The Quiet Volume – Dates

7 March 2011

The collaboration I made last year with Ant Hampton – The Quiet Volume – is coming soon to London, as well as returning to Berlin, then going to both Warsaw and Zurich. It was commissioned by the travelling, site-specific festival Ciudades Paralelas together with Vooruit and consists of a whispered, site-specific autoteatro piece for two people in the silence of a library’s reading room. We’re really happy with how it’s been working so far. In London, the piece will be presented in three libraries as part of the London Word Festival.

Dates and links to further info below. Places are limited so please book asap.

April 8 – May 4 > The Quiet Volume > 3 London Libraries, London Word Festival, UK

Later, in May, TQV will also be returning to the amazing library in Berlin where it premiered, again within the HAU programme (Hebbel am Ufer), before moving a little further east to Warsaw, as part of the full Ciudades Paralelas festival. And then in June, the whole festival moves once more to Zurich.

March 16 – 26 > The Quiet Volume > Vooruit, Festival: The Game Is Up!, Ghent, Belgium

April 8 – May 4 > The Quiet Volume > 3 London Libraries, London Word Festival, UK

May 12 – 16, 19 – 23 > The Quiet Volume > Hebbel am Ufer, (Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum), Berlin, Germany

May 26 – June 3  > The Quiet Volume > Ciudades Paralelas, Warsaw, Poland (Polish language premiere)

June 16 – 26 > The Quiet Volume > Ciudades Paralelas, Schauspielhaus Zürich, Switzerland

Ex Libris

5 March 2011

Last night Site Gallery‘s new director Laura Sillars kick-started a project for a library of donated books in the gallery canteen. I worked with Laura to curate a dinner for around 80 people, all of whom brought books to donate, with catering supplied free of charge by the amazing team that run the canteen – P.J. Taste. There were performances (HRH giving out kisses as Frankenstein), speeches (Designers Republic‘s Ian Anderson, also a patron of Site) and a short presentation from artist Penny McCarthy about her work and the book she donated – a copy of The Odyssey.

“Over the next year, we are going to build up a small library of books that will be lodged in the café and which we hope will be read, debated and that will provoke and inspire people. Each book will be chosen by a creative person from Sheffield – to start us off, Site’s patron, Jarvis Cocker has donated Leonard Cohen’s 1963 novel The Favourite Game.”

To close the evening I made a short text – remix/cut-up/cut & paste car crash – combining fragments chosen by other people from the books they’d donated, along with sentences or part sentences from the short comments they’d written about their selections. Below you find the text containing (amongst quite some other things) shards of Calvino, Salinger, Herodotus, Jay Griffiths, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and of course The ‘Every Action Counts’ Community Champions Handbook’. Enjoy.

1 ounce powdered potassium nitrate, 1/4 ounce minium, 1/2 ounce powdered gum arabic, 1 dram phosphorus, saffron and cardboard
passion, fortune, comedy and tragedy
human frailties, grim personalities, mental suffering, vicious pain, dysfunctional
kindness, healing, love and hope.
take a step. Then another step.
What saves a man [that should be a person] is to take a step. Then another step. always the same step, but you have to take it.

Somebody once asked your dad how long a person would have to live in Marsden before they were no longer ‘comers-in’. Your dad looked him in the eye and said ‘Fifty years, and you’ll be dead then.’

And whose natural state was iridescent disorder? Who were even more unpunctual than the poor? Who by nature were living in a state of such disgraceful enchantment that they thought the hour of now the only possible time? Who – unforgivably – insisted on seeing the purpose of life to be not work but play?
Kids I think, kids would be the answer I guess.

Everyday beauty, the transformational power of the arts and a Polar Bear Suit. innovation, creativity, intelligence and interdependence,
collaboration, kindness and bravery.
Anxiety, Claustrophobia, nose bleeds, and near asphyxiation. , waiting and hoping
low energy lightbulbs, bikes, tractors and informative lists, soft recycled paper, pastel colours, hilarity, poignancy, over-packaged products and shopping bags, proper suits and nice glasses.
Steel workers, lovers, a young man in possession of beetroot, Movie stars And a 13 year-old English girl

The trees are coming into leaf, like something almost being said;
like losing yourself in a very well produced, well scripted superior American TV detective show with characters you can see
“We must do what we can to help ourselves
“We must do what we can to help ourselves

or maybe you will gasp
or like me be Hurt and jolted by the twists and turns of the fiendish plot

The trees coming into leaf, like something almost being said;
And the writing makes you feel the air has become thinner

“Let us try to talk it over calmly, Laura – let us do all in our power
makes you feel the air has become thinner

We take a few photos for Tachia. We all sign the illustrious visitors’ book and then go off in search of the past, so present here.

My name is:

the time for the train’s departure must be very close.

My name is:

Avoid over-packaged products
Use your own shopping bag

she looked lovelier than she ever had when glimpsed in stellar space.

