Monday, 28 March 2011


Wild Pansy Press Project Space
4 May - 19 May 2011 (Mon-Thurs 10-6, Fri 10-4)
Old Mining Building, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9JT

‘If I hammer, if I recall in, and keep calling in, the breath, the breathing as distinguished from the hearing, it is for cause, it is to insist upon a part that breath plays in verse which has not (due, I think, to the smothering of the power of the line by too set a concept of foot) has not been sufficiently observed or practiced, but which has to be if verse is to advance to its proper force and place in the day, now, and ahead. I take it that PROJECTIVE VERSE teaches, is, this lesson, that that verse will only do in which a poet manages to register both the acquisitions of his ear and the pressure of his breath.’ Extract, Projective Verse, 1950.

Charles Olson’s Projective Verse invites writing to be considered spatially, as OPEN, or as FIELD (of) composition in three dimensions. His proposition is one of text as space of action, of breath as punctuation, and of the bodily pressures of writing in which ‘form is never more than an extension of content’.

WRITING (the) SPACE presses down on and around this unique poetics of writing in contemporary performance related practice - in particular, the possibilities of performance writing in spatial and physical terms. WRITING (the) SPACE is conceived as a period of action research within the Wild Pansy Press Project Space.

For WRITING (the) SPACE, Rachel Lois Clapham and Emma Cocker present a new iteration of their ongoing collaborative project Re –, which essays the relationship between performance/document, live/recording, writing/written through the collision of spoken, textual and gestural languages. This iteration of the project addresses the emergent grammar of Re-, exploring the spatial and physical possibilities of writing. Extracted fragments from earlier conversations rub against mute utterances of a finger diagramming, nails pink; a spoken text of dislocated phrases; partial scores awaiting activation; punctuation, the space of breath. Re
– (WRITING (the) SPACE) is open to the public from 4 - 19 May, 10-6pm Mon-Thurs and 10-4 Fri).

WRITING (the) SPACE Event, 19 May 09.30am – 8pm

Drawing together the practices of diverse artists and writers, this day-long event attempts to further explore notions of physical and spatial writing, drawing on the installation Re – (WRITING (the) SPACE) and Olson’s notion of Projective Verse.

09.30-6pm: > OPEN > < OLSON > < OPEN <.
A laboratory exploring practice based examples of Olson’s OPEN text. Presenting: David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Emma Cocker, Victoria Gray, Claire Hind and Mary Paterson. Audience space is limited so booking is essential, please email

6-8pm : How is Art Writing?
Dinner, drink, conversation and live performance by Giles Bailey on the last day of the exhibition as part of the In a word…artists’ dinner series. All welcome but booking essential, click on
In a word... to book online.


WRITING (the) SPACE is developed by Rachel Lois Clapham (Open Dialogues) in partnership with New Work Yorkshire and supported by In a word…


In a word... is a research programme
profiling an ecology of radical writing practice in, around and from Yorkshire.

Open Dialogues is a UK collaboration, founded by Rachel Lois Clapham and Mary Paterson, that produces writing on and as performance.

New Work Yorkshire is a proactive, engaged and mutually supportive collection of individuals who aim to develop a vibrant and diverse New Work sector in Yorkshire.

Wild Pansy Press is an art collective, a small publishing outfit affiliated with Leeds University Fine Art and a public venue for experimental works which use the practices of reading, writing and publication as their medium and/or content.



1 The Company of Men" by Charles Olson, typewritten manuscript with handwritten notations, September 13, 1957, from the Charles Olson Research Collection.

2 Re- (Unfixed) Rachel Lois Clapham and Emma Cocker, 2010. Courtesy the artists.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

MEMORY EXCHANGE at 'SHE SAID ...', 10 - 13 March 2011

by Mary Paterson

MEMORY EXCHANGE is part of 'She Said ..', a group show of text based works at The Outside World Gallery, London E2. Curator CA Halpin says, 'This show is about what she said, how she said it and the influence that those words had.'

MEMORY EXCHANGE invites visitors to donate a memory and receive a new one in return. It's an experiment in shared ownership and collective wisdom.

The show runs from 10th- 13th March, and the private view is Thurs 10th March 6.30-8.30pm. Please join me for a glass of wine - and to exchange memories.

MEMORY EXCHANGE was first developed for VerySmallKitchen's Writer's Tent in Wandle Park, London in May 2010, and has also been shown at The Department of MicroPoetics at the AC Institute, New York and Writing/ Exhibition/ Publication at Pigeon Wing, London (both curated by VerySmallKitchen).

