Tuesday, 11 January 2011

verbi visi 2010 (selected)

Alexandra Julyan & Bill Gilonis, Lost in translation (London: Lost & Found Publishing, 2009. ISBN 9780956287601). An original and thoughtful collaboration: drawings made in literal interpretation of non-explanatory descriptions of objects selected by chance in another country ...

Ed Ruscha exhibition at the Hayward Gallery (closed 10 January). Loved this; hadn't expected to.

Ed Ruscha (postcard)

The year-long residency of KALEID Editions at 23-25 Redchurch Street was an exciting feature in the London artists' books landscape, founded by the dynamic and clever Victoria Browne, herself a very interesting artist. We look forward to all her future activities.

Victoria Browne, Dark matter (2009), photo lifted from KALEID website 

'Publication as practice: a short course on concepts of artists' publications', hosted at Donlon Books, Cambridge Heath Road (spring /summer 2010) by Eleanor Vonne Brown, another energetic and clever woman who makes interesting things happen (noticed in this blog last year). 

Letterpress revival I: Crater Press poetry pamphlets:
Crater poetry pamphlets 3-5: Harry Gilonis, Acacia feelings: the collected poems of Pao Ling-hui (Dec. 2009); Amy De'Ath, Andromeda / The world works for me (Jan. 2010); Keston Sutherland, The stats on infinity (Mar. 2010).

Douglas Gordon text installation at Tate Britain (May). Fragmentary utterances in vinyl. Wish we had gone to Glasgow in the autumn to see the Robert Barry exhibition at The Common Guild. Can anyone out there compare, contrast, comment?

Sol LeWitt: artists' books Exhibition at SITE Gallery, Sheffield (May). Plus: Artists' publications and the legacy of Sol Lewitt: a conference at Sheffield Hallam University. Coordinated by RGAP (Research Group for Artists' Publications). We have a few snapshots on Flickr.

Sol LeWitt wall drawing #960 being executed at Site Gallery, Sheffield, 8 May 2010 (by David McNab, here, and Bryan Eccleshall)

John Furnival: somewhere between poetry and painting. Exhibition of prints and constructions at England & Co. (May)
Poetry Review vol. 65 no. 1 (1974); cover by John Furnival

Art of banking: Susan Johanknecht, baring antebellum (2010).
As one of the participants in an ongoing art project concerning the archives of Barings Bank, Susan Johanknecht published a book of poetry, or text art, based partly on the links she discovered in the archives between Nathaniel Hawthorne and Barings. this work is comparable to some of Susan Howe's books but has a particular beauty and how topical can you get? It is available for a mere £10: further information including contact address for the artist is in the indispensable Book Arts Newsletter no. 60, Oct. 2010, p. 23.
baring antebellum, cover, referencing marbled ledgers, but not quite ...

Susan Johanknecht, baring antebellum, text printed on paper resembling account book pages

 Merlin James: frame paintings Exhibition at Mummery + Schnelle (June-July), including poetry reading in dialogue with the art, on 12 June, by John Freeman, Elizabeth James and Oliver Reynolds.

EJ reading 'poem (frames') with MJ frame paintings (Photo Michele Tocca)
Letterpress revival II: V&A Illustration Awards won by Sarah Carr for images created wholly from type elements, for How to drink by Victoria Moore (Granta, 2009). (The publisher's website makes no mention of the images; and the book itself is not printed letterpress of course ... )
Sarah Carr, illustration [espresso machine], from How to Drink

Mulfran Miniatures: sweet new series of small-format illustrated poetry pamphlets from Cardiff-based Mulfran Press:

Roy Morgans, The sychbant, with images by Marion KV Kenning (Mulfran, 2010)

And here's the biggest book of poetry I own:

J.H. Prynne, Sub songs (Barque, 2010)
Women's Innovative Poetry and Cross-genre Festival, University of Greenwich, 14-16 July. Susanna Gardner's review is in Openned Zine 3. We only managed to get to a few performances, but bought many items at the excellent student-staffed book table. To obtain the following books, try contacting West House books (even though they are not listed).

