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What is the language using us for?
It uses us all and in its dark
Of dark actions selections differ.
From What Is The Language Using Us For – WS Graham (1918 – 1986)


An arrangement in orange and purple: Tsvetaeva, Lomax and Lispector.

The decision to post a monthly reading list together with a brief commentary / rationale has grown from a recent conversation with the artist Louise Atkinson about her PhD research blog. Every week she posts a summary of the week’s research, reading, thoughts and activities. The blog provides her with an extremely solid documentation of her work and progress through her doctorate. The research is ordered, explained and contextualised in a timely, on-going and enthused manner, mapping the development of her thesis and practice, dating and referencing compiled with clarity and reasoning every step of the way. How many of us have looked in notebooks and found book titles, thoughts and ideas jotted down and have had no idea when, where or why they were there. Stripped of context they often become meaningless. However, the blog has become much more than a study aid for herself. I read it for its richness and its unexpected treasures. All the material discussed is linked, and it has become a great resource for my own work and thinking. I would recommend it to fellow artists and writers, students at all levels, those of you undertaking or considering a PhD, and anyone with a lively and curious mind.


Oblivion – Marc Augé
Inconsequential Bayonets: A Correspondence On Curation, Independence and Collaboration – Dave Beech and Mark Hutchinson
Unpacking My Library – Walter Benjamin
Diagrams for Seriality – Neil Chapman
Rootprints: Memory and Life Writing – Hélène Cixous
We Were Trying To Make Sense: exploring artist and non-artist collaborations – Magda Fabianczyk & Sophie Hoyle (editors)
Collected Poems – WS Graham
Ex-Libris Sharon Kivland
Black Sun – Julia Kristeva
Água Viva – Clarice Lispector
Pure Means – Yve Lomax
Dark Elderberry Branch – The Selected Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva


All these texts (and images) are relevant to two events that I have coming up. On the 6th of July I will be part of Shady Dealings With Language, curated by Claire Potter and David Berridge, (and kindly hosted by X Marks the Bookshop) at Matts Gallery in London. Myself and fellow artist/writers Neil Chapman, Linda Stupart and Nathan Walker have been invited to create, deliver, perform and read work that responds to a statement that begins thus: ‘In Pure Means, Yve Lomax considers the moment an action is somehow interrupted and the possibility of experiencing pure means arises – the very gesture of gesture…’ the full statement and information about the curators and other participants can be found in the link above, but the event itself is now fully booked. On the 12th of July I will be speaking, alongside Beth Williamson and Simon Morris, at The Association of Art Historians Researcher-Artist Collaborations Workshop at The Tetley, Leeds.


For Shady Dealings with Language I am working and reading intuitively & am making a short film and a separate projection that explore the idea of studio as book, and of ‘unwriting’. An imaginary script / screen play that informs and is informed by these works will be read / performed. All these things currently exist in written and footage fragments – an unbound chaos – which will be only loosely brought together for the 6th. A series of unstable fascicles. The texts that inform this work are ‘lived writing’ at once crafted and spontaneous. Complex writing, writing that is both of the senses and of the intellect. Texts that are sometimes baffling, sometimes friendly, but always seductive. I am reading them as an act of immersion – not as an act of critique. A flow to accompany my flow:

‘what I am writing to you goes on and I am bewitched’
From Água Viva (living water) – Clarice Lispector

For the AAH Researcher-Artist Collaborations workshop my position as reader must be more critical and factual. I shall be talking about my own experience of collaborative projects, in particular MilkyWayYouWillHearMeCall with artist Tom Rodgers and curator / archivist Judit Bodor. (Judit has just started her own research blog Curating Destruction which I thoroughly recommend, and which has been also recommended by ‘post at MoMA’). I will also be questioning both the power structures in researcher-artist collaborations and the use of the word ‘collaboration’, which I would argue is often misused. My questions have been informed by discussions with Judit, and also by correspondence with the artist and lecturer Lee Hassall.  Judit has recommended Beech and Hutchinson’s discursive ‘essay’ as a good starting point for both these issues.

‘A critically self-aware curation would have to enter into a mutual and dialogical relationship with artists. It might not even be clear that such a practice was curation at all. Such a practice would have to live with doubt and conflict.’ From Inconsequential Bayonets –  Beech and Hutchinson.


So many words. Some of these texts are old (or recent) friends, (Graham, Benjamin, Lispector) and need only be briefly picked up again as if in an embrace after a parting. Some are new and must be attended and committed to. (Tonight I shall commit to Lomax). But, whichever way I spin it, it is a long list with a great many pages. Some will be read I promise you – but inevitably some shall not (or at least not this time round) and shall lie on my desk regarding me with clever and amused reproach.

Helene and WS together.

Helene and WS together on my desk.