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What is an Art Book?


“What is an Art Book?�

2000 A4 sheets of paper 50 art practitioners 10 pens 3 nights 2 days 1 desk 1 chair 1 typewriter 1/2 a gallery No heating 1


Contents

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Contents Preface/Foreword Introduction Mikael Larsson Adrianna Palazzolo Alan Magee Alice Bain Aukje Dekker Begona Morea Roy Briony Anderson Carlos Noronha Feio Craig Cooper D J Roberts Dominic Paterson & Neil Clements Gary Colclough Gayle Meikle Giulia Curra Hanane Ech-Charif Imogen O’Rorke James Brooks Jeremy Akerman Jo Ying Ping Joanna Greenhill Kate Janes Kate Terry Keh Hui Ng Kirsty Buchanan Kristian De La Riva Lecasdarte Lee Maelzer Liane Lang Lizzy Whirrity Maria Fusco Mark Jackson Marthe Sophie Matthew Stock Masha Ru Neil Coombs Nicole Wassall Olga Raciborska Paul O’Kane Pure Evil Sarah Lüdemann Satu Jokinen Shane T Hall Thibaut DeWolf Tina Hage Vera Tollmann Waldemer Pranckiwicz Warren Garland Wassink Lundgren Mikael Larsson

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Preface/Foreword

This is a transcript of a conversation that occurred between Lewis Biggs, Matthew Stock and Keh Ng prior to the commencement of this project. KN I guess we should start with what we think a definition of an introduction or a forward

is and how this relates to our book?

LB I see the running order as being preface, foreword, introduction. For the book, the

preface is the most institutional of those so it has to define the standpoint from

which the publication is meeting the world. Being institutional is about having your

feet somewhere and telling everybody that is where your feet are then you can look out

from that point. The foreword begins to bring in the personalities; who is

involved and maybe the story of how they got involved, personalising and humanising

the situation, then an introduction begins to look at what is actually in the book not

necessarily recapitulate what is in the book but give people a clue about why they

would want to read it. Though I would love to know what is in your preface.

KN In a historical context collaborative books are not a brand new thing. Where we feel

that this book is different; is that the book is different purely because of the time

and place that it is taking place in and the writers that we choose or the artists that

we ask to contribute; they are a part of this particular zeitgeist... this particular

moment. That would be the beginnings of our preface.

LB I am beginning to now think about how I can respond to that in the Foreword sense

because, about a generation ago there was quite a bit of art being made about the

English language; lets say about the way in which it was impossible to be visible in

the art world unless you spoke in English or unless you made art that was in the

English language, and I kind of feel that there has been a considerable move on from

that in the sense that for one thing English has become generally more widely spoken

and so there a fewer people who feel excluded because so many people now do have

English as a second language at least. Also the idea that art is multi-lingual and

anyone is free to make art in what ever language they like because there is a culture

that will support that language. That is much more prevalent now than it was then.

There is a wider market place and I don’t just mean money I mean for cultural ideas in

many languages. Does that ring true to you?

KN (Nods his agreement) Like we were discussing over breakfast... The opening of the new

art markets in Asia...

MS In the end they will go and do exactly what everybody is doing in Europe and that is

the seed of development that carries it forward, and then of course they will

automatically want to show the people that they where already studying with, but then

you have got international artwork, maybe not the people, but depending on how it

works you have got the international artists showing their work there that you wouldn’t

have had before, so then they have got a broader exposure. Is that seen as the new way

of collaborating? You know the artist is now doing the job of the larger curator;

travelling around the world making all the links. Maybe the artist can make the links

purely form going to one culture and then moving to another.

KN In many ways they might be luckier because they don’t have a giant institution in the

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cities, they are free to do what they want and learn from the mistakes that we make.


LB But that developmental model, as it were, as always been the same its just that the

scale of it has increased hugely and the number of people in it has increased hugely.

KN By conscious or unconscious thought there are going to be contributors from all around

the world in this book and it just seems natural.

LB It is a reflection of London being the global city that people pass through all the time. KN You would have thought that an art book produced in London would be very English but I

think that flavour will be very London which is…

LB ..a different thing MS It might be depending on whom we pick; it could be, you know, art school product? LB Now that I think of it, that is a question, because I have been hearing what you have

been saying in terms of language as in spoken language, but obviously if you start

talking about art school conventions as different languages then things become a lot

more complicated or a lot harder to tie down.