1 ounce powdered potassium nitrate, 1/4 ounce minium,
1/2 ounce slowly disappearing former factories, nightclubs and rivers
passion, comedy and papercraft frailties,
personalities, and sufferings,
kindness and hope.
take a step. Then another step.

What saves a man [should be a person] is take another step.
“The Greeks, just because of a girl from Sparta, raised an army, invaded Asia and destroyed the empire of Priam.”

the time for the train’s departure must be very close.

I remember the day Marilyn Monroe died.
no limits can be set
I remember rainbows that didn’t live up to my expectations.
I remember wondering what the bus driver is thinking about.
no limits can be set
I remember trying to visualize “the travels” of shit, after you flush the toilet.
I remember the dawn.
I remember the rumour that James Dean got off on bodily cigarette burns.
Without looking up
I remember the way a baby’s hand has of folding itself around your finger, as if forever.
Without looking up, the girl said “I’m drawing a picture of God.”

In Raissa, city of sadness, there runs an invisible thread that binds one living being to another for a moment, then unravels, then is stretched again between moving points as it draws new and rapid patterns so that at every second the unhappy city contains a happy city unaware of its own existence.

the dawn of personal computing.
A series of scandalous correspondences
vicious pain, and dysfunctional relationships,
where writing makes you feel the air is thinner
On this table, Joyce, Hardy and Austen can frequently be found
the time for the train’s departure is now very close.

I told her [straight up] that I’d never written a story for anybody,
but that [right now] it seemed like exactly the right just the time to get down to it.
She nodded. “Make it extremely squalid and moving,” she suggested. “Are you at all acquainted with squalor?”
I said not exactly but.. [well…] We shook hands….
“Goodbye,” said Esmé. “I hope you return from the war…”


Libya Fragments

2 March 2011

Appointments were made without relevance to merit. A nervous civil service never questioned the coming and goings. At the Interior Ministry I asked the man in the biggest office (with a broken fax machine and no working telephone) if he were the minister.

"Maybe," he replied, adding that he had been last year, then someone else had been appointed while he was still in post, but had subsequently . . . er . . . left town . . . "So, maybe I’m the minister," he added helpfully.

Kate Adie on Gaddafi. More here.


"No-one died here," shouts another of the regime’s supporters, addressing a monologue at the visiting reporters. "There are no shortages of food or petrol. It is safe here. There is no violence. Everything is good."

An American colleague is confronted by a man who speaks at him for several minutes pouing out his praise for Colonel Gaddafi. When the man is finally finished, he asks: "Did someone pay you to say that?" The man quickly agrees.

From here.

The Show

23 February 2011

From Ant, somehow re Vacuum Days :

a queasy mix of violence and car showroom bonhomie.

Defence contractors said they felt "battered and bruised"

 Arabs in dishdashas take aim with American M-16 rifles

a black breathing mask for use in a nuclear attack next to a tray of boiled sweets and a pot of free pens


Full article here .


The Children of the Rich

21 February 2011

The children of the rich have many advantages in life but do not grow up nicely because thanks to inbreeding they are frequently stupid and in any case spoiled. That was certainly true what people said about the sisters Tiara Wristwatch Cavanagh and Toxica Vestibule Cavanagh that were born to their proud parent Cavanaghs sometime in England in the midst of an economic downturn that the family had no realistic reason to take notice of. If Tiara wanted a pony she got two and if Toxica wanted two ponies she got four and if the two of them wanted six or sixty racehorses they got multiple instances more of those graceful and expensive creatures than they actually asked for in the first place and etc. Their bedroom was a stables, a garage for cars they were not yet old enough to drive and a swimming pool they were too lazy to swim in.

Even life as a diet of endless advantage and cushy vacation-breaks could not prevent that they were dumb. How the parents wrangled their hands and bit their lips and wondered what to do about it, consulting books about nature vs nurture and waving flash cards at the kids during advertisement breaks in order to stimulate their brains. They (the parents) believed in innate goodness and potential of all persons but in the end tho this did no good and a private tutor was hired to educate the ladies Cavanagh. When he arrived he was a stupid English gentleman based on Michael Caine whose qualifications were not legally what they seemed to be and paying him was sending good money after bad since he could not teach them anything, not even manners, deportment, mathematics or Sods Law. The girls spent much of the lesson time letting the Latin roll over them like water off a wetback and instead gazing out of the windows daydreaming about a shopping expedition to Dubai or pulling the legs off a fly they had caught in a net kept just for that purpose.

