Previously at the ICA - Events

Inside box for Aspen, #4, Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore. Spring 1967, Roaring Fork Press, NYC

Art-Information: Editorial Strategies, Text-based Formats, Publishing Contexts

26 Apr 2014

This one-day event looks at acts of publishing within contemporary art and curatorial practice. Guest contributors will draw on a rich variety of engagements, setting current practices against the alternative lineages of Pop and Conceptual Art. Presentations range from considerations of the various format and distribution strategies used by magazine editors and curators, to discussions of publishing, editorship and layout in (and as) practice.

Through these, contributors will highlight specific issues such as the appropriation of trade publishing channels and editorial design vocabulary; the significance of typographic layout in progressions from passive ‘looking’ into active ‘reading’; requirements for reader participation and responsibility; and the shifting notion of archival and open work within the interactive and networked platforms of digital publishing.

Organised by Ruth Blacksell, the University of Reading

Morning Session

11.30am Welcome

Jo Melvin considers a range of format and distribution strategies adopted by magazine editors during the 1960s, including Phyllis Johnson (Aspen magazine), Philip Leider (Artforum) and Peter Townsend (Studio International). Alongside these, she discusses the similar utilisation of published formats by those like Seth Siegelaub and Lucy Lippard in their seminal curatorial projects during the period of Conceptual Art.

Lucy Mulroney discusses the act of publishing in (and as) practice through the lineage of Pop Art, with a specific focus on Andy Warhol’s use of indexical media – such as the camera and tape-recorder – in projects like his pop-up index (book), his novel a, and his philosophy book THE. Through archival discoveries in publishing house records and interviews with Warhol’s collaborators, Mulroney traces the history behind how these books were written, edited, and marketed to an audience that was imagined as simultaneously hip and outraged. Contextualising Warhol’s publishing practice within the larger framework of the 1960s and 70s, Mulroney suggests that such Pop strategies point up a new way of thinking about artists’ publications today. 

1.45pm-2.45pm Lunch

Afternoon Session

2.45pm Welcome

Ruth Blacksell contrasts the Pop lineage and Warhol’s acts of publishing with the progression from looking to reading in text-based and editorial engagements of Conceptual artists. She draws particular attention to the significance of typography and layout in the turn to language of Conceptual Art in the 1960s and 70s and references in particular the appropriation of publishing channels and editorial design vocabulary by artists like Dan Graham, Vito Acconci, Lawrence Weiner, Art & Language and Robert Smithson. The operation and distribution of these print-based works posed very specific challenges to pre-set notions of authorship, spectatorship and originality and Blacksell points to ways in which this connects to contemporary art practices now operating within the interactive and networked platforms of digital publishing.

Stuart Bailey discusses his work in the grey area between art and design under the auspices of Dexter Sinister (since 2006) and The Serving Library (since 2011), particularly in view of their claim to ‘explore contemporary publishing in its most exploded sense’.

‪John Russell talks about parasitic publishing with reference to Head Gallery, UbuWeb, Badlands Unlimited, John Kelsey, e-flux and The Serving Library. Through these, he discusses frameworks for practice, editorship and curation.

6pm End


Stuart Bailey currently lives and works in Liverpool. His work circumscribes various aspects of graphic design, writing and editing, most consistently in close collaboration with artists. He co-edits the journal Bulletins of The Serving Library (since 2011), which follows the trajectory of its predecessor Dot Dot Dot (since 2000). He works together with David Reinfurt under the name Dexter Sinister, also the name of their 'just-in-time workshop and occasional bookstore' in New York (since 2006). He is currently busy setting up a non-profit institution called The Serving Library together with David and Angie Keefer, and ought to be completing a practice-based PhD at the University of Reading, based on Umberto Eco’s assertion thatform must be a way of thinking’.

Dr Ruth Blacksell is Programme Director of the MA in Book Design in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, at the University of Reading. She is also an Associate Director at the London based design studio O-SB. Her article ‘From Looking to Reading: Text-based Conceptual Art and Typographic Discourse’, connects to her symposium contribution, it was published in Design Issues, Vol. 29, Number 2, Spring 2013.

Dr Jo Melvin is a senior lecturer in Fine Art theory at Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London. Melvin has a particular interest in archive, curation and display and has been investigating the interconnections between the archives of artists, critics, museums, galleries and magazines from the 1960s to the present day. She is currently working on the catalogue raisoneé of the sculptor Barry Flanagan and is preparing a sculpture exhibition at Raven Row, London opening in 2015. Recent curations include, Hand and Foot, JocJonJosh at Musée d’Art, Vallais, Sion, Switzerland, December 2013 – May 2014; Negative Enthusiasm, Marcus Campbell Books, 2014 and the accompanying publication: ‘Man’s Native Naked Dignity’.

Dr Lucy Mulroney is Curator of Special Collections at Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, New York. She is currently completing a book on the publications of Andy Warhol. Her writing has appeared in Grey Room, Photography & Culture, and McSweeney’s The Believer. Most recently, she organized the symposium Positions of Dissent at Syracuse University and curated the exhibition Strange Victories: Grove Press 1951–1985.

John Russell was a founder member of the art group BANK and is now represented by MOT International, London. John’s recent writing has been published in Mute and e-flux. He is Professor of Art at the University of Reading.

Unfortunately Alun Rowlands is no longer able to participate.


E.g., 29-07-2021
E.g., 29-07-2021