Here we are at the project in envelopes.
Over the past year, I’ve been working with artist Lawrence Epps on a book of chance, a collection of creative and critical writing called the very last time. It launches at Firstsite in Colchester on 12th September in conjunction with the preview of AGAIN, a new participatory installation from Epps exhibiting this autumn at the British Ceramics Biennial. AGAIN centres on an arcade coin pusher, altered by the artist and stocked with thousands of porcelain and terracotta coins which the viewer can take away and pocket – or gamble and enter into a wager with the artwork.
The book is no less of a gamble and has arrived out of the nerve and nous of the contributors who each decided to toss the golden NO I posted to them, attached to a letter inviting them to write a section of the book. On the other side of the coin, a terracotta YES.
Some of the writers even posted a picture of the coin on the back of their hand, dull red YES up, to prove the decision was, despite what it might look like, out of their hands. They would write; chance had it. I received YES after YES and while it quickly became tempting to run more of my life according the way the penny falls, the texts that started to arrive on my desk spun outwards to loss, desire, prayer, pricelessness, low ceilings, betting slips. It seems we are already standing at the penny falls, waiting for the great cascade, watching for the trickle-down, hoping for a YES.
Around the book’s green baize, then, are poets, artists, academics, an archaeologist, a psychoanalyst, a valuation expert, a bookmaker, a mudlarker. I am enormously proud to announce the contributors:
Geoffrey Munn, Managing Director of Wartski, jewellers by appointment to the Queen, and Antiques Roadshow expert examines a valuable ball of whale bile
Joey Connolly, poet, asks how the bookmaker feels about the dogs
Dr Richard Kelleher, Assistant Keeper Coins at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge talks coins that sweat and currency that forgets
Esther Leslie Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, finds Walter Benjamin in the video arcade
Viktor Mazin, psychoanalyst and curator of the Freud Dream Museum, tosses the non-Euclidean coin
Tamarin Norwood, artist and scholar, writes to the last word of casino design: PERCEPTION BEATS REALITY
Marie Toseland, artist and Open School East associate, measures the elastic horizon of desire
And two new translations from Anna Gunin and Anne Marie Jackson.
Thank you to all the writers for taking a punt on me.
Please do join us for the launch of both AGAIN + the very last time at Firstsite. Coins will be falling from 2pm and there will be readings and performances from our contributors once you have lost all you have won on AGAIN. For more information on the launch event and how to get to Firstsite, please see the gallery’s listing.
Following the launch, the very last time will be available to purchase online, in some gallery bookshops and at the British Ceramics Biennial shop. Please get in touch via the contact page if you have any questions.
AGAIN + the very last time has been made possible with the generous support of the Arts Council England, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the British Ceramics Biennial, Potclays, Wysing Arts Centre and the Firstsite Associate Artist Bursary Programme.