Will Holder

Will Holder's contribution to Nought to Sixty

Through his multiple roles as artist, writer, editor and designer Will Holder (born Hatfield, 1969, lives in London) explores the transformative processes at play in the act of publishing. Holder's project for Nought to Sixty takes place on Marcel Duchamp's birthday, 28th July, and is entitled Bachelor Party. This event, which Holder has staged for a number of years, is a celebration encompassing a range of activities, including film screenings, performances and lectures.

Acknowledging Duchamp's belief in the primacy of concept over form, yet choosing to scrutinise the form of concepts, the project foregrounds language (speech) as an adaptive material. Bachelor Party becomes an interdisciplinary platform from which to "edit, design and 'publish' material which ordinarily will not allow itself to be represented on paper". Holder's act displaces the notion of publishing from the printed page – and into the more fluid space of conversation and celebration.

Holder's practice takes many forms, and his work includes printed journals and dialogues with other artists, as well as live readings and social events. In these various formats Holder interrogates the relationship between language and the object, exploring how text in all its forms can manifest in three-dimensions, and how the fixed nature of objects can be destabilised through linguistic interpretation. Holder's biannual journal FR DAVID, edited with Ann de Meester and Dieter Roelstraete, provides an experimental space in which to discuss these relationships, and in which to explore the use of language in the service of the visual.

The script is a recurrent framework for Holder, providing a structure that presupposes a transition from written text to spoken word through performance. Through such enactment the written text is inevitably opened up to change and adaptation, as well as to the slippages of meaning that occur in the space of translation. In recent performances Holder has appropriated existing texts and used them as scripts for readings, resulting in pieces such as Indeterminacy (2008) and The Making of Americans (2007), based on eponymous works by John Cage and Gertrude Stein. Holder sets up a mise en abyme whereby texts that examine the materiality and mutability of language are self-reflexively performed.

Holder is also engaged in several ongoing collaborations with artists, projects in which his role approaches that of mediator, and for which he devises performative publishing frameworks that allow for development or ongoing reinterpretation. One such project is a forthcoming publication on Falke Pisano, for which Holder and the artist will write a dialogue/play as part of a gallery-based project for Manifesta 7. While the text will explore Pisano's ideas about language and sculpture, it will only ever be 'performed' within the pages of the book. Holder is also editing a forthcoming symposium and publication with Chris Evans (As Simple As Your Life Used To Be).

Reinterpretation is also key to another of Holder's ongoing projects, entitled Middle of Nowhere, a serialised novel in which he is translating William Morris' utopian social fi ction News from Nowhere (1890) into a fictional guide for design education and practice. Set 130 years in the future (as Morris' text was), Middle of Nowhere – a speculative history of the twenty-first century – envisages a society that finally comes to value language and information over objects. Middle of Nowhere resonates with Bachelor Party – both projects investigate the discrepancy between word and object, and between language as information and as process.

Andrew Bonacina