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.