for Fans and Scholars alike
curated by Gregorio Magnani a curator, writer, and former gallerist
6 March – 16 May 2009
with Ulises Carrión, Karl Holmqvist and Jean-Michel Wicker
curated by Gregorio Magnani
Thursday 5 March 6.30 - 8.30pm
Language, as performance and as text, as well as a deliberate blurring of the distinction between cultural labour and leisure, are at the core of for Fans and Scholars alike. Ways of and places for reading and listening, as well as what is written or said, will feature in this exhibition which opens on 5 March at westlondonprojects.
Karl Holmqvist and Jean-Michel Wicker share much with the pioneering books and initiatives of Ulises Carrión; an interest in printed matter, typography, pop and minority cultures and icons, DIY publishing and distribution, nonsense and repetition.
Carrión (San Andres, Mexico, 1941 - Amsterdam, Holland, 1989) was an important, unique, but almost forgotten figure in the somewhat minority fields of mail art, rubber stamp art and late Fluxus. His practice was distinguished by an interest in language, communication and distribution as well as in the structural, spatial and visual potential of both the page and the book. Equally critical of language’s function as a disciplining convention and of the perceived joylessness of much contemporary leftist rhetoric, Carrión’s project was an attempt to engender what he saw as an essential shift from “personal worlds to cultural strategies”.
Endeavoring to bring structuralism to bear on artist’s books, he coined the notion of ‘bookworks’ (The New Art of Making Books, 1975 and Bookworks Revisited, 1979): "...books in which the book form, a coherent sequence of pages, determines conditions for reading that are intrinsic to the work ... books that incorporate as a formal element the sequential nature of books and the reading process".
Simultaneously, he claimed to have abandoned literature to use not only language as raw material, but also people, places, objects, time, gossip, good manners, the star system, television, etc. The ‘Lilia Prado Superstar Film Festival’ (1984) included film projections, cocktails, parties, and receptions organised in Amsterdam in honour of an unknown Mexican diva. ‘Other Books and So” (Amsterdam 1975-1978) was the first bookshop dedicated exclusively to artist’s books. ‘Love Story’ (1983) was a bus tour of Amsterdam through the sites of an anonymous love story; ‘The Gossip Scandal and Good Manners Project’ consisted in Carrión enlisting friends to spread gossip about himself. Involved with mail and rubber stamp art, in 1977 he came up with the Erratic Art Mail International System (E.A.M.I.) an alternative mailing system based on trust, with the magazine ‘Ephemera’ (1977-78) and with the essays ‘Mail Art and the Big Monster’ (1977) and ‘Rubber Art Theory and Praxis’ (1978)
A large number of Carrión’s bookworks as well as material relating to his other projects will be presented in the show together with the video ‘Aristotle’s Mistake’ (1985) a multilingual mock documentary on Onassis’ error in leaving Callas.
The conscious pursuit of a joyous strategy in art is equally central to both Karl Holmqvist and Jean-Michel Wicker. For both, experimentation with language - be it written or visual - nonsense, repetition, typography, and found material occupy a prominent place. Both enjoy the distance afforded by treating a foreign language (i.e. English) as a prefab, almost readymade material. Wicker makes ample use of automatic translation engines while Holmqvist privileges anything that can be written in a hotel room and carried in a suitcase.
Holmqvist has long been interested in communication and subjective uses of language. Finding the process of making something as interesting as the results it produces, he has responded to different situations by making books, wallpapers, lamps, videos, objects, and spoken word performances. Distinguished by their non-spectacular almost casual format, his readings have a hypnotic quality that engenders a momentary shift of focus within the gallery going experience. The possibility of a community, suggested and investigated by Holmqvist’s tridimensional and written works, become fleetingly actual. Arching back to beat poetry, they layer moments of sound and concrete poetry with political and religious indictments, individual musings, art references, and cover versions of well-remembered pop songs. For the exhibition Holmqvist will present a selection of his publications, a wallpaper, several lamps in installation, and a reading platform, which he will use during the opening night for a spoken word performance.
Jean-Michel Wicker lists the ‘Casa Jungle’ urban garden in Nice as a major occupation since 2003. Meanwhile, he has been producing fanzines, manuals and scrapbooks. With tiles such as ‘Lolita fanzine 1’, ‘Les Annees Jaunes Cahiers Special Douglas Sirk’, ‘Sontag 001’ and ‘Barbecue Manifesto’, these carefully composed and beautifully xeroxed fanzines detail passing and lasting obsessions, famous and obscure people, architects and utopias. They enact, rather than address, Wicker’s gender and identity politics. A complete selection of his fanzines and a new one - provisionally titled ‘B’ and concerning the meeting between two Angelas - will be presented in the show. These will be accompanied by ‘Pavlova’ a new scrapbook dedicated to the dancer, the cake, and other fluffy things, as well as a movable cloud sculpture and a large stainless steel X.
As improvisation and response to the existing condition are essential to both artists, further developments are likely to occur.
Karl Holmqvist is a visual artist and a poet. He was born in Vasteras, Sweden in 1964, he now lives mostly in Berlin. He has been exhibiting and performing since the early ‘90s. Most recently at Manifesta 7 in Trento, Dependance in Brussels, Gaga Arte Contemporanea in Mexico City and the Manifesto Marathon at London’s Serpentine Gallery. A book of his writing is forthcoming with Bookworks, London. He is represented by, among others, Giti Nourbakhsch in Berlin and Hollybush Gardens in London.
Jean-Michel Wicker is an artist and a publisher. He was born in Mulhausen, France in 1970. Since 2001 he lives in Nice where he is responsible for the ‘Casa Jungle Garden’ and where, in 2006, he founded ‘Le Edizioni Della Luna’, now ‘Edizioni Della China’. He has recently shown at the Kunstverein Munich and at the George and Dragon White Cubicle Public Gallery, Herald Street Gallery, and Publish and Be Damned in London. He was part of ‘Queer Zines’ at the Art Book Fair in New York. Wicker is represented by Sandra Buergel in Berlin where he had a solo show last year.
2 Shorrolds Road, London SW6 7TP
Telephone +44 (0) 20 3080 0708
westlondonprojects is located in Fulham close to Hammersmith, Earls Court and the A4.
We are ten minutes walk from Fulham Broadway Underground station (District Line to Wimbledon).
Gallery open: Friday and Saturday 12 - 6pm and by appointment
Closed for Easter 10 April - 16 April 2009