Thursday, 21 February 2008

WALLPAPER DAYS

No, nothing to do with the lifestyle magazine . . . But it was odd to see them in a glass case in the Serpentine Gallery recently as part of Antony McCall’s exhibition - he was one of the ‘’Wallpaper collective’. Started by poet and performance artist Anthony Howell, the group comprised eleven people, a mix of visual artists, poets and one musician. The covers were wallpaper. Literally. The most garish we could find. The magazine was A4 format with quite basic production values, and the idea was that a different person each time did the work of actually bringing the thing out and we all appeared in it on a strict rota basis. The first issue appeared in 1974 and it ran for seven or maybe eight issues depending on your point of view - by the end things had rather fallen apart. As I remember it, the project was an odd mixture of free-and-easy collaboration and awkward bureaucratic procedures. A transitional moment from the 1960s? But then the sixties were never quite that free-and-easy. The artists featured in addition to Anthony McCall were Amikam Toren, Susan Hiller, Andrew Eden, Susan Bonvin, Richard Quarrel. As to the writers, I was one of the ten, along with Bill Shepherd, David Coxhead and Anthony himself and there was one musician, Richard Bernas. Issue 5 / 6 was a double issue, the guest issue where we each invited somebody. It included writer Lynne Tillman, filmmaker Annabel Nicolson, artist Daniel Dahl (why is his website in Latin?), performance artist Fiona Templeton and there was poetry from among others Allen Fisher and John Sharkey. Anthony Barnett featured in issue 7 as a guest contributor as did Alan Fuchs who contributed an extraordinary prose piece. It was a snapshot of what was going on at the time and the attempt to bring together poets and people in the visual arts seems worthwhile and something often lacking in this country. But is it a little worrying seeing them all in a glass case, with group photographs of us and other bits and pieces? Over at the British Library you can see the exhibition Breaking the Rules, on till 30th March, featuring books and magazines from the heroic age of modernism likewise carefully arranged in glass cases. As if there is something that has to be continually re-enacted.

I do have multiple copies of some issues in case anyone is interested. . .

Andrew Eden and Susan Bonvin are two very interesting artists who have a website well worth checking out at http://www.susanbonvin-andreweden.co.uk/. And Anthony Howell now runs The Room in Tottenham Hale, http://www.the-room.org.uk/ which has hosted readings, art exhibitions, tango events and so on – though things are rather quiet there just at the moment.

2 comments:

David Caddy said...

Hi John,

Fascinating to read of this collaboration and yes, please send me an issue or two.

Cheers, David

Didier Mathieu said...

Hello, I am Didier mathieu from Le centre des livres d'artistes in France www.cdla.info
I am looking for copies of "Wallpaper" (not the lifestyle magazine) because I am doing an exhibition on the writings (essays and diaries) of Carolee Schneemann with her collaboration and approval.
I am interested in "borrowing" the copies you mentioned in your blog in 2008.
it would be for three months from October ti Christmas 2013. Looking forward to hearing back from you. Best whishes. Didier
d.mathieu@cdla.info