Notes on Conceptualisms: a dialogue between Vanessa Place and Tania Ørum

22 February 2012-22 June 2012

The following dialogue was composed partially in-person and partially via e-mail. The initial conversation was a symposium held at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts between Tania Ørum and Vanessa Place, on the occassion of the Danish publication of Noter om konceptualismer (Notes on Conceptualisms). As this conversation was the impetus for the series, it made good sense to start here.

Tania Ørum  Notes on Conceptualisms is co-authored by Vanessa Place and Robert Fitterman, so it seems appropriate to present it in a joint discussion. And since conceptual writing is an international phenomenon, it seems equally appropriate that the discussion should take place between an American writer and a European scholar.

Notes on Conceptualisms is a small book, almost a booklet, but has created quite a stir since its publication in the USA in 2009.

On Wednesday, June 3 2009, Ron Silliman wrote on his blog:

Notes on Conceptualisms appears an unimposing project. The slender sky-blue book, collaboratively written by Vanessa Place & Rob Fitterman & published by Ugly Duckling Presse, slips easily into one’s rear pocket […]. But it’s a book you’re going to want to carry around with you as you go about your daily business, being the most ambitious & serious account of the dynamics underlying emergent poetics in the United States I’ve encountered in years. In this sense, the little volume makes a big noise – it wants to stand on its own alongside [earlier influential manifestos]. Specifically, it wants to place conceptual writing – including flarf & more than a few kinds of appropriative techniques – into a historical context that renders all that has come before obsolete & irrelevant. It may have cordial relations with other avant & post-avant projects over the past 50 years, but conceptualism (so framed, at least) also wants to consign them to the dustheap of history.[1]

Ron Silliman sees Notes on Conceptualisms as consigning him and his generation to ”the dustheap of history” and announcing the rise of a new literary generation, in the characteristic gesture of an avant-garde manifesto.  The introduction to Notes on Conceptualisms, however, presents it as ”a collection of notes, aphorisms, quotes and inquiries on conceptual writing” and thus ”far from a definitive text and much closer to a primer, a purposefully incomplete starting place, where readers, we hope, can enter so as to participate in the shaping of these ideas: to add, subtract, multiply.” (9-10) The stress on incompleteness and beginnings does seem to indicate that something new is happening. But towards the end of the introduction the authors state that ”We are painfully aware that Conceptual Art was termed nearly half a century ago, and much of what we address might equally be called post-conceptual or neo-conceptual (to borrow terms from the visual arts).” So, not so new after all.

If we turn to the influential critic Marjorie Perloff, she sees Notes on Conceptualisms as ”itself a conceptual art work—a fittingly twenty-first century manifesto that playfully recycles the manifesto art of the previous century from Marinetti’s ‘Words in Freedom’ and Tristan Tzara’s ‘Monsieur Antipyrine’ to such Language Poetry manifestos as Ron Silliman’s ‘The New Sentence’ or Lyn Hejinian’s ‘The Rejection of Closure.’  The intriguing collection of ‘notes, aphorisms, quotes and inquiries on conceptual writing,’ numbered (or rather misnumbered) and assembled by Vanessa Place and Robert Fitterman in this brilliant little book, have the ring of true authority—or do they?  Just about every proposition here could be reversed, countered, or at least questioned.”[2]  So Perloff would seem to position the book as a work of art, and thus outside her own field of criticism and theory, as presented in her book Unoriginal Genius, Poetry by Other Means in the New Century (2010).

The scholar and poet Craig Dworkin situates the ”curious chronology” of Notes on Conceptualisms in relation to his own UBUweb Anthology of Conceptual Writing (2003) and the printed volume edited by Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith, Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (2011), developed from the online collection, but not published until eight years later. He sees Place and Fitterman’s booklet as simultaneously shaping the subject it purports to describe and ”substantively remolding the subject on which it seems to coldly comment.”[3]

The commentators on Notes on Conceptualisms thus all seem to have some personal stake in the reception of this little book, and Perloff and Dworkin seem to share Place and Fitterman’s simultaneous involvement in both shaping and describing conceptual writing.

