Gossip, Scandal and Good Manners is the first solo presentation in the UK of the work of Mexican artist, writer and publisher, Ulises Carrión (1941–1989). Comprising an exhibition, series of events and publication, the project invokes the spirit of Carrión’s practice through the activation of his provocative propositions and methodologies.
Incorporating concrete and visual poetry, mail art, videos, sound works and ‘bookworks’, Carrión’s diverse practice focused on language as a raw material and the exploration of alternative forms of distribution and communication. Gossip, Scandal and Good Manners, the video work from which the exhibition takes its title, is built around marginal patterns of everyday information exchange, or gossip.
Carrión’s practice emerged from literary and concrete poetry circles in Mexico before he moved to Europe in the mid-1960s, at which point he also became associated with Fluxus. He promoted a transnational dialogue with his mail art projects and initiatives such as Other Books and So, active as a bookshop in Amsterdam (1975–1978) and subsequently as an archive. Apart from hosting exhibitions, performances and the making and publishing of artists’ books, the shop also functioned as an informal meeting point for artists and publishers.
Informed by the structure of Other Books and So, for this presentation The Showroom’s gallery space doubles as a flexible platform for performances, seminars, talks, screenings, and a display of the different elements of Carrión’s practice alongside rare archival material. This material is presented in a modular display system conceived by Fay Nicolson and Oliver Smith, which takes its inspiration from the cardboard vitrines designed by Martha Hellion for the FLUXshoe exhibition that toured the UK in early 1970s. The display structure also houses a range of contemporary artist books that continue in the spirit of the ‘bookwork’, as well as re-editioned versions of Carrión's own ‘bookworks’ and contextual material on his practice.
An accompanying publication designed by Fraser Muggeridge Studio provides documentation of the exhibition, project and events programme, together with newly commissioned texts setting Carrión’s work in context.
Gossip, Scandal and Good Manners is curated by the first year MA Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art in collaboration with Martha Hellion.
This project is realised with the kind support of the Monique Beudert Fund. With special thanks to Martha Hellion, without whom this project would not have been possible.
With thanks to the Mexican Embassy (London), the Netherlands Media Art Institute (Amsterdam), Chelsea College of Art & Design Library, Archive for Small Press and Communication (Bremen), Ibid Projects, The Block and Yume Pictures.
Curated by first year MA Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art in collaboration with Martha Hellion, this project comprised an exhibition, series of events and publication.More