: : JeffreyCharlesHenryPeacock : :

: : J C H P : :


Robinson Crusoe and his isolated individual economy can never be a valuable model of an economy whose problems arise precisely from the economic interaction of individuals and groups.

The islanders of art’s institutions proceed in terms of what they must themselves have produced as if they had had no hand in its production.

The chief pried into every corner of the ships cabin, all parts of which he viewed with some surprise; but it was not possible to fix his attention to any one thing a single moment. The works of art appeared to him in the same light as those of nature, and were as far removed beyond his comprehension.

1. Scabs

   Having decided in 2008 not to exhibit the drawings that we had been producing, we’ve come to being committed to do so. The decision to make no moves towards public exhibition was made within the context of JCHP’s relations of production. Its justification was that decisions made in production would be less likely effected or influenced by the relations of JCHP’s distribution. By making the decision to exhibit the drawings we accept their removal from their own relations of production; being apprehended separated from the conditions that cause them. We’ve tried to restrict the potential of the work’s distribution from becoming involved in exhibitionism and arthood. Our aim to guard against the work being reified under the standard template of ‘art-like thing’ in an institution remains vulnerable.

1a. Tears

 Previously we stored the work or gave it away. We tried to make the point that only the plan-chest, the portfolio case, the bin or the canvas removed from its stretcher bars and rolled up tight affords an object the status of being a laudable work of art. We still believe it as the most productive outcome for an art practice but acknowledge its limiting effect on a wider form of distribution. Giving the drawings away was successful in that they enjoyed some limited level of distribution. However, finding willing recipients proved difficult; people don’t want to own artworks but rather engage with them on the level of usufruct. The paradigm of exhibitionism has produced a surfeit of art-like things easily engaged with at this level. They are all exchangeable within an exclusive oligopsony.

2. The Flat Line

The production of work so far has been of single drawings. The drawing we intend to exhibit, at some point, constitutes one image made up of 15 sections. The process of drawing is done in a methodical manner: transferring the image from a gridded up reproduction on to 15 gridded up sheets of Arches Aquarelle paper (50 x 50 cm). Having decided previously to not exhibit the drawings, we still continued to produce them whilst producing supplementary material. Considered as secondary to the drawings (you have an example in your hands or on the screen); they partly substitute the drawings in terms of a limited distribution. On - Off.

2a. Material Pleasures

The one work in fifteen sections is a black and white reproduction of The Stonebreakers by Gustave Courbet of 1849.

The reproduction consists of two figures, just under life-size, on a dirt road set against a dark hillside. A limestone crag (reminiscent of Malham Cove, Yorkshire) juts out from the forested hillside. The sun is bright and it appears hot. The older man is bent on one knee that is protected by a straw bundle and raises his hammer to break a rock. The younger man is carrying a wicker hod filled with the smaller finished broken rocks. We assume this stone aggregate is used as a filling and drainage material for the road. From the full-size reproduction we can see that the clothes of the figures have been worked with particular attention, more so than the flesh that they cover. The trousers of the older man appear stiff. It’s hard to know whether it is the quality and weight of the material, rather than the ground-in dirt and sweat like the unwashed denims of a Hells Angel. The clothing also has the appearance of a stone-carved low relief. Both of the figure’s faces are obscured; one by the shade of his hat, the other by his turning to a lost profile. Clogs and shoes predominate the foreground.

Can we write this description devoid of pre-conceived historical details without sounding like simpletons? For instance, we know the box in the old man’s pocket is made of bone… type Jura into Google and you get Limestone… Courbet’s own description of the painting… &c… to describe it as drily as the picture is itself… Or do we resort to a hierarchy of text in which the illustrative details are in a smaller type, similar to the first draft of this Organum being handwritten to indicate it being a preliminary version…? but by doing that, leave ourselves open to the accusation of being ponces & poseurs…

The reproduction was printed in three horizontal strips.

