Artists’ books

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 09.40.27Some readers and friends will know that since 1994 I have edited and published an artists’ book imprint called Piece of Paper Press (from which this website gets its name). I am delighted therefore that Piece of Paper Press is included in a new and updated edition of one of the definitive texts on the subject, Stephen Bury’s  Artists’ books: the book as a work of art, 1963-2000, which is published in May 2015 by Bernard Quaritch Ltd. More than that, it is in the blurb!

Michael Moorcock, ‘A Twist in the Lines’, POPP.027Piece of Paper Press was designed as a commissioning space and a platform for collaboration, a means by which I could publish and distribute limited editions of new works by artists and writers. Piece of Paper Press was also designed to be sustainable, by which at the time I meant lo-fi and cheap to produce; a format that would need little or no administration or infrastructure. The books are printed on a photocopier or domestic printer, and assembled and trimmed by hand. Titles are never for sale and they have no ISBN numbers. Editions are simply made (and made simply) and then given away. 58674_440968627016_7190055_nThe project would—I thought at the time—never need any funding or financial support in order to continue. Each book is made from a single sheet of A4 paper, which is folded, stapled and trimmed to give a roughly A7 format and sixteen pages including front and back covers. If the project were any more complex in either production or distribution I would probably have given up years ago.

Lionel_Hours_coverSince 1994 I’ve collaborated with and published works by artists and writers including Michael Moorcock, Liliane Lijn, Pavel Büchler, Peter Bunting, Barbara Campbell, Tim Etchells, Bruce Gilchrist, Halford+Beard, Elizabeth Magill, Penny McCarthy, James Pyman, Borivoj Radaković, Gordana Stanišić, Suzanne Treister, Alison Turnbull, Mikey Cuddihy, Stevie Deas, and others. The twenty-ninth title in the series will be by Joanna Walsh, then Paul Sakoilsky.

It is a great thrill that Piece of Paper Press is included in Stephen Bury’s book, and doubly thrilling that it is mentioned in the blurb:

The history of artists’ involvement with the book format between 1963 and 2000 includes a fascinating range of artists and movements from Mallarmé to the Piece of Paper Press via Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Fluxus and conceptual art. This second edition includes updated text with new bibliographic descriptions of 600 key artists’ books and over 130 new, full-page, colour illustrations taken from the internationally renowned Chelsea College of Art & Design Library collection. It is an indispensable resource for the definition and classification of artists’ books by a renowned scholar in the field.

Dr Stephen Bury is the Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian, Frick Art Reference Library, New York. Previous publications include ‘Artists’ Multiples’ (2001) and ‘Breaking the Rules’ (2007).

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BURY, Stephen. Artists’ books: the book as a work of art, 1963-2000.
London, Bernard Quaritch Ltd, 2015.
Small 4to, (232 x 228 mm), pp. 258 (including over 130 illustrations); cloth-bound.
ISBN 978-0-9563012-9-1
Offered at the introductory price of £50 until 30 June 2015. The full price is £60.

Castañeda apocrypha

‘A Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’ is a short story that I wrote for L.A. artist Steven Hull for an incredible Californian arts festival called Glow Santa Monica. The audio—with analogue synth accompaniment by Steven—was released on the vinyl LP A Puppet Show in 2014, and I also put the MP3 up on my Soundcloud page. For some reason(?) the file had got corrupted, so I just had to reload it. As ever, feel free to download it, so you can listen to the MP3 on your own device.

Here’s the blurb:

Track #1 from A Puppet Show, vinyl LP by LA artist Steven Hull (Nothing Moments, 2014). Tony White reads his short story, a psychedelic parable about Cortés presented as a piece of Castañeda apocrypha, with sound by Steven Hull. This new short story formed the basis of Steven Hull’s huge Puppet Show performance commissioned for Glow 2013 (a triennial, dusk-to-dawn arts festival on Santa Monica Beach). The story is now available on a beautiful yellow vinyl, gatefold LP from Nothing Moments, featuring audio of the story with sounds and music by Petra Haden, Tanya Haden and Anna Huff, Steven Hull and the legendary Gibby Haynes of Butthole Surfers. A two-fold, full colour pamphlet insert features the full text of Tony White’s story, plus photos of A Puppet Show at Glow and an interview-essay with all participants by Christopher Schnieders.

