor penguin is as forbidding, as inaccessible, as the frozen heart of Antarctica itself. Its beauties may be unearthly, but they are not for us.” Maybe. I do not underestimate the difficulties: not least of which is the imperial temperament, so much more reserved and 15

aloof than that of any of penguin. But, paradoxically, it is just in this reserve that I place my hope. The emperor is not a solitary, but a social bird, and while on land for the breeding season dwells in colonies, as does the Adélie; but these colonies are very much smaller and very much quieter than those of the Adélie. The bonds between the members of an emperor colony are rather personal than social. The emperor is an individualist. Therefore I think it almost certain that the literature of the emperor will prove to be composed by single authors, instead of chorally; and therefore it will be translatable into human speech. It will be a kinetic literature, but how different from the spatially extensive, rapid, multiplex choruses of sea writing! Close analysis, and genuine transcription, will at last be possible. What! say my critics—Should we pack up and go to Cape Crozier, to the dark, to the blizzards, to the -60° cold, in the mere hope of recording the problematic poetry of a few strange birds who sit there, in the mid-winter dark, in the blizzards, in the -60° cold, on the eternal ice, with an egg on their feet. And my reply is, Yes. For, like Professor Duby, my instinct tells me that the beauty of that poetry is an unearthly as anything we shall ever find on earth. To those of my colleagues in whom the spirit of scientific curiosity and aesthetic risk is strong, I say, Imagine it: the ice, the scouring snow, the darkness, the ceaseless whine and scream of the wind. In that black desolation a little band of poets crouches. They are starving; they will not eat for weeks. On the feet of each one, under the warm belly feathers, rests one large egg, thus preserved from the mortal touch of the ice. The poets cannot hear each other; they cannot see each other. They can only feel the other’s warmth. That is their poetry, that is their art. Like all kinetic literatures, 16

it is silent; unlike other kinetic literatures, it is all but immobile, ineffably subtle. The ruffling of a feather; the shifting of a wing; the touch, the faint, warm touch of the one beside you. In unutterable, miserable, black solitude, the affirmation. In absence, presence. In death, life. I have obtained a sizable grant from UNESCO and have stocked an expedition. There are still four places open. We leave for Antarctica on Thursday. If anyone wants to come along, welcome! —D. Petri Editorial. By the President of the Therolinguistics Association What is Language? This question, central to the science of therolinguistics, has been answered— heuristically—by the very existence of the science. Language is communication. That is the axiom on which all our theory and research rest, and from which all our discoveries derive; and the success of the discoveries testifies to the validity of the axiom. But to the related, yet not identical question, What is Art? we have not yet given a satisfactory answer. Tolstoy, in the book whose title is that very question, answered it firmly and clearly: Art, too, is communication. This answer has, I believe, been accepted without examination or criticism by therolinguists. For example: Why do therolinguists study only animals? Why, because plants do not communicate. Plants do not communicate; that is a fact. Therefore plants have no language; very well; that follows from our basic axiom. But stay! That does not follow from the basic axiom, but only from the unexamined Tolstoyan corollary. What if art is not communicative? Or, what if some art is communicative, and some art is not?

Ourselves animals, active, predators, we look (naturally enough) for an active, predatory, communicative art; and when we find it, we recognise it. The development of this power of recognition and the skills of appreciation is a recent and glorious achievement. But I submit that, for all the tremendous advances made by therolinguistics during the last decades, we are only at the beginning of our age of discovery. We must not become slaves to our own axioms. We have not yet lifted our eyes to the vaster horizons before us. We have not faced the almost terrifying challenge of Plant. If a non-communicative, vegetative art exists, we must rethink the very elements of our science, and learn a whole new set of techniques. For it is simply not possible to bring the critical and technical skills appropriate to the study of Weasel murder mysteries, or Batrachian erotica, or the tunnel sagas of the earthworm, to bear on the art of the redwood or the zucchini. This is proved conclusively by the failure—a noble failure—of the efforts of Dr. Srivas, in Calcutta, using timelapse photography, to produce a lexicon of Sunflower. His attempt was daring, but doomed to failure. For his approach was kinetic—a method appropriate to the communicative arts of the tortoise, the oyster, and the sloth. He saw the extreme slowness of the kinesis of plants, and only that, as the problem to be solved. But the problem was far greater. The art he sought, if it exists, is a noncommunicative art: and probably a nonkinetic one. It is possible that Time, the essential element, matrix, and measure of all known animal art, does not enter into vegetable art at all. The plants may use the meter of eternity. We do not know.

We do not know. All we can guess is that the putative Art of the Plant is entirely different from the Art of the Animal. What it is, we cannot say; we have not yet discovered it. Yet I predict with some certainly that it exists, and that when it is found it will prove to be, not an action, but a reaction: not a communication, but a reception. It will be exactly the opposite of the art we know and recognise. It will be the first passive art known to us. Can we in fact know it? Can we ever understand it? It will be immensely difficult. That is clear. But we should not despair. Remember that so late as the mid-twentieth century, most scientists, and many artists, did not believe that Dolphin would ever be comprehensible to the human brain—or worth comprehending! Let another century pass, and we may seem equally laughable. ”Do you realise,” the phytolinguist will say to the aesthetic critic, “that they couldn’t even read Eggplant?” And they will smile at our ignorance, as they pick up their rucksacks and hike on up to read the newly deciphered lyrics of the lichen on the north face of Pike’s Peak. And with them, or after them, may there not come that even bolder adventurer—the first geolinguist, who, ignoring the delicate, transient lyrics of the lichen, will read beneath it the still less communicative, still more passive, wholly atemporal, cold, volcanic poetry of the rocks: each one a word spoken, how long ago, by the earth itself, in the immense solitude, the immenser community, of space. Ursula K Le Guin over: The Naturist (Unofficial Sculpture for the Festival of Britain, Jaywick, England) Easter Weekend, 2011


of rock as an analogy for the construction of an idea, as in that book by De Landa you lent me all those years ago, a form that reveals the time of its own construction, constructing a process that would allow a more even relationship between studio time and the construction of a work, rather than hours and hours of thinking that result in a rapid gesture. One hour equals one layer. But they are also meant to be cartoon objects. They occupy a similar space to the space Burk occupies in Trapdoor. A space that was available to me before Beckett was. Worms come out of the trapdoor below and Him Upstairs tells you what to do with them, the whole thing looks like the Pit in a Guston painting, or something from the background of Scooby Doo, or Roadrunner. But also El Greco, as Huxley would describe his late backgrounds, as if they were inside the Belly of a Whale. But how can you make thinking visible? An object has to be on the boundary of legible; just as thoughts take the shape of something it has to slip back into being a Pile of Formless matter, something abject, or Homebase emulsion colours. So then they reveal themselves over time. I was hoping for the kind of ambiguity that you get with John McCracken, not through surface, but through something that’s the same all the way through, something with weight and bulk. And I would normally talk a bit about the relationship between control and chance and gravity, and then maybe Zen, but like you say those bits might be a Red Herring, but I can’t tell. It has to be all of these things simultaneously. [F3] [Dan pours a whisky.] AH: When a stone is moved along a river bed and becomes smoothed off that’s called chatting I think…

above: 99 x Out of 10 right: Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will (Ongoing), 2008 below: Installation view, Wysing Arts Centre 2009


[Pause in conversation, music playing, Four Tet You Have Love in You, sound of disposable lighters. [Dan spots Poetic of Space on the shelf, conversation moves to Bird’s Nests.] ] AH: On the one hand the nest is an image of stability, security, and on the other a precarious, fragile object…. DC: …This is the role the work needs to play, as both an object and as a centre of resonance, things that avoid simply being contingent, a Thinglyness. Are you trying to bring some of these series of works to an end?. AH: No, I’m imagining them as if they are Twigs floating down a River, which become lodged, then more twigs in the current also get caught, and a little Island forms, perhaps a bird lays a few more twigs on top and a nest is formed, and then the Eggs hatch, the waters rise, and the twigs get swept on down the stream or something. So it’s not a resolution, just a temporary articulation, on the one hand a bundle of twigs…. I was looking for bird’s nests in the snow this morning. They are much easier to spot in the snow, a bundle of twigs, more dense than all the twigs of the bare branches around it, a temporary configuration wedged in the fork of a tree that provides this domestic function. The work should feel like that. [Sound of something being scribbled on paper, they agree it should have been written in capital letters.] DC: It’s a baffling, baffling show. It’s going to be great. You just need to set up enough discursive networks. Like the Jungian thing, if you take it by itself it’s a Red Herring, but if you take it with all the other bits it makes some sense – but only in so far as it doesn’t actually work with them. What is the relationship between these disjunctive, discursive networks and the domestic space? We have to open up the space in between. So 24

above: Be Glad For The Song Has No End, A Festival of Artists’ Music, Boulder Stage. below: The Unquiet Grave, installation view 2005


