Week 1 Manifestos
Recommended book: Mary Ann Caws’s Manifestos (anthology)
Exercise: With a critical sense of the manifesto as a “genre” of (art) writing, compose an original manifesto addressing your work and beliefs as an artist. To the extent that your work is collaborative/group-oriented, consider how your manifesto may also represent the interests of your collaborators/group?
Week 2 Typography
Recommended texts: An Anthology of Concrete Poetry (ed. Emmett Williams), Hollis Frampton’s Zorn’s Lemma (film), Adam Pendleton’s Becoming Imperceptible, and N.H. Pritchard’s The Matrix
Exercise: Using any medium/format, compose an original work of art that uses typography in a significant way. How may your use of typography draw attention to current conditions of print technologies (online and off)? How might it also investigate how typography has been used historically in advertising, printed matter, signage, fashion, and/or other works of art? What do your choices of font and design values intend?
Week 3 Artists’ Books
Recommended books: Johanna Drucker’s A Century of Artists’ Books and Artists’ Books: Visual Studies Workshop Press 1971-2008
Exercise: Produce an original artists’ book. How may your own book extend, critique, and/or revisit a previous discourse of artists’ books? In what ways may your book not be merely a vessel for other works of art, but a work of art in itself? To what extent can the book’s construction and choices of materials (physical or digital) inflect certain aesthetic, cultural, and socio-political values? To what extent may your book function performatively, gesturally, and/or theatrically?
Week 4 Feminisms
Recommended books: M/E/A/N/I/N/G (ed. Susan Bee & Mira Schor); We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-1985 A Sourcebook.
Exercise: Consider the historical use of language/text by various feminist-identified artists. Create an original work of art that mediates your “feminism” through the use of language. To what extent are particular uses of language gendered? What is the relationship between language and embodiment (a principal concern of many feminist artists)? How, too, may language express a content specific to women (whether cis-identified, trans, or otherwise)?
Week 5 Performance Writing + Screenplay
Recommended texts: Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama (Whitney Museum catalogue), PAJ Journal (ed. Bonnie Marranca)
Recommended artists: Trisha Baga, Guy Ben Ner, Sadie Benning, Gregg Bordowitz, Mark Bradford, Janet Cardiff, Omer Fast, Richard Foreman, Coco Fusco, General Idea, Melanie Gilligan, Sharon Hayes, Adam Pendleton, Howardena Pindell, Adrian Piper, Mike Kelley, Kalup Linzy, Shana Moulton, Adam Pendleton, Yvonne Rainer, Martha Rosler, Hito Steyerl, Catherine Sullivan, Ryan Trecartin, Kara Walker, Robert Wilson.
Exercise: Compose a script for film, video, the stage, or public space. How does language function gesturally and/or via a set of theatrical and/or cinematic conventions (cf. Catherine Sullivan)? To what extent is your use of language a function of genre (cf. Sullivan and Melanie Gilligan)? How can you produce comedy and pathos in your work (cf. Robert Wilson, Kalup Linzy, Yvonne Rainer, Guy Ben Ner, Gilligan, Mark Bradford, and General Idea)? Consider how you wish your writing to be performed/staged (where? to whom? with the use of what props and/or actors?). Consider how you may involve others (actors, bystanders, an audience)? Do you wish to make interventions in a particular space or among a particular community (cf. Sharon Hayes)? How may your performance be enhanced by video post-production technologies and/or installation (cf. Shana Moulton and Ryan Trecartin)?
Week 6 Diaries and Journalism
Recommended artists: Vito Acconci, Etel Adnan, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dodie Bellamy, Cara Benedetto, Gregg Bordowitz, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Moyra Davey, Tracey Emin, Simone Forti, Juliana Huxtable, Chris Kraus, Eileen Myles, Trisha Low, Lee Lozano, Bernadette Mayer, Adrian Piper, Yvonne Rainer, Paul Thek, Hannah Weiner, Matias Viegener, David Wojnarowicz.
Exercise: Using an existing set of journals/diaries (your own or another’s) compose an original work of art. OR: start a journal/diary that may become (part of) a work of art. Consider how journals and diaries have been used by other artists. What qualities differentiate diaristic and journalistic writing? How do these types of writing inflect time differently? How might they create different senses of immediacy and intimacy? How may they offer a means to tell a story about yourself or others that might be impossible to tell through other forms of writing?
Week 7 Materiality
Recommended books: Liz Kotz’s Words to be Looked At, Craig Dworkin’s Reading the Illegible, Susan Howe’s The Birthmark, Jerome McGann’s The Textual Condition, Fred Moten’s In the Break, and Poetry Plastique exhibition catalogue (ed. Charles Bernstein & Jay Sanders).
Recommended artists: Ian Hamilton Finley, Susan Howe, Lev Rubinstein, Robert Smithson, Cecilia Vicuña, Lawrence Weiner.
Week 8 Artists’ Magazines
Recommended book: Gwen Allen’s Artists’ Magazines (anthology) [see appendix for a comprehensive listing of artists’ magazines].
