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Reproduction! Networks of Distribution in Archives and Collections of Publishing

This panel proposes to explore various intersections and materialities of publishing – via magazines, small press, artist produced and other affiliated poetry and experimental publications. Frequently described as marginal practices in relation to major artforms in institutional collections; these ephemeral materials provide valuable insights into communities, practices and spaces  largely unarticulated in historical discourse.

Extending from Fluxus, concrete poetry and other transnational networks of exchange and collaboration, this panel has a particular interest in formats containing critical writing and reviews alongside experimental pre-and-post digital formats, publishers’ archives and individual and activist archives and collections.

Session Convenors:

Karen Di Franco, Glasgow School of Art/Chelsea College of Arts, UAL

Gustavo Grandal Montero, Tate

Speakers:

Amélie Castellanet, University of York

Networks between Raoul Hausmann and the visual poetry avant-garde in the UK

According to the well-known narrative, the former Berliner Dadaist Raoul Hausmann, who had emigrated to the Limousin during the war, died in 1971 in considerable isolation. Yet, the archives in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rochechouart reveal a continued force of creativity and extensive exchanges with young visual poets worldwide, among them in the UK. By considering the publications, exhibition catalogues, and letters remaining in this individual archive, we become aware of the centrality of publishing activity in creating transnational and transgenerational collaborations and exchanges within historical and neo-avant-gardes. As well as exhibiting at the show ‘Between Poetry and Painting’ at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1965, providing gramophone records of his and Kurt Schwitters’ sound poems to Professor Siegbert Prawer, and publishing about Hans Arp’s poetry in German Life and Letters (1967), Hausmann built multiple links to contemporary avant-garde visual artists in the UK, such as with Dom Sylvester Houedard or Kenelm Cox.

Retracing this case study allows us to challenge conventional art historical narratives, which provide strict timelines for the different avant-gardes, ignoring their connections. The link of Hausmann with the British avant-garde has received very little scholarly attention, and this paper aims to address this. It also offers a new reading of publications and letters as central to encouraging creation despite their ephemeral nature.

Lucia Farinati, Kingston University

Audio Arts: a case study for mapping the network of sound magazines and cassette culture in the UK

During the 1960s and early 1970s, many adventurous sound publishing projects were established by artists, experimental musicians and independent producers across France, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Australia and the US. This decade also saw the emergence of sound poetry both as a development from concrete poetry as well as in conjunction with electroacoustic approaches in the field of literature and experimental music. Artist William Furlong co-founder and editor of Audio Arts magazine (1973-2007) was actively involved in networking with a diverse range of sound magazines and collected several copies of them. Within his associated collection we can find copies for example of ADN Tapes established in 1983 in Milan (Italy) by Marco Veronesi, Piero Bielli and Alberto Crosta; FUCK OFF Tapezine founded in London in 1979 by Keith Dobson and Jonathan Barnett and Fast Forward Magazine (Australia) founded by Bruce Milne and Andrew Maine which documented the post-punk scene of the early 1980s.

In this paper I will depart from Audio Arts and my doctoral research on this collection (Kingston University, 2020) to explore the use of the audio-cassette between the1970s and 1980s both as a medium for pre-recorded music, sound art and critical practice. I will draw in particular from the symposium ‘Audio Scene 79’ (Vienna, 1979) to map the international debate on sound as a medium of visual art and how this runs in parallel with the development of the cassette culture (zines and tapes) within the UK scenes of anarcho-punk and industrial music.

Anthony Iles, University of Northampton

Wall newspapers: Schemata of a collective form of expression

This paper explores the concept of ‘wall newspapers’, or dazibao [newspapers affixed to walls], as they were known during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The paper telescopes the concept and practice through two projects by Inventory an art group and heterogeneous journal of artistic and para-academic research edited by Adam Scrivener, Damian Abbot and Paul Claydon (1995-2005). Inventory took part in the exhibition ‘Wall Newspapers’, for which they designed a bespoke poster, these were plastered on the walls of Info Centre, a short-lived project space in Hackney (1999–2000),  distributed as an insert in Infotainment No.2, 1998 and affixed to walls in the streets surrounding the Centre. This practice recalls the phenomena, observed by Walter Benjamin, of pasting newspapers and bulletins to the walls in post-revolutionary Moscow; as well as that studied by Steve Wright, of Italian political militants ‘pasting up of posters at night, the production by hand of so-called dazibao’.

The paper will set the practice of making ‘wall newspapers’ in a both specifically British context, through reference to projects by Art-Language journaland Art & Language the art group, Stephen Willats (British Conceptual artist and editor of Control Magazine), The St Martins Group (a loose research group comprising of student and teaching staff) and Bank (newsletter and art group); and in a global context through reference to the practice of wall newspapers in post-revolutionary Moscow, during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and later in anti-regime protests concentrated at Tiananmen Square, and in militant practices during the Hot Autumn of 1970s Italy.

Jen Kennedy, Queen’s University

The history is in the chat: Artist-run mailing lists and/as experimental publishing

Just as magazines and artist-run presses had in the previous decades, electronic bulletin board systems, email lists and chat spaces ­­–– such as The Thing (1991), Nettime (1995),

and the ironically named Old Boy’s Network (1997) –– became important new sites of art discourse, production, and collaboration between the early 1990s and mid-aughts. Defying neat categorization, these novel communications technologies and, even more so, the transnational communities that formed through them are, among many other things, a document of the possible futures that artists imagined for the internet during the first decade after it came into public view. While brick and mortar exhibition spaces and conventional art history, theory, and criticism were slow to grasp or, in some cases, quick to dismiss the burgeoning online art scene, web-based publishing and communications platforms played vital roles in the critical engagement and self-historicization of an emerging generation of media artists.

Looking closely at selected case studies, this paper examines this brief but significant moment within a longer history of experimental artist-led publishing. Given the ephemeral and transitory nature of digital platforms, as well as the rhizomatic structure and collaborative moderating and filtering practices of many artist-run mailing lists and chats, what remains of their archives is both unwieldy and vulnerable to loss. Historicizing these forms is a challenge to research and write history in different ways. Underpinning my analysis is thus a larger methodological question: how do forms that were experimental and/or alternative in their own time create experimentation and alternatives in ours?

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