Andy’s Work in Cartoon Motion The laws of motion in a cartoon landscape are governed by imagination’s intuitive logic. They defy the familiar physical laws that make apples fall or feathers float. The work of Andy Holden seems to exist in cartoon motion’s gooey space-time, where repeated thoughts make a rock fragment grow, vinyl records bend as if walloped by a song, and oversize cherries pucker and reinflate like makeshift musical instruments. What would happen in a cartoon landscape if Wile E. Coyote tried pushing Andy’s boulder off a ledge onto the Road Runner? The boulder and Coyote would hover in midair until he chanced to look down. Then gravity would kick in, with Coyote falling faster than the boulder until being crushed beneath it in the canyon below. How much does the cultural imagination weigh according to the laws of Newtonian physics? When and how does it move? In order to investigate these strands in Andy’s work, it is necessary to brush aside classical mechanics and embrace the laws of cartoon motion.* Andy’s timber and plywood-clad boulder The Third Attempt, 2008, appears to land in the Dutch landscape with a silent thud amidst the idyll of trees and grazing sheep. Across a stream on the adjacent hillside, chicken and sausages cook on a barbeque beside a picnic table, framing the scene below. The evening’s meal for the artist and a handful of his friends and colleagues who helped build the boulder. Back on English soil, the boulder is reconstructed in 2010 as the Boulder Stage that his band the Grubby Mitts and others perform on for the artist’s festival of artists’ music. Another, Pyramid Piece, 2010, a knit sculpture of yarns resembling a rock fragment the artist stole as a youth from the Great Pyramid of Giza, looms softly overhead inside a Tate museum

gallery as part of the artist’s installation. The boulders are at once ‘dumb’ motifs in the landscape or gallery, and centrifuges churning up the art historical and cultural imagination. During a ‘tooth and claw’ row, Woody Woodpecker’s head emerges from a rotating cloud of stars and dust at several places simultaneously. The metonymical references and forms Andy’s boulders evoke, such as the modular shapes in Tony Smith’s sculpture Moondog (which Smith initiated in 1964 as a 33-inch cardboard model, cast in bronze in 1970, and in 1998-1999 was posthumously made into the monumental painted aluminum sculpture he originally planned to produce); the glutinous looming head in Philip Guston’s painting Friend–To M.F., 1978; or Paul McCarthy’s soaring inflatable sculpture Blockhead, 2003, seem to radiate out from the boulders’ axes, accelerating as they go. As the artist speculates, the boulders suggest a ‘relation to cake decoration or cartoon desert scenery, craft, conceptualism, geology...’ At full tilt, the forms and references seem to spring and protrude from the boulders all over, and all at once. In a Bugs Bunny cartoon, the red-haired monster Gossamer smacks through layers of colourful walls leaving in his wake a ‘silhouette of passage,’ or cookie-cutterperfect perforation conforming to his bell pepper-shaped body. The boulders are 21st century latecomers ‘arriving after the party of art history.’ Their various settings have been cannibalised by the art historical imagination in paintings by John Constable, Rembrandt van Rijn, J. M. W. Turner, among many others. Similarly, their wood or knit facture has been swallowed in chunks by the work of predecessors like Mike Kelley or English craft traditions. Even their apparently abstract circuitries of repeat occurrence or ‘centrifuge of ideas’ in which the system 25

we bring in nature?. AH: But also laminate, and its relation to class, one wood masquerading as another wood. Aspiration. For me it’s in the putting of a souvenir on a laminate Wood shelf. The souvenir itself is something, but it’s also a nothing, an empty Vessel that points elsewhere, signifying a larger Event that can’t be consumed in an object, something temporal, the souvenir as an object tries to encapsulate and experience that unfolding in time, which will always be disjunctive. Inseparable from but not connected to. An arbitrary moment of selection takes place. Although it’s not entirely arbitrary; for example, when someone selects a Beer Bottle Stalagmite, their choice is determined by certain things, colour, density and whether there is any bottle showing. For the Pyramid Piece table of souvenirs there was no choice, I bought every possible souvenir. [Digression about Robinson Crusoe, constructing a domestic environment, Dan recalls that Marx talks about it, Andy remembers that Marx rubbishes it because all the British political economists based their ideas on it, but Dan points out that the book is already steeped in British Political Economy. They note the proximity of house and universe on the island. They also mention Walden. A parallel to the studio is attempted. A pause. Conversation turns to galleries and Other Things. They move to another room. Dan asks about the Bastion of Empire paintings which he is seeing for the first time.] AH: It’s a painting of the Island of Rockall, it was the last addition to the British Empire, off the coast of Scotland. It’s mentioned on the Shipping Forecast. It’s also the subject of a 26

perpetually feeds on itself, have been chewed over in the compact sculptural universe of Jason Rhoades’ 1:12 Perfect World, 2000 (a scale model Rhoades created of his ‘mega’ sculpture installation Perfect World, 1999), and in Martin Kippenberger’s sprawling The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika’, 1994 (in which Kippenberger reimagined a section of Kafka’s never completed novel, published posthumously in 1927). Like Andy’s 21st century boulders, art and culture is a silhouette of passages. Another large-scale boulder by the artist recently appears for a day in the remote seaside village of Jaywick, Essex. A smattering of local sunbathers and families on holiday inspect the sculpture planted on the sand near the shore. Others continue on. A few join Andy and his five assistants for a barbeque on a pair of picnic tables designed by the artist, while a Jet Skier cuts a teal wake behind the boulder parallel to the horizon. In the afternoon sun, the boulder’s unvarnished monochrome plywood sheets reflect pastel shades of pink, blue, green, purple and orange. The boulder resembles a globby beach ball, or the local clapboard ‘chalets’ built in 1928 as resort homes for Londoners, but which people live in year round and have become emblems of England’s currently most deprived town. In front of the boulder lies a marsh lined by a seawall. Further on, the rows of weather-beaten and sun-bleached bungalows encircle a nearby caravan park. Viewed from behind, The Third Attempt and Jaywick boulder appear to be cut clean in half. Peering inside their hollow shells, the timber crowning and unpainted ply are visible. The two boulder sculptures are ‘open’ three-dimensional facades. On the other hand, the ‘void’ is transformed into the Boulder Stage platform for the artists’ music festival. The wraparound knit surface

enveloping Pyramid Piece also becomes, in part, a stage for the artist’s guilt. People’s hopes, fears or desires for rubbery invincibility help guide the motion of objects in a cartoon landscape. Buster Keaton, after all, can only go so far in his gracefully antic representations. The indignant duck who lives under threat of the hunter’s gun is Daffy; the Woodpecker who smacks his head madly against a tree, Woody; the allegory of the coyote’s Want described by Mark Twain in his book Roughing It, 1872, on whom Chuck Jones’ Coyote is based, Wile E.; and the dueling cat and mouse, like rivalrous siblings, Tom and Jerry. What if motion or violence in Newton’s landscape did not culminate in tears, bloodshed or death, but rather a neverending amusement park ride in which Coyote can roll out from beneath the fallen boulder in the form of a breakfast pancake, then pop back again into his canine shape? Dave Hickey writes in his essay ‘Pontormo’s Rainbow’ that he was never actually ‘shocked, shocked’ by the violence in cartoons, only by what some adults construe such a statement to imply. Like Andy’s boulders, with their plump surface and partially exposed interior structure, animated cartoons are not ‘real.’ In part, they are the scaffolding of our drives and desires. The question is not if adults or children can tell the difference between representation and reality. We can. But imagine if we did not need to. The artist’s replica claw grabber arcade game Cherry Picker, 2006, holds dozens of fist-size knit yarn replicas of cherries piled beneath a hanging claw. Despite how light the cherries feel to the eye, the claw appears too flimsy to ever carry them up and out of their case. Cherry Picker also suggests ties to The Unquiet Grave, 2006, a head-high sculptural replica of a megaphone on a makeshift plinth accompanied by a

performance that is part of Short Works in Time, called Bastion of Empire / A Heap of Language / An Exercise in Simultaneity where the string quartet read out what started as the research for these paintings; they each read out a different discursive aspect of the rock’s history at the same time, Geological, Cultural, Political, Ecological, in an attempt to make the island appear through the density of words. It came across as a Fluxus thing or, as it was set in a lecture theatre, using the conventions of a recital, as some form of institutional commentary. However I thought of it in terms of Smithson’s drawing titled A Heap of Language, and also Bouvard and Pecuchet and the constant movement between subjects as they release this particular subject which will never answer everything. It’s an island only a few people have seen, so it exists largely as information about it. The British put someone on there during the Cold War to claim it…. DC: …who was the guy?. AH: It was an ornithologist, James Fisher I think him name was. It’s ownership was contested, not for what it was but for the waters around it and the fishing rights. It used to be that you got 25 miles of sea around the Island, although I’m not sure it’s divided up like that anymore – maybe into shelves or something. The piece was to do with not having seen something but it occupying a place in the imagination, something that is simultaneously interesting for a variety of reasons. The idea was to read all this information out simultaneously, like layers of Sediment, the words like Rubble Pouring from the Mouth to try and make this thing appear, piled up to form a representation of the rock. But as speech it can only exist in time, and the Heap constantly slips away into the Horizontal. It seems to me an Object can give off all these 27

Untitled (Make up Collage, Autumn), 2009 right: Bastion of Empire, 2010-11

things simultaneously. What I thought was that if someone was telling you the Irish mythological explanation for the island – a Giant Throwing Stones into the sea – whilst someone else was explaining the bio-diversity or the Fishing Rights of the island at the same time – then perhaps the island will appear just as a thing…. It’s always this problem, on the one hand you have the Thing, and on the other hand all these possible ways of Thinking about the Thing…that’s the subject of the paintings, in a way. Cézanne painting Mont St Victoire/Starbucks Coffee Chains/Homebase Colour choices...possible recipes for elaborate Coffees, Mocha, Caramel, Egg Nog, Hazelnut, Truffle. DC: But all these things are bracketed off – materials for the work – it doesn’t become any one of these things. AH: I don’t intend it as a causal relationship. With these paintings the research came first, then the paintings were made, and then the paintings gave way to the research that in itself became the Thing. There is a continuous oscillation between the thing and the thing that causes the thing. DC: So Latour’s writing is definitely going to resonate…. [Distracted by the emergence of coffee the tape is still recording but they leave the room. Talking can be heard faintly and some electronic music. Closer to the mic Dan can be heard talking about “Not necessarily disagreeing with the point of view of the Master” (they are discussing approaches to teaching). Dan elaborates: “The Thing with the Master is that you eventually overidentify with him, become Hysterical, realise it’s not complete, Oedipalize then move on, it’s a powerful way of learning.” They look at some cabinets Andy had made which present research 30

video projection of inflating and deflating vinyl balloon cherries clustered in a neon cityscape. In Athens in 2010, standing beside another incarnation of his boulders on the first storey of a concrete ledge, the artist sings into a real megaphone his composition for twelve car stereos entitled Athens: Yesterday I Woke Up Humming Tina Turner to the audience assembled in the street below. Like a film director, the artist also occasionally talks on his megaphone during the construction of the boulders, coordinating the placement of the plywood cladding with his assistants. The Unquiet Grave also shares its name with a frequently covered English folk song about the intense grief and mourning felt for a departed love, and of sensing them from beyond the grave. A clip from the cherry video in The Unquiet Grave also occasionally resurfaces during Grubby Mitts’ performances, emanating from the screen behind the band like bulbous shimmering monuments as the Mitts join in chorus, ‘Hey Lenny [Bruce], hey Lenny, I heard you comin’ back to me...’ In the early years of the 21st century, the artist and four friends gathered in a local Bedford café called Poppins to sign a manifesto entitled Maximum Irony Maximum Sincerity, or MI!MS. Recently, the artist reunited with his former MI!MS members and produced a ten-minute radio play that aired on London radio. The artists’ radio play investigates the ideas they put forth in the manifesto, its cultural influences and relevance today, with related work to potentially follow. An excerpt from the manifesto reads: MI!MS … embodies a position that the speaker truly believes, but in such a way that appears so bold, or excessive or absurd that it again produces ambiguity.

