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    Entries in Books (4)


    Hebe team member takes up residency at world leading London Gallery

    They've been called inspired lunatics and literary perverts and now the York based independent publishing imprint, information as material, can add Writer in Residence to its list of aliases, as it begins a year long residency at one of London's leading art institutions, the Whitechapel Gallery. Hebe team member, Simon Zimmerman talks about his involvement and hopes for the months ahead.

    What is information as material?

    "It's a small, artist-led publishing imprint that was started by Simon Morris in 2002, initially as a way for Simon to get his own work out into the world. He soon found that other artists were approaching him about publishing their work, and it grew organically from there.

    Since the very beginning, the imprint has been driven by a commitment to supporting work by artists and writers who reuse existing material - selecting it and re-framing it to generate new meanings - and who, in doing so, disrupt the order of things. 

    information as material (iam) now has an editorial team of five people (Craig Dworkin, Christine Morris, Simon Morris, Nick Thurston and I) all responsible to developing projects as well as producing their own work for publication. In recent times iam has published work by key artists, from around the world, including Pavel Büchler, Caroline Bergvall, Kenneth Goldsmith, Sharon Kivland and, most recently, Lucia della Paolera and released books, pamphlets, posters, blogs, films and, most recently, an application for the iPhone and iPad (developed by Christine Morris), Re-writing Freud, which randomly re-writes Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams as you tap the screen." 

    How did you become involved?

    "It's sort of a long story... Nick Thurston and I go way back - we grew up in the same area and went to the same school. We reconnected in later life, when I returned from Dartington College of Arts. I'd been researching what I thought, at the time, was a fairly obscure field of artistic practice that involved all kinds of artists working with books and text - approaching writing as an interdisciplinary and often performative act. Nick and I bumped into each other at a BBQ and it transpired that we both shared that interest, although we do have different concerns - I doubt that Nick would approve of my description (laughs).

    I met Simon through Nick in 2005, and helped iam to find funding for the first version of what is now the Re-writing Freud application. I stayed in contact with them over the following years, but mostly as an interested reader. Then, in 2009 I started talking with Nick and Simon about doing something together as part of the In a word... project I was doing with Arts Council England, Yorkshire. As fate would have it Craig, Simon and Nick had already started work on an idea for an exhibition at the Laurence Sterne Museum, and they were looking for a Producer to work with. That idea developed into The Perverse Library, and following the closing event in October 2010 the iam team asked if I would consider joining their editorial board. I leapt at the chance, of course."

    How did the Whitechapel residency come about?

    "The Whitechapel has been running the Writer in Residence programme from two years now, with Maria Fusco and Sally OReilly leading the way in 2009 and 2010 respectively. The programme aims to create a platform for writing about art, writing as art and writing as a lens through which to view art. Looking at the opening part of Whitechapel's main artistic programme for 2011/12 - with John Stezaker's appropriations of film stills; Bethan Huws' re-presentation of the gallery space through minor alteration (if installing a false floor can be considered minor); and several works in the current exhibition, Material Intelligence, which reframe materials and objects - it's not hard to see why the Whitechapel has invited this collective of artists, with a track record of re-writing and 'undesigning', to take up this residency." 

    What do you have in store for the the residency?

    "What isn't!? Simon Morris once disclosed to me that he had been called 'philosophically irresponsible' by his psychiatrist. It think that just about sums up the tone of the iam journey, and I hope a sense of the irrational will run through the whole of the residency.

    The Whitechapel programme says:

    'For their Whitechapel Gallery residency, [iam] will programme events that explore the possibilities opened up by conceptualist approaches to writing and performative approaches to reading. Through editions, conferences, workshops, discussions, screenings and collaborations, the York-based independent publishing imprint will create a space for a poetic and critical engagement with issues such as ‘undesigning’, anti-expressionism and cultural piracy.'

    Everyone on the editorial board is an artist in their own way, but they are also teachers, curators, researchers, performers, producers, computer programmers etc. I'm sure that all these interests will inform what we do, and how it gets done."

    The official launch of the residency will be held at the Whitechapel Gallery, London on Thursday, 28 April 2011. Tickets for the event are available to purchase online, and include a drink and a free iam edition. Click here for more information.


    Introducing: Bethanie Lunn


    She is a writer, presenter, stylist and with her first book selling out just three days after launch, Bethanie Lunn's star is certainly on the rise. We sat down with Bethanie to discuss her career, plans and vision for the future.