When Toxica and Tiara were approximately in the area of 16 years old they hatched a half-baked callous and largely simplistic plan to murder their parents and speed up the process by which they would come into full possession of their rightful inheritance. With this in mind Tiara pretended to be ill and lay down on a fainting couch which she had arranged in her bedroom and called for her mother on the intercom. When her mother came to see what was the matter a few days later Toxica was still waiting behind an arras or curtain, with a big heavy stick of wood she had selected from a pile of what seemed to be similar improvised cudgels in the garden. Whack! She hit her mother on the head and her mother kind of went staggering like a drunk or an idiot with some kind of brain co-ordination defect. Finnish her off said Tiara and their mother said oh no do not kill me I am flesh and blood I gave you everything you wanted and asked for an could possibly have needed please come on you can’t be serious, is the bonds of blood not worth more than mud and all kinds of things like that and Toxica just laughed and whacked her mother a few more times in the vicinity and region of her head. Later they killed their father too and loaded the bodies in a walk-in deep freeze cabinet.

After the murders Toxica grew heavy with remorse, putting on weight, weeping and moping, writing endless unpublished confessions on her Facebook, and scoffing endless biscuits and chocolate confectionary. Tiara meanwhile showed no remorse, enjoying the fruits of her murder spree, buying land and houses to look at, building orphanages, adopting children and then diss-adopting them on a whim as was the fashion then.

One day a police officer called. The investigation was brief and competent, the case against the sisters Cavanagh completely watertight. When the trial came they got a lawyer based on James Stewart but it didn’t do no good against a judge based on Judge Judy. He argued that they had diminished responsibility, that society and TV in general was to blame, that the way they were brought up was through no fault of their own that they did not understand the significance of taking a life even if it did only belong to their parents. Judge Judy didn’t take no shit from anyone. Even the pleas that Toxica showed evidence of remorse (about 20 kilos of it) dint cut no ice with her. The sisters Cavanagh were sentenced to death by legal lethal injection, they were strapped to gurneys and watched over carefully by a team of almost-qualified physicians while their heartbeats slowed to a murmur and their story came to an end.

[Fragment written whilst working on the new Forced Ents piece…]

Postcards, All And Sundry

19 February 2011

Finally got round to producing postcards featuring some of my neons and other work. You can buy them – a set of 8 – via the Forced Entertainment website.


” ..advertised in local newspapers and with flyers which promised: “Lapland New Forest where dreams really do come true. Lapland has come  to Dorset”… Visitors were offered a winter wonderland with snow-covered log cabins, a nativity scene, husky dogs, polar bears and other animals, as well as a  bustling Christmas market. But instead of the promised magical festive treat, they experienced fairy lights hung from trees and a broken ice rink… The “bustling Christmas market” merely comprised two food stalls selling German sausages and a choice of turkey or pork baguettes (with stuffing).”

Not much fun for the victims but this story has to be one of the best things I’ve read for ages. It’s so close to my continuing 2011 project updated daily over at Vacuum Days, and so close to the kinds of things I wrote about in Endland Stories. Amazing that the guys involved made more than £1m on advance ticket sales. Full article here.


Looking forward to doing this event with Tony in London next month. It’s free but booking, as they say, is essential.

Tim Etchells and Tony White
Thursday 17th March, 7:30PM

In a new text-performance for the National Portrait Gallery Tim Etchells builds and dissolves stories, worlds and pictures in language, working with rules, games and strategies unfolding at the edge of narrative coherence. Etchells draws on text material from catalogue essays and critical responses to works in the collection whilst also invoking the more familiar landscapes from his work through dystopian urban adventures, science fiction and distorted fairytales. The performance will be followed by a contribution by Tony White, the author of novels including Foxy-T (Faber and Faber), described by writer Toby Litt as, ‘one of the best London novels you’ll ever get to read.’ For Dirty Literature, White will read from works of fiction that respond to the National Portrait Gallery’s location, as well as his satirical 1999 novel about an alienated police force who seem locked in to a cycle of violence and prurient self-justification: Charlieunclenorfolktango.

More info here. Bookings via:


11 February 2011

This quote is from here a good few days ago now.. so events have moved on considerably. But I was struck by this short description from protester and British actor Khalid Abadalla, of the spontaneously oragnised space of Tahrir.

The regime has realised that it’s days are numbered. Negotiation is going to have to be based on what is going to make the people in the square leave….. [and] the popular feeling is ‘I’m not leaving now’. Midan Tahrir has a system that works, it has borders that it can protect, it has its ways of feeding itself, it has ways to sleep, it has ways to bring people in and out safely. It has now become like a mini state that works and will function as long as it needs to in order to get what this country deserves.

Grand Moral Spectacle

7 February 2011

Before I could procrastinate, Britt sent through the full text of the leaflet pictured below. Here it is.







who after fastening her arms to her side, and putting a rope around her neck, will strike the scaffold from under her; and if the neck of the wretched victim be not by this shock broken, the said MORAL TEACHER will pull her legs of the miserable girl until by his weight and strength united he


This exhibition, (the admission to which is free) is provided by a "CHRISTIAN LEGISLATIVE’ for the instruction of "A CHRISTIAN PEOPLE" and is intended to impress upon the minds of the multitude of abhorrence of all cruelty, a love of mercy and kindness, and a reverence for human life!!!!

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London C Gilpin, 5 Bishopgate Street Without