We should not be cynical about the emotions in our work; we are simply cynical about the means we have to express those emotions. It is ridiculous how much we are moved by art, let us then ridicule ourselves at the same time as we celebrate it. In a Tom and Jerry cartoon, Jerry the mouse pushes a flowerpot off a windowsill. In an attempt to capture it unbroken, Tom spirals down five flights and manages to catch up with it before it lands. The pot however shatters on his head, leaving behind a red flower and small dome of soil. For the artist, it seems, acknowledging the inadequacy of the means to express ‘those’ emotions in his work, while simultaneously keeping utmost faith in how intense they feel, guide his attempt to capture them ‘unbroken’ after they fall. Tyler Woolcot

* Specific reference to the laws of cartoon motion were published in Esquire magazine in June 1980 in the article ‘O’Donnell’s Laws of Cartoon Motion.’ The laws have been republished in this catalogue.

Rich, Mark, Aki, in “I like to play in the hole” T-shirts during the construction of the Black Boulder Monochrome Folly 2006

and surplus material from the Boulder series.] DC: The cabinets need to avoid any kind of position of authenticity, otherwise it would be a bit Disingenuous. You’re aware that what you are doing is permanently Absurd. It has a performative element to it which does guide you, and it is an Ethical Position, but it’s an ethical position in so far as it’s absurd, but also tremendously honest. Yes or no? AH: Yes. Although the sculptures themselves are often an Absurd Proposition the work that’s involved in their construction is an entirely Serious Endeavour, which hopefully produces their confusion. I don’t know, it’s just not possible to go from a curiosity about a material to an object of expression anymore, so you look for ways of Being and Making at the same time. Take the picture of us on the roof in the sun in Deptford with the matching “I like to Play in the Hole” T-shirts – that moment, that photo, is part of the work, but it can’t ever really be visible, other than in this photo, and the question is: can the exhibition accommodate Photos and Documentation, without them seeming too important, or revealing too much? (How to attribute the right amount of importance to an Image or Object?). DC: The trouble is that images like that exclude people, and if the show is successful then you’ll get the sense that the photo gives off anyway. What you get with other parts of the work is something like the Lacan thing, Extimacy, “I’m Excluded In.” We want people to get that sense from the show. AH: What do you think about its Autobiographical nature? Not just showing a group of objects in relation to each other but with a sense of a Personal Subjective History that seems in some ways to make sense of the reasons for production. 31

Athens IV, 2011

The significance of Kettle’s Yard House, and Jim Ede’s collection of works and Objects viewed in his constructed Domestic Space. Using my own personal, specific, relationship to Kettle’s Yard House and it’s role in my own early experience of art as a student, as something different from any notion of Site Specific. Of my using Autobiography as the subject, in relation to a kind of Interior, Domestic space. DC: There was an interesting lecture that Badiou gave on the theme of Philosophy as Biography. He took Nietzsche’s proposition that a philosophy is always the biography of the philosopher and read nine stories in turn from his private life in an attempt to demonstrate that a Biography of the philosopher is a piece of Philosophy. AH: That’s sort of it. The Brancusi on top of the piano, the act of placing that there – we get a sense of the person, the biography of the act, even though the interest in the placement, the reflection of the Head in the wood of the Piano lid, is something in itself. But these things are equally important, I don’t want to reduce everything to a sense of the author, or suggest that we need an Author’s Biography to make sense of a work. But it’s the inseparability of the making of the work from the work itself, and the multiplicity of situations that have occurred for you to make that thing that way that day. I like these photos here (points to one of the books on the floor) of David Smith sitting out looking over his sculptures at Bolton Landing. I’m more interested in these photos of him looking at the sculptures than I would be in going to see a sculpture like that in the landscape. In this photo he and the work seem inseparable. This isn’t always the case. I also love the Smithson film of him walking round Spiral Jetty, but driving all the way from California to see it, as a thing in the Landscape,

made it even more interesting than I could have imagined, better as an object than as a Film of an object. I know lots of other artists have focused in on this idea, but I only want it to be one element…I’d like to get to the point where I’d feel comfortable putting a Studio shot into an exhibition alongside sculptures, but I still also want to have the Eyes in Space. DC: So the Domestic is an Ambivalent space. On the one hand it has a relation with Bourgeois Subjectivity insofar as it’s a place where you put your books on the Shelf, you reflect, Create your own self, Create an Individual, make an interior space – but at the same time it’s also a space in which you make things that are in Commercial Circulation your own, and that’s the whole point of a collector as Walter Benjamin puts it in Unpacking My Library, the History that is part of the object becomes part of your own. The metaphor of interior space is going to be unavoidable unless you link it to the Performative Aspects, it needs to be part of the discourse… it needs to be really, really tight, but disjunctive, and subtly paradoxical, like Lacan at his best. It’s been fun hearing you talk, it’s been a while since I heard you Monologuing, but in that time you’ve done a lot of talking about your work and now you’ve begun to construct a performance of Andy talking about his artwork. It’s fun hearing stuff you’ve said before, even though I’ve not heard it before, and comparing it to stuff I used to hear before when you were just thinking on the fly. The Starbucks spiel was great. It’s like a good comedian, going over the same routine, it seems improvised…. AH: I’d like to be as good as Daniel Kitson…. DC: Become a mechanical automaton. This is the way you can try and bring it together. Don’t look for a discursive framework outside of the 33

work that can Overdetermine the whole Thing but use yourself as a performance, playing on the whole Romantic Artist idea, the infinite and the Cosmological going down to the Domestic. You need to get the discourse to operate in the same way that you Talk about the work, which was funny and clever and had all sorts of Slippage, Red Herrings and Stupidity. You don’t want to Mythologise yourself as that’s not the point of it at all. AH: Exactly, I want to use the self but I don’t want it to seem self-important. I’d like the show to be like a talk, more like speech, metonymic, rather than language which is metaphor. I have been thinking about this recently. I had to do an artist talk in Athens and I asked a technician, who during the building process had become a friend, to do the talk for me. He said he would but only if he could do Andy Kauffman impersonating me. I liked it, because in a way, although I’d only just met him, he was someone I’d like to be, and so rather than me performing for an audience, I thought he could act for me. And as he had helped make the piece I felt there was nothing I knew about it that he didn’t. I would like to eradicate myself completely from my work at some point, and it was quite relieving to let Anthony take the responsibility. DC: You’ve got to read the rest of Gravity’s Rainbow, the end is amazing – I can’t tell you as it will spoil it, no it’s so amazing, it’s incidental to the plot, I’m going to tell you anyway. Slothrop, the main character, as it goes on he becomes more and more Deterritorialised, and that is exactly the right word for it. And then he just disappears completely.


[Tape 3] Tape begins and the conversation is already underway, Kubla Kahn is being discussed; being a fragment of a Dream, Andy understands this as a Conversation to do with the Interpretation of Dreams, but it turns out not to be. Andy then talks about a book called Writing on Drugs, which discusses the relationship between narcotics and literature, and then it occurs to Andy that he had borrowed this book from Dan, around 2005, and had still not returned it. Dan says that it doesn’t matter and that it is a sign of a good book that he doesn’t have it anymore, he can tell a book is a favourite as he’s either lost it or given it away. Back to Writing on Drugs; the interesting thing is a slip between fact and fiction, in the historical account Sherlock Holmes ends up visiting Freud in Vienna, to make a point between the rise of the detective novel and the study of the Unconscious. Sadie Plant also quotes Deleuze, on Freud’s paper on cocaine, and his discovery of the Unconscious. They discuss Bad Narrative. Dan describes, based on Andy’s Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will, a possible scene with Charlie Brown slumped over a wall talking with Antonio Gramsci. Charlie Brown is asked:“If you could go through all of this again, would You?” His reply: he just screams and runs off. […] They talk about the nature of Digression, outmoded ideas (Jung, Flying Saucers); Andy describes a Sun Ra cover he’s trying to do with the Grubby Mitts, the Names of the Planets, Uranus was originally called Planet George, albeit briefly, Outmoded Ideas, Astrology, the use of maps of old world views and pre-Copernican Maps of the Stars in the Boxes of Joseph Cornell, and the similarity of feeling found in a track by The Modern Lovers. In a Cornell box the incorrect

sits well inside the interior space; within one box he can incorporate both House and Universe, the pipe for which the soap bubble becomes a planet, the hotel with a window to the stars. Collage. Eyes in Space Collage. Outmoded ideas. [F4] AH: What if we are to think through the studio as a model of the Unconscious?. DC: You’ve mentioned this before. AH: I think it’s worth pursuing... DC: But that takes us away from the Lacanian idea of the Unconscious being structured like a Language, it’s a different Model. AH: But it’s like a language, not that it is a Language. It’s a way to think about how the objects are constructed in the studio as opposed to how they are constructed in the gallery, and how to create in the gallery something which is in a sense legible, which is different but related to the way objects evolve and Co-exist in the studio. (Reading from a book, either Lacan, possibly Zizek): “Sense always comes from the other, in the way the other hears or responds to your words; for instance, he will accept your Hate at face value, or will consider your Hate in its guise as Love. The other, on whose decipherment the meaning of the subject’s words depend, is yet a vacuous place, an imaginary substitute for the fundamentally alienating function of language, a function symbolised by the idea of the other. Sense is always sense of the other. This is the real that drives the subject, because meaning can never be possessed by the subject, can never become wholly particular to a subject. Sense is also unattainable for another reason; the signifiers chosen by the subject are the production of Jouissance, to the particular modes of the subject’s pleasure; their signifying function Anthony as Andy as Andy, artist talk in Athens, 2011


