Winter Round-Up

By Bury, Stephen | Art Monthly, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Winter Round-Up


Bury, Stephen, Art Monthly


You can argue whether Tony White's Dicky Star and the Garden Rule is really an artist's book at all. White is the author of the acclaimed novel Foxy-T, 2003, but he is also the publisher of the artists' books imprint Piece of Paper Press editions (Editions AM210). This new piece of writing was commissioned by Forma to coincide with Jane & Louise Wilson's touring exhibition 'Atomgrad (Nature Abhors a Vacuum)', itself commissioned as a response to the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power station fire and Europe-wide radioactive plume. White's book follows Laura Morris and her boyfriend, the would-be art student Jeremy, through Saturday 26 April to Wednesday 7 May 1986 as news from Ukraine breaks. Mid 1980s life in Leeds is researched to the most granular detail, from extracts from Leeds Other Paper to references to free cassettes from the New Musical Express (NME). What is interesting is that in the spirit of Oulipo (Workshop of Potential Literature), which we now particularly associate with the work of novelist (and crossword compiler for Le Point) Georges Perec, White has determined a rule for each chapter: it must deploy the answers to that day's quick crossword in the Guardian -- this even generates the main characters' names. As this crossword is not published on Sundays, there are no entries for those days. This is an elegant demonstration that using such a text engine need not compromise the high quality of writing.

Paris-based Kate Briggs is a translator of Roland Barthes and is interested in experimental literary criticism. She is currently working on a collaborative project based on answers to the oblique questions that Vladimir Nabokov set for his Cornell literature students. Exercise in Pathetic Criticism begins with a title page to the mixed-race writer Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, this opens to a Barthes quotation from a 1979 College de France lecture outlining an approach to criticism through moments of pathos: 'For me, I know there are pathetic elements in Monte Cristo from which I could reconstruct the whole work.' The book then opens up into two folio pages with 42 comments/summaries by 22 readers of Monte Cristo: 'I didn't expect him to just go away at the end ... I suppose logically there's nothing else.' The format is reminiscent of a fold-out map as if we have to translate its code to the full Dumas novel. It is published by Information as Material, founded in 2002 to publish works by artists using extant materials, another form of text generation.

Repetition is the theme of 100 Things Not Worth Repeating: On Repetition. It consists of a hundred responses to a survey on acts not worth repetition, ranging from entering the National Lottery to sharpening a pencil with a broken lead. These are printed on yellow stock. Then there is a range of artists' pages, from David Berridge's repetition lectures to Lucy Wilson's 'One of the most' project that samples Tate texts 1980-2011 which feature that phrase, eg 'Paul Klee 1879, one of the most inventive artists of the 20th century'. Wilson's is one of the most interesting contributions to the book. It is published in an edition of 350 by LemonMelon, founded by Marit Munzberg, who uses an RZ 370 Risograph printer. Another book printed by LemonMelon using the same process is Sarah Jacobs's Uh Duh, which is a transcription of a conversation between an artist and a poet at lunch in a room overlooking a garden. The timings of the recording appear in green type regularly during its duration of 1 hour 40 minutes -- as if this is its real pagination. The conversation is evacuated of significant content and we are left with the tics, pauses, hesitations and repetitions of the conversation. The format is a spiral-bound, green-card-covered notebook, the tool used by both artist and writer. …

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