Art &Text: Inscription
copyright © 2000-2005, and the authors, unless otherwise stated,

edited and introduced by Sharon Kivland and Jaspar Joseph-Lester

You may like to think of us as your hosts to the theory section of Art and Text. Imagine that as good hosts, we have invited you as much as we invited our contributors, and that now we put a large gin and tonic in your hand, some delicious canapes are within easy reach, and as a good guest, you can begin your circulation of our party. Let us introduce you properly - it is a theme party - 'art and text', said the invitation, and we have had to hope that all those we invited would dress correctly and in the spirit of the occasion. It was an invitation to us first, from Nina; one that was rather fortuitous, as we had just organized a series of lectures and a symposium collectively titled 'Inscription'. These were part of a yearly programme: Speaking and Listening, now in its fourth year, which culminates in a publication (you can find copies in good art bookshops, those with a theory section anyway, or order it through our distributor, Cornerhouse). What we said about 'Inscription' was this
This series of lectures and a symposium takes up the reading of works of art, when works of art are produced as texts or incorporate text within them. This might imply that they are designed to be read and if they are read, then they might be supposed to deliver up meaning or lend themselves to unambiguous interpretation, unlike other works of art. Yet works that are letters or have letters (in many forms) are just as elusive as other works, seldom spelling out their message in any literal way. Letters are pictures, and pictures too may be deciphered as textual systems, but there are no pre-existing set of equivalences that will guarantee complete comprehension. Inscription, the act of writing or engraving, is a process forming subjective identities; writer and reader are bound in a relation in which interpretation, inexact or partial, has formal effects.

We thought all our guests would have their get-up already prepared, so we asked if they would like to come to Art and Text as well, under the guise of 'Inscription'. Most could (except for Victor Burgin, who had another engagement) and in an excess of party mood, we invited a few other people also, just to keep Art and Text swinging. Some people are going to be late, of course, but they'll be coming along later. We thought we'd like to mess around with theory or 'theory', just as we like to mess around with 'art and text', or 'art' and 'text'. We hope you don't mind. Actually, we think that any party needs a mix of people, so there will be some quite serious conversations, some good fun and lively exchange, a little flirtation, and perhaps even a dull interlude if you get stuck with someone who bores you (sorry, I think my contribution may be one of these. SK) or something for which you are not yet in the right mood. You may be attracted by a name you recognize or even by a pretty face.

Don't hesitate to come back later, we'll be here all night, for weeks, even. Some of our guests have contributed theoretical texts taking up ideas of 'art and text'; some have contributed texts that may be text as art, and others, art as text. As hosts, we haven't tidied up any contributions, as we felt this would be rather impolite (though we did tell one guest that his references weren't showing). Later, when we are doing the washing-up, so to speak, we'll probably have plenty to discuss, and so, we hope, will you - perhaps we can get together then? Are you always one of the last to leave? Now let's get going with the line-up, so you know who you will be meeting:

Note, that all linked documents above are in Adobe PDF format. You sould have Acrobat Reader installed in your system in order to view the files.

We expect you'd like to know a little more about them. This is what they've told us:

Artlab is Charlotte Cullinan and Jeanine Richards. Their practice has included painting, sculpture, cinema, curating, drawing, installation and video. Since their conception in 1997 they have exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, including solo shows at Mobile Home, INIVA and MOT (London). They have been included in numerous group shows including 'Documentary Creations', Kunstmuseum, Luzern, 'Britannia Works', Athens (British Council) and 'Edge of the Real', The Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Sean Ashton, a London-based artist/writer who works with objects, photography and text, studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art from 1995-97, and has since exhibited widely. Ashton's ongoing series of posters, 'Recent Posters', presents photographs of quotidian phenomena (e.g., bollards, holes, sunsets, dogshits) in typological arrangements. Some of these were shown recently in 'Death of Romance' (Ganton St., London, 2004) and 'Family Business' (Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing, 2003). Having just completed a Ph.D. at Goldsmiths on the changing status of the readymade in visual art, he is now writing a book on something more interesting. 'Silas Whitby: Collected Writings' is a collection of reviews of various art works, exhibitions and cultural events, some of which are real, some of which are imagined.

Dave Beech is an artist based in Manchester, England where he is also co-Director of artist-run gallery Vampire Station. He is Course Leader in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam Univesity. Recent exhibitions include Pledge at Sparwasser HQ, Berlin and Futurology at the New Art Gallery, Walsall.

Pavel Büchler is an artist, teacher and occasional writer on art, film and political culture. A founder of the Cambridge Darkroom Gallery and former Head of Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art, he is currently Research Professor in Art and Design at Manchester Metropolitan University. Recent publications include Conversation Pieces (i3, 2003) and Saving the Image: Art after Film, co-edited with Tanya Leighton. (CCA, 2003). His work has been exhibited recently at Program, London, and he will be participating in the Istanbul Biennale in September 2005.

Vera Dieterich and Caroline Rooney came together as a practitioner and as a theorist to explore shared interests in writing, in the notion of the text as a weave; and in philosophical and aesthetic questions pertaining to materiality and immateriality, the visible and the invisible. They recently collaborated on Book Unbinding: The Ontological Stain, a new publication the series Transmission: The Rules of Engagement, in which they examined notions and operations of folding, cutting and binding as found in writing and art. Vera Dieterich lives and works in London, and lectures in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University. Her work is held in the permanent collection of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany and she regularly exhibits in Europe. Caroline Rooney teaches at the University of Kent. She works in the areas of postcolonial literature and literary theory and she is author of African Literature, Animism and Politics (2000).