therefore cannot exhaust their representational powers”. So my aim is to consider whether the practice makes sense, a sense that can include erroneous thought, possible thoughts that don’t work…. DC: But your studio is quite different from the majority of Modern Studios, and the model of the studio as unconscious depends on what type of studio…Here’s something we touched on last time, and I found a good quote from Marx on this, the division of labour that pervades the artist’s studio, the relation between the artist and the work had changed, and you go against this, trying to restructure the division, but it could be seen as antiquated or Romantic…. AH: More so trying to rethink it, moving between roles of Artist, Technician, Curator, Art-handler, Shop Owner, not necessarily seeing it all as one thing but performing these roles, flattening the Hierarchy. DC: But it’s centred around you. AH: I’m always jealous of the model of the Architect’s Studio. I think what Vito Acconci did is very interesting; going from Masturbating under the floorboards to setting up an Architect’s Studio is a fantastic trajectory. Anyway, what was the Marx quote? DC: “And then there is Don Quixote, who long ago paid the penalty for wrongly imagining that knight errantry was compatible with all economic forms of society”... [They head towards the van.]


The Revolt Against God Is Older Than Time

Nsissim is that which produces the shadow, Nsissim is the shadow – it is the same thing. The most high is blackness, ringed in white, delirious, its zero-gaze cruelly beyond malice. It is Nsissim who makes Gnoul live. Nsissim goes away when man dies, but Nsissim does not die. A buckling envelope, barely able to contain itself, unwitting desperation for the unknown This doubling: bursting in untold, or susurrant, Do you know where he lives? He lives in the eye. Narrating no message, the glinting silence of a dog whistle. Punctuations smoothe this time of refoundlings The little shining point you see in the middle, that is Nsissim. Yes, strangely. Black circle on white ground on ever-black. Senselessness unlayered; a well in falling.

[Tape begins: the recorder has been placed on the dashboard, it picks up 50% engine noise, 50% dialogue]

Jon Shaw

AH: It begins with a House. DC: It begins with a House. 36

Untitled (Eyes in Space Series, extract), 2010-11

Claw Grabber machines – above: Untitled (knitted rocks), 2008 right: Cherry Grabber, 2005

AH: Something Something Something, it begins with a House. [F5] DC: That could be the title. We’ll add it to the pile of Unattributed Quotations, I’ll look it up. Dan spends some time talking about Orson Welles’ transformation in physique between Lady of Shanghai and a Touch of Evil. He announces he’s been having recurring dreams about the young Orson Welles. Andy talks about the adverts Welles made for booze which are on YouTube. The conversation moves to The Trial and the section Before the Law, and the various interpretations offered by the priest. They discuss Martin Kippenberger’s piece, The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s America. More discussion about disjunctiveness, compression of Space and Time. They try not to use certain words, but use Disjunctive again and again. Arcades, liminal plane of the Coast, British seaside, Andy’s piece that he read at the ICA, Living All Year in a Place You Only Go To Visit. A place set up for Desire, but with no one desiring it. Interpretation of Dreams, an Endless Proliferation of meaning around a Traumatic Kernel. Dan points out that Freud wrote it just after his Dad died: “In a way it’s the foundation of Psychoanalysis, but is around his own fantasies, his own attempts to deal with his relationship with his father. He writes about how he’s not upset, how it spurs him on. The whole thing is an Ethico-Aesthetic object.” Andy talks about interviewing Jim Shaw, his use of Dream Interpretation, the difference between the European Unconscious and the American Unconscious, and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Dan tells a story of Jung and Freud traveling to America by boat, and as they see the Statue of Liberty on the Horizon, Freud turns to Jung or Jung turns to Freud and says: “Don’t they know that we’re bringing them the plague”. Dan confesses 40


I live with three pieces by Andy Holden (and this is without counting badges, key rings, tapes, bottle openers and other ephemera related to his own work and his band ‘The Grubby Mitts’. ) The first is an image of an American looking weather-boarded house painted quite loosely onto an old 12 inch vinyl record. It hangs in my hall from a nail through the hole in the middle of the record. I bought this from his first exhibition at Hidde van Seggelen. I could have asked Andy to sell me something after the show, and perhaps this would have lowered the price, but buying it from the gallery somehow added to the allure of owning the thing. It took me some time to choose the piece I wanted; once I had determined what kind of work I could afford it was a question of selecting one from the series. I distinctly remember breaking into a nervous sweat as I made my selection and considered the money I would have to spend. (I should say that I am not a habitual collector, though I do live with some art that I have acquired mainly through gift or exchange. ) The second is one of his coloured plaster stalagtite pieces – one of the series of small versions of the larger plaster sculptures that he made for a show in Holland. He brought us this as a gift when he came up to Liverpool once to deliver a talk and do some tutorials with the students. I remember him brushing away the bits that had chipped off the piece and pointing to the cigarette butts that remained in the Beck’s beer bottle armature within the plaster. I think it may have been on the same visit that he told the students an anecdote about the work that I have repeated often because it seems to say something quite counterintuitive and revealing about the way in which one might value art: When Andy first showed the large plaster pieces in Holland – I think he showed three – he grew frustrated when visitors to the show were unable or

unwilling to declare which of the three they liked best, even when their opinion was actively solicited. I think he felt that though he had followed a similar process with each of the sculptures, he had nevertheless made very particular decisions, which had led to them being the way they were, and it seemed that all those considerations were somehow wasted or lost on these viewers. However, on their way out of the show these same people pored over the shelves stacked with the 10 Euro miniature sculptures, deciding which was the one they wanted – deciding which they thought was the best or they liked most. I can’t know what would have been their criteria – if they were anything like those that governed my selection of the record they would have had something to do with finding one that looked quite particular but that was also generic enough to be an exemplar. Whatever characteristics it was they were basing their judgment upon they could also have found in the larger sculptures, but it was as if the possibility of owning something enabled a different kind of unashamedly subjective engagement to kick in. The third piece is a black monochrome, one of a number of fragments from a disassembled boulder piece. I bought this from Andy’s website to add to my very small collection of monochromes above the piano. Except its not really a monochrome because the hardboard ground shows through the black paint. I like to think that Andy noticed it was my order and that he chose me a good one. Juan Cruz

over: Beerbottle Stalagmite, Original Multiple, (Unlimited Edition), 2008 onwards

that his interest in theory is a neurotic symptom. They propose adding their collective reading to the library in Kettle’s Yard, a reading room research area. Dan discusses Alfredo Jaar’s Marx Lounge at the Liverpool Biennale. Much rustling of wrappers, conversation continues between and during Mouthfuls. The Legacy of Romanticism is proposed as a topic to research further. As is the Renaissance. Andy is very proud that his internal structure for the inside of the large boulder sculptures corresponds to a drawing by Da Vinci from a book of geometry that he illustrated, and shows that it is not such a ridiculous way to make a sphere out of straight lines. [Van comes to a stop outside Kettle’s Yard.] [Tape 4: Kettle’s Yard House] [F6] [They move from the chairs to the Library Table, sound of scribbling, notes of plans of things to research. Conversation re-emerges with Andy discussing the plaster works which Dan has asked him to explain. It’s an illustrated talk, sound of scribbling on paper.] AH: The relationship between the Totemic Stalagmite form, the Slice and the Beerbottle Stalagmite. This for me will be a key work when we are discussing interpretation or legibility as the three parts of the process. The three works are inseparable, yet each one requires a different set of interpretative approaches; you can’t ask the same things of them, they ask to be read in completely different ways; one part aims to be the antithesis of another, even though both must exist together. So the Stalagmite, although I’d like to find another word for it, it’s as much a Cake, cartoon prop, El Greco landscape, Termite Mound or Coral as it is a rock, is Authentic Studio Time, with a laborious labour process, attempting 41



What kind of space is an art gallery? What happens there? What is the role of language in this space? Different art needs different spaces. Context is everything. Which context? What is an autonomous artwork? How can you tell? What would be an ideal encounter with a work of art? What do we look for in art? What does art ask of us? How does it communicate? What is the relationship between object and thought, art and idea? How long does it last? One of the most remarkable things about Kettle’s Yard is the way it sits within and apart from the everyday. This was a deliberate tactic on Jim Ede’s part, effectively isolating and privileging the specifically aesthetic value of objects and sublimating historical narratives or hierarchical categorisations in order to subvert our habits of looking at things. The Edes moved into Kettle’s Yard in 1957. Jim wanted to create a place where people could experience art intimately and informally, without the restrictions and conventions of formal public spaces; hence the domestic environment. The house was a reaction to the salon-style displays at the National Gallery of Art (later to become the Tate Gallery) where he worked in the ’30s, as much as it was a rejection of the paradigmatic ‘white cube’ that was crystallizing in the ’30s, and the art historical narratives associated with each space. The point of Kettle’s Yard was that Jim and Helen Ede lived there for nearly 20 years. Jim would answer the door every day; art came with a cup of tea and optional conversation. The creation of the exhibition gallery came shortly before their departure from Kettle’s Yard in 1973. Jim wanted visitors to encounter the art of their peers, but his collection remained rooted in Missed Opportunities, 2008 background: The Pink Gate, 2005

