i want to take it apart& put it back together again an other
way: d.j. on the mix with zap phut kunst, a ramshakle monument (with
fatty fleshy bits) among c lean s lick theoretical texts. think of
this as a guide to the cathedral & its many interesting grottoes.
space is such a difficult thing to define, it seems to extend from
the mind. if only we could sculpt each breath (it would make your words
go all tinguely every time you said moore). what about an archy text?
the cathedral, the cathedral is useless. if only we could commune.
in the cathedral. i bet you'd like me to write about all my unchained
impulses. you like to watch don't you? (if it's a little dark i'll
lend you my torch)
Art has never stood alone. Within a captialist market economy, where
novelty and innovation equal value, institutions rely on writing to maintain
and authenticity of an artwork in order to justify their existence. The supposed
autonomy of the art work is backed up, paradoxically, with a full bookshop and
souvenir stand. Within the institution, writing functions to situate the contemporary
art work at the endpoint of art history as a static object rather than as a dynamic
force. Art and writing are locked into the conceptual missionary position whereby
the creative potential of each practise is constrained by the limits of this
In discussing the function of Textbase within the contemporary artworld it is perhaps useful to identify two distinct strains of activity. Firstly, Textbase exhibitions, and secondly, the writing of Textbase contributors which extends outside the sphere of Textbase (and outside the realm of the artworld). These two strains are in a sense inseperable as each activity informs the other but both merge when considered as a combination of both critical and creative practice. Textbase realises text itself as a creative action as much as contemporary art, using the ideas explored in texts as a part of the inspiration behind procedures and making.
Textbase proposes a parasitic association between the writer and the art world in which both writer and artist exploit what they find useful in the practice and history of the other. In freeing the artwork and the text from the need to speak directly about the other, Textbase questions and disrupts this relationship between the visual arts and the practise of writing. Through its exhibitions and activities and through its members' contributions to journals, exhibition catalogues and forums, Textbase is realising art writing as a creative action.
While Textbase exhibitions are open to any kind of practice, writers have chosen to focus on aspects of visual art where textual theories come into play. These have included Nicole Tomlinson's combination of personal narrative with investigations into the archaeology of criticism; Stephen O'Connell's explorations of theories of thought and interpretation as energy flows; and D.J. Huppatz's use of interpolation to create an artistic persona. Other Textbase participants have mapped out spaces where the visual and textual collide such as Benjamin Brady's hypertext arrangement and Julian Savage's textual work using film and video.
All members of the Textbase project are also practicing writers within the artworld. The procedural method of writing explored within the catalogues for 1st Floor has been extended into writing's practical functions such as journalism, catalogue essays and writing within the academy. The practice of writing at 1st Floor was informed by contemporary European philosophy, psychoanalytic theory and feminism and reflected the teaching of local academics such as Elizabeth Grosz and Kevin Hart, as well as avant garde practices in contemporary literature and film. The visual artists at 1st Floor have gained in practical terms from their intimacy with writers attempting to put theory into practice. The writers have gained valuable insights into the process and working methods of contemporary visual artists, knowlege which is invaluable for the comtemporary critic. It seemed obvious the text could gain from the adoption of the approach of the artist-as in the use of poetic association, appropriation and an awareness of materiality.
What is important here is the idea of doing philosphy, practicing writing rather than being at the service of forces of capture and control. Traditionally art writing has prescribed the nature and character of the aesthetic experience as required by the structures of the institution or of the academy. Rather than writing as information, the writers involved with Textbase employ language as seduction, poetry and provocation. This dynamic is played out in recent catalogue essays by Stephen O'Connell, Andrew McQualter, Sarah Tutton and Tessa Dwyer, and in the fictocritical mode of D.J Huppatz's articles and reviews.2
Textbase produces work that issues from writing that assumes an open status like the artwork, works that are the materiality of ideas rather ideas issuing from materials. Textbase redefines the gallery as a possible site of intersection between theory/philosphy, poetry, film, fiction, criticism and the visual arts. This is achieved both through the writers' interventions in the gallery as visual artists and in their capacity as critics, curators and essayists. The writers participating in Textbase exploit their knowledge of the visual arts and techniques of contemporary artistic practice to produce works at this point of intersection. Textbase does not privilege the art work or the text but sees them as interactive activities. It explores the similarities of approach and the possibility of applying the methods of one practise to the procedural process of the other.
D.J Huppatz/Andrew McQualter