    We have got to know Bethanie during the past year mainly due to our mutual interest in the UK fashion scene and this is certainly an area she has a great deal of experience in. (Bethanie is the resident style and beauty expert for Meadowhall, Sheffield) We have often spoke about the power of blogging and this is something that has helped Bethanie raise her profile online, so much so that she has recently landed a new role as an online presenter for the X-Factor's fashion partner:

    Bethanie's Book

    Recently Bethanie has been on a whirlwind UK book tour promoting the release of 'A Modern Girl's Guide to Fabulousness' which has already attracted the praise of global fashion icon Elle Macpherson and many others. The book is billed as a 'lifestyle bible of services, places, tips and tricks for modern life'. Bethanie hopes the book is just the first step in taking her ideas and tips global:

    "I hope to do as Elle Macpherson says in her testimonial of my book and ‘take my Fabulousness global’, I like the idea of bringing out a Modern Girl’s Guide To Fabulousness in different countries, sharing the best kept secrets and hidden gems in the world to help women everywhere get the best products and services, wherever they are"

    The Future

    Looking towards the future, Bethanie is determined to make her own luck and create her own opportunities:

    "I’m not here to put my nose to the grind stone nor am I here to accept situations – I’m here to create my own situations, make a difference, make an impact, help others if needed and fulfil every day with purpose, intent and fulfilled dreams…and thoroughly enjoy myself while I’m at it!  This is what I remind myself of every day"

    We will be collaborating with Bethanie in the near future on new projects and we are sure that together we can develop some really interesting ideas. Some of these ideas will be 'Leeds-centric' with a focus on showcasing some of the great talent and potential we have in the city. Bethanie believes the talent is here:

    "The vintage fashion scene in Leeds is particularly strong and, sadly unlike other cities, there are still lots of independent stores and plenty of entrepreneurial spirit.  Initiatives such as Leeds Shopping Week and Leeds in Vancouver, for instance are excellent but I feel what is lacking is the community support to back these independents and move forward to initiatives to really put Leeds on the fashion map, make an impact and reap the rewards the city truly deserves.  Hopefully this is where we’ll come in!"

    Having a professional as focused and ambitious as Bethanie providing input onto upcoming projects will definitely be a big advantage to everyone involved. It seems, like many people we talk about on this blog, she is only at the start of her journey and we are really excited to see what will happen with Bethanie in the future.

    Check out our previous Introducing posts here: 

    Introducing: James Steward

    Introducing: Marc Leaf

    Introducing: Muireann Carey-Campbell


    Conceptual writing is "decidedly avant-garde" and the ICA is not, says the Independent. What do you think?

    I know the Hebe Arts pages are getting top-heavy with information about the current exhibition of conceptual writing at Shandy Hall, and I promise to shift focus soon enough. But, whilst the air is filled with excitement about what is going on under Laurence Sterne's roof I thought I'd flag up an article in this week's Independent, which acknowledged The Perverse Library exhibition and recognised the immediacy of conceptual writing in art today.

    The article, 'Trouble at Mall' was a critique of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), London: an organisation founded in 1946 to provide a space for the artistic and intellectual avant-garde to meet, exchange and exhibit. In its heyday the ICA was a hot-bed for experimental, provocative and often controversial work. However, in recent years, the article suggests, contemporary art has lost the need for a gatekeeper and the ICA has been left struggling with it's identity and relevance. Kind of ironic, for an organisation whose outgoing leader, Ekow Eshun, said roughly the same about Live Art when he cut off the ICA's support for the artform?

    Image from The Perverse Library at Shandy Hall: Carbonised book from The Black Library by Greville Worthington | Nick Hill © 2010
    Have a read and post any thoughts in the comments below - is there still a place for the ICA?
    Take special notice of the reference to 'conceptualism' towards the end (copied below) and if you haven't already, visit today and book you place on the free bus tour from York train station to Shandy Hall.
    "What is decidedly avant-garde is conceptualism in a quite different art form – literature. Visit Shandy Hall in Yorkshire, where Laurence Sterne wrote his experimental novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, and one will encounter the first exhibition in Britain of conceptual writing. Conceptual writers sometimes steal from other writers, reordering their text and jumbling it up. Bringing together conceptual art and language, this movement has led to fierce attacks from conventional authors. Influenced by Sterne himself (who plagiarised and rearranged passages) and writers like James Joyce, one leading figure in the movement says conceptual writing “seeks to ask what would a non-expressive poetry look like? A poetry of intellect rather than emotion.” Conceptual writing determinedly makes no claim on originality. It includes a transcription of a year’s weather reports and, in the case of one conceptual writer, the simple repetition of the sentence “I will not make anymore boring art.” It’s fitting that the house where one of the world’s most famous experimental novels was written is in the forefront of avant-garde literature." Read more...