to make manifest the time of its own construction, adding a few layers a day to become a bulbous, heavy, cloudy, pastel Hangover of a Thing. A stupid compromise between control and Gravity, gradually edging upwards like the Tower of Babel. But the further you go up, the wider the base you have to start with. It was initially a dripping down, but now it’s pumped by hand through a Funnel, which moved it away from the geological towards Cake Decorating, to stop it just being about time and accommodate other inclinations: a nod towards Minimalism, the Abject, or Interior Design. DC: The movement from Drip to Blob is in itself interesting (laughs). The dripping seems Quantifiable, Atomistic or a measurable notion of Labour Time, whereas you don’t get that with Blobs, they are all different sizes, a lot more Qualitative. AH: Perhaps it can be seen as a move towards the Subjective; over time the process has become more refined. DC: I prefer them now that they are more Cartoony, Blobby, and Sublimated. Still entirely Libidinal, but no longer Phallic. AH: People often make a kneejerk connection with Masculinity, as if gender is not performative, as if the construction of the sculptural objects are not located in the realm of Performance. The sculptures have a sexuality but not a Gender. The sculptures should now feel as if they are in the Belly of a Whale, in the way that Huxley described El Greco’s figures as existing the the Belly of a Whale. We could try and think of the studio as a Belly of a Whale. The colours are based on interior design schemes from Homebase, so it’s the colour ranges that are available to any one. Ideally these sculptures would be able to fit into any bedroom of anyone 45

the early 20th century. The gallery became a bridge between then and now. Jim was never exactly happy with the gallery – a formal space that espoused an experience of art he had rejected. He had, nevertheless, deployed many of the familiar tropes of ‘modern’ exhibition design in the house, from the architecture, wall colour, and lighting to a presentation style that included a publication (A Way of Life), to choreograph visitors’ experience and their understanding of the art within. If we consider Andy Holden’s work in the gallery at Kettle’s Yard in relation to Jim Ede’s project in the house, we see the same interest in the potential radicality of art’s material poetics, a tacit acknowledgment of the limits of language coupled with enthusiasm for the informal structures of speech and conversation. Where Jim disregarded hierarchical order, we see Andy’s self-conscious interrogation of categories of objects – the authentic art object, the artefact and the souvenir – and the different ways we respond to the different objects. Jim spent nearly 20 years creating Kettle’s Yard, a process of observation and adjustment that became his daily routine. The place remains practically unchanged since he left, as he wished. Jim stipulated that the curators who came after him should also live at Kettle’s Yard, and this continued until 1984. There is a history now too. It is still possible to watch the low afternoon sunlight move through the Maitec and cast its shadow across the Nicholson above the stairs in mid November, but for most of us these moments exist as stories. Into this Holden folds his own exploration of the duration and memory of objects, event-space, and the atemporal. Lizzie Fisher 46

top: Untitled (Make Up Collage), 2009 below: Pair of Pears (For W.S), multiple, 2011

who decorated their house with these colours. The colour charts are laid out in such a way that you can’t go wrong, like the White Notes on a Piano. It’s a similar thing with the collages of make-up Squiggles from the Womens’ Magazines, these colour choices being laid out before you without the possibility of a wrong choice or a bum note. And with the large plaster forms I will always have some dregs left in the bucket, the equivalent of what in oil painting would be called Palette Scrapings. And like a painter who might make a quick sketch with these left-overs, I use the left over plaster to pump over last night’s Beer Bottles, to make these miniatures, the Fakes, or Souvenirs. And like a painting made from Palette Scrapings there is a Great Freedom in this. But in a sense these Beerbottle Stalagmites are entirely Frivolous, Artificial, hollow representations of the big ones. They are souvenirs in the shadow of the monumental Totems, light and portable. Whereas the big ones take Control, Preparation and Consideration these are Fast and Approximate, yet formally there is a clear resemblance from the outside. So they are meant to be read as fakes, to be lived with on a window sill or mantlepiece, interlopers in the domestic space, signifying something elsewhere. My original idea was for my brother to make them as fakes of my work and sell them outside the gallery. But then after reading a quote from Picasso, in which a collector comes to the studio to buy a work and chooses one which Picasso declares a fake, even though he made it himself – Picasso faking Picasso – I thought it would be interesting to have these fakes as an authentic part of the practice, that to be genuine a practice would have to include all those moments when you have to fake yourself to be able to make anything. So I borrow the term Original Multiple from Jean Fautrier to describe

them, an Unlimited Edition, each with a Standard Green Beer Bottle underneath but highly variable plaster forms given the speed of Application. All my early thinking about objects was through souvenirs, fakes, replicas, miniatures, sitting on a shelf – the start of the Pyramid Piece. Objects have a huge power once they have snuck into the house, once they are lived with, which is very different from the art object in the gallery, and hopefully these Beerbottle Stalagmites can do that, but they need the authentic gallery pieces in order to come into Existence. One is an attempt at an Autonomous, Authentic Studio Time Object, and the other is an Undermining of that, created with a certain flippancy that suggests a Souvenir can have the same power as an Art Object. And the third part of the process is the Slice, which completes the triad as it is supposed to adopt the language of the artefact. The unsuccessful sculptures get cut up to reveal the strata, a Geological Investigation into the Duration of the sculpture, or an Archaeological Curiosity, a remnant from a Process, me investigating myself, Excavating my own process. DC: In short a movement from depth to surface. I am thinking about this in relation to your big stalagmites and your little beer bottle ones, in terms of the shift from ‘Authenticity’ to ‘Fakery’, ‘Thingly time’ to ‘Empty time’ – see they are two different things, no? And the change of criteria for aesthetic judgments. There also seems to me to be a shift between two different concepts of infinity or limits. With regard to the large Stalagmites there is perhaps no Limit on their Continual Growth (at some point we may reach certain physical/structural limitations); a geological scale is implied. The coagulations of time embodied in the sculpture point towards the monumental durations that such a construction would take. 47

The Infinity inherent to the Beer Bottle Sculptures is different to the Dynamic Infinity of the larger Stalagmites – it is replaced by the mathematical series of Indefinitely Repeatable Bottles. You mentioned the way that people make different aesthetic judgments in relation to the beer bottle sculptures than they do towards the other works; the difference is Important. The commensurable differences between different bottles only become possible against the background of continuous variation given by an Infinite series of Different Yet Commensurable Objects. If we want to judge the other art works like this, we can only do it by assuming their Equivalence with All Other Objects, from this perspective; assuming all properties to be equivalent, the only criteria for judgment becomes Personal Preference. This of course is the logic of the market and relates to the commodification of art – although I am aware that you would like to keep such questions in the background, they remain implicit in your work. Thinking through the possibility of art under certain modes of production entails thinking through the different forms of Time possible under those modes, Thingly Time seems to point towards this possibility, but only if we remove their status as Equivalent Commodities from these objects in order to explore their Useless or Thingly nature – this in turn points towards the Psychoanalytic Angle, Phallic Jouissance and Feminine Jouissance, uh something to do with the absence of the one or non-being or something. By the way I don’t think that Marx should Dominate our Thinking, I think he should maintain a Spectral Presence. [Pause, sound of scribbling, notes being made] DC: What about the relationship between the Father and Art History, as an analogy? The 48

question of Influence, or the “how do we come to view the world in the way that we do?” question which underpinned the Travel Writing style fragments of your Desert Project. Jason Rhoades’ advice on scale and visiting California, Richard Wentworth appearing as a tour guide on the bus trip to the Tate, Lecture on Nesting with your Father as parent and Ornithologist. This has always been Part of your Work. [F7] AH: I’ve started to try and think this through in relation to Desire and Drive, an object of desire but no object of drive. Something like the difference between Wile E. Coyote chasing Roadrunner and Dick Dastardly wanting to catch the Pigeon. I was particularly interested in this in relation to Lecture on Migration, bringing inside the practice the relationship between my Father’s interest in Ornithology and my interest in Art, i.e. exploring whether the drive is Inherited while the Object of Desire can perhaps be Arbitrary or Interchangeable, and what role the drive plays in relation to a Development of a Practice. I don’t want to suggest this is the case but I want to ask the question. I’m interested in this relationship to the flight paths of Migration; what causes one bird to go to Africa, to make a flight like that to a Different Territory, and my Dad’s Movements in relation to this, and the influence this might have on the way I Conceptualize art making. This in some sense recurs in the road trip at the centre of the Desert Project, and in my taking the piece from the Pyramid and later returning it. The sense of a subject causing someone to become deterritorialized. It was also in Permanent Vacation, the display of photographs of Pub Signs that I showed up in Manchester, when a hobby or a casually taken snap shot comes to determine your movements for the next forty years, as well as representing an alternative history of


The Rock When Andy Holden helped assemble Jason Rhoades’ installation The Black Pussy, he learned a lot. Out of all the comments, reflections and advice he received, one remark stood out. When Rhoades said to him ‘Andy, you don’t understand scale’, this statement began to function as a curious imperative. In effect, what would it mean to understand scale? When Holden had purloined a tiny fragment of one of Egypt’s great pyramids, years before the encounter with Rhoades, this small act took on gigantic proportions for him. So large, in fact, that he was compelled to later magnify the humble rock to more than ten thousand times its size. The scale of the fragment and the scale of the crime were not proportional, and the artist had to follow the metric that his conscience dictated. After the theft of the rock, indeed, Holden was chastised by his father. If everyone did that, he was told, there would be no pyramids left. Each small part would deplete and then dissolve the whole. The tiny stone thus became the emblem of guilt, the sign not only of his own transgressive act but of the possibility of a far greater unravelling. Fifteen years later, he would return it to Egypt, yet not without embarking on his own work of magnification. This ‘undoing’ of an act was especially fascinating to Freud, who discussed it in his case history of the Ratman. Seeing a stone on the pavement, he imagined that someone might trip over it and so discarded it into the road. But then the terrible thought forced itself into his mind that perhaps his beloved’s carriage might run over it and meet with an accident. And so he moved it back from the road to the pavement, until the torturous thought of someone tripping over it would set the cycle in motion once more. For Freud,

painting. The question shifted slightly with Lecture on Nesting, to the nest as a Quasi Object. DC: What do you mean by quasi object? it’s different from Deleuze’s quasi-causal object. AH: Understood through Latour, the Boil, Hobbs vacuum, I guess for me I think it’s an object that is inseparable from a chain, a set of circumstances that cause it to come into being. So in the Lecture on Nesting the nest image is there in the middle of the screen, and for my Dad the Birds’ Behaviour is of primary importance, while the nest is a secondary consequence of this, and for me the nest as a structure is of Primary Interest and the Behaviour that causes it to come into existence is a necessary cause but of secondary importance. So we stand either side of the Screen and the Object in the middle remains the same. And then there is the thing we don’t talk about, which is a Father and Son talking together about how to build a Nest. DC: You’ve heard the Evolutionary Psychology interpretation of Art Production? It’s quite predictable, Sexual Selection as primary, and the art object follows as a consequence of that. But try and move beyond that, posit art as something else. AH: That is posed as a question in the Lecture when we discuss the Bower Bird, with it’s structure that isn’t functional, a Display Structure, excessively elaborate, with its Shells sorted into coloured Piles and the dramatic Avenue that works as a Stage to make the bird look as large as possible. In a book by Mike Hansel he takes this example as a point where we have to start dealing with aesthetics as something more complex, and distinct from something that can just be reduced to being evolutionary and functional, as purely a byproduct of Sexual Selection. DC: And there is an implied relationship between 49

