Sunday, 17 January 2010

Tuesday, 20 October 2009



is now available for free PDF download at
featuring experiments in essaying from:

David Berridge; Rachel Lois Clapham; Emma Cocker; Alex Eisenberg; Fiona Fullam; Alex Hardy; √Čilis Kirby; Jenny Lawson; Patricia Lyons; Pete McPartian; John Pinder.

Assembled by David Berridge as part of ESSAYING ESSAYS: A TEMPORARY COLLECTIVE OF READERS, one of seven projects by the FREE PRESS collective exploring economies of ideas and alternative modes of dissemination and exchange.

Proposals, provocations, projects, scores and ________ for the always to be emerging, shifting constellation(s) of future ASSEMBLING's are welcome, inparticular proposals which come with their own form and method of distribution.


Sunday, 10 May 2009


FREE PRESS is collaborative project between seven artists/writers exploring economies of ideas and alternative modes of dissemination and exchange. Each Free Press writer has produced a case study detailing how they would like to interact with a reader.

A call for Readers was sent out in May 2009, and Free Press and their chosen Readers are currently working together on their individual projects. Details of each project are below. The 'results' of this interaction will be shared towards the end of 2009.

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Readers wanted to explore the possibilities of the essay form. What forms can the essay take and how can such texts be read? What is an essay and who is essaying and where? What kinds of knowledge can be produced? What is lost and gained in moving beyond conventional discursive approaches into using visual and textual material, the space of the page, variations of typography and design?


This project is looking for readers to collaborate on producing new texts out of such explorations. It will involve the collaborative reading and discussion of historical forms - such as fluxus scores, alternative music notations, conceptual art, concrete poetry - but always with the aim of producing new writing. Readers do not need any familiarity with such texts, but an interest in different forms the essay might take is essential.

Precise terms of collaboration to be agreed through discussion, but the intention is for writer and reader to each produce a written/spoken/event-based text out of their distinctive roles, whilst acknowledging a certain fluidity and overlap will necessarily result (writers must read and vice versa).


You are invited to take part in the The One-to-One Correspondence Course. On the course you will be sent letters, one per day, for 12 days; the letters are in sequence; each letter contains an image or word; the sequence forms a rebus; the rebus takes the form of a question. You are tasked with answering.


The course presupposes interactions. The first is the recipient’s subjective conception of
formal and semantic relations between epistles, a cognitive engagement with the rebus. The course’s peculiarity is that, as fragments of cinema and epistolatory literature, the images and texts offer a cummulative, durational experience extending in time far beyond their original contexts – the recipient has days to consider what would, in their normative states, be available for a fraction of a second.

The first interaction being virtual and unaccountable, however, the project asks for a second: a response to the question and an assertion of the recipient’s agency in actual space. The response is asked for within 12 days of receipt of the last episode of the course. The recipient’s response, in whatever form it takes, will ultimately be presented along side the letters of The One-to-One Correspondence Course as an artwork and private conversation made public.


This case study examines the role that documents play in the production and reception of “meaning”, specifically in the context of contemporary art, performing conspirational scenarios within the structures of professionalism in the creative industries. The study will culminate in a collaboratively-developed archive of documents, distributed and circulated through Free Press, which employ the methodology of “action scripting” as a form of “stage directions” for potential public readings. I am seeking collaborators to reflect on the reversal of the relationship between script and action, between “original” and “copy”, as well as on the nature of documents, asking “what events do documents trace?” and “what events do documents produce?”. “Action Script” is the programming language of vector-graphic softwares like Flash. Like other programming languages it textually defines the parameters for “complex action”. It utilizes one-directional commands where the script defines the action. What if this one-directionality could be reversed – i.e. if the action could also define the script? You go to the grocery store and receive a receipt itemizing your purchases. You apply for a job and send along a CV that presents your accomplishments. You are researching and find a transcription of an interview. In all three cases, documents are acting as traces of specific actions/interactions. All these documents are scripts, offering the performative parameters to restage the action that originally produced the text. Similar to the Borges story, “The Garden of Forking Paths”, a narrative exists within multiple worlds, each moment of its imaginary course through time leading to forks in the road in which new “actions” can be staged, leading to new “scripts”: “Almost instantly I saw it – the garden of forking paths was the chaotic novel; the phrase ‘several futures (not all)’ suggested to me the image of a forking in time, rather than in space. A rereading of the book confirmed my theory. In all fictions, each time a man meets diverse alternatives, he chooses one and eliminates the others; in the work of the virtually
impossible to detangle T’sui Pen, the character chooses - simultaneously – all of them.”


This study seeks to collaboratively research and produce a wide range of documents that are intended for specific forms of action, as well as various actions that produce texts: CVs, portfolios, market analysis, manifestos, legal texts, transcription logs, interviews, education/grant applications, advertising slogans, meeting protocols, instruction manuals, recipes, programmes/schedules, advice columns, etc. I would like to expand the critique of organizational structures that mediate knowledge and “meaning” within the context of
contemporary art, taking into consideration the shadowy existence of actors in the field and the specific documentary material they produce such as, for example, art consultation firms, art fair logistics, jury deliberations, funding schemes, NGOs and their hidden agendas, private mailing lists and intellectual property law. Once an action enters the realm of textuality, it becomes inscribed, at times guted of meaning, at other times invested with an aura of significance. Through the documentary chain that this study aims to collect, the unstable relationship between text and action solidfies into a single image: the spectacle of accumulation.


