Curated by Bart van der Heide, Caterina Riva and Tris Vonna-Michell
Thursday 9 October 2008 to Sunday 9 November 2008
Private View: Thursday 9 October 2008, 18:30PM to 20:30PM
The avant-garde poet and publisher Henri Chopin (Paris, 1922 – Norfolk, 2008) is widely considered to be a pioneer in the recognition and distribution of sound-poetry. Since the 1950’s his prolific independent production has featured collaborations with avant-garde notables such as Raoul Hausmann and William S. Burroughs, whilst establishing an audience for an artistic practice that was yet to find one. His personal production — consisting of typewriter-poems and sound performances — is an inspired attempt to open the medium of poetry into a form described by Chopin as ‘a poetry of spaces’: demonstrating ‘the sensory superiority of sound as opposed to normal speech, and […] free man from the straightjacket of words and letters and from his obedience to didactics.’
As part of the exhibition ‘Three Minutes’, Cubitt Gallery is proud to be host to the private archive of Henri Chopin (from October 10 through November 9 2008 only), which includes a large selection of his printed matter, typewriting-poems and records. The conceptual function of this exhibition is to represent the first three minutes of a proposed documentary production on Chopin by British artist Tris Vonna-Michell. During his lifetime Henri Chopin has been an important part of Vonna-Michell’s production, featuring as one of the protagonists in the installation he conceived for Cubitt in October 2007. Exactly one year later, Cubitt and Tris Vonna-Michell join hands again to shed light on the extraordinary Henri Chopin and extend his unlimited drive and curiosity into the realm of a contemporary production. The exhibition takes two parts: Vonna-Michell’s gallery installation which combines his own work with Chopin’s and the archive, fully accessible and readable for the first time in a public space.
The archive on Chopin will include a complete collection of his magazines Cinquième Saison and OU, which feature unique collaborations with Dadaists (such as Raoul Hausmann), Surrealists (such as Ladislav Novak and Brion Gysin), Lettrists (François Dufrêne), Fluxus and Concrete Poets (such as William S. Burroughs and Bob Cobbing). In retrospect these magazines can be seen as unique ‘hard drives’ of early modernism which continue to influence and inspire the making of writing, performance and poetry. The individual publications are exhibitions in themselves, comparable to Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Boîte-en-valise’: housing an entire oeuvre in small models of different format, medium and style. They consist of posters, prints, drawings, objects and phonetic records by all the aforementioned collaborators and many more.
This emphasis on the re-presentation of artistic production is addressed through the Cubitt installation by means of material relating to events long past: posters advertising performances and silk screen prints depicting Chopin’s typewriter-poems, in such a way linking his practice with Vonna-Michell’s. This will be combined with a large format image documenting Tris Vonna-Michell’s installation at Bozar Center for Fine Arts, Brussels (October, 2006). This work, largely based on Chopin, was stolen in its entirety from the gallery.
Archive open for consultation from October 11, 12:00PM. The archive will be available on demand during exhibition opening hours (for insurance purposes we must ask that you bring ID if you wish to view the archive).
The exhibition is organised in association with London based curator Caterina Riva. Special thanks go out to Frédéric Acquaviva, Gianni Morghen and Brigitte Morton.
Henri Chopin ‘Three Minutes’ is supported by the Elephant Trust.
Cubitt’s exhibition programme (October 2007 – March 2009) is supported by: Outset Contemporary Art Fund, 176/Zabludowicz Collection, the Free Rein Foundation and others.
Cubitt is funded by Arts Council England.