“The desire to read a work of art is the annihilation of the possibility of experiencing that work of art.”— Carl Andre
We say: Whatever, Carl . . . . perhaps you should learn to read differently.
‘CIRCA Projects Presents…’ looks at the format of the exhibition through working with partner organisations. The artists working in this programme will develop projects which acknowledge the dynamics of viewing artwork characteristic to the venue or context.
The early origins of the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) point to publications as an artist’s medium – previously named Sunderland Arts Centre, where Ceolfrith Gallery and Press was based – it worked with artists such as Robin Crozier and Henri Chopin. CIRCA Projects have invited information as material (iam) to respond to this history and the present context of the NGCA – within a municipal building, shared with a public library. The resulting exhibition is entitled Learn To Read Differently.
This exhibition has been commissioned and curated by CIRCA Projects as part of their ‘Presents’ series. It presents poetic artworks by Kate Briggs (Paris), Craig Dworkin (Utah), Gareth Long (NYC), Simon Morris (Middlesbrough), Lucia della Paolera (Brooklyn), Nick Thurston (Leeds) and Eric Zboya (Calgary) that have, or will be, published by the York-based independent (self-) publishing imprint information as material. It also presents related artworks by Kenneth Goldsmith (NYC), Garry Neill Kennedy (Halifax, CA), Greville Worthington (Catterick), and an online-only collaboration between Thurston and Robert Fitterman (New York) hosted on circaprojects.org (see below)
The exhibition also includes personal correspondence from Carl Andre and Lawrence Weiner that examines the relationship between reading and art.
On three fronts — in the gallery, with the invitation card, and online — LEARN TO READ DIFFERENTLY proposes a method of making art via ‘conceptualist reading performances.’ This method grafts the aesthetic legacy of Conceptual Art to various notions of writing (from literary composition to data management) in order to produce materially-specific poems as artworks that have in some way re-read a found object.
This is an art of reading things differently. It starts from a premise proved by the impossibility of making purely conceptual art: that art is always aesthetical and conceptual. To that it couples an obsession with language as both material signifier and social activity. In doing so, it establishes a mode of making art that asks: What could we write if reading could be a materially productive act of making art? How might a certain kind of reading-as-making problematise the understandings of authorship, production and reproduction ensconced in our cultural industries?
All of these artworks celebrate reading differently as a praxis of exploring the elsewhere of what languages and their users can mean and do. In collaboration with CIRCA Projects, this project continues information as material’s commitment to working with other people and against all-too-certain counter-productive divisions between contemporary art and contemporary literature.
Information as material was established in 2002 by Simon Morris to publish works by artists who use extant material – selecting it and reframing it to generate new meanings – and who, in doing so, disrupt the existing order. Morris co-edits the imprint with two fellow artists and academics, Craig Dworkin and Nick Thurston. Artist Greville Worthington has collaborated with iam from the very beginning as a friend and ally. His work explores illegibility through processual sculpture and drawing.
This exhibition is supported by Arts Council England and presented in partnership with Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.
ROBERT FITTERMAN & NICK THURSTON
FREE play here
Format audio + visual online poetry reading
This is a dynamic, online-only poetry reading. It works through the triangulation of three databases: one containing audio files of Robert Fitterman reading stanzas from the shopping mall lists in his acclaimed book, Metropolis 16 (Toronto: Coach House Books, 1998); the second containing instrumental clips from pop dance songs by David Guetta; the third containing a gif advert for fast weight loss. Each database has a player programmed for it, and every time the webpage is re-loaded those three players are re-started. The player for databse one, featuring Fitterman’s stanzas, works on an infinite shuffle principle. The player for database two, featuring the instrumentals, randomly selects one track and plays it on an infinite loop. The player for database three, the moving image, centres the content in the browser window and replays the gif endlessly.
The carefully selected and edited content appropriates and reframes three forms of all-too-reductive euphoria: the all-consuming shopping mall; the formulaic ecstasy of pop dance music; the fantasy of instant body shape change. The algorithmically random overlaying of those three sources misuses the logic of databases to create the kind of false variance that computational capitalism makes possible. Every time you load the page you will get a new composition.