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Andrew Graham-Dixon: Tell me why this is a drawing.  Why is it a drawing and not a text?

Lawrence Weiner: Oh, using text for drawing is no problem.  It tells you something.  But drawing is explicit.  Drawing is not implicit; there’s nothing hidden in a drawing.  When you draw for people, you’re drawing something to tell them: it’s a message.

From The Culture Show (BBC2), 2 Dec 2010. Thank you Sarra for the extracts!

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This month in association with 3am magazine and Maintenant the Icelandic Embassy in London is hosting an evening of readings by four Icelandic poets – Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir, Ragnhildur Jóhanns, Jón Örn Loðmfjörð and Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl – with responses presented on the evening by eight British poets. As one of the British contributors I’ve been looking at the work of Ragnhildur Jóhanns, whose interview was posted yesterday at maintenant.co.uk > poetry. Here’s an image of one of her poems:

Ragnhildur Jóhanns

The disruption and reassembly of her cut-up books brings to mind the line drawings I first wrote about here and here and later compiled for AS LINE. These line drawings – lines drawn between things and pages – are attempts to write things down, or keep them, in a way that words cannot. Read the rest of this entry »

On the train yesterday I was reading the London Review of Books (having unrelatedly had a pot of tea with four words in its name at the LRB Cake Shop the very same day) (and cake).

One of the articles is Do Not Scribble, Amanda Vickery’s review of two new books on letter writing: The Pen and the People: English Letter-Writers 1660-1800 (Susan Whyman) and Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters (Dena Goodman). Vickery writes:

“No lady’s desk was complete without a secret drawer in which to hide valuables and letters. A place of privacy is central to Goodman’s conception of the autonomy of the letter-writer. The secrétaire guarded a lady’s secrets and advertised her claim to thoughts of her own.” (LRB Nov 2010: Vol. 32 No. 21, p.36)

Advertising one’s secrecy is contradictory. (We can talk about gender or colonialism here if we like, or about artist statements.) Keeping things in a known secret place makes the secrecy a public practice, and only the detail of the secret remains private. If the compartment weren’t generally known about, it follows, then the secrets would only be half valid, the private mind being significant only in relation to the public perception of that mind. (The artist’s anguish.) There is still plenty of space for secrecy within the detail of a secret, but its nature changes somewhat when its form is prepared for in the carpentry of a desk.

Instead one might choose to keep a secret compartment with, secretly, no secrets in it at all, or to hide secret things in another truly secret compartment while leaving nothing of particular interest under lock and key in the known hiding place – or to just leave secrets lying around indifferently, disguised as everyday things.

Over the last few weeks I’ve spent some happy hours reading the Artists Talking blogs on the a-n website. I’ve been picking a “Choice Blog” for the month, and landed gladly upon David Minton’s Dead and Dying Flowers (see this page here).

Separately, I’ve been struck by the role of the studio in many of the blogs: it appears variously as a place separate from the proper bits of life; the only place where proper life happens; a place where mistakes are allowed and enjoyed; a place where things are still; where things are never still; where things stay and wait until the artist next returns. (Do the things dance around like Woody and Buzz while we’re away, and flop back down in naturalistic poses just as we open the door? Wouldn’t that be nice. Maybe we should spend more time out of our studios to let the artworks play on their owns.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday I found this on Anton’s desk:

He has crossed out a DVD.

He didn’t write something on it first and then cross that out: he actually crossed out the thing. There’s a line right through it and a wavy scribble all the way around it. He’s crossed out both the thing and the shape.

When I found it on his desk I told him you can’t cross out actual things, only words.

Read the rest of this entry »

My most recent post for the or-bits.com blog is here. (See also this post.) The text of this post is copied in full below as it has something in common with the Pigeon Wing project I’m working on.

The person at 298b has only a very small window offering almost no view at all: just the top of a brick wall and a few inches of sky. This is inadequate. At times he feels like staring into the plotless scrolling of people and things you get through proper windows, but there’s nothing to see. The view’s blank.

So at times like these he’s started building the view himself. Read the rest of this entry »

Below is a response to Anton’s comment on my earlier post On Thyme.

Yes, I would rather no human shaping at all.

And yes, where language tries to describe things as themselves, it fails. The description interrupts its object, causes it to recede from description, and in its place describes something altogether different. The thing described is not the same as the coexistent thing that evaded description. The particular quality of a thing – a thing as it is, on its own, “resting in its thing-being” – is precisely that it is undescribed*. Described, the thing is no longer the thing it was, and the thing it was recedes, evading description. Read the rest of this entry »

I propose we each carry a purse containing threads with small clips fastened at each end. One end of each thread would be attached to the inside of the purse, and the other would be clipped in passing to objects and people we expect might be relevant later on. Over time we would each amass tens of thousands of these clipped threads, both issuing from our purses and clipped to our person and personal effects by others.

Provided the threads are sufficiently long and robust and numerous, instead of speaking we could physically tug at the things we wish to denote and finally abandon language once and for all.

Admittedly communication would proceed painstakingly. Read the rest of this entry »

This month the six of us at antepress are compiling the outcomes of our art writing residency with Art on the Underground, as part of their 2010-2011 Jubilee Line projects.

Now that all the writing’s complete, we’re working with designers to settle the order and layout of the publication (my sketch above is one muddled attempt), and with AotU curators to write an introduction contextualizing the project.

Copies of our booklet Timepieces will be available at Jubilee line stations in the spring, with additional material online.

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