Weekly Reader → ✓✓ Read Receipts

I had to rethink the Weekly Reader—this was at the forefront of my mind while I was considering how this blog frames culture—I never really liked the name but I ended up using it because it’s simple and vaguely descriptive. But, it came to a point where my reticence to post was partly down to an irritation with ‘Weekly Reader’—what was the point of putting effort into a post only to hide it behind a dull title?

My relationship to the blog came to feel like a friend I’d left on read receipts. I’ve done it with people. People do it with me. It’s a state of existence that’s perhaps unique in history; knowing that they know that you know… et cetera. I enjoy writing. I meant to update the blog. I was still reading every day, I drafted posts, I always meant to publish. But, for one reason or another, I didn’t get around to it. Soon, the cycle of anxious failure to send surrounds you and merges with bills and emails and applications. So—it’s now ✓✓ Read Receipts. It’s a little more interesting, and it reflects the fact that sometimes I get distracted, or forget, or can’t think what to say.

In the course of reassessing everything I went through some of the old writing I did when I first started this blog, just over seven years back, before I’d properly started studying or found my niche. I always imagined that this writing would be an embarrassment. I actually deleted most of this work. But some stayed in pdfs, printed pages, and forgotten folders. Taking a look over this work now, I’m actually pleased with the energy and commitment I had to even the smallest shows. Most of this writing was deleted. Some is truly awful, some is dated, and some I might rewrite and post. I’ve also included here some more recent work that never got published.

  • In 1997, with knowledge of his impending death, Roth started to videotape nearly every aspect of his life. Dieter Roth: Diaries at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh. The oldest piece I could recover, unfortunately I didn’t back up the earlier work. Dieter Roth’s obsessive and humourous archive was a solid show from one of my favourite galleries. Roth’s work is unfortunately underrated. While there are pieces in the Tate’s collection, it’s a shame to see that they’re only drawings and paintings. I suppose that food art doesn’t keep well.
  • it’s easy to pick out his wide-ranging influences; from the meticulous art of medieval manuscript illuminations, to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Pieter Bruegel paintings, and Where’s Wally books. Tom Edwards: The Procession to Caute at Beach London. This remains one of my favourite shows I’ve ever seen in London. It shows that a simple conceit, few works, and a small space can create a very strong show. This piece is tiny, it was written on the bus back from the show. I always thought it would be worth interviewing him, but at the time didn’t feel that I’d be able to. It’s a double shame too, as the Beach shop has since closed.
  • The role of the embalmer is perhaps the most overlooked in the whole process of death. While doctors, detectives, and even pathologists have been elevated by fictional dramas and semi-autobiographies, embalmers remain hidden. Flat Death at the Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. The Open Eye Gallery is one of the stops I always make whenever I’m in Liverpool, which is about every three months or so. I was particularly taken by Jordan Baseman’s work around the politics of embalmers, and the idea of their job paralleling that of the photographer.
  • Unfairly nestled into a corner of the room, a black and white photograph of a window-washer wiping suds off a shop front, the thick white bubbles merge with the border of the photo-paper with the effect that the man appears to be painting himself out of the photograph. Saul Leiter at The Photographers’ Gallery, London. This piece could be reduced down to that single sentence. Not that the rest is unpublishable, rather that I’d like to publish a review that was just a single sentence, an image of images.
  • we found ourselves repeating a journey that thousands of families, hundreds of thousands of individuals, made each summer from the 1800s right up until the mid-twentieth century. Hop Picking in Kent with Kathrin Böhm. More recently, while I interned at Delfina Foundation, I worked with artist Kathrin Böhm. I wrote on a day trip we took out to the hop fields of Kent, part of Company Drinks’ social history programme. Unfortunately this was never published, so it’s an exclusive.