The top strip:

Three quarters of the background consists of a hillside covered by trees in shade

The limestone crag

Small triangle of bright sky

The middle strip, from right to left:

A Stonebreaker’s hammer

Felt hat

Metal cooking pot/ spoon/ chunk of bread laid out on a white cloth

The blackened cinders of a small fire for cooking

The hands of the older man and his large white sleeve

A corduroy fronted waistcoat with large hole and pocket holding some kind of box

On the ground a large entrenching tool

A wicker basket with leather strap lifted by the younger man holding the finished stones

A large tear in his shirt

On the ground a larger willow back pannier holding a ditch-edging tool

The lower strip, from right to left:

The large rock to be broken

Smaller chippings to be collected

Wooden clogs

The straw to protect his knees

A scattering of stones of various sizes

The younger man’s leather shoes

The large signature ‘G. Courbet’

The material of things described in paint:

Leather strap of baskets, leather shoes, leather straps to fasten the clogs, the skin of the old man

Various cloths of various weights, cotton, corduroy, cotton canvas, felt

Rocks, crags, the soil and dirt

Wicker pannier, willow basket, straw bundle, corn growing at the side of the road

The wooden shafts of the tools, wooden clogs, charcoal of the fire, the forest background

The metal working end of tools, the cooking pot, the spoon

2b. A Chronology of The Stonebreakers Painting

  2c. Neither Use Nor Ornament…

We don’t want to make our pencil version of The Stonebreakers approachable and generic to an indifferent audience functioning as one of innumerable examples of art-like objects. We’ve tried to work out ways to defamiliarise or alienate or enact a verfremdungseffekt between the work and the spectator. The question of whether this is possible is a problem brought about mainly by exhibiting:

The Philosopher:

Suppose you’ve a play where the first scene shows A bringing B to justice, then the process is reversed in the last scene and, after all kinds of incidents have been shown, B brings A to justice, so that there’s one and the same process (bringing to justice) with A and B exchanging their respective roles (executioner and victim). In such a case you’ll undoubtedly arrange the first scene so as to give the maximum possible effectiveness to the last. You’ll ensure that on seeing the last scene the audience will immediately be reminded of the first; that the similarity will be striking; and at the same time that the differences will not be overlooked.

The Dramaturg:

Such things are certainly done. Above all, in such a case the first scene oughtn’t to be played as a transition to the next; it must be given a weight of its own. Every movement in it must be planned in relation to the same (or altered) movement in the last scene.

The Philosopher:

And an actor who knows that later on he’s going to have to change places with his colleague is likely to act differently from one who doesn’t, I’d say. He will represent the executioner differently if he remembers that he’s going to have to represent the victim too.

The Dramaturg:


The Philosopher:

So the last scene alienates the first (as the first alienates the last, which is the real gimmick of the play). The actor makes preparations that lead to A-effects. So now all you have to do is to apply this way of representation to plays where this last scene is missing.

The Dramaturg:

You mean play all the scenes with reference to other potential scenes?

The Philosopher: Yes.

2d. A Critical Decor

 The fifteen drawings that make up this Stonebreakers work have a brief history with exhibitionism. They have been part of an exhibition of JCHP’s making at Lanchester Gallery Projects: “Critical Décor: What Works!” But each section’s inclusion was then hamstrung by being half finished or barely begun, unframed and placed on tabletops. JCHP’s is a bullshitter’s nascent form of sequestration.

3. To Sir, With Love

 Being invited to do an exhibition and accepting; what the appropriate response is, is the ongoing problem. We want to access a wider distribution and want to know how the practice and production can fare. Is there a whiff of careerism here? An appropriate form of exhibition would be one that avoids presenting objects that soar above ordinary objects, a way of exhibiting that doesn’t valorise or reify the object by promoting the individual’s production. Eschewing the logic of: your art amounts to a temple, your audience is in a state of awe, your productions are divine, and so on, und so weiter. Renouncing the act of presenting a work in a public space conforms automatically to the conditions in which the market baits the artistic subject. As the problem between an audience and an object in an exhibition space becomes evident, the audience should be diverted from beholding the object as distinct. The most appropriate and productive way we can conceive of the exhibition, is as functioning as part of an ongoing process. That the exhibition wouldn’t be the finished statement of a set of productions situates the use of exhibition at the mid-point of the productive process, the outcome of which emerging only beyond the exhibition’s duration. Once the exhibition begins, the content must become available to be activated rather than being held in high regard; the art object’s over-determined, honorific status.

