David Wlazlo

Impact 7 Printmaking Conference

Recently I presented a paper at the printmaking conference Impact 7 (http://impact7.org.au/), held at Monash University, Caulfield, Australia.

The paper was detailing how the introductory editorial of the Art -- Language journal from 1969, published by the collaborative conceptual art group 'Art & Language' (A&L), could be read in relation to a theory of literature and the literary outlined by Jacques Derrida in This Strange Institution Called Literature, an interview published in Acts of Literature.

I wrote the paper almost a year ago, and there are some things I would do differently if I had to re-write it now. Firstly, there is an oblique reference to a comment attributed to Mel Ramsden in Charles Green's book The Third Hand. This comment is presented 'as quoted' by Melbourne curator Bruce Pollard, where Ramsden is recalled saying that A&L texts were meant to be "skim read", as opposed to read with concentration.

After reading a review of this book by Ann Stephen, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art in 2002 (Vol. 2/3, No. 2/1, 2002: 245-249.), I realised that this statement can be read in a number of different ways, and is possibly used strategically by Green to favour a particular reading of A&L's work. In any case, the remark was kind of flippant and something I could have avoided using.

Another element I would change in hindsight would be the part concerning Charles Harrison and his complex categorisation of "artist's writing" as non-literary. This is a very complicated position for Harrison and I probably didn't do this complexity justice, and as a topic is probably worth a thesis on its own.

That being said, I am glad I wrote the paper and presented it. I am attaching it here as a PDF:


Abstract: This paper examines the early work of the collaborative group Art
& Language (A&L), particularly their 1969 Editorial Introduction
to the first issue of their self-published journal Art ' Language. 
Reading through Jacques Derrida's text This Strange Institution Called
Literature, this paper examines the work of A&L in relation to a
principle of literature outlined by Derrida which grants the literary
the power to say anything and everything, while simultaneously
allowing anything said to be dismissed as fiction. This paper
discusses this principle in relation to A&L's particular
interpretation of the conceptual art movement, and relates it to
recent attempts to historicise the conceptual art movement which
valorise modes of institutional critique at the expense of other, more
self-reflective conceptual art practices.