KN What you are touching upon there is quite interesting because, I mean, there are

obviously many different nationalities and cultures going into the book but there are

many different languages going into the book as well. It wont just be the written

English word, there should be the language of writing, the language of drawing, the

language of photography, the language of video, I think that will be kind of

interesting. LB Because it means you are going to learn form the situation... KN Also I think it is going to be fun watching works which you expect to be projected on

to a wall somehow finds a way that the artist deems correct for them to be printed. I

am curious as to how these artists will respond to this opportunity.

MS But also there is the site as well. You know, there is the actual theatre that we

are setting up for them to come and work in, so you have this built up content

of information; that the artists, when they arrive they will (and this was a point

that Keh and I was talk about yesterday and held slightly differed opionions of) but

I think that they would respond to what was happening they cant come and they wouldn’t

be able to come to it blind even though there is a sense that OK, we are not giving

you a structure, other then the physical, and the physicality of the book. If they

choose to they will sit within the space with the other works that have been produced

on the wall or on the table, whereever you know, maybe its a DVD; so there could be

some kind of video playing and that will affect how they then produce their work.

That’s interesting removing themselves from a studio to another constructed studio

which will then move from one form to another, except that other form is going to be

something that I think they won’t have anything to interact with, because they will

leave the work there and then we will reinterpret it again.

LB So how are you actually going to be interpreting, through placement or..

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MS ..that is one of the ways I think hopefully that will just come through over the

course of the weekend.

LB I mean, are you going to invite artists to respond to particular bits on the wall,as

it were, or particular places in the book because if you make something for page 40

it is different from making it for page 1.

MS There is bound to be patterns and codes and things that will come forward that we can

then weave through, there could be some kind of diagram that might happen later.

KN Also I guess it leads to the question of editing, you know, should we or shouldn’t we

edit is an issue that I guess will arise after the work has been produced.

LB There is commissioning editing and there is editing which is changes and you are

obviously commissioning editors and therefore responsible; but you don’t have to be

responsible if you reserve the right to yourselves to alter or alter in discussion

what ever it is that you are given. You’re asking for the ideal reader. You know the

reader that has infinite mental capacity and experience and empathy, this is where the

notion of curating comes in or commissioning editing because curators remake the world

in their own image.

KN …Of course they do yeah… LB ..and commissioning editors usually do to. KN My question about editing was if there was work that the artist did not want to show

that had produced in that time do we argue that they should let us show it, or do we

just let a certain amount of auto correction go on or for us to assist in correction.

LB But there is going to be a huge variety in the 40 people, or however many artists you

are working with. Some will be collaborative by nature; they will want to know what

you think and will work with you in some sense and others will say this is it take it

or leave it.

MS I think that with anything like that it is just a belief in the process and going with

the process.

LB Yes its also being able to stand back from the process because you set up the

technical system and everybody is focusing on the technical system in order to fit

their “thing” into the technical system and that can actually be obscuring the real

value of the “thing” which is somewhere else. The value of the “thing” is not going to

be in the technical system. The value of the “thing” is going to be somewhere

different.

KN I was hoping that (the artists) wouldn’t be constrained by the piece of paper and

that the piece of paper was only an outcome at the end. I was hoping that would be

just something in the back of their minds. Why they did what they normally do.

MS That’s another element to why it is important or exciting to do something like this in

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terms of that kind of almost triple transference of somebodies idea or someone’s

artwork, you know from site to page and then page to book and then book to publish


that is quite an interesting path. As Keh already said it (the art world) does

do it in parts; you would have a work in a gallery and take a photograph of it.

Someone writes about it and it is put in a book and then it is a publication but that

is something completely different. But then there’s art books as well, artists making

books purposefully for art sake is really important and that’s obviously a little bit

about what the weekend is about as well.

LB The guiding principle of the artists book historically has been that the artist has

wanted to control the presentation of their own work, and the notion of the artist

book came out of that desire to be in complete control; to imbue the entire experience

with the same set of values as it were, to not allow the designer in or the publisher

or anybody, it was just about the art and that does tend to be a singular activity.

The artist taking full responsibility for everything; but how that’s fits into the

group situation where there are 40 different artists and where they don’t necessarily

know each other... you’re the only common factor between these people, its hard to

know what sense that this is an artists book.

MS The strange thing is we are going to have something which will be classed as a book

but actually I think this is more documentation of the event. We will have the book

that is made at the event which will be, I don’t know, 50 pages; the pages may all

be slightly different, slightly dog worn with crossings out, and that has a texture to

it and the book is bound, but then it will be printed so it is automatically going to

be different. The thing that people get is not going to the thing that actually

arrives from the event. We will give them copies of it and then there will be one

that is an exhibition type copy; ultimately they are all different and that is quite

interesting. LB But I am interested in the context of, as it where, reading and writing and language

you know; because distribution is fundamental its about communication it is not about

production it is about the production going somewhere; but if the notion of

distribution on the internet, for instance, is already built into the production then

you have a model of language which is accessible.