    Image from The Perverse Library at Shandy Hall: Bouvard et Pécuchet's Invented Desk for Copying by Gareth Long with Wilf Williams | Nick Hill © 2010

    A Perverse Library: a major exhibition of 'conceptual writing' comes to Yorkshire next month

    “Writing is fifty years behind painting.” (Brion Gysin, 1959)

    A major exhibition of ‘conceptual writing’ is coming to Yorkshire next month. A Perverse Library is the first exhibition of its kind in the UK and will - according to curator Simon Morris - “show work by a generation of artists who have sought a radical reconsideration of the relationship between literature and the visual arts”.

    Image, Scott Myles: Full Stop 2006 © the artist. The last full stop in Tristram Shandy from the first edition, blown up using photomicography at the University of Glasgow

    Appropriately, the exhibition will take place at Shandy Hall, Coxwold: the former home of the celebrated 18th-century English writer Laurence Sterne (author of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman), whose experimental spirit has had an astounding and continuing influence on the arts.

    A Perverse Library draws from collections of work by internationally renowned artists and writers including: Kathy Acker, Ed Ruscha, Jen Bervin, Christian Bök, Kenneth Goldsmith, James Joyce, On Kawara, Sherrie Levine and the recent Northern Art Prize winner, Pavel Büchler.

    The exhibition starts on 04 September 2010, and will run right through to 31 October 2010. There are a number of free bus services running between York train station and Shandy Hall. Click here to find out more, and to book your place before they all go!

    Étienne-Louis Boullée, Deuxieme projet pour la Bibliothèque du Roi (1785), used on the cover of Craig Dworkin's new book 'The Perverse Library'. Dworkin's collection of more than 2,000 volumes forms the centre piece of the exhibition in Coxwold.

    Questions about what and where writing is have always cut through and across the fields of philosophy, literary criticism and the arts. Whilst these questions are not new, nor specific to any one place, they have emerged as an essential concern for the Western European and American avant-garde.

    Driven by 200 years of radical social change, ‘writing’ in the arts has continued to nourish an extremely rich field of praxis. Its discourses are irreducibly complex and beyond simple definition or catagorisation.

    In part this is due to the breadth of work being progressed by individuals with wide ranging imperatives, working in equally diverse ways: Gertrude Stein to William James to Ezra Pound to James Joyce to Berthold Brecht to Samuel Beckett to Allen Ginsberg to John Cage to Roland Barthes to Jacques Derrida to Christian Bok to Steve McCaffery to Joanna Drucker to David Mamet to Caroline Bergvall to Jerome Bell to Craig Dworkin to Tim Etchells to Gillian Wearing to Mark Manders to Kenneth Goldsmith and on and on, and to name but a fraction of those who’s ideas continue to feed this nebulous and intangible ecology of ideas.

    The complexity is owed also to the depth of critical thinking that questions about writing have fostered, couched in vocabularies that are often challenging, and often deliberately so: demanding the reader to renegotiate their relationship to the ‘text’.

    Terms like conceptual writing, performance writing, writing with art, text based art, language art, l-a-n-g-u-a-g-e poetry, artists’ publishing etc… are only some of the terms used to describe only some of the outlets for these practices. Historically these terms have sat in opposition to traditional literary modes, as well to notions of new or creative writing, which have been favored by the mainstream.

    In recent years the output of artists working in what the writer, Claire MacDonald has called “an expanded field of writing practice” have occupied public spaces, galleries, theatres, studios, libraries etc., and become manifest as books, pages, journals, multiples, paintings, scores, computer applications, sculptures, audio recordings, films, videos, performances, actions, events and ephemera etc. 

    Image, architectural drawings of the 'invisible shelves' designed by Canadian architect Michael Farion,

    In A Perverse Library the output occupies writing, or the idea of writing itself. By adopting strategies of appropriation and/or rip-off “we are seeing whole texts moved around from one location to another. It is not just sampling language but moving entire texts from space to another”, as Simon Morris puts it. “I think there's something quite exciting about making new meaning whilst using exactly the same words as an other.”

    If you are interested in knowing more about this field of art / writing practice then A Perverse Library is definitely an exhibition, even the exhibition not to be missed. If you do miss it though, we will be sure to get lots and lots of photos and video from the grand opening, which organisers have in the spirit of Sterne put the night before the exhibition closes.