Thursday, 8 January 2015

'The Process of Content' Readings/// Richard Taylor's text 'Observer Singular'

On Saturday 29 November 2014, Cooper Gallery presented the Roundtable Discussion The Process of Content: on a temporality in contemporary artDrawn from the proposition that the work of Anna Oppermann acts as 'a practice of thinking', the roundtable discussion was a stimulating gathering of thoughts that elaborated and amplified the histories, politics and social reverberations of art practices in the 1970s and 80s, and the influence and impact they have on our thinking about art and culture today. ​The event included invited speakers Guy Brett (Curator and Critic, London), Lynda Morris (Curator and Art Historian, Norwich), Tobi Maier (Curator and Writer, São Paulo), Prof. Martin Warnke & Carmen Wedemeyer (Researchers, Leuphana University Lüneburg) and was chaired by Dr. Lisa Otty (Research Fellow, The University of Edinburgh). For more information please see here.

Accompanying the Roundtable Discussion was a series of readings from art writers in Scotland: Frances Davis, Kirsty Hendry, Alex Hetherington, Catherine Street & JL Williams, and Richard Taylor. This series of blog posts on Cooper Gallery Notes publishes the texts from each of the writers who presented their readings at the event.

Richard Taylor reading 'Observer Singular'. Photo: Kathryn Rattray

Notes on the reading during the Roundtable discussion on Saturday 29 November 2014.

Before starting his reading, Richard placed a small clay Peking Opera mask in the hand of an audience member. He asked them to pass the object around, after considering its size and importance, during the reading.

The ****** points below are a replacement or deletion of a given name or ‘person’. During the reading Richard closed his eyes in silence to momentarily fill the gab before continuing with the text. 


I am reminded of a very light touch made on the work of an artist I fail to…

A process to make    link

…the tableaux, it fails to be viewed from one point and is all-sided.
Setups that are precarious and destroyed when encountered, discussed, read or seen. The marionette dance from Escape to Witch Mountain was rendered squirming and tagged to ripped sound from YouTube videos of Peking Opera. A collection of opera masks, small, ceramic, entirely breakable. One falls to the floor, breaks, ceramic, small. Ends up pushed into a body of unfired clay, along with fake pearls and floral wrapping. Drenched in clove oil the encounter, it was ritualistic.

Observer - singular

They were surely eating the delicacy whilst ritualising times gone by – a rare treat filling the expanse made by years of different cuts,    fried,     baked     and pressure cooked. They took it from the newspaper wrapping     and ate it raw    in the living room,
the patterned carpet
the television buzzing fuzzy documentaries behind
                                             – a frame for their delicate consuming.

******        was less than seven years old and quite small.
They thought he could not see, but it was gorgeous for him to observe the light from the screen play on the ridged silver-white meat, as it unfolded from his great aunt’s hands.

****** never met her husband, his great uncle, who died before he was born. But photographs did provide evidence of his looks and his name was Thomas. This guy, the tripe guy, he seemed familiar, he had a name that made ****** think of cigars.
The tripe did not smell.

****** had bathed and could only detect soap residue and talc under his nightgown. Now his clean skin stretched to see how long the stomach lining really was. Elongated to watch the ritual, ****** witnessed their smart living room enjoyment. The cigar man must have found the meat at a specialist store, its quite rare to get your hands on – in fact it is pretty much extinct. No one under the age of forty has much experience of it. The next day Violet and Cigar man aka Sid (…his great aunt preferred Vi instead of Violet) - would take ****** to the museum to study fossils. But first they would fill their bellies. ******, his toes started to feel cold.

Timber now cut with goggles on face
Cat wears perfect yellow rims to surround bottomless black pools that switch to slits next to the fire. The room fills with heat as each block of wood takes its place. The hearth offers depth from which to gather warmth, and its gold trim provides support for the cat’s head. Her eyes meet mine as I copy her posture to bask the same way she does, amongst the wave of energy, which happily meanders against skin or fur. This position, however momentary, is respite from a blanket of writing about another place. Gullan Sands wind surf timber soaked in sea foam, bright skies, bitter cold. To move forward now would be to burn. A reduction of hands to smouldering lumps unhinged from use. To retreat back is the only option. Back to shadow, back to cloth, back to the story of elsewhere.

A sculpture made by Taylor
featuring a broken ceramic opera mask
sits on the mantle piece in Strong’s front room.
This location is very specific, but the delivery of the sculpture was not so.

Taylor had an imperfect memory of the location of Strong’s house, and the sculpture was first deposited in a neighbouring back garden. After realising his mistake Taylor broke in to this garden again, retrieved the piece, found the correct location, and proceeded to jump the wall in to Strong’s driveway. He reached the back garden only to be highlighted by the security light – a perfect illumination for the heavy yet small mass to be placed carefully on the patio.

I am reminded of a very light touch made by the work of an artist… called….


You can watch a showreel of the readings by Frances Davis, Kirsty Hendry, Alex Hetherington, Catherine Street & JL Williams, and Richard Taylor via the video below:

Interested in critical art writing? Check out our developing collection of work by writers based in Scotland on the Studio Jamming Critical Writing Residency website. Group Critical Writing Residency, edited by Maria Fusco, was part of Studio Jamming: Artists’ Collaborations in Scotland curated by Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in June-August 2014.

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