KN The act of having 50 contributors each putting down a completely different perspective

is, for want of a better word, a bit democratic and therefore the distribution

should be democratic.

LB That sounds true to me, yes. KN Yeah I think if we start having limited editions or we have several different types of

editions... it doesn’t seem right.

(Conversation comes to an end) MS Well thank you very much. KN You have been very generous Lewis. LB Its been great. (audio available for download at www.modernlanguageexperiment.org/downloads) 7


Introduction

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“What is an Art book?” is a question that is defined by the density and the variety of the responses it evokes. This is a complex question with many possible responses, which will become evident as you travel through the content produced by the 51 contributors. In these 390 pages you will find work by artists, writers, gallery directors, magazine publishers, curators and scriptwriters. Their individual languages collide bringing written language, drawing, video, performance, graphic design, painting, sculpture, photography, found material as well as hybrids of all of the above. This book was made as the Modern Language Experiment’s response to the Whitechapel Art Gallery’s Art Book Fair, at The Mews Project Space over the course of a weekend. Much of the content was produced on site in the project space surrounded by a constant stream of other contributors and audience members; but many more were made in isolation within the artists own studio and brought to the gallery. Through exposure, collaboration, isolation and constraints we hope that we can create an alternative model for art book production and in doing so question the books role and impact on today’s society. With this book we have instigated a conversation that we will continue to develop, a question which will be asked again and again for it is a good question. As the masochists in us all yearn for the definitive in what cannot be cornered. Long live the Art book. Matthew & Keh

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Adrianna Palazzolo

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Alan Magee The contents of the CD on the facing page are available for download at: www.modernlanguageexperiment.org/downloads

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Alice Bain

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Aukje Dekker

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Begona Morea Roy

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Briony Anderson

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Carlos Noronha Feio

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Craig Cooper

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DJ Roberts

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Dominic Paterson & Neil Clements

Thinking aloud is a dangerous occupation. This is largely because to think aloud is to construct an argument for the first time, live in the company of others. To argue in this way is perilous, as every decision made has in part been determined by the one that precedes it, and similarly affects those decisions that proceed from it. Any opportunity to reconsider a direction taken is severely limited by a need for continuity that preserves the intelligibility of the argument. Likewise, any point left unqualified, or worse yet subsequently countered, risks the persuasiveness of the message intended. In this situation complexity must ultimately serve the singularity required to communicate effectively. Thinking aloud is also an accurate analogy to describe the open-ended and meandering statement of intent that an artistic practice entails, because this too is largely constructed work by work, presentation by presentation. Taking this position, as I choose to, that an artwork performs as a physically manifested model of a thought, a relatively simplistic, rhetorical unit; the notion of a practice must then constitute a larger collection of thoughts that go towards the construction of an argument. The manner by which one can proceed going from work to work while continuing to faithfully represent the overarching concerns represented by a practice has to be subject to a constant process of reappraisal. This is because while individual works have a formal or temporal relationship to other individual works, they also refer with increasing complexity to the gathering numbers that have gone before them. One way to describe the larger, more indistinct image of a practice is by pointing to the conception almost all artistic producers subscribe to being as externally identified as a sum of their products. The idea of an identifiable, signature style is the principle method by which we reconcile ourselves to our products and the fixity of identity they represent. This is anything but a static, objective relationship, but rather one whose present is constantly updated and whose past is subject to a continuous process of editing. More recently an increased fluency with the documentation of artwork has allowed an even greater control over how we construct this narrative account of artistic practice. Some elements currently deemed significant are stressed, while others seen as being less so are allowed to fade into the background. Dominic Paterson & Neil Clements, ‘Signature Model,’ (excerpt), 2011

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Gary Colclough

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Gayle Meikle

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ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK

KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA

‘Margins’ 2011 James Brooks


ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK

KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA

ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BKOO ARTIST KOOB ARTISTKOOB ARTISKOOB T ARTIKOOB TS ARTKOOB TSI ARKOOB TSIT AKOOB TSITR KOOB TSITRA AKOOB TSITR ARKOOB TSIT ARTKOOB TSI ARTIKOOB TS ARTISKOOB T ARTISTKOOB ARTIST KOOB ARTIST BKOO ARTIST BOKO ARTIST BOOK

KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA OOKB TSITRA BOOK TSITRA BOOKTSITRA T BOOKSITRA ST BOOKITRA IST BOOKTRA TIST BOOKRA RTIST BOOKA ARTIST BOOK RTIST BOOKA TIST BOOKRA IST BOOKTRA ST BOOKITRA T BOOKSITRA BOOKTSITRA BOOK TSITRA OOKB TSITRA OKOB TSITRA KOOB TSITRA


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The Grisly true or false tale of

Emma Elizabeth Smith. Brick Lane/Osborn Street. Taylor’s Cocoa factory. Prostitute. Wentworth Street. Murder Victim. High Rip Gangs? Blunt Object. Hooligans. Vagina. Scalpel. Tuesday 3 April 1888. Ruptured peritoneum. Survives. Day after the Easter Monday bank holiday. Early hours... Annie Lee. London Hospital, Coma. George Haslip. Dead 9am. Joseph Barnett. Montague. John Druitt. Seweryn Kosowski alias George Chapman. Aaron Kosminski. Michael Ostrog. John Pizer, James Thomas Sadler. Francis Tumblety?

Chief Inspector West. 151


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6 April . Coroner for East Middlesex, Wynne Edwin Baxter. Inspector Edmund Reid. Inquest. Coroner for East Middlesex. Wynne Edwin Baxter. Russell, Hillier. Local chief inspector of the Metropolitan Police Service, H Division Whitechapel: John West. Verdict. Murder? Edmund Reid. William Henry Bury. Thomas Neill Cream. Thomas Hayne Cutbush. Frederick Bailey Deeming. Carl Feigenbaum. Robert Donston Stephenson. Lewis Carroll. David Cohen. William Withey Gull. George Hutchinson?

Walter Dew. Whitechapel murders one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten and eleven. Fruitless. Futile? Mystery. Unrelated criminal gang... Public Record Office. Son. Daughter. Finsbury Park James Kelly. James Maybrick. Alexander Pedachenko. Walter Sickert. Joseph Silver. James Kenneth Stephen. Francis Thompson. Duke of Clarence. Sir John Williams. JTR? Maybe this. Maybe that. Maybe him or him or her.,, Or them? Marie Belloc Lowndes, Stephen Knight, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Francis Brewer, Margaret Harkness, John Law? Adolf Paul... Uppsk채raren??? 153


Sherlock Holmes. Michael Dibdin, Ellery Queen, John Sladek... Dr. John H. Watson.... The Lodger. Marie Belloc Lowndes. McClure’s Magazine. 1911. 1913.... Mr Sleuth.... The Avenger? Alfred Hitchcock: The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog... Foggu. Foggiest. Leonard Matters: Eminent doctor? Dr Stanley. Son, 1926 Prostitute. Syphilis. Dead. Murder Most Foul. Peter J Harpick. Anagram. Granma? Jonathan Goodman. Who He? They? Us? Whom. Robert Bloch; Stay Tuned for Terror. Thriller, Dangerous Visions. A Toy for Juliette. Sequel, Harlan Ellison, The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World, The Will to Kill and Night of the.... Case to Answer! The Screaming Mimi. Terror Over London, Ritual in the Dark, The Killer. Sagittarius. A Feast Unknown, A Kind of Madness... Nine Bucks Row... The Michaelmas Girls.... Jack’s Little Friend. By Flower and Dean Street. The Private Life of... White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings. Anno Dracula. A Night in the Lonesome October. Ladykiller. Savage. Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem. Pentecost Alley. Matrix, Dust and Shadow

Sinistrari.

A Policeman’s Lot.... Key to Redemption,,,, A Handbook for Attendants on the Insane.

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From Hell... Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Johnny Depp and Stephen Knight. Rickey Shanklin. Royal Blood, Conspiracy. 1992. Hellblazer. Master of Kung Fu. Red of Fang and Claw, All Love Los. Fu Manchu. Gotham by Gaslight. Batman. NYC,. Sickert. Sick man of little Bangla... Sick. Sickening... Sickert? Link Wray, Screaming Lord Sutch, The White Stripes, The Horrors, Black Lips, The Sharks and.... Ron Pember, Dennis DeMarne, Stephen Sondheim. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. This Is Spinal Tap. Frogg Moody and Dave Taylor. Oh so ordinary everyday man. Judas Priest in 1976, and Praying Mantis in 1979. American deathcore: Whitechapel: The Somatic Defilement. Motionless in White. London in Terror. Creatures. Brain Drill: Nemesis of Neglect.Morrissey, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Legendary Pink Dots, Thee Headcoats, The Buff Medways and Bob Dylan. Screech Owls. Where no man has gone before (There’s probably a reason for that...). You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into... Osborn Street.... Brick Lane... 157


