Michele Horrigan Back
Publication Scaffold and John Carson

Along with Sean Lynch and Jo Melvin, I co-curated Publication Scaffold, a series of events, performances, installations and discussions held during 2019’s Dublin Art Book Fair at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Dublin. It was a busy time – some highlights included a launch of curator John Hutchinson’s new publication, while Ruth Clinton and Niamh Moriarty debuted a new performance. Emanuele De Donno revealed the inner workings of Viaindustriae, an expansive publishing and research initiative based in Foligno, Italy, and Gareth Bell-Jones spoke of artist John Latham’s challenges to ideas of perceived knowledge. Wayne Daly described his work and entanglements with the legacies of visionary architect Cedric Price, and Dan Starling Skyped in from Vancouver his adaption of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For these and more contributions from Adam Chodzko, Cesare Pietroiusti, Barry Flanagan, Vukašin Nedeljkovic, Renata Pekowska, Gene Beery, Ramon Kassam, Elisabetta Benassi and Juan Sandoval, a forty-minute podcast produced by Michael Holly and downloadable catalogue are available here 

Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland Arts Grant

John Carson, Evening Echoes, 1993–95

A particular highlight you can hear on the podcast was John Carson’s expansive psychogeographic artwork Evening Echoes, realised with Conor Kelly between 1993 and 1995. Describing it, John writes, ‘Between 3 and 5pm on any weekday in the British Isles, newspaper vendors in various cities are calling out to attract attention. Some have been on the same pitch on the street for decades. Over the years some have become more economical with their cries, shortening newspaper names into indecipherable utterances whilst others choose to embellish their calls into musical chants, guttural squawks or melodious yodels. In each call in each city there is contained some trace of the name of the newspaper, together with the regional accent and personal voice of the vendor – I decided to enlist the help of composer and musician Conor Kelly to document and celebrate this disappearing phenomenon and we toured to 23 cities in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, recording and photographing newspaper sellers.’

John Carson, A Bottle of Stout in Every Pub in Buncrana, 1978

An Irish iteration was presented in Temple Bar Gallery + Studios back in 1995, where John recalls placing an elaborate number of speakers both inside the gallery and out on the street. Apparently, a fight erupted on the street outside one day during the exhibition, when the abrasive tones of some of his recordings were mistaken as aggressive shouts, which in turn began fisticuffs on the street between two young men.

I’ve been involved with John’s practice for a few years now – in 2016, my publishing initiative ACA PUBLIC reissued his seminal A Bottle of Stout in Every Pub in Buncrana. Set in rural Donegal in 1978, his xeroxed book of documents and letters describe an ambition to drink in all of Buncrana’s twenty-two bars in one day, before an attempt to persuade Guinness to sponsor a poster about the endeavour. John’s pub-crawl-as-art is a fabled example of conceptual art in Ireland, and the publication quickly sold out, with events and launches in Vancouver, Derry and London. In 2019, I worked closely with John and artist/archivist Sinead Bligh when living in Pittsburgh to help fully archive and further explore decades of his artistic, curatorial and educational work in Ireland, the United States and Britain, something I hope leads to further research and exhibitions in the next years.