A Puppet Show, track listing:

A Side:
#1 ‘A Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’ story by Tony White and sound by Steven Hull, 12:50 min.
#2 ‘Horse Parade’ by Petra Haden, Tanya Haden and Anna Huff, 3:47 min.

B Side:
#1 ‘Maigizo ya Bandia’ by Gibby Haynes, 10:12 min.
#2 ‘Conquistadorable’ by Petra Haden, Tanya Haden and Anna Huff, 4:51 min.

Image: A Puppet Show listening station in the exhibition My Little Boat of Sorrow (opens PDF of press release): Tami Demaree, Alex Evans, Tanya Haden, Gibby Haynes, Steven Hull, Jim Shaw, Allison Schulnik, and Marnie Weber. Rosamund Felsen Gallery, July 12 2014 — August 9 2014.

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IMMA-clude Me Out

Image: Camille Souter, Shannon Series Painting, 1980, Oil on paper, 44 x 74 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 2007

Image: Camille Souter, Shannon Series Painting, 1980, Oil on paper, 44 x 74 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 2007

I am delighted that the artist Alan Phelan’s 2012 short film of my short story ‘Include Me Out’ is being shown as a video installation as part of a new exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) entitled IMMA Collection: Fragments. Here is the exhibition blurb and Camille Souter’s painting which is being used as the press image for the show:

This exhibition borrows its title from Philosopher Walter Benjamin’s comparison of the work of translation to re-assembling fragments of a broken vase – the individual fragments must come together, but need not be like each other. This could also be taken as an allegory for exhibition making, or collecting. The exhibition includes the first-showing since their acquisition of a number of recent works by Irish artists, including The sky looks down on almost as many things as the ceiling, (2013) a wall based sculpture by Aleana Egan and commissioned works by Ronan McCrea and Alan Phelan. The latter two are lens-based works titled Medium (Corporate Entities) and Include me out of the Partisan Manifesto, which resulted from IMMA’s programme of temporary exhibitions.

Joanna Crawford and Brendan McCormack in Alan Phelan’s film, Include Me Out of the Partisans Manifesto (2012)

Joanna Crawford and Brendan McCormack in Alan Phelan’s film, Include Me Out of the Partisans Manifesto (2012)

My short story ‘Include Me Out’ was originally commissioned by IMMA as a catalogue text for Alan Phelan’s 2009 exhibition Fragile Absolutes. For that project he had taken all of the italicised words from Slavoj Žižek’s book of that name, and used them as random word associations towards a series of new works, which are realised in a variety of materials and processes, from hand-carved marble, through to video and IMMA_ALAN-PHELAN-JPGpapier-mâché sculptures. In writing about this work, then, I decided to use the same italicised words as a mandated vocabulary for a story which might reflect (upon) and amplify certain aspects of Phelan’s work. For Phelan to then make a film adaptation of the story, for final inclusion in the Fragile Absolutes series, and for that film to be acquired for IMMA’s collection, makes for a wholly apt and a pleasingly (if not vertiginously) circular narrative logic. IMMA have even included a large reproduction of Picasso’s Women Running on the Beach in the installation (within the ‘light lock’), which will make sense to anyone who has read the story. My bibliographical notes for the text are also displayed.

Here is the plot summary from the film’s IMDB entry:

A suburban couple battle through the apparent obliteration of their shared experience as their DVD collection is painstakingly broken up and recycled. The film was based on a short story by Tony White written as a fictional representation of Alan Phelan’s art practice.

If you can catch the exhibition which closes late July, Alan and I would love to hear what you think.  In the meantime, or for friends who can’t make it to Dublin, you can watch the film on Vimeo here:

Include Me Out of the partisans manifesto, 2012 from Alan Phelan on Vimeo.

