Gutter Words

Jo Hamill

The size/shape of a brick and almost as heavy. Yet, this is a truly beautiful 'artist's book' and astonishingly realised in its materiality and content. An inventive and abstract re-imagining of Joyce's iconic novel. — Staff Pick / Jim

“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, artist Jo 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 are exposed, Gutter Words is 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 by Information as Material in partnership with Yorkshire Sculpture International on occasion of the exhibition, Gutter Words by Jo Hamill at Platform Gallery, Middlesbrough, November 2019.

This beautiful, limited edition (of 500) artist’s book includes the essay, Channeling Joyce by Craig Dworkin.

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