Wednesday, March 4, 2015


The above images are (mostly) installation shots of the FluxBooks: From the Sixties to the Future exhibition, which opens tonight in Venice. For more information, see the previous post here, or visit the collection site, here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Laurie Anderson | Speechless

One of my favourite Laurie Anderson lyrics is partially illustrated by the incredible photograph above, taken recently in a London park (if you substitute woodpecker for eagle).

Speechless starts out as a bit of a cliched road song, with a rusty old car shooting out of town and leaving skid marks in its wake. But it veers off course and introduces a synopsis of this passage from the Annie Dillard story Living With Weasels:

"And once, says Ernest Thompson Seton--once, a man shot an eagle out of the sky. He examined the eagle and found the dry skull of a weasel fixed by the jaws to his throat. The supposition is that the eagle had pounced on the weasel and the weasel swiveled and bit as instinct taught him, tooth to neck, and nearly won. I would like to have seen that eagle from the air a few weeks or months before he was shot: was the whole weasel still attached to his feathered throat, a fur pendant? Or did the eagle eat what he could reach, gutting the living weasel with his talons before his breast, bending his beak, cleaning the beautiful airborne bones?"

Anderson works it into a complex metaphor for dependency and glossophobia:

It was August
summer of ‘82
You had that rusty old car
and me
I had nothing better to do

You picked me up
We hit the road
Baby me and you

We shot out of town
drivin' fast and hard
leaving our greasy skid marks
in people's back yards

We were goin' nowhere
Just drivin’ around
We were goin' in circles
And me?
I was just hanging on

Like in that Annie Dillard book
where she sees that eagle
with the skull of a weasel hanging from it's neck

And here's how it happened, listen:

Eagle bites the weasel
Weasel bites back
They fly up to nowhere
Weasel keeps hangin’ on
Together forever

We’re goin’ nowhere
Just drivin' around
You did all the talking
and me
I didnt' make a sound.
And if I open my mouth now
I'll fall to the ground

If I open my mouth
there's so much I'd say
like I can never be honest
like I'm in it for the thrill
like I never loved anyone
and I never will

Eagle bites the weasel
Weasel bites back
They fly up to nowhere
Weasel keeps hangin’ on
Together forever

I remember that old coat
my grandma used to wear
made of weasels
biting each other's tails
A vicious circle
an endless ride
on the back of an old woman.

Eagle bites the weasel
Weasel bites back
They fly up to nowhere
Weasel keeps hangin’ on
Together forever

And me? I'm goin' in circles.
I'm circling around
and if I open my mouth now
I'll fall to the ground.

The song is available on the Brian Eno-produced LP Bright Red, and can be heard here.

Also: A song by Belly, written about the punishment for adultery in ancient China - a dog carcass strapped to the back of the adulteress until it decomposes - called Slow Dog.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dieter Roth | Little Tentative Recipe

Dieter Roth
Little Tentative Recipe
Stuttgart, Germany: Edition Hansjorg Mayer, 1968
11.3 x 10.3 x 10.3 cm
Edition of 100 signed, dated and numbered copies

Produced at the Watford School of Art, England, this miniature book (8.8 x 8.8 x 8.8 cm) is made from approximately 800 multicoloured Rotaprint-prints and is housed in a stamped wooden case.

"Little tentative recipe: PRINT until you cant stand it anymore or [until] you dont want anymore, take away, for binding for instance, the sheets which the machine cannot take anymore (torn, wrinkled, or beautiful according to someone's taste), dont throw anything away"
- Dieter Roth, [leaf]

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Per Kirkeby | 4 Flux Drinks

Per Kirkeby
4 Flux Drinks
New York City, USA: Fluxus, 1967
10 × 11.9 × 0.9 cm
Edition size unknown

A Canal Street box with an offset label designed by George Maciunas, containing four altered tea bags. Fluxus newsletters list the tea bags as containing salt, sugar, ground aspirin and citric acid.

The box size varied (the last pictured is 7 x 7 x 2 cm.), as did the cover graphic. An additional three designs by Maciunas were never used.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reiner Ruthenbeck | Quadratic plate with angled corner

Reiner Ruthenbeck
Quadratic plate with angled corner
Remscheid, Germany: Edition Vice Versand,
black metal plate with angled corner
42.5 x 42.5 cm
Edition of 10 signed and numbered copies

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Keith Arnatt | TV Project Self Burial

Keith Arnatt
TV Project Self Burial
Dusseldorf, Germany: Fernsehgalerie Gerry Schum, 1969
18 pp., 14.5 x 21 cm., softcover
Edition of 500

This series of nine photographs was broadcast daily at 8:15pm (and again an hour later) between the 11th and 18th of October, in 1969. Each image was aired for between two and four seconds, without introduction or commentary. The work is often heralded as a seminal example of artists' interventions into television, but the piece was not originally conceived of to be transmitted, and is arguably more effective as a series of prints, or indeed an artist book.

Produced at Tintern in Monmouthshire in June or July of the same year, the work was originally titled The Disappearance of the Artist. It was aided by Ed Herring, a former colleague at Manchester College of Art where Arnatt taught. Herring filled in the hole around the artist in between photographs, which he took under Arnatt’s direction.

Notably, the artist emphasised that ‘the “burial” was done in order to arrive at the photographic sequence. They are not a record or documentation of a performance.

To mark the occasion of broadcast on West German television, this small brochure was produced by Fernsehgalerie Gerry Schum and distributed for free. It contains, alongside the nine images, facsimiles of the TV schedules.

"I regarded Self Burial, at the time I did it, as a purely behavioural response to certain thoughts about art behaviour. I was then certainly drawn towards art which reflected procedures which might be described as “extreme”, or, perhaps, even “novel”, and the sort of art which interested me mostly was the art made by “radical” means. In such art, I felt, the procedures involved in making it had a ritualistic character (though one was not always very clear about the significance of the “ritual”). Therefore, the aspect of the nine Self Burial photographs that I initially considered important was the way I felt they must draw attention to the physical behaviour involved in the burial procedure itself. And though it was intended that the photo- graphs should convey the impression that something was happening to me, they really record— stage by stage— the product of a quite elaborate, uncomfortable and lengthy behaviour pattern. It was, perhaps the character of the behaviour that concerned me rather than its possible interpretation (something which did interest me immediately afterwards)."
- Keith Arnatt

The work is available, price upon request, from