The first thing I noted was that it is called Notes on Conceptualisms in pluralso apparently its two writers do not see conceptualism as one thing.  They say on p.37 (7b) – and here I should perhaps make a digression and quote Silliman’s description of the use of numbering in Notes on Conceptualisms:

The use of numbering here is interesting. Following the general schema of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, with its presumptuous attempt to capture all-that-is-the-case into a set of seven numbered sentences, augmented with a structured (and numbered) series of comments & comments upon comments, Place & Fitterman’s argument proceeds 1 through 13, with the notable difference that the Ur-set of master sentences is incomplete. There is no number 3, for example, although we do find 3a & 3b. Later, we don’t get even this much, going straight down to 9a1, 9a2 & 9a3, leaving a careful (if not, by then, overtly cautious) reader to wonder not only the “nature” of 9a but of 9 itself, which may or may not have to do with the tensions between fidelity & community.

- so in 7b  on p. 37 Place and Fitterman say:

Note that Kant maintains only the concept (e.g. Beauty) is permanent. Note that conceptualism maintains that only the concept (e.g. the idea) is (exists). Note that Conceptualisms maintains only the concept of ”is” (e.g. materiality or other invocation) is permanent. 

Here we have several historical layers: Kant, of course, refers to traditional aesthetics and philosophy. I tend to read conceptualism as the conceptualism primarily in/of the visual arts from the late 1960s and early 1970s, which is also the conceptualism mainly represented in Craig Dworkin’s original UBUweb anthology. And I read Conceptualisms (represented by the book, since it is capitalised) as a later, wiser version, mainly in literature, which does not accept the dichotomy of: Concept versus materiality. Significantly, 7b. goes on to question the parallel splitting into body and mind, text and context, subject and object, and suggest the Sobject as the relevant contemporary entity – ”a comforting proof that ‘I’ do not exist.” (38)

Conceptualisms thus is a post-conceptual, post-deconstructive kind of writing, which no longer believes in the dichotomies, standards and values of previous art. Instead the first sentence and the first part of the book says that ”Conceptual writing is allegorical writing” (13, 15 etc.). This refers, among other things, to notions of baroque allegorical writing as ”a frozen dialectic” whose ”figural properties are necessarily deformed/destroyed”, so that their best representation is ”the figure of The Woman, frozen between object and concept, absence and presence.”[4] This is why: ”8.a. Rewriting obliterates the past in favor of history as appropriation rewrites the present in favor of the future.” (40), and why: ”8.b. Nevermore = nevertheless.”

I take this to mean that although Conceptualisms does not believe in the traditional or modernist or postmodernist criteria and categories, it still has no choice but to use existing language – but tries to use it under erasure, ie: while showing and critiquing its fallacies.

Thus in 2e (18) Place and Fitterman argue that ”in post-conceptual work, there is no distinction between manipulation and production, object and sign, contemplation and consumption.” And that ”Interactivity has been proved as potentially banal as a Disney cruise, active as a Pavlovian dinner bell.” Literature of the Conceptualisms kind is thus free to use: ”Collage, pastiche, procedure, constraint, performance, citation, documentation, and appropriation (part or whole)”[5] But, as the text goes on to ask: ”What is the difference between conceptual collage and literary others?” (43) – such as for instance Pound or Ashbery? The answer is, it may or may not differ. (45)

I see this as an example of why Notes on Conceptualisms is not an ordinary manifesto (nor, as Silliman argues, an attempt to put all previous literature into the dustbin), but, as the text indicates, notes, reflections - often rather hermetic and implicit reflections - on different aspects of (post-) conceptual writing. 

The introduction states that, ”We use the term Conceptual Writing in the broadest sense, so that it intersects other terms such as: allegory, appropriation, piracy, flarf, identity theft, sampling, constraint and others. Conceptual Writing, in fact, might best be defined not by the strategies used but by the expectations of the readership or thinkership.” (10). Since there is a profusion of theoretical references and names of theorists in Notes on Conceptualisms, the appeal to a ”thinkership” (a term borrowed from Goldsmith) may seem directed towards mainly academic readers and especially the small circle of international writers-and-academics who make up the Brother/Sisterhood of conceptual writing. I’ll gladly make use of this invitation to readers to ask you to expand on some of the themes and notions in your book:

I would like you to expand on your notion of allegory, and why conceptual writing is allegorical.

Vanessa Place  Conceptual writing is allegorical writing in the prepositional sense. In other words, it is not allegorical of a grand narrative, in age-old literary tradition, nor allegorical of petite histories, à la ’80s postmodernism, but is simply allegorical of. The text itself does not necessarily signal this reading or that reading—but remains inert, all thin surface, all dumb material. It is the aesthetic context that renders the work necessarily allegorical, and that context is supplied only in the textual encounter. An appellate brief in a poetry journal means something, does it not?