In a free press, readers do not simply buy and so receive pre-fabricated, finished products, writing or meaning. Rather, the reader physically scripts her own meaning, her own writing - in and by the act of reading – understanding and improvising upon – pre-authored products. As a Free Press project, Till Poems reads between the lines of reading: it is reading as understanding, interpreting a language and its signs. It is reading as a productive act, an act in which one can infer, substitute or replace meaning in systems. The project challenges you to do a big shop in your local supermarket or store. By placing your shopping onto the conveyor belt in a specific way, you will make sure the receipt spells out words of your own making. Reading the receipt down instead of across, your choreographed shopping will say something more than the items ever intended. In that moment of improvisation and exchange, your act of shopping becomes porous: a space you the consumer can inhabit, manipulate and occupy. It is a space where the consumer is equally productive as the producer, the reader equally productive as the writer. This project will be decided in dialogue with you and defined by your actions. The resulting receipts could be published as short poems in a Free Press publication. The words contained in the receipts could form a collaborative script, itself a future call to action and future readings. Photographs of shopping items could be published as a latent text or sculpture.


To participate, you will need to do a big shop at a supermarket or local store and be willing to go out of your personal comfort zone in order to be creative in an everyday act. You will want to create your own unique shopping experience and in doing so, contribute to an action text, score or script. Ideally, you would be creative and have an interest in activism, art and be keen to explore individual agency in the acts of everyday consumption and reading. It would be good, though not vital, if you enjoyed art/writing, poetry, experimental novels, scripts and plays..


I offer the reader an exercise in truth and deception. I offer you the opportunity for artful manipulation and skillful honesty. I offer you an excuse. You offer me a reason. The writer will send the reader a set of excuses. The reader will respond with a set of reasons. The two narratives will be fused, manipulated and altered by the both the reader and the writer. Decisions will be made, actions will be taken, conclusions will be drawn, consequences will occur, stories will be changed..


My ideal reader is someone who is interested in taking a leap outside of their everyday life, using a slight shift in perception to affect change in their environment and that of the
writer. A reader who is interested in collaboration and where the roles of writer and reader touch, overlap and flow into each other


Reader/s wanted to collaborate on a project that will explore the subject of collecting - from collections of artists working with an ‘archival impulse’ to personal collections of ephemera. A postal correspondence will take place starting with an inventory of the collections held by the writer - the reader will respond similarly and the correspondence shall build into a collection of collections, taking inspiration from Aby Warburgs’ Mnemosyne Atlas, drawing on and connecting all the interests of the Writer and the Reader. This project will conclude with a publication documenting this exchange and the eventual outcome.


To participate you must be - compulsive, obsessive, excited by discovery, a visitor of libraries and museums, an amateur sleuth, photographer, an occupier of reading rooms. Have an interest/obsession with collecting – books, photographs, music, postcards, old tickets, flyers,
letters, religious marketing, proposed designs for shopping centres, stationary, collage.Must have access to a typewriter. Love of science fiction/fantasy/comics, the work of WG Sebald, store front facades and window displays, Fassbinder, Tarkovsky, typefaces, layout design, office organisation, clip art, graphs.


I’m interested in the notion of agency, how our acts have repercussions or influences; a chain of knock on effects. What is the agency of the reader? How much are they in control of how they read and how much are they under the subliminal influence of the author. Take C S Lewis, whose ideal reader would perhaps be both a child who would take on the fantasy and adventures of Narnia and carry it on in their own games and playtime, and on the other hand a well behaved Christian child who would take on the moral meta-narrative. Here we have two forms of authorial intervention. Could we compare these to non-instrumental (e.g. psychogeographical) and instrumental (e.g. propagandist) intervention? In Thomas Pynchon’s ‘The Crying of Lot 49’, the unsuspecting anti-heroine Oedipa Maas comes across a series of clues and cryptic messages that lead her to uncover a secret postal service, an underground system, that functions not for overtly political aims but for society’s outcasts, conspiracy theorists and fugitives. These clues lead to her travelling across country on a bus trailing a secret postman. This underground system is a free press, a means of distribution and dispersion that relies on community, secrecy, romance and a high level of suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Exploring agency and intervention I will set up a meta-narrative that to be read requires the active engagement of a number of readers. Some who are ‘secret agents’ following my agenda and helping to install the clues, others who are ‘double agents’ adding their own twist to the work that I have to uncover and some who are genuine readers, detectives out to follow the clues and find the route to the exhibition/art work


Reader a. – Secret Agent (acting under the writer’s agency, being a henchman)

Reader b. – Double Agent (the critic setting up their own counter-narrative to disrupt the intended readings of the work)

Reader c. – The Detective (reading to uncover the clues in the work – you will be sent on a journey – perhaps physical to uncover the location and meanings of the work).