4. For All & None

 It seems appropriate that we should carry out this contradiction within art’s institutions and gallery networks. The reversal in the work’s direction went like this: Don’t exhibit… exhibit something but not the actual drawings… exhibit the drawings. Should we attempt to relate this capitulation to Courbet’s exclusion from the Exposition Universelle in 1855 setting up shop over the road and the subsequent move back to the salon? We are dealing with a familiar enough career path-way moving from individual or group organised modes of distribution towards institutional/corporate models of consumption. More familiar is that what might be good for the career might not be good for the practice.

4a. Answer to Come

 Is it possible to make the work available to an audience, to work out an exhibition or include the work in an exhibition that is itself critical of the role of public exhibition?

4b. Mule Work

 Is it possible to engage with the asinine end of doing art and succeed in the intention to keep the relations of the practice’s production distinct from the wider corporate and institutional relations of art’s distribution?

4c. The Hammer Has No Master

 Can we produce publically a work that does not register as a default celebration of wanton exhibitionism and an unequivocal support for the institution?

4d. A Certain Withdrawal

 The JCHP exhibition “Critical Décor: What Works!” at Lanchester Gallery Projects attempted to engage the practice’s output with public display without displaying the work. It sought to do this by putting a body of perfunctory objects between the withdrawn JCHP drawing of The Stonebreakers and the audience. The 15 pencil drawn sections that together would make up the complete JCHP Stonebreakers were put, unfinished and unframed on table tops, organised and lit in close proximity to a whole mocked-up version, reproduced in photocopies of The Stonebreakers framed on a wall. The setup of the unfinished JCHP Stonebreakers with the completed photocopied substitute sought to demystify JCHP’s drawing output by keeping it in the relations of JCHP’s production. The mock-up aimed to surpass its counterpart’s slightly toe curling faux production mise en scène. Objects were presented as part of the traffic between the drawings and the audience at the expense of the drawings. This was one of a few attempts at estrangement.

4e. Tissues

 Can this holding off from exhibiting the artwork, by something like the present text, function as protection for the work entering exhibitionism? Or is production just the laughable image of a dog, dry-humping your leg… the practice of a rhythm method of contraceptive production… with this text in your hands, mopping up exercise in any stray excretions… the withdrawal of even an anti-climax?

5. Discharged Criterions

 The more honed and refined the secondary objects of our exhibition become, by consideration of their outlook, the more likely they’re to be misinterpreted as works in their own right, rather than as perfunctory indicators. Accordingly, it makes sense for us to use the time before exhibition to amass as large an amount of secondary productions as we practically can and resist any redacting of choices. Before the time of exhibition there seems no justification for considered selection of the material and no reason not to include all the physical workings of our practice in the exhibition itself. The exhibition will include the texts, actual references, incomplete drawings, plans, &c. produced up to the point of exhibition. Why clean up anything that may have some potential use? The inclusion of all this material in exhibition might suggest a lack of, and a disregard for distinctions between the relations of production and the relations of distribution, admittedly only an indication by dumb outward signs.

5a. Dry Goods & Seconds

 All material that we would exhibit is intended to be apprehended as secondary. An artwork that could potentially be produced at some point, should all the conditions be right, is implied by the indication of second order objects. An indicator of what is permissible to show. Everything is given in the enormity of production but withheld in content.

5b. Unstately Reproaches

 The unfinished drawings that form a part of the contents of the exhibition should be used in a way that alienates them from the audience’s expectations of interacting with the objects included in exhibition. Incorporating them in an unfinished state declares them and everything around them as on a level. Whatever parts go towards making the contents of the exhibition, they need to be orchestrated within the context of a gallery in such a way as to retain their secondary value. Everything should be done to deter the stately approach of an audience. The content of exhibition should underline production: the unfinished drawings would be attached to drawing boards on tabletops, as if to pull the studio into the gallery; spotlights arranged accordingly to suggest deliberate, on-going production; the mocked-up reproduction of Courbet’s The Stonebreakers presented as if positioned in the studio rather than displayed in a gallery (something like the dust sheet in L’Atelier du Peintre). The contents of the exhibition should not be the object of the exhibition, but describe or audit the object.