Tania Ørum   “Allegorical of” seems to me to mean that the text carries with it some kind of reference, for instance to the context from which is has been appropriated, as in the case of your appellate brief. To the readers who recognise this context, this will add meaning to the interpretation of the text. To the reader who does not recognise the context, the text will probably be a little bewildering. So you get two classes of readers, one comprising the circle of informed colleagues and critics, and another comprising the wider circle of readers exposed to the text, for instance at a reading.  Could you say something about the different kinds of reactions you get from readers. Do you aim to communicate with both classes of readers?

Vanessa Place  I am not trying to communicate, which I think is the more communal move. In other words, what I am trying to do is simply clear the space for those encountering the text to encounter the text on their own terms. Someone versed in art history and the poetic avant garde will have a very different engagement than someone who (as has happened) happens to be in a bar where I’m doing a reading. All reactions are equally legitimate and equally expansive, as all reactions have have their point of origin in the moment of their reception. If I may, I would say this is what differentiates conceptualism from postmodernism, which debated on whether the point of discursive origin was in the énonciateur (Barthes) or énonciation (Derrida), both of which turned on questions of authorship, more or less.

Tania Ørum   On p. 20 (2g) you say that: ”Allegorical writing (particularly in the form of appropriated conceptual writing) does not aim to critique the culture industry from afar, but to mirror it directly.” This is akin to readymade artworks: ”The critique is in the reframing.” And later you note that allegory and conceptual writing assume context. (23). Could you explain in what way conceptual writing mirrors the culture industry? And in what way the reframing is a critique? Is the reframing the same as assuming context?

Vanessa Place  Prefatorily, I’m not sure if the reframing is always a critique. It may be equally an endorsement. That said, the mirror oftentimes lies in the simple act of reflection. This is how mirrors both reflect and project. That said, reframing always assumes a context in which another frame is always assumed. I understand that these texts exist somewhere else, typically in a more functional context. So when I encounter a traffic report in Kenneth Goldsmith’s work, I don’t necessarily understand this as working information, but more as how information works. What is being circulated is not traffic.

Tania Ørum  There is clearly a meta-awareness operating here. By simply appropriating and exhibiting a piece of culture industry you inevitably draw more detailed attention to its characteristics. I can appreciate it as a critical intervention to de-automise the reception of everyday bits of culture industry and other information. And there may also be a critical point in juxtaposing different kinds of text which don’t normally go together – I thought that was the point of Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho: to produce writing which mirrors the way television news passes on easily from wars and murders to weather reports.

But I also find it interesting that you do not necessarily claim a critical position for conceptual writing. Most experimental groups which have appeared during the last hundred years have presented themselves as critical. Do you find it alright not to be seen as critical?

Vanessa Place  I think it is mandatory. Though, if I were less disingenuous, I would say this is the potentially liberatory subtext.

Tania Ørum  I am interested in your distinction between pure conceptualism and impure conceptualism /the baroque. (25, 5a). As described in the book, pure conceptualism negates the need for reading,  and its readymade qualities thus ”capitulate to and mirror the easy consumption/generation of text and the devaluation of reading in the larger culture”. I believe this is what you call  ”radical mimesis, an act of monastic fidelity to the word as flesh.” (20, 2g). I take that to refer to such works as Kenneth Goldsmith’s retyping of a random issue of The New York Times, or, in visual art, Joseph Kosuth’s ”One and Three Chairs” (1965) which consists of a chair, a photo of an identical chair and the lexicon definition of the word chair.

Impure conceptualism /the baroque, on the other hand, is described as a matter of textual excess and extravagance, which ”exaggerates reading in the traditional textual sense” (25), and is thus ”defeated by the easy consumption/generation of text and the devaluation of reading in the larger culture.” Could you expand on this difference? And perhaps give examples of impure conceptualism.

Vanessa Place The two ways of not reading are not unlike the two ways of starvation: one of textual abstinence—the text that does not need to be read, for isn’t it enough to see the definition of chair in order to see a chair, or to see a chair in order to see the definition of chair—and one of textual gluttony, the text that is too full for reading, at least in this day and age. The modernist dream of the five books becoming the cauchemar of Google books, the too much that is never enough. Witness Kim Rosenfield’s mashups of evolutionary theory, psychoanalytic treatises, magazine beauty guides and amusement park tour booklets. In other words, you tell me.

