Nick Thurston, “Document Practices: The Art of Propagating Access”

Thursday, October 14, 2021 at 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Virtual Event

This talk will introduce arguments and examples from Nick Thurston’s current book project, Document Practices, which explores aesthetic and political frameworks for analyzing acts of re-publishing already public documents. With case studies that range from shadow libraries to experimental videos, and ideas about “the document” which haunt the sociology of literature as much as documentary arts practice, Nick will sketch out the project’s starting points and some of its key debates. 

Documents remain the primary media form of public information and record, so the social and epistemological status of “the document” should be central to a spectrum of debates, from data literacy norms to intellectual property claims. Yet, as buzz terms like “post-truth” and “deep fake” remind us, the social lives of documents are entwined with the techno-political conditions of the communities who produce, save and share them. As such, the status of any document and its content are both contextually variable. Since the 1970s, as a response to the suppression of marginalized histories and the rise of personal computing, radical practitioners from across the arts have shifted from representing “the document” as a symbol of power to critically (and sometimes illegally) re-publishing documents as an artistic act.

With this macro picture in mind, Nick’s project takes the micro perspective of art criticism to figure out some comparative frameworks for thinking across media and across artforms about the public-ness of publishing.

These preliminaries settled, he did not care to put off any longer the execution of his design, urged on to it by the thought of all the world was losing by his delay, seeing what wrongs he intended to right, grievances to redress, injustices to repair, abuses to remove, and duties to discharge.

About Nick Thurston

Nick Thurston is a writer and editor who makes artworks. He is the author of two experimental books, Reading the Remove of Literature (2006) and Of the Subcontract (2013), the latter of which has been translated into Dutch (2016), Spanish (2019) and German (2020). He writes regularly for the literary and arts press as well as for independent and academic publications. His most recent book is the co-edited collection Post-Digital Cultures of the Far Right (2018). His recent exhibitions include shows at Transmediale (Berlin, 2018), Q21 (Vienna, 2018), MuHKA (Antwerp, 2018) and HMKV (Dortmund, 2019). 

From 2006–18 he was a co-editor of the influential publishing collective Information As Material (York), with whom he was Writer in Residence at Whitechapel Gallery (London, 2011–12). He has been Artist in Residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin, 2014) and was awarded a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists (2020). He is currently Associate Professor in Fine Art at the University of Leeds, where he co-founded the Artists’ Writings & Publications Research Centre and is a fellow of the Poetry Centre.

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Academic, Arts/Music/Film

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School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS)

Comparative Media Studies/Writing
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