Sunday, January 31, 2016

Stanley Brouwn | Use This Brouwn

Stanley Brouwn
Use This Brouwn
Frankfurt, Germany: Typos Verlag, 1964
21 x 10.5 cm.
Edition size unknown

A paper bag, rubber stamped in purple ink with the instruction "Use this Brouwn".

Originally included in Wolf Vostell's Dé-coll/Age No.4. Other contributors included Ramon Barce, S. Bonk, George Brecht. Bazon Brock, Stanley Brouwn, HJ. Dietrich, Al Hansen, Mc Low, Dick Higgins, Allan Kaprow, J.J. Lebel, Claes Oldenburg, Robin Page, Nam June Paik, Tomas Schmit, Frank Trowbridge, Wolf Vostell, Jean Pierre Wilhelm, Peter Moore, Manfred Leve, Hartmut Rekort, Günter Kammerichs, Edwin Sabol, Manfred Montwe, Robert R. Mc Elroy, Ute Klopphaus, F. Massal, Edo Jansen, Henry Maitek, Hans de Boer, Vera Spoerri, Peter Kuhn, Günter Krings, Mercedes Guardado Olivenza, Dorine van der Klei, Wolf Vostell, etc.

Copies, particularly those which include the bag, are scarce.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Les Levine | Watergate Fashions

Les Levine
Watergate Fashions
New York City, USA: Steffanoty Gallery, 1974
7 pp., 8.5 x 11", staple-bound
Edition size unknown

A list documenting the outfits of each person involved in the Watergate Hearings. Available for $60.00 US, at Steven Leiber's Basement, here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Imprint 93

In 1993, Matthew Higgs founded a small press dedicated to artists' editions, called Imprint 93. The artist/curator published multiples and editions by Billy Childish, Martin Creed, Chris Ofili, Elizabeth Peyton, Peter Doig, Stewart Home, Bob & Roberta Smith, Stephen Willats, Jeremy Deller and many others.

Earlier this week Higgs began uploading images of the various projects to his Instagram feed, here.

"I started a small publishing project in the early 1990s in London. It was a way to collaborate with artists I was interested in, and it allowed me to develop my own identity as a publisher/curator – in that Imprint 93 reflected many of the things that interested me in art at that time. I financed all of the projects myself, and they were mostly printed at night on the photocopier at the office where I worked during the day. The project was inspired by the independent publishing movements of the 60s and 70s. (“It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it!”) However in the early 1990s, and certainly in London, very few people were publishing works in this way, so Imprint 93 stood out, simply because it was fairly unique. Many of the artists who I collaborated with – including Peter Doig, Elizabeth Peyton, Jeremy Deller, Martin Creed, Chris Ofili, etc. – are now much better know, but at the time these were artists at the beginning of their careers, just as I was at the beginning of my own career as a curator. It was a very organic and mutual process."
- Matthew Higgs (interviewed by Stephanie Bailey)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Marcel Broodthaers

Marcel Broodthaers was born on this day in 1924, and died on this day in 1976.

David Horvitz | Mood Disorder

David Horvitz
Mood Disorder
Berlin, Germany/Vancouver, Canada: Chert, Motto Books, New Documents, 2015
72 pp., 34.5 x 25 cm., staple-bound
Edition of 2000

Perhaps my favourite media-intervention work since Hans Eijkelboom's brilliant 1978 piece In The Newspaper (in which the artist managed to appear in his local newspaper for ten consecutive days), David Horvitz' Mood Disorder traces the life of a self-portrait as stock photograph. 

The artist describes the work as follows:

"A photograph of me crying early in the morning on the beach in the far rockaways that is placed onto the english wikipedia page for mood disorder and then used by various websites as a free stock to illustrate what it looks like to feel bad."

The image, based on studies of stock photographs that depict depression and sadness, portrays the artist dressed in black, head-in-hand, with tumultuous crashing waves in the background. It refers back to Horvitz' 2012 bookwork Sad, Depressed, People and to the 1970 Bas Jan Ader work that inspired it, I'm Too Sad To Tell You (below).