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Include Me Out of the Partisans Manifesto, in IMMA Collection: Fragments, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland — until 26 July 2015.
Tuesday – Friday: 11.30am – 5.30pm
Saturday: 10.00am – 5.30pm
Sunday and Bank Holidays: 12noon – 5.30pm
Monday: Closed
Last Admission 5.15pm
Admission is Free

Get the free ebook of ‘Include Me Out’ from Artists’ Ebooks

Alan Phelan: Fragile Absolutes
Authors, Editor and Contributors: Dušan I. Bjelic´, Seán Kissane, Medb Ruane and Tony White
Price: €35.00 (268 pages, 207 illustrations)
ISBN: 978-8-88158-763-6
Year of Publication: 2009

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The Holborn Cenotaph: Speakers’ Corner selfie*

Thanks to Chris Dorley-Brown for sending through this great photo from my gig at Takeover 2015, the London Radical Bookfair, on Saturday 9 May.

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I was reading my short story The Holborn Cenotaph—channelling Swift, the story is a Juvenalian satire—and was as always very pleased and surprised by the response to my ‘modest proposal’. Plenty of people came to chat afterwards and to get their free copies of the small edition of the story text that was produced to give away at recent gigs with Stuart Brisley et al in the chapel at King’s College London and at The MAC in Belfast, and whenever else I read from the story, at least while stocks last.

-1Takeover 2015 was a useful and positive day, so thank you to all at London Radical Bookfair, the Alliance of Radical Booksellers, Vicky who put the Speakers’ Corner programme together, and Nik at Housmans.

I hope to do more readings of The Holborn Cenotaph in the coming weeks and months. Check back on my events page for listings or sign up for my occasional newsletter for news of gigs and invites to book launches etc.

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Read more about The Holborn Cenotaph here, here and here.

* P.S. She may not actually be taking a selfie.

Taking Part in Takeover 2015

I am pleased to be taking part in Takeover 2015 on Saturday 9 May 2015. I will be reading my short story The Holborn Cenotaph at 1:30pm, as part of their speakers’ corner programme of talks and readings. Do come along if you are in the area. It would be great to see some friends there.

Takeover 2015 is a collaboration between Alternative Press and London Radical Bookfair. Here is the flyer, and a map of how to get there!

takoverflyer2015

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Takeover 2015
47-49 Tanner Street
London SE1 3PL
Noon-7pm

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Essex Indexicals: a short story about growing up

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 13.26.01Two projects by the artist Chris Dorley-Brown have launched this month. One is a major digital commission from The Wellcome Collection, entitled 15 SECONDS Part 3. The other is a new book called Drivers in the 1980s, which is published by Hoxton Mini Press as the sixth in their series of collectable books about East London:

[He] spent two summers in the mid 1980s photographing drivers stuck in traffic jams in and around East London. This series was his first on colour film and was created when he intended to document the privitisation of Rolls Royce but instead became fascinated by the faces in the traffic caused by the sell-off in the city. The cars, colours, haircuts and expressions of frustration capture the mood and tone of a unique era in Thatcher’s Britain.

You may have seen Drivers in the 1980s reviewed here and there!

Twenty years ago, Dorley-Brown was engaged on education and outreach work at the Minories (now First Site) in Colchester, Essex. In those early days of the web, and having only recently seen for the first time ‘a row of Macs hooked up to the internet’, Chris began to think about personal online presence, and what the internet might mean for online identity. He devised a project that could work with local schools to create a 15-second video portrait of each of 1,000 Essex schoolchildren. The portraits would initially be shown on public TV screens or as ‘video art’.

Here is the flyer that was sent to schools:

front

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Taking a Sony Beta SP video camera and one of several rolls of flourescent card for a backdrop, Chris set up in a number of school halls and filmed approximately 1,000 video portraits.

In 2004, the Science Museum commissioned Chris to revisit the project as part of their Future Face exhibition. Contacting the schools that had participated, Chris managed to make contact with some thirty-five of the original school children, who by then would have been between the ages of 18 and 21. He invited them to sit for another video portrait, but this time they were also able to watch the footage of their younger selves. A video diptych of these 1994-2004 portraits is now on permanent display in the Medicine Now exhibition at the Wellcome Collection.