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How Hard It Is To Die: Artist’s Novels by Maria Fusco

“Keep things apart, keep sentences separate, or else they may turn into colours.” Elias Canetti

Treating plot as an atopical activity (hypersensitive to the touch, environmental in nature) the artist’s novel is an increasingly formal response to the problem of art production: reproducible; comprehensible; metacritical. This seemingly sensible format for contemporary art to play with throws up a number of interesting questions about the direction, the criticality and most essentially the ‘readability’ of such books. Should the artist’s novel be read in the same way as the art object? And again: Should the artist’s novel be read in the same way as a fiction writer’s novel? Artists writing books that may be named ‘novels’ is not of course an exclusively contemporary or particularly experimental action. Artists as well-known as Salvador Dali, Carl Andre and Andy Warhol all produced written works that they themselves identified as novels, whilst Eduardo Paolozzi made thirteen years worth of pictorial essays and short visual fictions for the literary journal Ambit which he often chose to subtitle as ‘novels’, such as ‘Why We Are In Vietnam: A Novel’ and ‘Things: A Novel’ (both 1969). The lack of visibility and subsequent dissemination of such early artist’s novels by practitioners as famous as Dali, Andre and Warhol whose visual work would be familiar to even a non-specialist audience is a curious facet of artists writings. Their novels are forgotten, or again they were never known. One might suggest that this is because of the avant-garde nature of the books, I would contest this, by suggesting that the novels were not only quite conventional in the main, but that the real reason for their lack of presence was that they were not received as a ‘legal’ element of a visual artists’ oeuvre. Salvador Dali’s only substantial fiction work, Hidden Faces (1944), is a workaday tale that boils down the thematic characteristics of his visual work into a dramatic treatise which is, it must be said, an annoyingly nostalgic story of aristocratic excess set against monumental social change. The reader is left with a sense of hollow echo of the hackneyed scribe, rather than that of a creative encounter, enacting, through writing, the dead weight of Dali’s famous quote, “We are all hungry and thirsty for concrete images. Abstract art will have been good for one thing: to restore its exact virginity to figurative art.” As an aside, it’s interesting to note that Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman (1940) and Maurice Blanchot’s Thomas the Obscure (1941), both of which are often cited as the first postmodern novel, were written four years before Hidden Faces and yet embody much more forward-facing and experimental 234


attitudes to writing production than that of Dali. In contrast to Salvador Dali’s a priori narration, Carl Andre’s cycle of writings Billy the Builder, or the Painfull Machine: A Novel of Velocity (1959) stalk Andre’s interest in the stricture of material and have a lightness of interpretative touch that lifts his text into symbol: On the following Sunday, unbeknownst to Billy Builder, Mother Builder and Mundane Carpenter, Garson Fanshot, son of the Fanshot millions, returned to Onus Falls from his student days at Old Farmer’s Preparatory School. Wishing to surprise his best summer friend, Garson went immediately to the modest Builder Cottage and slipped into Billy’s basement laboratory through a little-used passage in the root cellar. Garson moved silently toward the laboratory, but the sight of Mundane Carpenter and Billy Builder leaning together over the Periodic Table caused him to emit a nearly audible gasp. You get the sense in this opening passage that Andre enjoyed (and was rather good at) the process of writing; his playful placement of character and object are used to encourage the reader to make their own narrative with phrases such as “the Periodic Table” taking the part of two nouns at once. Although published serially, when read together Billy the Builder moves beyond the apologue into a novel-like discourse, there is a distinct leakage of Andre’s practice as text becomes form and yet also discusses it. a, A Novel (1968) Andy Warhol’s typically deadpan and competitive response to James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) is a promising formulation of art and words, presenting as it does (purportedly) unedited transcripts of conversations between Warhol and Factory actor Ondine recorded over a two-year period. The result is a really quite familiar Warholian trope, in terms of process and subject, but not in terms of form. The finished book retains errors, inconsistencies and misidentifications, which read as a critique of cultural status of the book, but not of the book itself, hence Warhol’s retention of the nomenclature ‘novel’ in his title. The imprecision of Warhol’s constraint-led process of a, A Novel retains a surprising freshness, yet, as a reflection on its influence on today’s experimental writing, the book’s verbatim flatness can be seen most actively in ‘conceptual poetry’ rather than in artist’s writing. American poet Kenneth Goldsmith’s Day (2003) is a retyping of The New York Times and The Weather (2005) presents a year of transcribed weather reports, enacting as Goldsmith puts it “uncreative writing”. By contrast, the contemporary artist’s novel is all about creative writing, standing against, (or perhaps standing up to?) the traditional non-validity of writing as a form of art practice demonstrated by the obscurity of Dali, Andre and Warhol’s books. The last ten years or so have seen a distinct bloom in the publication of artists’ novels, and also in the frameworks which support their production and distribution: academic programmes such as MFA Art 235