Horvitz uploaded his image as a high resolution file on the 17th of May, 2012 and licensed it as Creative Commons, enabling its free distribution, without restrictions. This meant that any online journal, news site or blog with a budget too small to allow commissioned or licensed images could simply use Horvitz' self-portrait. 

Presumably through the use of a reverse-image search function, Horvitz is able to keep tabs on the ever-expanding use of the photograph. An ImageVirus of the sort that General Idea predicted years ago with their AIDS logo. 

This new oversized glossy magazine published by Chert, Motto and New Documents collects seventy examples of the photograph's use, and presents them as screen grabs, alongside the existing context (adjacent articles, links, sidebar and banner ads, etc.). This publication was preceded by a 32 page, black and white xerox booklet made in an edition of 150 copies, and issued by Shelter Press in 2013, which took a similar approach. 

Horvitz' head-in-hands image has traveled far and wide, used to illustrate articles in numerous languages, with titles like "Oily Fish Fights Winter Depression" and "Teens in After-School Arts Programs More Likely to Report Depression (Study)"

Mood Disorder builds on a number of other Wikipedia interventions by the artist. Public Access (2010) was a road trip peppered with self-portraits at every public beach along the Californian coast, uploaded to the various Wikipedia pages until the editors caught on and began removing them, eventually banning Horvitz and his various "sock puppet" aliases. 

Also removed from the site, was the artist's intervention into the Karl Marx page. Horvitz uploaded a photograph of the socialist's memorial at Highgate Cemetary in London, a tombstone carved with a quote from the posthumously published Theses on Feuerbach: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways—the point however is to change it." Horvitz' hand could be seen entering the right side of the frame. 

The latter gentle prank was issued as part of the artist's Studio Rent Editions. Each month Horvitz produced a work in an edition of ten, priced at one-tenth the cost of his monthly rental costs for his Brooklyn studio. The works (typically signed and numbered) were $33.00 each in 2010, and the price was raised the following year by a dollar. In 2012 he relocated again and the rent - and subsequently the editions - became slightly cheaper. His dedication to the pricing model was maintained for a month where he had no costs (he was participating in a residency, if I recall correctly): the works were given away for free. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger turned 71 today.

Jan Dibbets | Roodborst territorium/Sculptuur 1969

Jan Dibbets
Roodborst territorium/Sculptuur 1969. Robin Redbreast's Territory/Sculpture 1969. Domaine d'un rouge-gorge/Sculpture 1969. Rotkehlchenterritorium/Skulptur 1969
Brest, France: Zédélé Editions, 2014
[32] pp., 4.8 × 7.3”, softcover
Edition size unknown

“There are so many different situations in which to look at something that standing right before the painting or walking around a sculpture could well be the most simple kind.”
—Jan Dibbets

In only a few years, Editions Zédélé have established themselves (alongside Primary Information in New York) as one of the leading publishers of facsimile reprints of artists’ books from the early seventies. The first five titles in their series, curated by two of the leading authorities on the subject, Anne Moeglin-Delcroix and Clive Phillpot, include books by Lawrence Weiner, Richard Long, Emmett Williams, herman de vries, and Peter Downsbrough.

The sixth is the Jan Dibbets’ classic, and in many ways quintessential, artist book, Robin Redbreast's Territory. Dibbets’ only bookwork (if you discount the 4-page Art&Project bulletin) was originally published by the legendary gallerist and publisher Seth Siegelaub in 1970. “I told Seth about it. He immediately was very enthusiastic and after I delivered him all the material, he took care of everything.”

The book documents a work which otherwise leaves no other physical traces.

"At the beginning of March 1969, I decided to displace a robin redbreast's territory so that the robin's flight would shape my sculpture/drawing,” writes Dibbets in the slim volume that also features photographs, topographical surveys, and handwritten notes translated into English, French and German.

