The Perverse Library
Ich hab' Mein Sach' auf Nichts gestellt, Michalis Pichler, photogravure, 2009

Saturday, 4 September to Sunday, 31 October 2010
at Shandy Hall, the former home of writer Laurence Sterne

The Laurence Sterne Trust and Information as Material are proud to announce a major exhibition of ‘conceptual writing.’ Unfolding around Craig Dworkin’s book collection, the show features work by Edwin Abbott Abbott, Walter Abish, Vito Acconci, Kathy Acker, Bruce Andrews, Guillaume Apollinaire, Antonin Artaud, Paul Auster, John Baldessari, JG Ballard, Fiona Banner, Georges Bataille, derek beaulieu, Samuel Beckett, Dodie Bellamy, Hans Bellmer, Caroline Bergvall, Jen Bervin, Nayland Blake, Giovanni Boccaccio, Riccardo Boglione, Maurice Blanchot, Christian Bök, Jorge Luis Borges, Alastair Brotchie, Pavel Büchler, Paul Buck, William S. Burroughs, John Cage, Sophie Calle, Miguel De Cervantes, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Elisabeth S. Clark, Steven Clay, Carlo Collodi, Joseph Conrad, Coracle Press, Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens, Craig Dworkin, Michael Farion, Robert Fitterman, Gustave Flaubert, Sigmund Freud, Edward Gibbon, Allen Ginsberg, Mary Godolphin, Kenneth Goldsmith, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Brion Gysin, Lucy Harrison, Ernest Hemingway, Eugène Ionesco, Sarah Jacobs, Peter Jaeger, Alfred Jarry, James Joyce, On Kawara, Emma Kay, Arnold Kemp, Arnold Kemp, Jack Kerouac, Sharon Kivland, Richard Kostelanetz, Joseph Kosuth, Jacques Lacan, Sherrie Levine, Sol Le Witt, Gareth Long, John McAndrew, John McDowall, Stéphane Mallarmé, W. H. Mallock, Michael Maranda, Harry Mathews, Herman Melville, Yukio Mishima, Simon Morris, Scott Myles, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Orwell, Peter Osborne, Georges Perec, Tom Phillips, Michalis Pichler, Vanessa Place, Simon Popper, Ezra Pound, Marcel Proust, Karen Reimer, Gerhard Richter, Kim Rosenfi eld, Jerome Rothenberg, Raymond Roussel, Dirk Rowntree, Ed Ruscha, Klaus Scherübel, Peter Schlemihl, Yann Sérandour, William Shakespeare, Robert Smithson, Daniel Spoerri, Gertrude Stein, Laurence Sterne, Chris Taylor, Carolyn Thompson, Nick Thurston, Alison Turnball, herman de vries, Lawrence Weiner, Darren Wershler, Robert Williams, Wilf Williams, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Greville Worthington.

Conceived and curated by artist, teacher and founding editor of Information as Material, Dr Simon Morris, the exhibition will be the first of its kind in the UK, and will show works by a generation of artists who have sought a radical reconsideration of the relationship between literature and the visual arts.

Dworkin’s book collection of 2,427 titles, many of them pricelessly rare objects, are to be displayed on Invisible Bookshelves designed by Canadian architect Michael Farion. The exhibition will also include:

  • ‘A Bibliography of Ugly Cousins’, for which Simon Morris has drawn together critical examples of appropriated writing, or ‘rip-offs’, that expose the parasitic relationship between conceptual writing / writers and their histories;
  • A collection of carbonised books contributed by artist and collector Greville Worthington, entitled ‘The Black Library’, from the remains of which vegetables are to be grown for consumption in the Shandy Hall Library;
  • ‘A Sonic Library’ curated by poet Kenneth Goldsmith, founder of UbuWeb, the world’s largest online archive of visual, concrete and sound poetry. UbuWeb Radio will be streamed live for the duration of the show;
  • Bouvard et Pécuchet’s Invented Desk for Copying by the young Canadian artist Gareth Long who, working with furniture maker and designer Wilf Williams, will present the copying desk as the latest in his series of sculptures developed from the unfinished pages of Gustave Flaubert’s last novel, Bouvard et Pécuchet; and
  • The launch of six new works, including print editions, publication and a new documentary film

‘A Perverse Library’ builds on a legacy of residencies and exhibitions co-organised by Information as Material and held at Shandy Hall, the former home of the celebrated 18th-century English writer Laurence Sterne, now a museum dedicated to exploring his astounding and continuing contribution to the arts. “Through our exhibitions, and by hosting residency programmes, we are enabled to explore how contemporary artistic practice, whether text-based, visual, sonic or otherwise, can help visitors to the museum unlock the Trust’s collection of 18th and 19th-century literature”, says the museum’s curator, Patrick Wildgust. “Our aim is to encourage an inventive exploration of Sterne’s legacy and experimental spirit, in the context of the artefacts of his estate.”

Recent Shandy Hall exhibitions have included ‘The Black Page’ for which Wildgust commissioned 73 artists, including John Baldessari, Cornelia Parker and Rachel Whiteread, to re-produce the 73rd page of Sterne’s monumental novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy: Gentleman, in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the book’s publication.

The next residency will be held during August, when American poets Kim Rosenfield and Rob Fitterman will spend a week as poets-in-residence at the hall. The outcome of their visit will be featured in the ‘A Perverse Library’ exhibition.

Thanks to the generous support of York College, a free bus service will run from York train station to the Shandy Hall site on 27 and 28 October 2010. Places on the service can be booked today by visiting Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

‘A Perverse Library’ is co-organised by Information as Material, The Laurence Sterne Trust and In a word. The exhibition is made possible thanks to the generous support of Arts Council England through their Grants for the arts programme, The Henry Moore Foundation and York College.