23 August 2009

Somehow connected to the booklets outlining virtual events that I’ve been working on and to the recent writing I did on the Michelangelo Pistoletto installation at Venice, I came across this great Pistoletto project from 1976 – One Hundred Exhibitions in the Month of October comprising a series of proposals for exhibitions/works all thought up and described during that month. The quite comprehensive Pistoletto website says “One Hundred Shows was a sort of recipe book of exhibitions and works, many of which were later carried out; these include the video Who Are You? (1976), Overturned Furniture (1976), The Hoof (1979), Segno Arte (from 1993 on) and Free Space (1999)”.

You can download the text One Hundred Exhibitions in the Month of October by Michelangelo Pistoletto (PDF).

Two favourites amongst the proposed exhibitions:


“Restoration of the world”

Instead of drawing on the road or on the sidewalk as beggars do, I fix broken pieces of public places, taking as one does when restoring works of art, a color Polaroid before and one after the job. Next to the photograph I explain how my father, besides being a painter, also taught me restoration and how I now make art restoring the world where it is broken.I leave my hat next to the finished job in the hopes of a penny or two. Besides showing a global view of the world, this work attracts attention to minimal details. It also shows the evident separation between the artificial world, which can be restored, and the natural world, which is always perfect and therefore cannot be restored.


Completely empty gallery. There is a sign at the entrance saying: “Each person, before entering, must write in the book which part he is going to play inside the room.”


Another great resource I came across recently is The Diary Reinvented by Ian Breakwell, hosted at Anthony Reynolds website and made as part of Ian’s AHRC fellowship project at Central Saint Martins. Breakwell died in 2005 and much of his work comprised on-going diary projects, shifting between text, drawing and photography. There’s so much great material at The Diary Reinvented it’s hard to know where to start – and exploring there already led me on something of an Amazon jag getting hold of books and a BFI DVD of Ian’s TV Diary project, short video works and other stuff.

I chose a couple of Breakwell’s diary fragments to quote below. What’s fascinating to me – aside from the great blank comic tone, and the eye on (often scatological) urban detail –  is that it’s such vivid visual writing. And in many of the entries there’s a kind of clear or evident visual grammar to the event or scene described – a symmetry, or an echoing, a set of lines traced, a mirroring, a colour link between one thing and another and so on that really makes one thing about linguistic composition in very particular way. The first of the entries below is great for how it multiplies and escalates from the first image, whilst the second of them I love for the set of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines and traces it draws in the space of three sentences.

16th April 1982


Two young girls on the tube train sniffing glue out of plastic bags. They try to talk to each other but give up and sit side by side picking their noses. A girl sitting on a street bench with a fibre-tipped pen stuck up her nose. Glue-heads stumbling round the fruit market, sniffing out of plastic bags and eating peaches, juice running down their chins. The taste of summer: peaches and glue.

13th February 1982

London. Butts Café, St John Street, EC1

A man carrying a polythene bag full of tongues sits down at the café table alongside a woman who is scratching her leg. A man walks past the window with the headless carcase of a deer on his shoulders. On the other side of the street the second-floor window of the Dream City Massage Parlour For Men is raised and a slender hand with long red fingernails slips through the gap between the curtains and flicks the ash from a cigarette out onto the street below where a man with his trousers round his ankles is shitting in a doorway.