Writing at Goldsmiths, London (formed in 2008, of which I am Director) propagates and debates what it is to write in and with art; whilst two relatively recent institutional shows in large-scale venues have made a good stab at cohering writing forms together, Gagarin: The Artists in Their Own Words at S.M.A.K., Gent (2009) and The Malady of Writing: A project on text and speculative imagination at MACBA, Barcelona (2009). We can note the formal slippage of artist’s writing and its solidification into ‘the novel’ as part of a more generalized rupture in process and audience - often characterized in an art context by the phrase ‘The Discursive Turn’ - and, with specific reference to art and writing, situated within a perceived crisis in criticality and judgment procedures. Whilst the novel stakes little claim to be a straightforwardly factual document, (see English experimental novelist B.S. Johnson’s observation, “The novel is a form in the same sense that the sonnet is a form, within that form, one may write truth or fiction. I choose to write truth in the form of a novel.”), it is nonetheless a critical document, in that has the ability to sit within dialogical rather than dialectical page-space. It’s important to state here that many (perhaps the majority of) artist’s novels do also play with dialectics as plot, but of course in different ways. Some recent works that I’ve enjoyed reading like this are: All Books by Liam Gillick (Book Works: 2009); Fat Mountain Scenes by Phyllis Kiehl (Metronome Press: 2005); Philip collaboratively authored by Mark Aerial Waller, Heman Chong, Cosmin Costinas, Rosemary Heather, Francis McKee, David Reinfurt, Steve Rushton and Leif Magne Tangen (Dexter Sinister: 2006) and The seven most exciting hours of Mr. Trier’s life in twenty-four chapters by Keren Cytter (Sternberg: 2008). The actual production and economy of these artists’ novels is closely indentified with a handful of international art publishers who are more familiar with conceptual totality of the artist’s book than the documentational notation of the catalogue, and are happy to work with writing as a ‘legitimate’ form of the visual. There is however much less traffic in the other direction - i.e. from art to literature - artists are solely publishing their writing in an art context, with the notable exception of Tom McCarthy’s Remainder, first published by Metronome Press in 2005, and then republished by the much more ‘mainstream’ Alma Books in 2006. This discipline-location of the artist’s novel must indicate that readers who are willing and happy to spend time with experimental writing are currently clustered in and around art, or then again it might indicate that the artist’s novel is there to be looked at, but not read. Now, I’d like to spend some time focussing on novels by artists Jake Chapman and Jana Leo. This is of course a minuscule, probably non-representational selection, but, it has been made in order to attempt to highlight what I guess to be the two most generalised approaches or trends in the contemporary artist’s novel: Abundance as Method and Seriality as Plot. 236

The Marriage of Reason & Squalor by Jake Chapman (Fuel: 2008) is a peculiarly ambitious book


that at first appears to centre on the complex emotional life of its heroine Chlamydia Love who is torn between her wealthy fiancé and the bestselling author Helmet Mandragorass. Embedded within the main narrative however are a number of visual subplots which threaten to mutiny, or at least seriously redirect the course of the book: two glossy sections of ‘reproductions’ of Chlamydia’s naïvely pagan watercolours; a transcript of Helmet’s novel Come Hell or High Water and subsequent rejection letters from recognizably mainstream publishers. These rejections range from platitudes to hilariously measured advice such as: Some of your phrases seem either a bit lazy or don’t make sense so watch this, i.e. ‘his hands felt electric on hers as though an electric charge was passing between them – as though the two of them formed an electrical circuit.’ (see p.23 – also – how can ‘he play her like a fish’?). The reading experience of The Marriage of Reason & Squalor, it seems, is to enjamb a wide range of creative production, by building within its pages a complete vision of the characters’ lives outside of words. In doing this, the book has been wrongly lauded as ‘subversive’, in fact this publication is a clever paean to productivity, for there are no critical gaps in it, even though much of its content discusses issues of criticality and judgment. In this way Chapman’s book recuperates contemporary practice, through enacting Umberto Eco’s description of the novel as “a machine for generating interpretations”. Jana Leo’s Rape New York (Book Works: 2009) is one of nine novels (or perhaps more precisely novellas) edited by writer Stewart Home, collected together as a run entitled ‘Semina’ with the strapline, ‘Where the novel has a nervous breakdown’.