Pyramid Piece, 2008

mise en scene acts as another superegoic clinamen: the son is not the passive object of the father’s instruction, but finds a space connected to yet different from his father’s speech. And where the horizon of the father’s speech is the problem of sexual reproduction, for Holden it is the materials of creation, of making. The expansion that so fascinates Holden could be linked to the reduction that he performed on the pyramid all those years ago. In one instance, removing an object to create a lack, and in the other, exploring how an object can be built up out of small things. This, of course, is the work of the birds, as they diligently and methodically add fragments to create an ever-expanding whole. The fact that in the ornithological lectures Holden is in the place of ‘the young’ makes this an even richer project, and one might even conjecture that the tiny fragment added to the world is none other than himself. With the pyramid, after all, the artist was not alone with his rock but, as he confessed, within the judgemental gaze of his father. The inflation of the stone must have added to its value, perhaps the value of being something that shouldn’t be where it now was, that should be back where it belonged. This out-of-placeness, perhaps, echoes the very discord of a child born into the world. As Holden says, the big secret of ornithology is that what really matters is reproduction, not nests. Can’t we see this out-of-placeness warmly and savagely explored in so many of Holden’s other works? From the strange, glutinous beer bottles to the image of an amorphous blobby mass next to his elderly grandmother, as if these objects embodied exactly this dimension of both what shouldn’t be there and what, ultimately, is there.

right: Cartoon, 2008

Darian Leader

this mechanism of ‘undoing’ responded to the point of an illicit thought, as if to try to annul a murderous wish directed to those we love. Yet Holden is not a pure Freudian. Where the repeated process of ‘undoing’ usually results in paralysis – how could the Ratman, after all, ever leave the roadside? – here it generates movement and change. Rather than simply suffering the effects of conscience, Holden exploits them, creating and inventing from them. It is surely no accident that the character of Charlie Brown appears so often in his work, since this is a boy who is always being told what to do. Holden has collected all the expressions he could find of Charlie’s morose face in these situations, as if the point of superegoic reprimand becomes less the cause of inertia than the motor of production. Perhaps the same principle operates in Holden’s ornithological lectures, performed with his father. Most ornithological research, he explains, is about breeding habits, neglecting the fascinating and crucial question of nests. These expand as the young birds grow, and as the father talks about nesting behaviour, his son speaks about the materials used in the nest. This


the nest and your sculptures on a formal level – the Bower Birds’ Stage and the Stage you built for the Be Glad for the Song Has No End Festival of Artists’ Music which you curated. And now you’re moving from Bird’s Nest to Birdsong? AH: Whereas the Nesting text relates directly to the assembly of the sculptural objects in my practice, and questions this of course, the Birdsong will have direct relevance to the musical works and the Grubby Mitts’ use of refrains; it will be more about questions of communication in general. Song as simultaneously creating a territory and attracting a mate, and how we interpret that, one refrain functioning in a multiplicity of ways. This Lecture will finish the series of works with a Song, but there are no conclusions with these works, they exist to present a body of research that operates as a text which informs how other works in the practice can be thought about. DC: I need to look up the Quotation from Kant in the Critique of Judgement, about a Bird’s song no longer being considered beautiful if it is revealed to be an imitation, a trick played by a Jovial Innkeeper. (The full quotation is located and read aloud). I’ve also been going into some detail on Deleuze and Guattari’s Refrain, to help us think about the show in terms of Territorial Assemblages, such as the composition and structure of the gallery, and other assemblages – social, political, amorous, etc. They relate Art directly to the emergence of a Territory, the emergence of objective expressive qualities prior to the specific functions of that quality. The construction of a territorial assemblage always creates margins of deterritorialisation, that is certain components that in territorial assemblages have specific functions, like the domestic in the case of birds’ nests, or attracting a mate in the

case of song, can effect passages to different assemblages where they take on different roles. There is a lovely example where they talk about the Australian Grass Finch. Here the male no longer constructs a nest but uses the grass stem as part of a courtship ritual in an amorous assemblage. The grass stem thus effectuates a passage from a territorial assemblage to an amorous assemblage in which the function of the stem itself is cancelled out because it is a component of a passage from one assemblage to another. [sound of Scribbled notes.] DC: The other thing we need to start thinking about is Time. AH: I’ve been trying to think through the relationship between the Short Works in Time Performance and the ordering of works in the show, i.e. the relationship between the Synchronic and the Diachronic, the ordering of works in space as Opposed to in Time, and the relationship between the Exhibition and Performance. DC: Succession and simultaneity, although we’ll use your terms, they’re a bit more technical. AH: In a way Structuralism is useful for thinking about this: the x axis unfolds time, and in the Short Work in Time this is often set in motion by an object, like the marble game, whereas in the gallery these objects will be laid out in space. This is similar to the relationship between Speech and Language. A Sentence Unfolds in Time when Spoken, the first word precedes the last word, but with the printed word it exists all at once on the page, like a Sculpture in Space, so in a sense this show is like Language, which is kind of why I asked you to act as Translator, or Editor, Watching over the Semantics, a Mindful eye on the Slippages. 53

Lecture on Nesting, performance 2011 right: Three Short Works in Time (Last Stop for the Good Old Times), performance 2010

DC: So we’ll record the conversation, listen back to it and change it. There is always a sleight of hand going on, you are never really making the process apparent, just showing it at select points. I’m starving and thirsty. [They move to a pub for a meal, the conversation is continued but not recorded.] [Tape 5: Wim Merton is playing, singing in falsetto. Andy’s Studio.] [F8] DC: I’ll write an essay, whether or not we use it for anything, but just to really get to grips with it. And I’d like an excuse to write an essay called Brown Surplus as well, about your use of Charlie Brown and different concepts of Time made apparent in the studio... AH: When it comes to putting the catalogue together you definitely have to write the introduction. DC: Can I just tell the story about how we bonded over Icelandic music and stayed up all night? AH: Perhaps we could include that in the section about Personal Specificity. DC: Concept Number One: Personal Specificity. I need my notebook. I’ve left it somewhere, maybe it’s in the van. [Break in the tape, notebook is located, coffee made, conversation resumes mid-sentence.] AH: I personally like to have a Dairy Milk in one hand and a packet of prawn cocktail in the other – that for me is perfect balance. DC: It was once tried, it didn’t catch on. Monster Munch tried the audacious combination of sweet and savory with Ice Cream Flavour Monster Munch. AH: I’m not sure that it worked out. DC: It worked for me, I really liked it, but I think I was in the Minority. 56

DC: Right, point one, Personal Specificity. AH: As opposed to Site Specific. DC: So what is it? Let’s try and work through it. AH: So it’s conceiving a show in relation to a pre-existing relationship to a site, a personal history of a site, things encountered that might not be connected to the physicality of the site, or its more general history. Or, taking those things and confusing them with a Personal Relationship with the Space, and letting that inform the decisions made with the works themselves. It’s a shift in the balance between the Subject and the Site, I’m not sure if it’s a new concept or an oscillation. The work is situated in a set of circumstances that unfold over time, inseparable from an Intense, Distorting, Subjectivity. It’s not a deliberate strategy, but my artistic development, in formative years, is tied to Kettle’s Yard and the House, seeing shows that had a big impact; I can clearly remember sitting and watching John Smith’s Black Tower and thinking, so that’s video art…and there’s the question of how this has influenced my aesthetic. It’s not just the place as a space, or the proximity of the gallery to the house, but the triangulation of my relationship to both those things. The mixture of objects in the house – pebbles, paintings, furniture, sculpture in a domestic space – clearly already had a connection to the way I put things together, and I would have come across this before something like the Merzbau or my later interest in Dieter Roth and so forth. DC: And so going back to the place now, you are folding a whole new set of personal relationships back onto the space itself, Saturating it, Colonizing it. AH: But as a way of trying to untangle formative ideas that dictate, or set up later approaches to the world…that was one of the threads in

the Pyramid Piece. What was it that made me want to take a piece of rock? And how did that come to map itself onto my later interests between the Part and the Whole, the Souvenir and the Authentic? That first experience of the Pyramid was so fundamental, and taking the piece was an instinctive response. So the work starts with my own Personal Experience of an Object, used as a way to approach these things, but not as a way to ignore the material. DC: The acts of territorialisation in relation to the gallery are quite important then aren’t they? A side note, for another time. Three moments of territorialisation in the refrain: Drawing a Centre, marking an Inside and an Outside, and the Third one is Opening up to the Forces of the Cosmos, or acts of Deterritorialisation. The Domestic should be a sub-topic in this category. AH: I would like to show the sticker pieces, they are exactly exploring this theme. DC: They might make a good Poster... [long pause, Andy returns with coffee, they play a tune on the coffee pot and click clack track. The squeaky sound of a cork being plucked from a bottle.] DC: So, Territories. AH: Bird Song and Stickers. DC: That’s in the Refrain, ‘What is art? First of all it’s a Placard or a Poster…or a Sticker’. AH: In the Refrain they talk about Stickers?. DC: Well Posters and Placards, but Stickers can apply as well. AH: No 2: Interpretation. Structured as a Language, question mark. Sub-heading, studio as Unconscious. DC: Do we need to think about Things here too? But let’s bracket Kant out. AH: We need to distinguish Thinglyness from the Thing-In-Itself.