Who should apply?
Ever feel that you have been specially chosen to complete a series of tasks? That you are a chosen one? – You are Reader A.
Ever feel like you are the chosen one? That any tasks you complete can be set by only yourself?– You are Reader B (Disguised as Reader A).

Ever get the feeling that there is more to everyday occurrences than meet the eye? That a life-changing mystery is just around the corner? – You are Reader C.


To apply to be a character in Adventure Story please let us know the following:- Whether you want to be Reader A or Reader C (if you are intending to be Reader B, then apply for A under a pseudonym) - Where you are based* - How far you are prepared to travel. *We will never divulge your contact details to other participants and whilst there is an element of the unknown, this is in relation to the artwork created/ways of viewing localities and never in relation to non-mediated contact between participants. If you apply for these roles, you will receive instructions that will explain your first moves in the game. This work follows in a tradition of intervention, geo-caching and treasure hunts.


Readers will be selected and matched up by their geographical locations. Reader A and Reader B (disguised as A) will follow instructions, create and document interventions and relay journey information to Reader C. Whether Reader C follows the intended path or a subverted narrative depends on whom they receive their instructions from. All intervention works, journey narratives and clues uncovered will be collated and re-worked to form a detective story made out of these real life adventures. Each participant’s works will be credited to them in the final publication and they will become at once characters in a novel and its co-authors. Adventure Story will be a real-life mystery conceptually exploring notions of agency and artistic intervention. The starting point from which all instructions will ensue will be the first paragraph/chapter of this story (written by the Free Press writer) which sets out the task of creating an artwork in an urban environment. As the Free Press writer receives information back from the Readers, she/he will incorporate this documentation back into the narrative (think W.G. Sebald writing and images, think Paul Auster and Sophie Calle, think trash detective novels and art journey writing such as Smithson’s Tour of the Monuments of Passaic).

Sunday, 23 November 2008


Trade Union
is a project initiated to explore ideas around late capitalism
- in particular the economies of contemporary art and the possibilities that could arise from the current geopolitical climate.

As part of the project, Trade Union has initiated the critical collaborative publication Free Press, inviting six artists/writers to take part in a three day closed workshop in March 2009 at Plan 9 in Bristol, where the participants will work together to decide the form and content of Free Press, as well as its distribution and publication.

Free Press Participants

Rachel Lois Clapham is a writer and curator. Her curatorial practice centres on live and participatory art that explore alternate models of criticality and artistic responsibility. Recent projects include Nahnou-Together Now, an exhibition of socially engaged art at Tate Britain. She is Co-Director of the critical writing initiative Open Dialogues and writes a regular column for Dance Theatre Journal entitled 'Inside Performance'.

Ashkan Sepahvand is a writer, translator and curator based in Berlin. His practice includes curating/performing texts/documents, writing/fictionalizing history/identity, marginal social/religious/cultural formations in the Middle East and art market/institutional analysis. He is currently working with the open art network Reloading Images. He has written for various publications including Bidoun, Muhtelif: Magazine for Contemporary Art Istanbul, and RES:World Art/Art World. He is working on his first novel - 'To Whom Life', set to be published in May 2009 by Book Works as part of their Semina series, edited by Stewart Home.

David Berridge is a writer, with a background in Human Ecology. He writes and edits the blogzine 'More Milk Yvette: A Journal of the Broken Screen' focussing on artists films and videos. He is currently curating a conference/screening programme on contemporary relationships to Warhol's film work.

Pippa Koszerek creates organisations as artworks/curatorial projects such as the Independent Art School (1999-) and The Unasked-for Public Art Agency (2006 -). These often have activist or critical origins and often seek out alternative models of practice. She is interested in blurring the boundaries between art and non-art environments and borrows materials or ways of working from other vocations. The Unasked-for Public Art Agency delivers an unasked-for consultancy package to a host organisation within which Pippa has nominated herself as ‘artist in residence.

Matthew MacKisack is an artist and writer. His practice currently consists of video and drawing. He is currently undertaking a PhD at Goldsmiths, looking at models of ideological and experiential contestation.

Sophie Mellor an artist/curator based in Bristol, UK. She is also co-founder and co-director of Plan 9, an artist-led visual arts organisation established in 2005. Her practice focuses on creating discussion through action and provocation, setting up systems and constructs that examine preconceived notions of self and society. Current projects include Girl Gang, which sanctions the exploration of different modes of behaviour via a slight change in individual perception. With Karen Di Franco, she has initiated Trade Union and the associated Free Press, which sets out to explore the current econmonic and environmental reality, seeking to effect change through collaborative working; the free flow of ideas; testing out possibilities; taking action to find workable alternatives to present conditions; and centralising the process within the everyday of the participants.

Karen Di Franco is an artist and archivist based in Bristol, UK. Co-Director of Plan 9 since 2007 her practice is divided between explorations of an artistic economy with projects such as Trade Union, initiated with Sophie Mellor as a strategy to combine their artistic practice with their roles as directors of Plan 9, and a studio based practice that explores narrative and archival research.

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