Christine Kennedy / David Annwn, Dadadollz (ISP Press, Wakefield, 2010 ISBN 0953389758)
Christine Kennedy gave a great performance at Greenwich of her Hobby Horse: a Puppet Play for Cabaret Voltaire, complete with cast -- Hannah Hoch, Emmy Hennings, Sophie Taeuber Arp and others -- as a clothes-line of articulated puppets, brilliantly ventriloquised with the Monty-Pythonesque expedient of wiggling two fingers through their mouth holes. Generically Kennedy's text is a performance script, mixing in 'looking glass' Alice (the Cabaret Voltaire having been appropriately located in Spiegelstrasse), first-world-war combat medicine and the Large Hadron collider at Cern (particle physics being of course the most dada of sciences), and including images (Christine is equally poet and artist). It is published in this book alongside a text by David Annwn also inspired by the DaDa mammas and their use of dolls and puppets.
Tilla Brading & Frances Presley, Stone Settings (Odyssey Books / Other Press ISBN 9781897654002)
Frances Presley and Tilla Brading launched the publication of their long-standing project on Exmoor's standing stones and archaeology at Greenwich with a slide presentation with animation to do full justice to the visual and intermedia contributions of both poets. I missed this, but a few weeks before heard Tilla do a part of it at the Hay-on-Wye Poetry Jamboree -- a low tech version, where the audience had to improvise the part of a rain stick. The field is wide open, including prose (the passage 'Triscome Stone' is one of my favourite bits), diagrams, music, abstract shapes, colour, breaths of subtle humour. Stone settings in print is presented as a completely integrated collaborative whole (like Frances's and my Neither the One Nor the Other (1999), and all the writing has a kind of tolerant co-existence, as well as a quiet but distinct energy. Every page or opening is different and striking in a justified (composed) mature way. I really like this book.

No-one is more innovative or cross-genre than the fabulous Jennifer Pike (Cobbing), who turned 90 years old in 2010, unbelievably. Veer Press are due great credit for bringing out books of her visual poetry, SCRUNCH, which went into a second edition this year:

Jennifer Pike Cobbing, SCRUNCH (Veer, 2009/10)
and the new Conglomization of Wot. Meanwhile on July 10th there was a birthday launch by Writers Forum of a new number of AND -- the magazine founded by Bob Cobbing in 1954, still now only on its 13th number -- essentially a festschrift for Jennifer, edited by Adrian Clarke and Ulli Freer. I'm not sure how you can get a copy, but try contacting Adrian Clarke via Veer. Videos of readings from that day are on the Openned website (including our own).

Talking of Veer: all their books are worth buying, but here are the 2010 titles from two of our favourite poets:

Veer books: Harry Gilonis, Eye-blink, from North Hills, with cover painting by David Rees, ISBN 9781907088209; Jeff Hilson, In the Assarts, ISBN 9781907088186

In October Allen Fisher gave a series of 3 slide talks on 'The Complexity Manifold', weekly at 3 different locations in London. They were fascinating overlapping compilations of aspects of his long-time poetics. Notes from the talks (sans images) are linked from this page on Allen's website. Shortly thereafter he published a new book of work: Proposals: poem--image--commentary:

Allen Fisher, Proposals (Spanner, 2010 ISBN 9780856520891)
 The cover image resembles a Blake title page; the 35 tri-partite 'proposals' are somewhat like emblems:

Proposals 11
The images are (reproduced from) diptychs of paint and collage, apparently made on the pages of an art history book from which captions are occasionally visible; this book does not seem to appear in the customary AF list of 'Resources' at the back, which runs from Badiou toWittgenstein, via Milton Friedman, Amartya Sen, &c. To generalise vastly: the left-hand images concern fire & power, the right-hand ones more suggest imaginative transformations, 'the artist'. But this book deserves far better than disconnected observations, and yields much to a dedicated reading, of which I have only given it my first over the Christmas break. Allen Fisher is a truly exemplary artist, in his lifelong address to the, uh, key issues of living, thinking and making today. Read this book for 2011! Get it from Spanner website.
When he becomes clearly lacking in confidence in the work in the connection in any / efficacy he begins to understand the confluence of becoming that is being proposed (Proposals 29, commentary)