Tania Ørum  So in any case, regardless of which reading strategy you adopt, people do not read the text?  I agree that reading and literature has suffered a loss of prestige during the last fifty years. And I tend to think that a book like Finnegans Wake and other modernist classics could probably not have been published today. But even so, I do not see the present situation and the future of reading in quite as gloomy terms as you seem to do. I may be professionally biased as a teacher of literature, but according to my sources, people actually read quite a lot. Even “difficult” texts like the writing of Gertrude Stein have found many new readers recently. But of course experimental writing will never be read by the large audiences of mainstream literature.

Vanessa Place And we are happy for this, aren't we?

Tania Ørum  These definitions of pure and impure conceptualism seem to imply an acceptance of the limited range of avant-garde writing. Since there is no hope of reaching a wider audience, should conceptual writing be seen as a retreat to an academic environment, whose readers will also be able to appreciate the theoretical references in Notes on Conceptualisms?

Vanessa Place  There is a difference, perhaps significant, between the critical structures of conceptualism, or avant gardism, and its stuff. The stuff of conceptualism (the weather reports, the statements of fact, the list of shops in a shopping mall) can be easily understood by anyone. (For purposes of this conversation, ”anyone” is a certain kind of Westernized citizen.) Also easily misunderstood, which is a different form of understanding. I know what to do with a urinal. I know less what to do with a urinal on a pedestal. I may or may not turn to theory for a kind of understanding or at least interpretation; either way, I may just use it for a piss.

Tania Ørum  In what way could you use conceptual writing “for a piss”?

Vanessa Place To quote Robert Fitterman, “What’s to get?” 

Tania Ørum  Note that it says shortly after this definition: ”these are strategies of failure” and thus act as ”an  assassination of mastery”. But such failure and lack of mastery also seems to be a strategy for drawing in readers, since it ”invites the reader to redress failure, hallucinate repair.” (25) Could you elaborate on the relationship to the readers in conceptual writing?

Vanessa Place Readership is often less significant than thinkership, perhaps suggesting a less labor-intensive form of reading. That is to say, there is a (perhaps) proposition, (perhaps) instantiated (perhaps) by the work, (perhaps) triggering a reading which (perhaps) implicates (perhaps) a thinking. At each point of contingency, the one encountering the work must make a determination whether this particular perhaps applies, and how to apply it: what is/are the proposition/s attached to each turn, and how might those propositions be made allegorically significant. Note the making, as the material itself has no allegorical significance, of either transcendent or immanent variety. It is this attachment of symbolism after the fact (post-production) that distinguishes conceptualism. The reader/thinker is tempted, not to divine significance from the text, but to merely append it. To go tête-à-bête with the writing.

Tania Ørum  So the failure and the assumption that readers will not actually read the text could be seen as a kind of modest expectation: The writer tries to build in propositions implicating a process of reflection, but it is alright if the reader does not respond to the invitation or does not get the point of the particular appropriation or de-contextualisation?

Vanessa Place Or put another way, who am I to say?

Tania Ørum  But perhaps failure is not a modest thing at all, since you say that “Failure is the goal of conceptual writing” (22, 3b). That reminds me of a highly ambitious writer, Samuel Beckett whose motto was ”fail again, fail again better”. What is your notion of failure? And what are the ambitions of conceptual writing?

Vanessa Place As for me—fail again, fail worse. Though there is the lovely tautology of aspiring to failure: if one succeeds, one has failed at failing.

Tania Ørum  I assume there must be thinkership going on at the writer’s end as well, a conceptual strategy aimed at some sort of effect?

Vanessa Place Strategy, sans specific effect. There should be a particular—that is to say individual—effect, which may include the minimal (or maximal) effect of absolute boredom, but no specified outcome.

Tania Ørum  You distinguish between open and closed conceptual writing (36, 7a2). Could you expand on these notions and their implications for texts and readers. How do these terms relate to the categories of pure and impure conceptual writing?

Vanessa Place We were attempting to distinguish between texts whose allegorical registers are more expansive—because their surfaces are so thin—and those of a more hermetic slant—because their surfaces have greater depth. Impure conceptualism, like the baroque, tends to be closed. The frames are relatively set, the readings relatively constrained. The purer the conceptual gesture, the more effaced the text, the more work for the reader in the thinking, though less in the reading. These proportions are reversed for the impure. As a tangible example, when I perform an erasure or silence piece, I say nothing for the duration of the reading. This makes the audience think very hard, or at least gives them the opportunity to do so. When I read a baroque or impure work, the audience must read along with me, attempting to understand the language as such. While I cannot say that they think less, they are certainly given a great deal of linguistic assistance in their thinking.

