Gutter Words

‘Among the raft of outraged correspondence sent to The Little Review following the periodical serialization of Joyce’s novel, one described the Nausicaa chapter as ‘filth from the gutter of a human mind,’ going on to lament not so much ‘the mire of his effusion’ […] but ‘all those whose minds are so putrid that they dare allow such muck and sewage of the human mind to be-smirch the world by repeating it. Here, that repetition continues, though in a radically expurgated version of ‘paper/ smut.’ If Joyce’s first readers found he had his mind in the gutter, readers now can see what Jo Hamill has mined in the gutter.’ – Craig Dworkin.

Working with an edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, Hamill systematically obliterated the words of Joyce but carefully retained those words positioned closest to the gutter – the technical term used to describe the central margin of a bound page.

The retained fragments form two extended columns that continue for 933 pages. Notable here is how design and typographic terminology is so entrenched in bodily references. Header, footer, body-copy, the arm of a ‘K’, the crotch of a ‘Y’, the foot of a ‘T’, the ear of a ‘G’, the shoulder of an ‘R’ and so on. As is the architectural scaffolding of Joyce’s schema which underpins the structure of Ulysses, kidney, genitals, heart, lungs, oesophagus, Brain, Blood, Ear. etc.

Lawrence Weiner refers to language as material for construction, the act of deletion in Gutter Words exposes the architectural scaffolding that holds words in place. Voids are physical spaces to be read and words become unanchored, set adrift in an uncertain space. The architectural qualities of this physical space will be exposed, Gutter Words will be devoid of the accoutrements associated with a ‘book’ such as cover, boards, end papers, dust jacket and will retain only the innards, an unprotected text block.

Published on occasion of the exhibition ‘Gutter Words’ by Jo Hamill at Platform Gallery, Middlesbrough, November 2019.

Published by Yorkshire Sculpture International in partnership with Information as Material.

Includes an essay ‘Channeling Joyce’ by Craig Dworkin.

Edition of 500.

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