Shandy Hall is by now a top vortex for literature + art in England. The Perverse Library was a great exhibition organised by information as material of visual and material books and objects based on the personal library of the brilliant Craig Dworkin, anthologist and archivist par excellence of avant garde writing, with a closing vernissage on 30 October. Here we picked up (bought) a copy of a wonderful anthology of visual text: Louis L├╝thi, On the self-reflexive page (Roma Publications, 2010 ISBN 97877459478): "a typology of self-reflexive pages: Black Pages, Blank Pages, Drawing Pages, Photography Pages, Text Pages, Number Pages, and Punctuation Pages" from over 60 texts, authors including: Paul Auster, Samuel Beckett, Douglas Coupland, Mark Danielewski, Umberto Eco, Jonathan Safran Foer, Alasdair Gray, Steven Hall, B.S. Johnson, Richard Kostelanetz, Reif Larsen, Harry Matthews, Vladimir Nabokov, Don Paterson (yes really), Raymond Roussel, W.G. Sebald ... i.e. authors by and large of significant mainstream/highbrow recognition ... and now we come to look at it, only 2 women: Christine Brooke-Rose and Madeline Gins.

The self-reflexive page, pp. 18-19: from Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud ... [etc] p. 284; Steven Hall, The raw shark texts, p. 421.

In November bookbinder and jeweller Romilly Saumarez Smith hosted an exhibition of remarkable photographs by Verdi Yahooda of bookbinding tools.

Verdi Yahooda: this image taken from a postcard: for best views see the artist's website
To the lay person such tools may be slightly enchanting, but here they become numinous objects, through various techniques and materials including the use of slide film and rag paper. Some of the photographs are now also published in an inexpensive book by Trace Editions.
Romilly's tools: an incomplete set (2010) ISBN 978-0-9550945-4-5

At Sophie Schneideman's book and print shop in Portobello Road, an exhibition in November-December of early books and prints by Ronald King's Circle Press, probably the foremost artist-press in England of its kind, that is to say, based on original printmaking and letterpress, marrying (usually) new poetry of a non-conservative kind with superb illustration, often technically innnovative. The Oceaographer here learned an expensive lesson: at the private view, we fell for and bought, for over £100, the following:

John Christie, Listen (Circle Press, 1975)
"a word and image sequence related to, and suggested by, lines [the artist, John Christie] particularly liked in Erik Satie's 'Sports et Divertissements' ... the complete text appears at the end of this book in an English translation by Simon Cutts". As I write, there is a copy of this book on Abe for £15 (and a couple in North America at under £50). Ouch!!

Tom Lubbock, best known as an inspiring and scrupulous critic of contemporary and historical art, is also a sometime artist himself. From 1999 to 2004 he was commissioned to produce a weekly collage for publication on the editorial page of the Saturday Independent newspaper, in the position that is typically given to a cartoon. A selection of these works has just been on show at the Victoria Miro gallery N1 7RW (December) and is viewable through January: on Saturdays 15th and 22nd, and otherwise by appointment: +44 (0)20 7336 8109.

Post script: sadly, sadly, Tom Lubbock died yesterday (9th Jan.), after 2 1/2 years fighting cancer. I owed him, and I liked him. He was a remarkable person, and so is his wife.

Letterpress revival III: Reverting to type exhibition at Standpoint Gallery, Coronet Street N1 6HD
(this is still on through January 2011)

Finally, something comic, though we do not usually make heh-heh: a close relative has invented a new verse-form, the 6-line literary limerick. His book is I'll say this ... : seventy-six (six-line) literary limericks, by "Ingli" [G. Ingli James] (Carn Ingli, 2010). Contact me via Comments below for info on how to obtain it. Here's one relevant to our interests in this blog (my own copy also boasts, in holograph, a great one on Marshall McLuhan) -- note that some of the poems also have footnotes ...:

I'll say this for Cummings, E.E.*
he has fun with the

    and employs lower case
    in an upper case place --
as if rooting for
(What on earth can one say  but tee hee?) 
*referred to by Edmund Wilson as 'hee hee cunnings'