DC: That isn’t a sub-heading. AH: We’ve not got that Far, at the moment we’re just mapping out possible areas for further discussion. DC: So what is the advantage of thinking of something as a Thing as opposed to an object?. AH: Functions and use? DC: Sure. AH: I like thinking of what Huxley writes in the Doors of Perception, what he calls is-ness, when the Secondary qualities of things become Primary Qualities: “the folds of my grey flannel trousers were charged with is-ness”. The primary quality, or Use Value, is made invisible through taking the Mescaline. The Trousers are no longer just for covering his legs; the Folds become the Primary Interest. DC: Two other words to add to this. Haeacceity, which we come across in Deleuze, which is the This-ness, and Quidity which means What-ness. So you’ve got This-ness, What-ness and Is-ness. AH: This-ness, What-ness, Is-ness... DC: So an object, what shall we say? That an object is Exhausted by its Attributes or its Properties, whereas the Thing is what is left over? AH: The Surplus. DC: The Uselessness. But it’s not the same as the Substance. AH: No. DC: I mean as in the Metaphysical sense, the Unchangeable. Substance in Kant as a Regulative Thing. I can’t have a concept of something changing, without the concept of substance. The Sun heats the Stone. I can’t have the idea of the Cold Stone and the Hot Stone, without having the idea of the stone as a Substance, in which the predicates are continually changing. It’s pretty abstract, whereas a Thing isn’t Abstract, it has a Thinglyness. 57

AH: I started visiting Kettle’s Yard around the same time that I started smoking a lot of Pot, and for a while I confused the two, as both of them were ways of revealing the Secondary Qualities of Things, the This-ness. With pot you can just sit and stare at a wall, and it reveals itself to be Something other than just a Thing supporting a Roof or Demarcating a Boundary. I think this is why I enjoy Jumble Sales, as the objects are removed temporarily from a conventional Economic Flow – Exchange Value and use value are reconfigured, obscured, and the objects appear as Things to me. This is Exemplary in Deptford market, where people will buy a Broken Vacuum Cleaner for its hose, or an unidentifiable object because they are attracted to it’s form. DC: I think the important thing with thinking about Thinglyness is that it moves us away from Formal Considerations of art which you get with Kant. One of the things I was thinking about yesterday, and I think this is where Interpretion comes into play, is what happens to something when a set of Institutional Relations are put on it. If you take the Thing as a Thing, which still is a singularity, then it can’t be exhausted by the set of Relations. But if you take a kind of crude Institutional Critique, for example, a Vulgar Institutional Critique, an object would be Exhausted by the set of Relations, because they entirely determine what the art object is. So what happens to the object in those sorts of situations? That’s why Kafka is so interesting. Take Before the Law, and the Priest’s various interpretations of it, the Thingly-ness of the Thing becomes apparent in the Distortions of Institutional Relations. In your work you always have an idea or put something there which is Shifting, Interrupting, Distorting. AH: You mean a disjunctive space like you would find in the Building in The Trial, where the inside 60



1. Where the insides of the Earth spew forth, matter revolts. 2. Revolt is the act and response attendant to the force of a substance that opens, that tears through itself. 3. When matter overspills itself as such, testifying to its own excess, a prodigious depth makes itself known, where depth names the becoming of matter and its immanent abyss. 4. The deep abides in continuous deformation and refers to the indeterminacy of (w) hole and not-(w)hole, interior and exterior, creation and annihilation. 5. The manner of an Earth that voids itself: it propagates itself in extension and implexion and simultaneously eats itself, sustaining a living which always converges upon nothing. 6. Discharge and consumption become homologous, for any surfacing is always consistent with an infolding, and profusion with intrusion. 7. And the being of the Earth is autophagic, insofar as it is recast by the swallowing of its own secretion. 8. It is pure dimension, and the progenitor of a disinherited thought. Aimee Selby

Untitled (Slice), 2008


of the building doesn’t need to correspond to the outside of the Building? I still don’t really have the vocabulary to Articulate this. There is a set of relations, perhaps what Graham Harman calls vicarious cause. The question I keep returning to is how an object can be both Autonomous and set in a series of relations that allow it to be read in some way. Can the object retain enough of its Thinglyness to escape being consumed by the set of relations or a narrative structure? Encountering a tea cup as not just a Receptacle for Hot Water and a Tea Bag in the ritual of Tea-Making, but something that makes this sound when I flick it. Let’s try and use the Folk Museum to give ourselves a location. The arrangement of the objects was so Sporadic and Erratic compared to the Gallery next door, not ordered for Chronology or Reason, with each object being there for a different set of reasons or happenstance. For instance I noticed two etchings next to each other, one is there because it relates to an interesting narrative about a Fictitious story about a school Pythagoras had set up, and underneath the other etching was just there because it was a Good Etching. The critieria used to select each work revealed different Value Systems: a mix of Historical, Social and Aesthetic. But because of the Confusion and Contradictions within the systems, the objects seemed to be emitting a little of their Thinglyness around the edges. A pipe in there just didn’t seem to have a relation to smoking. DC: I know what you mean. We need to start with a negative definition. So a thing becomes a thing once it is subtracted from all its possible sets of relations…? AH: Maybe. DC: The Fallacy of the Use Value of an object. It seems as if the value of the Thing is Exhausted by its Use, whereas when you make these different 62

disjunctions, these different links… AH: So what are they in the relation to the subject, where am I in this? DC: You as spectator or you as artist? AH: In the Folk Museum, I was an observer of these objects that are situated outside the Symbolic Order. Why did we look at those three bricks on a shelf and laugh? I wouldn’t have laughed in an art gallery because I would have assumed someone would have been in control of how I was meant to interpret them. I understand the cultural history of the brick in an art gallery, be it Andre, Broodthaers or Per Kirkeby. I wasn’t laughing because of this history – there was no label, just three bricks on a shelf. I was laughing because they wanted me to look at these bricks and those bricks were funny, as if I was stoned. It was such a simple thought, there’s a brick! I know a brick is 21cm x 10cm x 6cm, a standard unit, but none of the information was temporarily available to me; I was caught off guard by it on a shelf, after viewing a drawing of a Flying Machine which was Half Bird, Half Bike…The Disjunctive space between the flying machine and the brick…and the quote by Messiaen about Birds being the Opposite of Time. So with this exhibition we are trying to bring together a selection of objects that were all made with a set of parameters, which are often multiple, and for an object to work it has to have more than one set of reasons for coming into being…Let’s take the Stalagmite – the trouble with me even describing it is that I have to choose one of the reasons to say first, when it really is all these things at once, which is why it is an object… On the one hand it’s a thing from Trapdoor, or a Dripping Down; on the other its about John McCracken and ambiguity, or a desire to have something consistent all the way through, as

well as a sense of Duration, Geological Time, an Honesty, a weight and bulk, Corporeality, something that requires you to pull a muscle when you try to move it, the presence of the world viewed through a hangover, like Johnny Cash describes in the song Sunday Morning Coming Down…. It has to be all these things at once to make the thing itself appear. So it’s relation to all those things is… [pause for 7 seconds] DC: Is? [Pause for another 10 seconds. Andy then picks up the wooden car and rolls it down the Click Clack track] [10 seconds pause] AH: I’m finished, I’m done. DC: That was good. AH: Yeah? DC: yeah, we’ll put that in the catalogue. You did deliberately finish on Is? AH: Yeah. DC: It was good, well done. It excites me. [Tape 6B: Sounds of prog rock, more on the Komisch, ambient end of things, likely German, possibly Popul Vuh] [F9] AH: Thingly Time is nice. DC: Thingly Time is good, we don’t want any sub-Derridian nonsense. This is ok, if nothing else we’ve got Chewy Time, Thingness What-ness and Is-ness, and Thingly Time. AH: I’d like to situate Thingly Time in the Chewy Cosmos. DC: There’s the basis of an essay here. AH: There’s a lot of essays everywhere, perhaps it’s just best for you to dress up as the Chewit Monster. DC: That might be awesome.

Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time, 2011


I write this caught between spitting and swallowing the unfinished ideas of a queer little god. My jaw aches with the mastication of loss, but that loss can be chewed means that loss cannot be ultimate. YOU CAN’T CHEW NOTHING (everything is chewable). His death has made me salivate. I hope someone has found the scattered notebook that was put to the winds on Dalston Junction, February 2nd 2011. Muddied, bloodied and torn, I hope some wandering soul has found and eaten up the words, which with a fast, loose scrawling hand were penned in infectious joy. I hope that those with no appetite let them loose again as I haven’t eaten for some months now. Conversations had, feel scratched across my skin by the Harrow, exquisite with 63

AH: I can’t tell, earlier we thought we would turn my van into a mobile library. And start an evening class on Thingly Time. Thingly Time and the Chewy Cosmos. DC: No, I think just Thingly Time, Chewy Cosmos. AH: With a Comma. DC: Just ‘and’, or ‘and the’. AH: I think ‘and the’. DC: Rich is good with words, let me give him a call, he’ll appreciate this. [Dan rings Rich] DC: Hello Rich, can you talk for a moment, can you hear me? Right, I just need a quick bit of advice, I’m glad you’re out in a club, that’ll make the context better. OK so we have come up with two Concepts today, the first is Chewy Cosmos… Chewy…Chewy Cosmos, and the next one is Thingly Time…Thingly Time. Thingly, as in a Thing, ThingLY, THINGLY, Time, Chewy Cosmos and Thingly Time, no no, they are concepts. AH: Yes, Thingly Time and Chewy Cosmos… DC: We’re just trying to think how we could put them together, maybe a sentence or a title. Do we say, Chewy Cosmos, Thingly Time, do we say Chewy Cosmos and the Thingly Time, or Thingly Time in the Chewy Cosmos, or just Thingly Cosmos and Chewy Time. (The recording almost picks up the voice on the other end of the mobile, very faint, indecipherable, and there is a pause while they strain to hear Rich’s response). DC: And The! AH: What’s he saying? DC: Ugh. [pause, straining to hear the voice on the other end, clouded by the background noise of a club.] DC: Sounds like a what? [faint voice from the phone continues] DC: No idea what you’re saying, We’ll continue

languid, sticky possibilities but ultimately unreadable (cf. inedible) obfuscated by their author’s untimely departure. Just a glass of lemonade left through the melancholy ether. I sit beneath a table like a drooling dog, waiting for morsels of meat/bread/petitpois. I would do near anything for something substantial again – a three-course meal not stopped short at the aperitif. The waiter with all his damnable etiquette has entered and driven me again from my place. My stomach growls and subsequently the moon shifts somewhat out of orbit. I would need the sun to quench my thirst now and, to satiate my hunger, suck on the orgy of frozen light that hangs like apples in the sky. To feast on a dining table laid with the blinking stars of an edible universe our plates piled high with the most glorious tasting concepts to eat through the night and back again – if I regurgitate my food do I get my time spent eating back again? The object, in phenomenological space, is created from the inside out; neural space constitutes it from the outside in, but the two collide and the object is lost to itself; we have only our mind to know our mind. NO. We will eat our minds, they will taste both wonderful and foul, on the tip of my tongue…. tip of my tongue…. tip of my tongue…. these words feel sour then chewed a little more burst into myriad taste and texture. Only when we chew the Object can we know it entirely – even the elements strive to take a mouthful “Nibble, nibble, gnaw, who is nibbling at my little house?…. The wind, the wind, the heaven-born wind.” Georges B. was wrong; PRIMUM RUMINARE. / Secundum Vivere (if at all).


The Desert Project, 2010

Richard Hore


this conversation tomorrow. AH: Any Conclusion? DC: I can’t hear you, I assume it’s brilliant and funny, but I’ve got Chewy Cosmos and the Thingly Time, Thanks a lot, bye! AH: I think he was still talking. DC: Probably. AH: Well it was a good job we phoned him. DC: Yeah. AH: The more you say ‘and the’ the more it starts to work. Thingly Time and the Chewy Cosmos is a touch more Grand. DC: Chewy Time? Chewy Time and the Thingly Cosmos! AH: Chewy Time and the Thingly Cosmos, that could work too. DC: Let’s go get a pint, I’m calling Time. AH: You’re calling Time in the Thingly Cosmos. DC: Extensive time here. AH: So, Thingness, What-ness, Is-ness, Can’t say Specific, Specifically, The Improvisational Is, alright… DC: Ok, so I think we should get a pint. AH: I think I might collapse. DC: I might too, looking forward to a lie in tomorrow, then I think I’ll go to the gym. How’s your exercise, remember you were toying with swimming? [F10]

[End Tape]

Dan Cox in Andy’s studio on the phone to Richard Hore asking advice on the title, Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time over: Studio view, construction of bookcases for the Library for Research into the Unfinished Concept of Thingly Time and Double Desk (for Dan), 2011

[F10] Dan as Slothrop

Gravity’s Rainbow is divided into four parts. In each part, the main character (Slothrop) gets progressively more Dan. In part 1, Slothrop is about ½ Dan: Messy, funny, but – more or less – an ordinary individual. In part 2, Slothrop is Dan: A brilliant hilarious absurd charming man, whose lines of flight overcome conventional structure or ordering. In part 3, Slothrop starts to become too much Dan: The absurdity and the flaunting of convention take over. Like Slothrop, Dan oscillated between these 3 parts. Part 1 was not enough Dan. Part 3 was too much Dan. Part 2 Slothop however, just is Dan – the idiosyncratic brilliant man that we knew, and love. In the fourth part of the book, Slothrop is gone. He just disappears from the narrative, dissipating into what remains. Dan and I used to joke that the same fate might befall him someday; if he became too much Dan, he might just deterretorialize himself out of (conventional) existence. Now we are here. Part 4 continues with little to no mention of Slothrop, then Pynchon writes (875): “There is also the story about Tyrone Slothrop … and there ought to be a punch line to it, but there isn’t. The plan went wrong. He is being broken down instead, and scattered.” Joe Saunders


Image list


Studio Image, preparations for Kettle’s Yard, April 2011


Untitled (Cherry Grabber), detail of knitted cherries, 2008


Bouvard and Pecuchet, emulsion on board, 2011


Double Desk (for Dan), mixed woods, 2011


The Third Attempt, timber, plywood, fence paint, Netherlands, 2008

10 Sunday Morning Coming Down, photographic print, 2007 16, 17, 18, 19 The Naturist (Unofficial Sculpture For the Festival of Britain, Jaywick, England), Easter weekend 2011

36, 37 Claw Grabber machines: Untitled (knitted rocks), 2008 Cherry Grabber, knitted cherries, wood, lights, plaster, 2005 40, 41 Beerbottle Stalagmite, Original Multiple (Unlimited Edition), plaster and beer bottle, 2008 onwards 42 Missed Opportunities, finishing plaster and emulsion paint, 2008 The Pink Gate, emulsion on furniture panel, 2005 44 Untitled (Make Up Collage), as before, 2009 Pair of Pears (For W.S.), wool, stuffing, pipe cleaners, multiple, 2011 48 Pyramid Piece, Knitted Yarns, Foam, Steel, 2008 49 Cartoon, photograph, 2008 50 Lecture on Nesting, poster for performance, 2010

20 99 x Out of 10, finishing plaster and emulsion paint Installation view, Wysing Arts Centre 2009

52 Lecture on Nesting, performance at “Wysing Cambridge Conflab”, 2011

21 Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will (ongoing), emulsion paint and collage on melted gramophone records, 2008

53 Three Short Works in Time (Last Stop for the Good Old Times, performance at Tate Britain, 2010

22 Be Glad For The Song Has No End, A Festival of Artists’ Music, Boulder Stage. The Unquiet Grave, installation view 2005 26 Untitled (Make up Collage, Autumn), magazine cuttings on watercolour paper, 2009 27 Bastion of Empire, emulsion paint on brown wrapping paper, 2010-11 29 Rich, Mark, Aki, in “I like to play in the hole” T-shirts during the construction of the Black Boulder Monochrome Folly, 2006 30 Athens IV, plywood and left-over paint, Athens, 2011 33 Anthony as Andy as Andy, artist talk in Athens, 2011 35 Untitled (Eyes in Space Series, extract), wobbly eyes on screen-print, 2010-11

54, 55 Lecture on Bird Song, poster and images from the performance in collaboration with Peter Holden 59 Untitled (Slice), plaster and emulsion paint, laminated wood, 2008 61 Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time, lino cut, design for a tea towel, 2011 63 The Desert Project, bronze straw and lid, ceramic and woods, 2010 64 Dan Cox in Andy’s studio on the phone to Richard Hore asking advice on the title, Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time 66, 67 Studio view, construction of bookcases for the Library for Research into the Unfinished Concept of Thingly Time and Double Desk (for Dan), 2011 71 Permanent Vacation (Ghost Bench), Jaywick beach, laminated wood, timber, paint, 2011


This exhibition, publication, and related events would not have been possible without the help and support of many individuals for which we are incredibly grateful. In particular we would like to thank: Paul Allitt Ed Atkins Josh Borin Christine Cox Juan Cruz Kerry Deller Ursula K. Le Guin Debbie Hannaway Guy Haywood Mark Heddon James Hill, St Barnabas Press The Holdens Richard Hore Roger Illingworth Darian Leader Geoffrey Leeson Georgina Leeson Jane Morgan Simon Morrissey, works|projects Stuart Neilson Jane Parry Johnny Parry Joe Saunders Hidde van Seggelen, London Aimee Selby Jon K Shaw Audrey Smith Diana Statham Konrad Wagstyl Tyler Woolcot Sarah Wilton Arts Council England, East The Henry Moore Foundation The Elephant Trust Permanent Vacation (Ghost Bench), Jaywick beach, 2011

published to accompany the exhibition ANDY HOLDEN CHEWY COSMOS THINGLY TIME 14 May - 10 July 2011

© Kettle’s Yard and the authors, 2011 © Reproductions: the artist, except p.52: photograph © designed by Paul Allitt, printed by The Five Castles Press exhibition coordinated by Lizzie Fisher CONTRIBUTIONS: © Juan Cruz, Lizzie Fisher, Richard Hore, Darian Leader, Aimee Selby Joe Saunders, John K. Shaw, Ursula Le Guin and Tyler Woolcott ‘The Author of the Acacia Seeds and Other Extracts from the Journal of the Association of Therolinguistics’ is reproduced by kind permission of Ursula K Le Guin ISBN 978 1 904561 39 2 This and other Kettle’s Yard publications are available from Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street, Cambridge, CB3 0AQ telephone 01223 748100 • www.

page 1: Studio Image, preparations for Kettle’s Yard, April 2011 page 2: Untitled (Cherry Grabber), detail of knitted cherries, 2008

A CONVERSATION, ANNOTATED, INTERRUPTED (...) ANDY HOLDEN AND DAN COX WITH CONTRIBUTIONS BY: Juan Cruz, Lizzie Fisher, Richard Hore, Darian Leader, Aimee Selby Joe Saunders, John K. Shaw, Ursula Le Guin and Tyler Woolcott

Andy Holden Catalogue  
Andy Holden Catalogue  

Catalogue ANDY HOLDEN - Chewy Cosmos Thingly Time 14 May - 10 July 2011 The the first major exhibition of Andy Holden's work in the UK.