Ulises Carrión – Dear reader. Don’t read


Departamento de Actividades Editoriales del MNCARS, ISBN: 978-84-8026-539-3, English, 272 pages, 2016, Spain

Ulises Carrión is one of the unsung heroes of media art. He’s one of the few artists who could claim a strategic attitude traversing both media (books, zines, videos, films, sounds, mail art and performance) and roles (editor, curator, lecturer, archivist, distributor, theorist and writer). This comprehensive catalogue of the same-title exhibition at the Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid gives justice to his key figure. He seemed to consequently follow the true multiple media approach generated in the some of the 50s and 60s avant garde like, evidently, in the Beat Generation. The book form is clearly central to his work, with the conceiving of “bookworks”, and the seminal “Other books and so” bookstore he founded in Amsterdam hosting the first wave of artists’ books. But we’d consider “publishing”, or better the gesture of publishing, more as the gesture of officially releasing as content/form as art. His famous quote “writers write text, not books” clearly shows how he was able to perceive the media essence of what he was producing, imagining different forms. And the structure and the language were essential, too, as proved in “Gossip Scandal and Good Manners” his field study about how gossip spread, anticipating by a few decades the viral dimension of online information. Finally this book (with a CD containing some pieces of his conceptual poetry/sound art) properly archives his work as a living matter, preserving the possibilities of an endless array of meanings and practices.