how to do things with words

HTDTWW invitation

last friday night, my flatmate leigh and i put on an art event in our house: how to do things with words.

it started with my whinging about not really being able to find that many places to have exhibitions in perth, to which leigh replied: “why don’t you just have one here?”. of course!

so, we made it a joint effort, with all the works and activities about text and art.

the evening went a little something like this:

first light, last words
a wall-work by me which now lines our Victorian hallway. a series of six painted rectangles, mostly yellows with one blue which are symbolic of what i wake up to see each morning. i have a window above the doorway that my bed faces and each morrning, when i awake in a darkened room, all i can see is the refraction of the sunlight (or cloudy light) that comes in from the front door window.

underneath these ‘light’ works, is a string of words. these are the last words i heard before i fall asleep in the weeks leading up to the show:

first light last words

library of annotated books
a work benjamin forster and i did, in which we found and collected only books that were annotated – where people had underlined or made marks in an effort to remember, or determine important ideas or valuable points in a book. We rearranged leigh’s shelves in the loungeroom and the kitchen, making them into a library. having only books that were annotated surrounded the room with meaning and important information. none of those books were superfluous or ambivalent.

both of us made further notes about the notations on the wall. benjamin created a poem within the notation, by directing the reader to sections of each book. like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, except benjamin already chose it. and it’s more narrative than adventure. my notes grouped the books in which sites were described by sound, referred to texts of previous works and highlighted the meta-notation of two books. ie. notated books that contained imagery of notation (by bruce nauman and claes oldenburg).

12-hour reading club
lead by leigh, the 12-hour reading club chose somebody to read an excerpt, or a work, on the hour, every hour, for twelve hours. with general discussion session starting at 7 and our first solo reader was robert cook, who read some of roland barthes’ the fashion system. i kicked off the final session at 6am on saturday morning, reading the introduction from j.l. austin’s how to do things with words (see what we did there?) and in between was a variety of poetry, silliness and seriousness.

when each reading started, the room full of people was quiet, then there would be some questions from the ‘audience’, which would kickstart well-behaved discussion. which would then generally descend into hubub and chit chat for the rest of the hour, slowing down just in time for the next reading.

the evening was a great mix of formal, critical readings – those ones we always mean to read, but never quite have time – and hilarious pop-culutral humourous pieces, revealing more about us than we perhaps like. we had a loungeroom and kitchen full of people, with wine, chai, hot chocolate and leigh’s home-made soup. it was warm and cosy and a fantastic atmosphere.

there were waves of guest who arrived too – some who came right on time at 7pm, those who filtered through after dinner at about 9, then the late-comers – the young whippersnappers who turned up at midnight. one of them, joanna, stayed all the way until the end! what a champion!

during the evening’s proceedings, visitors were encouraged to create their own catalogues, using leigh’s collection of vintage typewriters. few did – more interested in the active discussion and chit chat about words than creating them. similarly, we set up a print station from which people could choose a section of annotation to have transcribed and given to them. it wasn’t so popular. but that’s OK – the excitement and camaraderie of the evening was fabulous enough as it was anyway.

HTDTWW running order

when leigh and i finally rose, after midday the next day, we chatted over a champions breakfast and were quite pleased with ourselves. we had a house full of intelligent, interested, erudite and amiable people who enjoyed each other’s company and had the opportunity to think and talk about interesting things for an evening, learning how to do things with words.

NOTE: there are more images coming. i just left them at the studio, it’s late and i really wanted to just post this tonight. stay tuned for illustration soon.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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