Tania Ørum  In that way, the more room and liberty you give people to re/act for themselves, the more difficult or demanding the reading or listening process will be. Perhaps you could describe your experience of performing Cage’s piece here?

Vanessa Place I’ve done two versions of Cage’s 4’33”: the straightforward silence, where I overtly maintain the position of master, standing at the podium, looking at the audience, going through the performance of reading, page turning, sipping water, etc; and the neglectful master, where I left the room for 4’33”. In the former, the room becomes very tense with the effort of maintaining our positions despite the lack of performance, or rather, despite the failure of me to give something beyond the performance of performance—something that guises the relationship as being about something else. There’s no food at the dinner, so to speak. The second was fascinating: after a minute or so, during which there was apparently a discussion about what the audience “should” do, be silent or whatever, about 10 or 15 of the 100 audience members in the room came out to see what I was doing.  The remaining participants resumed the conversation that had begun before my performance. So that given the opportunity to fill the performance with whatever aesthetic experience they chose, they chose to either follow the master or carry on with business as usual, to follow, in other words, an earlier master. This was my experience. They may have seen it quite differently.

Tania Ørum  The relation between conceptual art and conceptual writing seems to be a somewhat sensitive spot. When you say in your introduction to Notes on Conceptualisms that you ”are painfully aware that Conceptual Art was termed nearly half a century ago, and much of what we address might equally be called post-conceptual or neo-conceptual (to borrow terms from the visual arts)” (10), I am reminded of the artist Bryon Gysin, who in 1959 famously said that ”Literature is fifty years behind painting”. Do you think literature is still ”behind” the visual arts? If so, why would this be the case? And how should literature deal with this situation?

Vanessa Place While I don’t think there is a behind, if there were, literature should beg art’s forgiveness for being so aesthetically inattentive. Contrarily, art should ask literature to excuse it for taking language so literally.

Tania Ørum  So is there a dialogue going on between literature and the visual arts?

Vanessa Place I believe we are moving past the point of dialogue to soliloquy: text is image, image, text.

Tania Ørum  Literary critics as well as writers are beginning to apply terms from the visual arts to literature. Does this imply that the difference between literature and the visual arts is no longer relevant? The avant-garde movements have always worked across the borders dividing the arts, is this a part of the heritage of conceptual writing?

Vanessa Place Precisely so. One of the great legacies of Conceptualism is language is image.

Tania Ørum  That sounds rather like concrete or visual poetry to me. But conceptual writing does not necessarily seem to me to be very visual?

Vanessa Place Text is inherently visual; we read both image and language as a matter of bilingual form, particularly as we receive image/text interchangeably via page/screen. Concretism was interested in the prosody of the visual as such—conceptualism in this sense is disinterested insofar as it has no visual bias.

Tania Ørum  When it comes to institutional critique, which has been a hallmark of artworks of the 80s and 90s, you point out (with Alexander Alberro) that ”Institutional Critique is not only intertwined with Post-conceptualism, but has been absorbed into much of the artwork that is made today” (11 (48)),  as well as having been absorbed by capitalism (11a (48)). ”Institutional Critique, as an arm of Conceptual Art”, you note, cannot destroy art institutions such as museums and galleries, but aims to unveil and underscore them through demystification.” (11a (48)). However, in this case there is a difference between art institutions and ”institutions of poetry and progressive writing” (11b (49)), which ”already wield so little cultural and economic capital”. 47- 51 (11). Because of the ”vastly different relationship” of the poetry community ”to its institutions, both historically and economically”, conceptual writing ”has been increasingly shifting its attention to mass media and the larger bodies of language management, e.g. websites, ads, blogs, etc.” ((11b (49-50)) You note ”the potential for collusion” (50) and ”the tension between the concept of conceptualism (affirmatively anti-institution) and its potential practice (a new formalism = a new institutionalism).”

Could you expand on what you see as the critical and political potential of conceptual writing? And in what way it differs from the institutional critique of conceptual art?