6. The First of the Last Calls

 Faced with the expansion of individual and indulgent ‘freedoms’ we will try to tighten the criteria for what, for us at least, constitutes a work of art. Arthood has made an art form out of deflecting this question and instead applies a heavy dressing of mystification, deferring to the market to define the validity of the art object. What constitutes a work of art, an object that is set apart from other perfunctory productions? How are they distinct? If we are able to state a distinction between a work of art and other objects that make up the world we can begin to conceive a model for exhibition that disappoints the criteria and becomes alienated from the accepted, established objects validated by exhibition, characterised as they are by an indifferent usufructuary gloss.

7. JCHP Undone

 What if the pencil JCHP Stonebreakers was to be carried through to completion? Bearing in mind once a work is completed it conspicuously exposes its coercion with commodification and the wider relations of art’s distribution.

… everything, which up to now has been considered as inalienable, is sold as objects of exchange, of chaffering. It is the time in which objects, which earlier have been conveyed, but never exchanged, have been given away but never offered for sale, have been acquired but never been bought: virtue, love, conviction, knowledge, consciousness and so on, the time which, in a word, everything has been transformed into a commercial commodity. It is the time of general corruption, of universal bribery or, in the language of economics, it is the time when each object, physical as well as moral, is put on the market as an object of exchange to be taxed at its correct value.

8. Up the Down Escalator

 Practice should express the clause of: we have resolved to not exhibit… but if we did, it would be this… just. A form of practice that precedes exhibition has begun for us having decided to do an exhibition. The pre-exhibition period should be used to cover as much ground regarding inquiring into the potential content and usefulness of the exhibition as possible. We have a rough idea that exhibition should include secondary productions that indicate the potential production of a body of work beyond the period of exhibition: A work that’s production is contingent on the right conditions. The social exchange of objects that preceded industrialised societies’ move towards the accumulation of capital (e.g. gift-exchange) constitutes a decent response to the present conditions for (our) works to enter into distribution.

9. Prick Texts & Documents

It’s probably not the best time to give a cartoon outline of how JCHP see this procession towards capital and commodification [2014]but nevertheless:

medieval Guilds encouraged something like a commodity condition within the fixed pricing monopolies they held;

modern notions of art arose from individuals freeing themselves from Guild restrictions in order to market that very freedom;

this found ratification among patrons with an appetite for signs of distinction to match their own self-regard;

the donation of religious art in place of piece work and the dealings of multiple specialists – to a production integrated in practical, financial and aesthetic terms;

the mutual masturbatory relationship between artist and patron (reflected contemporarily in the relations between artist and curator or individual artist/curator) prompted a popular outcry against the ruinous reign of money pushing out the traditional virtues of piety and restraint;

the Protestant Reformation. This act of rebellion against early manifestations of capital in art accelerated and widened the development of an incipient art market;

artists dispossessed and dispersed by Iconoclasts are forced to produce small, domestic work for a greater number of clients.

 The sale of Charles I paintings, gifts quantified;

Iconoclasm as sanctioned and ratified by contemporary art’s adherence to corporate control becomes the de facto setting for a subdued generic production, matched by an equally indifferent consumption. The fluctuation between iconoclast protest and market expansion is perpetuated by arthood’s dependents.

9a. Hardy Bulbs

 Is our measuring and making distinctions an attempt at uncommoditising the object, thereby only adding to it a premium and returning it to the buyers and sellers who share a common interest in the perceived incompatibility of the product?

9b. Wild Pansies

 The nagging thought that Conceptualism’s lofty indifference to art’s sensory trappings and tacit discouragement of any further object making was just another rumbling of market expansion. The displacement of the unique, crafted object into any one of a number of discursive substitutes – textual instructions, deadpan descriptions, graphic formulas, photographic document, performative stagings, poor man’s film-making (have we missed something out?) – reinforce a principle of equivalence, thereby shifting artistic practice closer to the fluid exchanges that characterise the true commodity. A brief Augean cleansing of the pipes. Did the relative weightlessness of the conceptual artifact remove frictional and production blockages from the system, allowing the shit to run out more smoothly?