Recommended magazines: LTTR (Ginger Brooks Takahashi et al), Dot Dot Dot (Dexter Sinister), Shifter (ed., Sreshta Rit Premnath), The Lay of the Land Newsletter (Center for Land Use Interpretation), 0 to 9 (ed. Bernadette Mayer & Vito Acconci)
Week 9 Instruction/Prompt/Questionnaire
Recommended book series: Collective Task (ed. Rob Fitterman et al)
Recommended artists: John Cage, CA Conrad, Robert Gluck, Bhanu Kapil, Ben Kinmont, Alison Knowles, Sol LeWitt, Lee Lozano, Georges Maciunus, Jackson Mac Low, Yoko Ono, Benjamin Patterson, Georges Perec.
Exercise: Compose a set of instructions or prompts for a work to be performed by yourself and/or others. In composing your instructions/prompt, consider what you would like to achieve through your own or another’s actions? Do these actions reflect critically on a state of affairs or set of relations (Ben Kinmont)? Do they intend to depersonalize the one instructed (cf. Jackson Mac Low, John Cage)? Do they allow the instructed to access desirable modes of attention (cf. Cage, Georges Perec)? Are they meant to be works of art in themselves? Do they ask one to do the impossible and as such become purely speculative and/or prefigural? To what extent may they enable alternative modes of production (cf. Collective Task)? Consider the elegance and economy of your words in composing your instructions/prompts.
Week 10 Orality/Duration/Transcription/Scoring
Recommended artists: David Antin, Amiri Baraka, Steve Benson, Kamau Braithwaite, David Buuck, John Cage, M. NourbeSe Philip, Cecil Taylor, Joey Yearous-Algozin, Andy Warhol.
Exercise: Compose an original work using any of the following methods: 1. By recording and transcribing a conversation or set of conversations (cf. Warhol); 2. By improvising and recording a talk and editing your talk for the page (cf. David Antin and Steve Benson); 3. By transcribing and scoring two minutes of audio; 4. By transcribing your own or someone else’s language phonetically (cf. Kamau Braithwaite).
Week 11 Detournment/Reappropriation/Tactical Art
Recommended artists: Alexandra Bell, Critical Art Ensemble, General Idea, Glenn Ligon, Not an Alternative, Pictures Generation (Jenny Holtzer, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine), Keith and Mendi Obadike, Situationist International, The Yes Men.
Exercise: In what ways are detournment, reappropriation, and tactical art still effective as means of intervening in a “society of the spectacle” (cf. Situationist International)? How can the media be “jammed” and “hacked” to create novel situations that redress social wrongs and/or create conditions of possibility for ‘another world’ (The Yes Men, Critical Art Ensemble, Not an Alternative)? How may the reappropriation of words, pictures, sounds, and media enable you to explore your identity or perform another (Glenn Ligon, Pictures Generation)? To what extent does language function through re/contextualization? Create an original work of art that addresses any or all of these concerns.
Week 12 Between Drawing, Painting, and Writing
Recommended artists: Etel Adnan, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joseph Beuys, Renee Gladman, Philip Guston, Keith Haring, Douglas Kearney, Robert Kocik, Henri Michaux, Matt Mullican, Carolee Schneemann, Cy Trombly.
Exercise: Compose an original work of art that exists between ‘drawing’/’painting’ and ‘writing’ (cf. Etel Adnan)? How do words and letters attain graphic values and vice versa? How may you use words calligraphically, ideogrammatically, hiero- or petro-glyphically? To what extent are the visual and aural senses of written language inextricable?
Week 13 Fictions
Recommended artists/groups: Etel Adnan, Arakwa Gins, Bernadette Corporation, The Atlas Group/Walid Raad, Sreshta Rit Premnath, Alexander Provan, Tan Lin, Jalal Toufic.
Exercise: Consider the adoption of fiction by artists historically. How have artists used the genre to create stories and narratives about their cultural and/or society? To what extent is fiction adopted to challenge narrative conventions and official notions of ‘truth’? How might fictions be employed as a response to personal and widespread cultural trauma (cf. The Atlas Group/Walid Raad, Jalal Toufic)? In what ways does fiction challenge dominant epistemes and technological paradigms (Alexander Provan)? How might fiction allow the artist a means to play with notions of self and/or cultural identity (cf. Tan Lin, Jalal Toufic)?
Week 14 Poetry and Art
Recommended artists/groups: Cara Benedetto, Bernadette Corporation, Gregg Bordowitz, Paul Chan, Dada, Jimmie Durham, Juliana Huxtable, Steffani Jemison, Arnold J. Kemp, Ralph Lemon, Claire Pentecost, Isaac Pool, William Pope.L, Dmitry Prigov, Bunny Rodgers, Yvonne Rainer
Exercise: Historically, artists and visual artists have been in conversation and collaboration with one another. Oftentimes artists have trespassed into poetry and vice versa. Sometimes artists start out as poets; less frequently, poets start as visual artists. How might you use poetry as a mode or medium for your art? To what extent are you in dialogue with poets—do you read them and take something vital from their ways of working? Do you consider yourself to have a ‘practice’ as a poet, and if so do you differentiate this from your practice as an artist? Inasmuch as contemporary poets and visual artists exist in very different economies, if not communities, how does ‘value’ affect the choices you make to be an artist, a poet, or both? Compose a poem or series of poems that inflect any or all of the problems I have outlined here.