'She Said ...' is part of WISE WORDS by alternative arts, celebrating women writers, artists and performers. See the full festival programme:

The Outside World Gallery, 44 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DP

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Reflections on Access All Areas

Written by Mary Paterson

Access All Areas took place on Fri 4th & Sat 5th March 2011. It was, "a two-day public programme reflecting the ways in which the practices of artists who work with Live Art have engaged with, represented, and problematised issues of disability in innovative and radical ways."

Somebody asked me, "What do you think?"

What do I think? I think that so many of the Symposium presentations begin with a summary of other people’s judgements, it’s difficult to articulate my own response. Difficult, that is, without thinking about the violence of other people's perspectives.

Luke Pell and Caroline Bowden read out reviews that sneer at disabled dancers. Mat Fraser (appearing on video) is knocked senseless by casual comments: ‘I could never have sex with a handicapped man'; ‘it’s so good for my children, having you as a disabled friend.’ Bobby Baker gives everyone in the audience a slice of lemon and asks us to suck – the face you pull at the taste of something bitter is exactly the same, she says, as the faces she sees on other people when she tells them about her experience of disability.

Who are we?

The first time I watch Noemi Lakmeair’s ‘Undress/ Redress’ (a durational piece, commissioned for 'Access All Areas') I watch from behind. She is inside a room built inside the gallery. On either side, two large, glass-less windows let the audience gaze in. Lakmaeir is sitting on a chair wearing smart clothes, and looking straight out. Periodically, a man (Jordan McKenzie) wearing an old fashioned suit walks into the room, locks the door and undresses this woman, silently and seriously. Then he dresses her again, in a second set of identical clothes, and carries her to a chair in the corner.

Lakmaeir’s shivering, fragile body. McKenzie’s placid, controlled movements. The concentrated faces and shifting weight of other audience members, who I can see through the viewing pane on the other side of the room.

Catherine Long speaks at the panel called ‘My Body Did Everything I Asked It’. She starts speaking about a woman she has met, with striking blue eyes and no left arm. This other woman is her, and the stories Long reads out are the fictionalised voices of other characters. This means that, inside her own narrative, she is a character as well.

Who are we?

It’s uncomfortable to watch Noemi Lakmaier, but she makes it that way. It’s not the viewing (more people watch on CCTV video monitors in the entrance to the gallery than at the viewing panes), but the publicness of the viewing. The participation on someone else’s terms. The complicity that comes from being there. The fact that Lakmaier’s body shakes between an individual and a type: artist, woman, disabled, white, young. The fact that the ritual of undressing comes to stand for the stripping back of power that circulates around a body, and an identity.

It’s uncomfortable to watch Martin O’Brien, too. In his durational piece ‘Mucus Factory’ (also commissioned for Access All Areas) O’Brien performs the medical routines meted out on his body, transposing the medical gaze to an aesthetic one. Mucus mixed with glitter. Physiotherapy massage as a percussive routine. He mostly performs alone, but at one point a woman stands up and starts to massage his chest with him.

I think of the word ‘care.’ Not in the medical sense but in the casual sense: ‘Take care.’ Look after yourself. Because our bodies do not contain us. We are connected.

Who are you?

‘I’m sick of motherfucking health and motherfucking safety!’ ‘I’m sick of disabled artists getting their penises out and saying it’s radical!’ ‘I’m sick of being seen as sick!’ The Disabled Avant-Garde pull these ‘sick notes’ out of a hat and provoke the audience with them. Some people are riled. ‘We were in character,’ Aaron Williamson explains, ‘as the Avant-Garde.’

Kim Noble shows a video of himself (apparently) spying on his neighbour and a recording of his neighbour having sex. He shows a wall chart of this obsessive behaviour. He takes some Viagra, ‘in case this presentation goes really well.’ Nobody asks him if he is in character.

What do you see?

Is it easier to confront physical disability than mental illness? Perhaps, but what you can see is only ever part of the story. Sean Burn brings along a case of nuts. Nutcase. He rolls four marbles on a plate. Don’t lose your marbles.

Inbetween the last two sessions, I get into a heated conversation with a colleague about the work of Maria Oshodi and Extant. Oshodi is visually impaired. She creates cross-disciplinary, multi-media, immersive installations that explore the nature of perception, knowledge and experience. Oshodi's work is not about managing other people’s perspectives, but exploring her own.