To achieve this end, Dibbets read a number of books, including David Lack’s The Life of the Robin (1943) and The Territorial Imperative: A Personal Inquiry Into the Animal Origins of Property and Nations by Robert Ardrey. The latter was a 1966 bestseller that challenged the reigning methodological assumption of the social sciences, that animal behaviour is fundamentally distinct from that of human (“The dog barking at you from behind his master’s fence acts for a motive indistinguishable from that of his master when the fence was built.”).

Having gained “sufficient insight into the various possibilities”, Dibbets placed two poles close to a clump of trees in an Amsterdam park. His reasoning, according to the book's diary entries, was to pique the curiosity of the robin, and have him take perch on the pole. Each following day the artist would relocate the poles, moving them slightly further away from the trees until eventually they were completely isolated, thus having displaced the bird’s natural territory.

The artist viewed the work as both a drawing and a sculpture, but one that could “never be seen in its entirety. Only its documentation can reconstruct it in the viewer's imagination.” Dibbets realized that there was no way to "share it with others" until he had the idea of producing the piece as a bookwork.

The book then serves as the completed work, not merely it’s documentation.

“The act is not an end in itself for the artist” reads an insert* in the reprint, “[Dibbet's] preoccupation is with preserving the meaning of the work, because ultimately what is important is not the reality of the installation but the idea that inspired it.”

A confession in an 2008 interview with Christophe Cherix confirms the artist's emphasis on the idea over its execution: “This project happened so long ago that I can tell you a secret: the robin [in the photographs] was a dead bird, which I put on a stick!”.

The reprint is available in Europe and internationally, from the publisher, here. In Canada it is available at Art Metropole, here. In the USA, the title is available from Printed Matter, here, who also have the original Seth Siegelaub/Walter Koenig edition is available for $250, here.

*Presumably to remain completely faithful to the original, each of the Zédélé facsimile reprints includes a removable, tipped-in sheet containing information not included in the original source.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Glenfiddich Artist in Residence program, deadline: January 31st

Dave Dyment
A Drink To Us [When We're Both Dead]
Toronto, Canada: Self-published, 2008
31 x 18 x 13 cm
Edition of 25 [+2AP] signed and numbered copies

A Drink To Us [When We're Both Dead] functions as memento mori, examining notions of trust, history, patience and mortality. The works consists of a specially designed casket of whiskey buried in Dufftown, Scotland for one hundred years, but pre-sold to the consumer now in the form of a lavishly designed, but ultimately empty, container. This edition consists of an extruded sapele box housed in a linen box which also includes a bookwork, postcard, map and contract.

In 2108, descendants of purchasers will be able to claim (via the map and contract) a one hundred year old bottle of scotch. Currently the most expensive scotch is a 64 year old bottle that sold at Sotheby's a few years ago for $460,000.

The work was produced in 2008, when I was in Scotland as part of the Artists In Residence program at the Glenfiddich Distillery. I think I was the third or fourth Canadian to attend. Annie Pootoogook and at least one other preceded me, and I was followed by  Rhonda Weppler & Trevor Mahovsky, Daniel Barrow, Myfanwy MacLeod, Damian Moppett, Helen Cho, Jon Sasaki and others.

When I attended it was an invitational residency, as I believe it still remains for other countries. But for the last several years the program has issued an open call in Canada. I have sat on that jury each year, and this year have been helping to administrate. If it's useful to demystify the process, here's how it works:

Artists are asked to submit a short proposal, a current CV, a short artist statement and between 5 and 15 images (or 3 minutes of video). This information is to be uploaded into a single package on a file sharing service (Dropbox, for example). The jurors will access these documents separately over the next several weeks, so the files must remain active.

Around 200+ applications are typically received. The jury consists of myself, Sara Diamond (President of OCAD University), Gaetane Verna (Director of The Power Plant),  Kitty Scott (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario), Adelina Vlas (Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the AGO), Kristy Trinier (Curator at the Art Gallery of Alberta), Sarah Robayo Sheridan (Curator of the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery), and Stefan Hancherow (Director of the Feature Art Fair). Despite being based primarily in Toronto (other than Kristy Trinier in Edmonton) the group was chosen for their connections to various other communities (Montreal, Banff, Halifax, Calgary, etc.).