Vanessa Place As you say, there is a tremendous difference in capital gains and potential losses between the written and visual arts. Simply put, visual art had an institution to critique relative to the commodification and circulation of art, including the failure of Conceptual art to abrogate those machinations; poetry’s commodification is simply cultural, its circulation somewhat circular. All we poets stand to lose is a rarified sense of ourselves as selves, institutionally reaffirmed by the snowflake self of the lyric and/or the cinder-self of the avant. By draining language of any special property, including the property of authorship or authority, conceptual writing de-capitalizes literature. And, as a side matter, decapitates the poet. That said, we are not fools. As Andrea Fraser has pointed out, there is no longer an institutional critique, simply institutional relations. Kenneth Goldsmith has famously read at the White House; I reasonably expect to be offered a tenured position within ten years. There is a possibly compensatory, vaguely fetishistic demand for the body of the conceptual writer to take the place of the unique formally assigned the voice of the poem. Still, given this mode of critique via collusion, I would maintain that it is possible to maintain a rigorous position of disinterest—that is to say, a stupid lack of bias. If only, as noted, because the material is so dumb. Thus the work retains some potential for political efficacy. Or, more properly put, retains nothing at all, but invites something. Though I would also note that nothing at all, otherwise known as the knowing refusal, may be the very best political act insofar as it articulates an ideology of impotence. Which may be important. At least for an American.

Tania Ørum  But it seems to me that there is already a very widespread ideology of impotence. In the 1960s and 1970s people believed they could improve things and acted together to try to change the world. Today nobody seems to believe they can do anything to change the disastrous developments we are witnessing politically, economically, ecologically etc. Is this apathy and passive resignation really a viable political strategy?

Vanessa Place Not at all. Luckily, this is not the job of poetry.

Tania Ørum  But when you make an intervention, like for instance when you move a text from the legal context of sexual offenses into the literary field, is that not a political move? Could you say something about the way your legal briefs function as literature? How does it work when you read them aloud? Does it sound good? And how do the listeners react?

Vanessa Place It must be a political move, don’t you think?  

The briefs function as literature insofar as they are literature, or that there is no difference between fictions, between epistemologies, which, after all, are always of belief.

They are very seductive read aloud. Like poetry.

They are very boring read aloud. Like poetry.

They are very insightful read aloud. Like poetry.

They are very interminable read aloud. Like poetry.

Listeners react.

Tania Ørum  I would also say that declining to publish your legal texts in the Poetry magazine because they wanted you to accompany the text with a disclaimer stating your disapproval of the acts described in the texts is a political gesture. Could you describe what happened?

Vanessa Place In July 2009, Kenneth Goldsmith curated a conceptual folio for Poetry[6]; my original submission was an excerpt from Statement of Facts. The editors rejected the submission, the only submission which was rejected, because it concerned a child rape and I had not signaled the way the reader was to interpret the text. Too, the editors did not want to “deal with” the potential reaction to a poem about a child rape. (Presumably these two things were related: had the poem signaled its reception, the reaction would have been arguably contained.) Kenny asked me if I wanted to submit another piece; I submitted the famous “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies” speech by Prissy the slave from Gone with the Wind, set in Miltonic sonnet form. The editors apparently did not have a problem with my stealing a blackface minstrel text without providing interpretive context.

Tania Ørum  Is it not a political move to select all the racist passages in Gone with the Wind and publish them in a volume called Gone with the Wind by Vanessa Place? Could you tell me what happened in this case? Were you prosecuted for infringing on copyrights?  

Vanessa Place Not yet. But I keep trying.

Sometimes it is not enough to confess to a crime.

 

Tania Ørum, b. 1945. Associate professor, Department for Cultural Studies and the Arts, University of Copenhagen. Has written widely on modernism and the avant-garde. The most recent publication is De eksperimenterende tressere, Copenhagen: Gyldendal 2009 on the cross-aesthetic experiments of the Danish avant-garde of the 1960s. Coordinator of the Danish research network ”Avantgardernes genkomst og aktualitet” (The Return and Actuality of the Avant-Gardes) supported by the Danish  Research Council for the Humanities 2002-2004. Director of the Nordic Network of Avant-Garde Studies (www.avantgardenet.eu) supported by the Nordic Research Council, Nordforsk 2005-2009.  Chairman of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (www.eam-europe.ugent.be) 2007-2008. Member of the Steering Committee of EAM 2007- . Main editor of the 4 volumes of The Cultural History of the Nordic Avant-Garde under publication/edition to appear at Rodopi, Amsterdam & New York 2012-2015.

Back to top


[1]  ronsilliman.blogspot.com

[2] I quote from the English original of Marjorie Perloff’s introduction to the Danish translation of Notes on Conceptualisms, Aarhus: Edition Afterhand 2012.

[3] I quote from the English original of Craig Dworkin’s introduction to the Danish translation of Notes on Conceptualisms.

[4] P. 40 (7c). The reference is to Walter Benjamin, and Christine Buci-Glucksmann.

[5] 10.a (43).

[6] http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/toc/2303