Rita Marcarlo: advised not to induce an epileptic fit in public, in case it sets a bad example. Pete Edwards: asked if it was really his choice for his creative enabler to undress him. Jenny Sealey: saying she always has an audience in her BSL interpreters.

Who’s side are you on?

Sometimes, I find myself laughing along with Kim Noble. At other times, his persona is threatening, divisive, unpleasant. Who am I being when I laugh with (or at, or for) Kim Noble? Who am I agreeing with? And which of Noble’s personas is a persona anyway?

In a break I say, ‘As a general rule, I think “Them and Us” is a bad way of looking at things.’ ‘Yes,’ says a stranger who has overheard, ‘but you need an “Us and Us.”

It reminds me of something Bobby Baker said right at the beginning: a funder held a meeting for people seen as ‘culturally diverse’ which means, as Baker said, ‘people who are “odd”, all clumped together.’ She was arguing for a better understanding of cultural diversity – as an asset, and not a label.

What do you think?

What do I think? I don't know. But I have some thoughts to end (or to begin) with. 'We' is a shifting category. Not the same is not the same as different. Bodies labelled as ‘authentic’ are also contained.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Inside Performance Volume 24. no.1 2011

By Rachel Lois Clapham

Volume 24. no.1 of Dance Theatre Journal comes out of the short festival of screen dance ‘What if...’ at Siobhan Davies Dance, London, April 2010. The texts in this special issue, guest edited by Lucy Cash and Theron Schmidt, all circle around central themes of the festival; documentation, choreography or how to ‘write’ performance. The texts in the magazine are by ten writers who were present at the festival, and who were charged with writing the What if... performances. And me.

For Inside Performance Vol. 24 No.1 I acted as first reader of the then unpublished magazine. I selected phrases from the respective contributor’s pages and compiled them onto one page. The result is a new text in the form of an assemblage that reflects on performance writing, writing performance and the performance of writing.

The text acts as a weird coda, or postscript, one that points first and foremost to the content in this particular issue. Indeed, the reader can trace back each phrase to its place of origin through an adjacent index if they wish. In doing this, the reader would re-(W)read the magazine 'out of sequence' from its published numerical page progression. However, I imagine this index to be purely latent, an indication of place, as it is difficult to imagine any reader - however avid- tracing laboriously through page and line numbers to locate a certain phrase in situ. [i] It could also be read more widely as an exercise that WORKS the writing of performance / performance of writing, and as such could be repeated in any publication or place.

Being first reader of the material and extracting from it in this way was a deeply circular exercise - making a text about performance writing from a series of texts about writing performance from a performance festival. In this, it was also satisfying; the writerly equivalent of spring cleaning – paying close, perhaps exorbitant, attention to punctuation and small sentences in dusty corners. As a process, it was one of refining, distilling or WORKING text through a series of sorting, copying and pasting gestures [ii].

In retaining the format of the original phrases in their transposition to the back page, their formatting becomes erstwhile. And when assembled together the individual phrases seem loosed from their original place and meaning; a sense of site-specificity is implied. An attempt to run against the grain of FLAT PACK writing. Conversely, the text can be read from beginning to end as a whole. And although primarily disjointed, at times the extracted phrases collide with one another to make a narrative all their own.

Structural only to a degree, there is no discernible pattern, particular linguistic bent or blanket treatment of the phrases, no rules that I have devised for the assembly. In many cases, I transposed the text somewhat arbitrarily. In others, a different sense of purpose- although no less purposeful- of unfolding or sense-making prevailed. In this re-sequencing are physical, dense and diacritical gestures that imply a warp and weft; a movement of text, of the reader and of the writing itself.

Click here to buy Dance Theatre Journal

INSIDE PERFORMANCE is a serialised writing project developed by Rachel Lois Clapham for Dance Theatre Journal. Taking the form of a regular newspaper or magazine ‘column’ INSIDE PERFORMANCE is a periodic journey into the practice of writing from or as performance.

Previous columns here and here

[i] However, this kind of keen readership is what I imagined when creating the piece. It is why I worked meticulously on correctly pinpointing each line and page number throughout the various edits of the magazine. This latent referentiality, then, should be considered critical. This occasional nature of how people might (not) read this text is also linked to the desire to look, rather than read, that it generates.

[ii] How is this different from creating, or writing? In fact, each chosen phrase was re-typed by myself into the assemblage, and so re-written. HOW does this matter?