Each juror assigns a numeric value to their top twenty choices. These are then collated to arrive at a short list of ten artists. The list of ten is sent to the curator of the program, Andy Fairgrieve (pictured above, wrestling a barrel), who makes the final selection, after a couple of weeks of research.

Artists are asked to define how they will "be inspired by the distillery environment and possibilities that can be explored during the residency period; this could be anything from the accumulation of family heritage, the community of craftsmen who have worked there for decades and the materials they employ, or the artist’s wider personal development that will come over this inspiring three month period." This does not mean artists are expected to make a work about whisky. After I was invited in early 2008, I was asked to submit an outline of the type of project I might work on while on site. I wrote:

"When researching existing long pieces of music I came across the work of a Scottish composer named Ronald Stevenson. His work Passacaglia is often called the longest piece of music composed for piano (it isn't, actually, but that doesn’t matter for my purposes). The piece is 80 minutes long and it was this quote that most appealed to me:

it took a year and a quarter to compose, and an hour and a quarter to perform

So what I propose to do is to get a hold of a copy of the score for this work, conduct some research and rewrite the work to last a year and a quarter."

So my proposed piece was a musical interpolation that had nothing to do with the site, other than the heritage of the composer. A few things changed my plans when I arrived. The first was that I decided I wanted my work to exist in one of the warehouses (above, final image) rather than the visitor centre. Secondly, I elected to make a work that could only be done there, not something I could make from my bedroom at home (and why get stuck in your bedroom in beautiful north Scotland?). Glenfiddich's lawyers were initially opposed to the replacement project, and I had to convince the legal team that it wouldn't be a future liability. Luckily lawyers are paid to imagine every possible future outcome, so inherently understood the nature of the piece.

Last year Jon Sasaki built and flew an airplane during his time in Dufftown (the resulting videowork is currently on view at the Art Museum of the University of Toronto).  The point is that Fairgrieve is a smart curator and is looking to provide opportunities to make good work. The paragraph about inspiration should not be misconstrued as a request to pander.

The deadline to apply is this Sunday, January 31st. It's an incredible residency, and the time I spent there was among the best three months of my life. Artists are given airfare, accommodation (a beautiful two or three bedroom cottage to themselves), a salary and a generous production budget. The total value of the prize is estimated at $20,000 CDN per artist, though I suspect this fails to factor in other costs and it's actually worth considerably more.

When I arrived three bottles of scotch awaited me on the kitchen table and the fridge was stocked with Canadian cheese. The team are incredible hosts. There are several other artists from around the world participating at the same time (between June and September) so it's an isolated but not lonely experience. The staff at the distillery are incredible and very helpful. I arrived back in the country to dig the hole to bury my casket only to discover that the warehouse manager, Eric, had done it for me (see above), on his own time.

I can't recommend it highly enough, and there's no cost to apply. Please share this with any eligible artist working in Canada:

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rasah Subtler | Feathery Pillows of Isolation

Rasah Subtler
Feathery Pillows of Isolation
Brooklyn, USA: Self-published, 2015
1.5 x 2" [closed]
Edition size unknown

A matchbook sized multiple made of card, ink, satin and feathers. For Louise Bourgeois.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing

William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper [eds]
Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing
London, UK: Occasional Papers, 2015
208 pp., 17 x 24 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

Founded by Sara De Bondt and Antony Hudek in 2008, Occasional Papers is 
a non-profit publisher of  books devoted to the histories of architecture, art, design, film and literature. They have produced works by Stephen Willats and John Latham, as well as titles on artists' ephemera (the catalogue to the MoMA Library exhibition Please Come to the Show) and concrete poetry (Notes From the Cosmic Typewriter).

Their most recent title, Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing, is the first comprehensive overview of the life and work of the pioneering British poet and publisher. Cobbing, who died at the age of 82, fourteen years ago, has been called "the major exponent of concrete, visual and sound poetry in Britain."