Writing through hierarchies of violence and corruption, Leo’s autobiographical novel has a first

person narrator who outlines her rape and ensuing lawsuit in a disturbing steady tone. Moving from a description of the administrative records of her landlord’s criminal negligence: Arrange and make self-closing the doors entrance at 5 sty northwest apt (Date reported: 04/03/1996 27-2005 ADM CODE); Properly repair the broken or defective inoperative intercom system (Date reported: 06/05/2000 27-2005 ADM CODE)... To the act of rape itself: He’d pulled his pants down. His underwear was stripped blue, black and white. He’d put the condom on. I didn’t look at him. I turned my head to the side. I opened my legs. He tried to put his penis in, but it wasn’t easy. I was tense, my vagina was dry and his penis was large. He was unable to enter me. It hurt. Whilst we are as modern readers familiar with (and yes probably desensitized to) the detached voice of the psychopath - Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho (1991) being probably the most accomplished and wellknown example of this genre (even though the narrator’s voice is presented with an ironic delivery), “I like to dissect girls...” - Rape New York’s tone together of course with the content of tests the specific against

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the general by flattening out hierarchies of information and emotion, we don’t feel particularly empathize with the ‘Jana’ character because the writer doesn’t let us. There is sequence at work in Leo’s book, a spacial ‘plot’ which addresses literary critic Richard Sheppard’s assertion about the nature of postmodernity as “… decentred plurality, ephemerality, fragmentation, discontinuities, indeterminacy and depending on one’s point of view, chaos…” This is evident even in the novel’s title, Rape New York, which suggests or hints that it may be part of a ghastly series, Rape London, Rape Paris, Rape Tokyo etc. Both Chapman and Leo’s possession of the subjective voice contrasted with the modular narrative is an unusual facet of contemporary art writing, creating an oblique yet deadly relationship with critical objectivity. It is this very characteristic that recurs in the contemporary artist’s novel: they read less as about the story, more about themselves, pointing to how or whether they might indeed actually be novels. As Christine Brook-Rose puts it so neatly Amalgamemnon (1994) the duty of the writing is to be “Be vocal not equivocal.”

This essay was originally published in Metropolis M, (May 2010).

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...It’s a smart book, a fart book, a sultry model’s star look. It’s champagne lemonade, it’s a bubblegum hand grenade. It’s a pimp juice microwave and a love handle serenade. It’s mood swing shoestrings and chocolate flavoured bee stings. It’s idea overload and brain numbing no through road. It’s an unconscious thorough fair and space-time dragon’s lair. It’s cloud covered super rain and fairy floss Novacaine. It’s toothless canvas talk and ballsy punk rock walk. It’s square glass pomp and sass and a back stabbing hillbilly lass. It’s blank page ultra blast and fresh ideas from the past. It’s brain drain superman and an online hookers biggest fan. It’s extrovert introverts and self proclaimed world experts. It’s the universe of everything and nothing but some hollow bling. It’s stardust lust magic fish and a polygamy tandoori dish. It’s the worldview overthrow and tabloid fodder best in show. It’s a tie dyed catfish shirt and a buck toothed eyebrow skirt. It’s you and me, its life and death it’s a shallow feeble gasping breath. It’s a brush, a pen, a bent minds eye, all in all the world’s biggest lie. It’s thought, it’s grace, it’s not much at all, when the revolution comes it’s against the wall. It’s love, it’s hate, it’s pure desire, in the right hands it’s pure electric fire. It’s something to hold, something to need but least of all something to read. It’s big, it’s small, it’s loose and round, it’s the fall of Rome, it‘s faster than sound. It’s a friend, a foe, a troubled soul, a thespian’s perfect role. It’s a forgotten memory and a broken dream, it’s a maniacs release of steam. It’s abstract colour and shapeless form when in absolute harmony it’s the perfect storm. It’s crazy, it’s cool, it’s big and small, it’s the top of the mountain from which to fall. It’s full of truth and packed with lies, it’s read cover to cover by artistic spies. It’s upside down and inside out, it’s a genius’s creative spout. It’s the earth, the moon, the sun and soul, it’s an addict’s last and final roll. It’s up and down it’s in and out, it’s a feeble, hollow, wonderful shout. It’s guts, it’s dreams, it’s fearless prose, it’s a hundred and one photo’s of a garden hose. It’s men, it’s woman, it’s unity at work, it’s the corners of shadows in which we lurk. It’s anything we want it to be, it’s life it’s death it sets us free. It’s our greatest love, our greatest fear, it’s absolute understanding yet rarely clear. It’s the world, it’s us, it’s impossible to define, it’s a perfect place to rest your wine. It’s peaceful hope and war torn rages, it’s our innermost heart splayed across some pages.

