Artists’ words, words as art

It’s getting quite autumnal here, and feels like just the right time to be putting your feet up and hunkering down to enjoy a good read. So why not delve into one of our recommended publications that are written by artist writers, or books that use words themselves as art? We have quite a few collections of short stories, meanderings, and texts to ignite your own imaginations. Some of the books are artworks in their own right.

Here’s just a few of our autumn reading recommendations, to inspire and enjoy as the nights really do start to draw in.

In A Volume of Fanatics (Glasgow) artist Richard Wilson and writer Victoria Miguel share their love of language. This book is their enthusiastic collaboration aimed to highlight some of their favourite words. It was published as part of Glasgow International 2018.

The digital age, with all its easy-to-use text and image manipulation has invigorated the movement of Concrete Poetry that began in the 1950s and 60s. The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century is a fully illustrated book surveying over 90 contemporary artists and poets working at the intersection between literature and art.

Back in 2009, during the closing weekend of The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, there was a marathon showcase featuring poetic performances by artists, scholars, writers, philosophers and musicians alike. Poetry Marathon: Serpentine Gallery is a 2 volume set. The first volume is a transcript of the event created by M/M Paris, plus the second is a volume of drawings and photos.

An Anthology of Published and Unpublished Writings by Hassan Khan is a bold, bare, breathlessly broad compendium of texts by this artist and musician, produced since 1993 when he was just 18. The highly visual layout and notes in the margin give a very personal take on history.

Loose Monk: The Poems of Fabian Peake features the surprising and disquieting poems of painter/writer Fabian Peake who uses spaces, gaps and pauses in his text to give more atmosphere and a sense of time. Peake says that, ‘there is an unavoidable parallel between how I build a poem and the way I construct a painting.’

There is an often-used metaphor that says give a chimp a typewriter and over time it will come up with a Shakespearean sonnet. In this book the main character takes the idea seriously and, with his chimp friend Percival sets about the task. The Adventures of Percival: A Phylogenetic Tale – Pierre Senges is the first book in the Fairy Tale for Adults series by Dis Voir to be featured here.

Transactions of Desire (Volume 1) is a selection of short stories that collect around the common theme of heartbreak. Tales of unrequited love take place in zoos, churches, museums and galleries, and sit within the imaginations of the 17 contributing scribes.

Yoko Ono believes that words, artworks and books all have the power to change the world for the better. She constantly wants to share her vision and philosophy in life and one of her latest offerings is Yoko Ono: Everything in the Universe is Unfinished, combining never before seen texts and a series of drawings she started in the mid-1990s.

Dark Habits  uses Pedro Almodovar’s film of the same name as initial inspiration. Nineteen different writers contribute their poetry, short stories, experimental texts and flash-fiction to deliver a really interesting and diverse read.

The Man Who Refused to Die is a novel that sits half way between science fiction and thriller. It tells the story of a man who is created by the combination of imagination, biology and artificial intelligence to be able to defy death – but is he really immortal? And what complications does this entail? This is another one of the books published by Dis Voir in their Fairy Tales for Adults Series.

In 2014 artist Marisa J. Futernick took a road trip to visit all 13 Presidential Libraries. This artist’s book is the result, intertwining photographs of the journey with short stories, mixing both fact and fiction along the way. With the world looking closely on at US politics right now, this book from this US-born, London-based artist is a very interesting read indeed: 13 Presidents: Marisa J. Futernick

Marie Jacotey: Dear Love Who Should Have Been Forever Mine: In 2015 storyteller and artist Marie Jacotey decided to create an artist’s book rather than an exhibition catalogue to go alongside her show at Hannah Barry Gallery in London. This is her first artwork to take a book format and it uses some very innovative printing techniques. Her work often has an ephemeral quality, almost creating fleeting moments like the subject matter itself.

Cally Spooner: Scripts is the first book in Slimvolume’s Synthesis series that take the form of texts by artists, critics, poets and theorists producing new dis-junctions between art and writing. This book contains 12 of her works created between 2009 and 2015.

Theory of Multidreams: A Cosmic-Dream Investigation by H.P. Lovecraft is written by writer and poet Jean-Philippe Cazier inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft and astrophysicist Aurelian Barrau. Involving a mysterious disappearance of the main character, and with dreaming becoming the means of travel, a new paradoxical universe appears. But is it real? Or was it dreamed?  And which is reality?

So get that snuggly blanket and hot chocolate hug and do settle down for a jolly good read!

Image credit: Marie Jacotey, Dear Love Who Should Have Been Forever Mine (Common-Editions)
Posted on 16th September 2019
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