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The 2018 AW&P* Symposium.

RTFM: Artists’ Publications as Instructions, Scores and Manuals


Water Yam conducted by George Brecht, Fluxus publications,1963 (Brotherton Library Special Collections.) Photo: Chris Taylor, Starting Points exhibition, Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Leeds, 2012


Friday March 2nd 10:00– 16:30
City Workshop, The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, LS10 1JQ
Admission £5 including coffee and tea, bookable on Eventbrite from 22nd January.

The 2018 Artists’ Writing and Publishing Research Centre Symposium explores the role of writing and publication in the development of Instructional and Procedural strategies for making and curating Art.

In his essay accompanying Hans Ulrich Obrist’s instructional project do it! (1993-), Bruce Altschuler suggests that the early conceptual avant-garde were united by two strategies employed at key moments ... the generation of a work by following written instructions, and the insertion of chance in the realization of an artwork. The adoption of instructional strategies generated a wealth of subsequent practices which entwine ideas, forms and contexts in a variety of experimental ways. It is the rich history of Instructional and Procedural art, as manifested in print, that we will celebrate in a day of presentation, performance and discussion.

Our guest speakers are:

Ami Clarke, an artist whose practice is informed by, investigates, and is produced through emergent behaviours developing from the interdependencies between language, code and the economy, that necessarily include consideration of the socio-political and economic circumstances underpinning these. She is also founder of Banner Repeater ; a reading room with a public Archive of Artists’ Publishing and project space, opening up an experimental space for others, on a working train station platform, London. 
Her work and writing has recently been included in ‘Information’ Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art and MIT press, edited by Sarah Cook, August 2016, Artists Re-Thinking The Blockchain, published by Liverpool University Press, and the Journal of Visual Art Practice, Volume 15, 2017.  She has recently exhibited/curated works at Xero Kline and Coma, Centrespace gallery Dundee, ICA, London, Wysing Arts Centre, Museo Del Chopo - Mexico City, Hayward Gallery, collaborated with Cuss Group SA - Ithuba Gallery (British Council connect_ZA), David Roberts Arts Foundation, Camden Arts Centre, The Container, Japan. 

Nathan Walker ( www.nathan-walker.co.uk) is a performance artist and poet from Workington, West Cumbria. His work experiments with the visual and vocal presentation of language. Recent publications include ‘Condensations’ (Uniformbooks) and ‘Action Score Generator’ (If p then q Press). He is currently based in York where he organises Oui Performance with the artist Victoria Gray and teaches performance at York St. John University.
Nathan will consider Scores without Instruction and perform a vocal score that challenges the conventions of reading and writing.

Routine Art Co. present “Improvisation Rites: from John Cage's 'Song Books' to the Scratch Orchestra's 'Nature Study Notes'. Collective practices 2011 – 2017”
These ‘inspirational texts’ were reprised by a performing collective led by Stefan Szczelkun from 2014 to 2017. The book ‘Improvisation Rites' is an account of this activity made from the mundane texts, like emails, that circulated amongst the group in the process of preparing for and evaluating two performances. 
The collection of ‘Nature Study Notes’ was started at the Morley College class, I think early in 1969. This should not be described as a composition class; the Experimental Music class was run by Cornelius. I joined as a student in November 1968. I think Cor launched the idea of Nature Study Notes to encourage everyone to contribute to a collection of inspirational texts, to be used as starting points for collective playing together so that everyone would feel equally involved; and as an alternative to composition directed by individual members - though this was encouraged as well.
(Michael Parson p.44 Improvisation Rites 2018)
An improvisation rite is not a musical composition; it does not attempt to influence the music that will be played; at most it may establish a community of feeling, or a communal starting point, through ritual. (Cornelius Cardew, Draft Constitution for a Scratch Orchestra, 1969) 

Sarah Kate Wilson (www.sarahkatewilson.com) is an artist who lives and works in London. Wilson was awarded her Practice Based PhD (AHRC funded) in 2017 by the University of Leeds, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies.
Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Iris’ (2016) at BALTIC 39, Newcastle and ‘Projected Paintings’, (2015) at The Armory Arts Center, Pasadena, USA. In 2016 she curated ‘Painting in Time: Part Two’ at The Sullivan Galleries, School of the Art Institute Chicago. The first iteration of this curatorial project was staged at The Tetley, Leeds in 2015.

Wilson’s paper, drawing upon her own painting practice and the practices of Tino Sehgal, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Yoko Ono will discuss the various strategies artists employ to engage people in the production and distribution of their artworks. The strategies discussed will include verbal and written instructions, legal documents such as certificates of authenticity, gift giving, as well as body-to-body transmission, a technique often employed by choreographers. Wilson will explore the often messy exchanges that these strategies trigger such as the implications of breeched contracts, the embrace of legal loopholes, custodial care, authorship and posthumous collaboration.

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* The Artists’ Writings & Publications Research Centre (AW&P) consolidates and develops inter-disciplinary research on modes of critical and theoretical writing, curatorial production, editorial work and the production of text- and book-based art.
Led by Simon Lewandowski, Chris Taylor and Nick Thurston, the Centre considers artists’ publications (from ephemera, journals, ‘zines, artist’s books and websites, to artist-led book series and imprints) alongside artists’ writings (from correspondence, papers, journals, criticism, interviews and statements, to theoretical and fiction writing) as forms of creative practice that can happen in, around or as art.
AW&P’s activities bring together artists, critics, historians, archivists, editors, curators and teachers to share a sustained conversation about research directions in this sub-field of artistic practice.
The Centre is a focus for both emerging and established artists, plus researchers and collaborative groups, engaged with or interested in producing and disseminating art in the overlaps between the cultural fields of art, literature and publishing .