August 10 – September 23, 2013

Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, Sunderland, SR1 1RE

The desire to read a work of art is the annihilation of the possibility of experiencing that work of art.

— Carl Andre

We say: Whatever, Carl . . . . perhaps you should learn to read differently.

Photo: Craig Dworkin, FACT (rug), 2013.


Photo: Simon Morris & Nick Thurston, Learn to Read Differently – Assisted John Baldessari Print, 2013.

This exhibition was commissioned and curated by Circa (Newcastle). It presents poetic art works by Kate Briggs (Paris), Craig Dworkin (Utah), Simon Morris (Middlesborough), Lucia della Paolera (Brooklyn) and Nick Thurston (Leeds) that have, or will be, published by IAM. It also presents related art works by Kenneth Goldsmith (New York), Garry Neill Kennedy (Halifax, CA), Gareth Long (New York), Greville Worthington (Catterick) and an online-only collaboration between Thurston and Robert Fitterman (New York) hosted on

On the invitation card (above), in the gallery, and online, Learn to Read Differently proposes a method of making art works through and as ‘conceptualist reading performances.’ This method presses the aesthetic legacy conventionally attributed to Conceptual art onto disparate notions of writing (from the literary to that of data management) to produce materially-specific poems as art works that have somehow re-read a thing (an idea, an object, etc.) that was already in the world.

This is an art of reading things differently. It starts from a premise proved by the impossibility of making purely conceptual art: that art is always aesthetical and conceptual. To that it couples an obsession with language — as both signifier and material, and as always socio-historically codified. In doing so, it establishes a mode of making art that asks: What could we write if reading could be a materially productive act of making art? How might a certain kind of reading-as-making problematise the understandings of authorship, production and reproduction ensconced in our cultural industries?

All of these art works celebrate reading differently as a praxis of exploring the elsewhere of what languages and their users can mean and do. In collaboration with Circa, this project continues information as material’s commitment to working with other people and against all-too-certain counter-productive divisions between contemporary art and contemporary literature.

Curated by Dawn Bothwell and Sam Watson.

Learn to Read Differently

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