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TINA HAGE Titel GESTALTEN

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Vera Tollmann A Writer‘s Portrait

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The e-book is not a heavy hardcover (after The Mac is not a typewriter) What will be an artist book ? How does the artist book translate into digitalisation ? What does it mean for an artist book to be flattened on a flatscreen ? There are many advantages to an e-book: changes can be made easily, it has a potentially world wide distribution, it comes with less copyright trouble, no weight, only data volume, is re-seizable to any display, it comes in endless copies and with no shipping costs. This is the context for new artistic strategies. As the hypertext did in the early 1990s, the e-book promises a new freedom of constraints in the hypertextual universe. New technologies produce new content. Xanadu is a historic place in China, a decadent place in the 13th Century in Inner Mongolia. Today, it remains to be rebuilt. An application for the World Heritage label was already sent. Many sources paint a varied picture of Xanadu. Thusit makes totally sense that the inventor of hypertext, Ted Nelson, called his hypertextual system Xanadu as well asOrson Welles’ media tycoon Hearst his castle. The philosopher Byung-Chul Han describes Xanadu as a „museal preview of hyperculture“, where several times and continuities can apply simultaneously. Hypertext was a vision of the 1980s: non-linear reading, exploding the master narrative, involving the reader – and the e-book can possibly do even more so. An artist book has very few criteria to follow. Conceptually it was made by an artist who reflects the book medium itself. In the future, it will be less physical than it used to be. Techniques and machines are disappearing with cheaper digital printing and publishing modes. Some get too expensive, some too slow, some too old fashioned. In a way, the copy shop even seems to move online. Your computer has become your Xerox. Desktop publishing, a visionary concept from the 1980s, is our everyday practice. It looked futuristic 30 years ago. Everybody has become their own printer on a small scale. Only shortly tools were introduced to the market, which allow to actually hold a device like a book; sitting on a sofa, in an airplane with a gadget on your knees. Its still far from everybody having such technical device for reading. E-books started as digital copies of printed matter, but they do not depend on a printed equivalent. How to challenge their pragmatic character in the future? However, until we will all publish e-books and most readers will own an e-reader, I keep publishing small pamphlets and make reference to even older pamphlets. Vera Tollmann

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Waldemer Pranckiwicz

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Warren Garland

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Wassink Lundgren

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A Retrospective

Written by Mikael Larsson Artworks by Mikael Larsson Published by The Modern Language Experiment Printed in London, UK

Thanks to: λφάβητος, Keh Ng and Matthew Stock

All characters and situations depicted in A Retrospective are fictional. Any resemblances to persons living or dead are purely fictional.

©

Mikael Larsson and The Modern Language Experiment All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or stored in any information storage and retrieval device, without permission in writing from the author, the artist and the publishers.

www.modernlanguageexperiment.org

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This book was produced as part of the Artists Book Weekend organised by

23rd – 25th September 2011

Editors Keh Ng & Matthew Stock Copy Editor The Modern Language Experiment Design The Modern Language Experiment

Published The Modern Language Experiment First published 2011 contact@modernlanguageexperiment.org Issue #1 Available to buy at www.modernlangaugeexperiment.org

Š the modern language experiment 2011 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any mechanical, electronic or other means known with out the permission in writing from the publishers.

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With Contributions by

Adrianna Palazzolo Alan Magee Alice Bain Aukje Dekker Begona Morea Roy Briony Anderson Carlos Noronha Feio Craig Cooper D J Roberts Dominic Paterson & Neil Clements Gary Colclough Gayle Meikle Giulia Curra Hanane Ech-Charif Imogen O’Rorke James Brooks Jeremy Akerman Jo Ying Ping Joanna Greenhill Kate Janes Kate Terry Keh Hui Ng Kirsty Buchanan Kristian De La Riva Lecasdarte Lewis Biggs Lee Maelzer Liane Lang Lizzy Whirrity Maria Fusco Mark Jackson Marthe Sophie Mary Yacoob Masha Ru Matthew Stock Mikael Larsson Neil Coombs Nicole Wassall Olga Raciborska Paul O’Kane Pure Evil Sarah Lüdemann Satu Jokinen Shane T Hall Thibaut DeWolf Tina Hage Vera Tollmann Waldemer Pranckiwicz Warren Garland Wassink Lundgren

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