Edited by grandson William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper, the volume takes its title from the name of a planned but never opened bookstore. Cobbing had managed the legendary Better Books on Charing Cross Road from 1965 to 1967, and when it closed he found a location a few blocks away that could house a bookstore on the ground floor and a dedicated projection space and auditorium in the basement. Start-up funds were raised and promotional materials were printed, but a noisy party the day before the lease was to be signed gave the landlord cold feet and he cancelled the agreement.

Prior to his involvement with Better Books, Cobbing founded Writers Forum, which operated as a small imprint, workshop and writers' network. Between 1963 and 2002 Writers' Forum published more than a thousand books and pamphlets, including works by John Cage, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, poet Maggie O'Sullivan and satirist P. J. O'Rourke. Cobbing also published recordings of sound poetry by Henri Chopin and Francois Dufrene.

This dedication to publishing allowed his own work to blur the processes of writing, design and printing. His poems were typed, mimeographed (on his preferred Gestetner), photocopied, letter-pressed, and screen printed. His style was sometimes labelled 'dirty concrete', a sub-category of the genre that Derek Beaulieu defines as "concrete poetry which foregrounds the degenerated, the broken and the handmade".

His work on the page was often the springboard for a performance which involved stretching language ("until it broke" notes the book's editors) through the deployment of shouts, sneezes, hisses, and groans. He produced several albums, collaborating with abAna, Birdyak and David Toop. One of his best known works, ABC In Sound, was recorded for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and broadcast January 7th, 1966.

"We are aided in our search by sophisticated instruments, the microphone and tape-recorder," he told Source magazine in 1970. "Our human voices extend the range of the tape-recorder’s abilities by their demands upon it. Conversely, the tape- recorder’s treatment of the voice teaches the human new tricks of rhythm and tone, power and subtlety . . . We are in a position to claim a poetry which is musical and abstract: but, however hard we try to do so, can we escape our intellect? No, but in the poetry of pure sound, yes."

Cobbing is well-known in sound and concrete poetry circles, and will be familiar to many in the artists' books community through his inclusion in various important anthologies. Alongside these activities, Boooook emphasizes Cobbing's efforts as an organizer and impresario. “We wanted to highlight his position as a key player in some of the most important moments and movements of the British avant garde,” write Cooper and Cobbing. "Such a large part of Bob's work was about facilitating other people, setting things in motion rather than promoting himself."

Cobbing collaborated with Gustav Metzger to present a series of projects for the legendary Destruction in Art Symposium in 1966. The three-day event featured lectures and performances by artists affiliated with Fluxus (George Maciunas, Yoko Ono, Robin Page), Happenings (Al Hansen, Wolf Vostell), Sound Poetry (Henri Chopin) and Viennese Actionism (Günter Brus, Otto Mühl, Hermann Nitsch). Who guitarist Pete Townsend was reportedly in the audience (he was a student of Metzger's) and became inspired to later destroy his guitar on stage as a form of "auto-destructive art", thus inventing a rock concert trope that continues unabated, fifty years later.

Some of the DIAS events took place at Better Books, including a programme titled ‘Cinema 65’, which led to the formation of the London Filmmakers’ Co-op. A year prior the store hosted a reading by Allen Ginsberg that led to the International Poetry Incarnation. Boooook highlights these connections and the key roles Cobbing played in a variety of artistic and counter-cultural events in the sixties.

The title is illustrated with numerous reproductions of artworks and ephemera (documents, posters, poems, film stills, etc.) and features contributions by the editors, Adrian Clarke, Arnaud Desjardin, Sanne Krogh Groth, Will Holder, Gustav Metzger, Marc Matter & Tris Vonna-Michell, David Toop, Steve Willey, Andrew Wilson and Maxa Zoller.

The book is the culmination of a year-long programme of events that happened under the umbrella name Bob Jubilé. It kicked off with an exhibition titled ABC in Sound at the Exhibition Research Centre, and also included numerous performances, a symposium, and a conversation with Kenneth Goldsmith. For more information, visit

Boooook: The Life and Work of Bob Cobbing is available from the publisher, here, for £20.

Friday, January 22, 2016

4th Anniversary

Today marks the 4th anniversary of the blog, and the 2000th post.