In 2014, Wellcome commissioned Chris Dorley-Brown to visit the group a third time. The result is 15 SECONDS Part 3, which is now published online. Here is the blurb:

Chris Dorley Brown’s 15 SECONDS Part 3 is a tantalising glimpse into lives of 26 millennials born in the 1980s, and the ways in which their lives have changed between childhood and adulthood. In 1994, several hundred Colchester schoolchildren aged 8-11 were invited to make a video portrait of themselves and experience their ‘fifteen seconds of fame’. Ten years later, Dorley-Brown tracked down some of the individual participants to find out how their lives had progressed; and in 2014 he made a third series of video portraits. Brought together as a digital online artwork, the participants’ three selves now enter into a dialogue with each other. The first set of video portraits were made in an era before the internet became a part of everyday life; the last set were made in the era when self-presentation through social media is ubiquitous. In between are a poignant series of moving portraits that address growing up, thwarted ambition and finding out what makes you happy in life.

15SecondsLandingPage

Alongside the launch of 15 SECONDS Part 3, I have been commissioned to write a short critical text about the project. I visited Chris in his studio while the work was being edited, and had an opportunity to watch the first cuts of 15 SECONDS in their individual triptych form. The blurb is right, these are ‘moving portraits’, in more ways than one. With the material shot in 2004 and 2014, there has also been an added dimension. Where the very first portraits were shot without sound, the second and third visits have enabled the sitters, who are now in their late twenties and early thirties, to comment upon their younger selves. Chris tells me that he offered only the simple instruction not to offer up any personal detail: ‘keep it general’ were his words.

Watching all of this come together in Chris’s studio, I found myself drawn to the speech patterns and the phrasing being used by the now twenty-nine participants; particular verbal constructions that echoed across the lives and decades. ‘Essex Indexicals’ is the result. It is a short story about growing up.

The word ‘indexical’ can simply mean functioning like—or displaying the properties of—an index, as with my story, which is created from an alphabetised re-ordering of certain utterances made by the subjects of Chris Dorley-Brown’s 15 SECONDS Part 3, during filming in 2004 and 2014. However, ‘indexical’ has a second meaning which is also relevant here. In philosophy, as David Braun explains:

An indexical is, roughly speaking, a linguistic expression whose reference can shift from context to context. For example, the indexical ‘you’ may refer to one person in one context and to another person in another context. Other paradigmatic examples of indexicals are ‘I’, ‘here’, ‘today’, ‘yesterday’, ‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘that’. Two speakers who utter a single sentence that contains an indexical may say different things. For instance, when both John and Mary utter ‘I am hungry’, Mary says that she is hungry, whereas John says that he is hungry.

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Watch 15 SECONDS Part 3

Read ‘Essex Indexicals’ by Tony White

Drivers In The 1980s by Chris Dorley-Brown. 96pp hardcover, gold foiled,145 x 205mm. Hoxton Mini Press, £12.95

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The Holborn Cenotaph on Twitter—no spoilers

-1I love tweeted reviews, so I have been really pleased to see some responses to my short story ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ coming up on Twitter.

‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ was first written for an event, The Cenotaph Project and the public sphere—with artists Stuart Brisley and Maya Balcioglu, and Sanja Perovic of King’s—that was held in the chapel at King’s College London back in the autumn. A small proof edition of the text was published to be given away to people attending the event. Since then I’ve given readings of the story at Westminster University’s Small Press Symposium, at In Yer Ear #10, at The MAC in Belfast, and at Richard Strange’s legendary Cabaret Futura. Two further editions of ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ have been given away at these gigs.

Here—without spoilers!—are some examples of what people have said on Twitter.

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I hope to be doing more readings from ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ in the coming weeks and months. Check my Events page for regular listings info. For more advance warning of upcoming gigs and readings, and for invites to events and launches, please sign up for my occasional newsletter.