Swindells and Dutton were commissioned to produce a monumental vinyl wall text by Art Sheffield 03. The text Brownfields was a meditation on the nature of a brownfield site. This consisted of a rhetorically overblown yet apparently well intentioned diatribe which consistently found itself being undone by other overtly flamboyant rhetorical tactics, becoming a ‘muddy’ rhetorical and ideological field. In Plaza –text, the artists worked with the city’s major newspaper; initially by creating a full page text work along similar lines as the ‘brownfield’ piece by attempting to open up a plaza-like gap in the informative fabric of the paper. This work was then transformed into Plaza Song, an operatic aria sung to the melody of 'We’ll keep the Red Flag flying'. This was then sung live by Laura Lemmon (as part of S1 Alternative Action Plan) in Sheffield on November 20th and released as a limited edition CD.

Lucy Harrison uses collections of texts or information that have been forgotten or ignored. Since leaving the Royal College of Art in 1999, she has lived in East London, where she rents a librarian's office as a studio. Recent projects include Fantastic Cities (2004), a book for which twenty-five invited artists wrote about cities they had never visited. Recent exhibitions include 'After the Fact', Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle, Carpet Slippers No Protection, George Rodger Gallery, Maidstone, and 'Budget Bureau for language and applications', Centre d'art contemporain, Geneva. She is a lecturer at the Kent Institute of Art and Design, Canterbury.
The extract shown here is from the book Good Quote; Art School Marginalia,published by KIAD, 2003, a book of all the notes made in the margins of books in an art college library. This and other publications are available from BookArt Bookshop, 17 Pitfield Street, London, and Walter Koenig at the Serpentine Gallery, London.

Jaspar Joseph-Lester is an artist based in London. He is Head of Theoretical Studies in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University and is co-author of Disorientation and Spectacle in Retail Architecture (London: Artwords Press, 2004) and co-editor of Transmission: Speaking and Listening, volume four, 2005. Since completing his MA at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1998, he has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. Joseph-Lester's video work is currently included in All for Show: an international touring exhibition of UK Video and 13+ at Domo Baal Contemporary Art. Forthcoming shows include Episode, which will be showing at Temporary Contemporary in December. 'De-transubstantiation' is an extract from Joseph-Lester's book in progress.

Dr Sharon Kivland is an artist and writer, living in London and France. Reader in Fine Art in the School of Cultural Studies, Sheffield Hallam University, she is also a Research Associate of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, London. Kivland is editor of the series, Transmission: Speaking and Listening (Sheffield: Site Gallery, now preparing volume four) and co-editor of The Rules of Engagement (London: Artwords Press). She has exhibited widely in Europe and North America. Her work is represented by Domo Baal Contemporary Art, London and Galerie Bugdahn & Kaimer, Dusseldorf. She occupies herself with fine leathers, elegant embossing and embroidery, improper attributes and borrowed vices. Attracted by Karl Marx, devoted to Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, she frequently withdraws from theory to the solace of department stores. 'Lexicon' and its appendix is an extract from Kivland's book in progress.

Simon Morris is a lecturer and artist, whose work includes the bibliomania project, interpretation and The Royal Road to the Unconscious. He has exhibited across Europe and North America and his work can be viewed at

Sally O'Reilly is a critic and writer. She contributes regularly to Art Monthly, Modern Painters, Frieze, Contemporary and Time Out magazines, has written numerous catalogue essays and is co-editor of Implicasphere.

Elizabeth Price's practice incorporates diverse media and strategies, including collaboration. A consistent characteristic of her methods is that work is produced over many years, shaped incrementally by ongoing activity and tasks. This suggestion of retrospective and prospective narrative is evidenced in projects in which the artist's actions are intended to continue indefinitely. These include 'Boulder', a large sphere of brown packing tape; 'Hearse attending…' an ongoing series of photographs in which hearses wait outside contemporary art venues; and 'Trophy' a silver competition trophy that is engraved with the details of each show it features in. Her work has been shown widely including a major solo exhibition at the Jerwood Space, London in 2004. Price teaches at Goldsmith's College and is currently Research Fellow at the London Metropolitan University.

Dr Jane Rendell is Reader in Architecture and Art and Director of Architectural Research at the Bartlett, UCL. An architectural designer and historian, art critic and writer, she is author of The Pursuit of Pleasure, (Athlone Press, 2001), editor of 'A Place Between', Public Art Journal, (October 1999) and co-editor of Strangely Familiar, (Routledge, 1995), Gender Space Architecture, (Routledge, 1999), Intersections, (Routledge, 2000) and The Unknown City, (MIT Press, 2000). She is currently completing a new book From Art to Architecture and working on a project of site-specific writings.

Mark Titchner's practice involves graphic texts, sculptures and films that scrutinise the way belief systems function. These works touch on a myriad of scientific, religious and philosophical references that have held particular influence over the last hundred years. Mark Titchner is represented by Vilma Gold, his work has been widely exhibited at international venues which include, Tate Britain, The Groninger Museum, Museum Morsbroich, Lehnbachhaus Munich, State Russian Museum and Museo Tamayo. A chapter from his book WHY AND WHY NOT (London: Book Works 2004, commissioned as part of Infra Thin Projects) is published here, with kind permission of Book Works.


S.K and J.J-L





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