Between Live Art and Installation: A Mark Pawson Opening!

6. 6. 2013 // // Kategorie Randnotizen 2013

Last night I was Tim Goldie’s guest alongside musician Karl Blake on a ResonanceFM radio show, tonight I went to Mark Pawson’s opening at Xero, Kline & Comma. The gallery is in Hackney Road, London. Pawson and the gallery explain his show this way:

Mark Pawson: “After being invited to loan material to two exhibitions in 2011 (the Stewart Home retrospective at White Columns, New York and the fanzine exhibition which was part of the Dazed Live Festival, London), and also writing an article in response to the question ‘Why Distribute? Why Archive?’ for the 2012 Book Works publication Again, A Time Machine, from distribution to archive, it felt as if the numerous cardboard boxes stashed under my bed, in the hall cupboard and kitchen cabinets had somehow changed status and been transformed from ‘Stuff’ into an ‘Archive’. I thought that it was the right time to start sorting through some of these boxes, to see what was in there and to see what would happen as a result of this process. So after writing a note to myself saying ‘Start cataloguing some of this stuff.’, on the morning of February 5th 2013, I opened up an A4 paper box crammed full of mid to late 1990s fanzines and publications by artists, sat down in front of the computer and started cataloguing them.”

Xero, Kline & Comma: “Mark Pawson will be unpacking, cataloguing and displaying some of his extensive library of zines, mail art publications, small press magazines, leaflets, pamphlets and other hard-to-categorise print creations: a collection which accumulated over the past 30 years and has managed to survive intact after several changes of address. He will be working in the gallery each Sunday during the exhibition, adding material to the display and producing weekly catalogue sheets, which will be available at the gallery and online at Pawson is an artist, publisher, bookseller and lecturer. Since being at school he’s made and distributed a constant stream of books, postcards, badges, multiples, T-shirts and other essential ephemera, some examples of which are in the collections of the Tate Gallery Library, London and MOMA Library, New York. He was an active and prolific participant in the international postal art network during the 1980s and early 1990s and has reviewed independent publications for Variant Magazine since 1998.”

I sold my own archive to the British National Art Library (NAR) in 1999, and when I needed some of it back to show in New York, it was easier to borrow the material I required from Mark Pawson than deal with the NAR bureaucracy. I’ve known Mark Pawson since 1984, and since he collects and hordes, he had a great deal of my ephemeral material from the eighties and nineties.

I thought letting a public institution take my archive would make it more accessible – and in some ways it is. The material can be viewed in the NAR (housed within the Victoria and Albert Museum). But taking material out is tricky. When Clodagh Kinsella wanted to access a copy of Michele Bernstein’s novel The Night she contacted me. I told her my photocopy of what was then a very hard to find book was in the NAR. She saw it there but it wasn’t convenient for her to sit down and translate the whole text in the library – and she wasn’t allowed to take it out or to copy it (despite the fact my copy was a photocopy). In the end and after much effort, Kinsella was able to get hold of the book elsewhere, and ironically a new French edition was published about a month before her English translation (so it is now easy to obtain in both languages).

At the bus stop just before I reached the gallery I ran into Stefan Szczelkun (he’d just left the Xero, Kline & Comma opening), like Mark I’ve known Stefan for 29 years now – we all met each other at pretty much the same time. Like me, they were both involved in the London postal art scene back in the 1980s. I had a brief chat with Stefan mostly about the recent photos he’d seen of me around the globe on my Facebook page, then his bus arrived and he hopped on. Mark was standing near to the door to the gallery with a beer in his hand when I walked in. We had talk about his show, then I went to speak to Galia Kollectiv of the artist couple Pil and Galia Kollectiv, who run the gallery. I’ve known Galia and her husband Pil for more than a decade. I mostly talked to Galia about guitars, as we’re both very fond of them. Next I took a look at the show, but I was already familiar with most of the old publications Mark has unboxed, and could remember them from when they came out. But for people who weren’t part of a very particularly scene back in the day it will be a treasure trove of obscure but extremely groovy marginal art publications – a view into a world they never even suspected the existence of! And downstairs there are also Mark’s signs and prints! Bookshops not bombs, anyone? After a further exchange with Mark, I decided to wend my way through Columbia Road, Jesus Green, down Barnett Grove and past my old council flat on the Avebury Estate, to Brick Lane. The ambiences of these different neighbourhoods are very schizophrenic. Gentrification has taken a heavy toll - but poverty is also very evident.

Photos top to bottom: 1. Mark Pawson multiple Never Throw Anything Away Ever. 2. Mark Pawson. 3. Stefan Szczelkun. 4. Pil and Galia Kollectiv . 5 & 6. Mark Pawson hand-screen printed message on the back of vintage postcards – another multiple with variations. 7. Mark Pawson badges Keep Hackney Crap.