10. Bottommost Layer

 Is our commitment to measuring out and employing the grid in order to render an image an attempt to reduce our works to the level of shop-floor timesheets and produce a wholly rational art object? A print out of an undulating line charting stock market activity compared to an exactly replicated line depicting a mountain landscape might appear indistinguishable but function as totally distinct in terms of one being diagrammatic the other pictorial. Only variations in one aspect of the graph (the plotting of data) are significant whereas presumably all are in the depiction. Could our output be as minimally replete as the chart? So that changes to only one aspect of our work would be significant: its production. Visual aspects of the work bearing little significance.

The difference between a scientific representation of a rhinoceros – a drawing in a natural history book, for instance – and an artistic one lies in the fact that the latter suggests something of the artist’s relation to the animal. His drawing contains stories even if it represents the animal and nothing more. It looks idle or angry or mangey or cunning. He will have included a number of characteristics, which we don’t need to know for the mere study of its anatomy.

10a. The Black Cursor Moves Along the Line

 It seems worth repeating that seeing is not a passive process because the experience of seeing does itself depend upon ordering. Some rudimentary system of classification is necessary so that discrimination of various aspects is possible. The systems that we use for classification and discrimination depend upon our expectations, presumptions, and what we claim to know. What is raised by what we know is an acknowledgment of what we don’t know; it is essential that what we expect to be the case remains reasonably stable. This inevitably inclines us towards fixity and conservatism. But how does conceptual and theoretical knowledge evolve? How do we manage to avoid the deadlock imposed by expectations intruding into our attempts to recreate or question aspects of the world? In parallel with this question is another: how does the observer cope with the tendency to classify art in terms of what is known when they encounter new areas of concern? Both these questions seem pertinent to our tightening of the criteria for what constitutes an artwork.

11. Past Principles & Present Purposes

 The glorification of individual artistic production manifests itself in the producer as a form of Stockholm Syndrome. Clear distinctions between the valorised work of art and the rest of the world for arthood are nonexistent. Anything can be art and the indifferent celebration of this truism is the current state of arthood. Subjecting this presupposition to criticism should be the purpose of exhibition.

11a. Liberal Stockholm…

 Liberal Stockholm Syndrome manifests itself in those considered to have attained some level of success, also in those trying to attain it, which both help to define what constitutes success. At some point the artist (victim) begins to view the assessors and institutions that bestow this alleged success upon them as offering a lifeline, but this is only by implication of not having it pulled from under them. The perpetrators sustain the victim and exploit their need to reproduce the relations of production, now conceived as achievable through the relations of distribution that the perpetrator controls. While the perpetrator retains capability the victim complies and endures rather than risk being let go of. The victim begins to view the perpetrator as showing degrees of fairness, consideration, kindness, &c, which serve as the cornerstones of Stockholm Syndrome. The condition will not emerge if the victim does not perceive some level of kindness. The victim often misinterprets a lack of overt abuse as kindness and goes on to develop feelings of appreciation for this perceived benevolence.

11b. The Juices are Flowing Clear

 Assuming that what defines the meaning of artworks, or what constitute the most fertile ground for retrieving their meaning, are the conditions in which they were produced, then the current conditions of production are characterised as artists functioning under duress.

People aren’t dogs, even if you treat them as such. Pavlov threw meat to dogs and simultaneously rang a bell. He measured the dog’s salivation on anticipating the meat. Then he rang a bell without throwing the meat. His measurements showed that the dogs salivated just the same. They needed their saliva to digest the meat, not to stand the bell ringing, but that didn’t stop it coming into their mouths. Our audience is experiencing extremely rich, complex, many-sided incidents, comparable with those of Pavlov’s dogs: food plus bell-ringing. It might be that the desired reactions occurred in real-life situations, which only shared certain features of those they have experienced with you, secondary features perhaps. In that case you’d be making them ill, just like Pavlov and his dogs. But of course this also happens in real life. People can experience real incidents and still go astray in this way; they have learnt the wrong lesson.

12. Oi!

 What is the point of referencing the world out their in a work? Could it be more productive for the work to reference the problem of the work’s inability, in the current conditions, to reference the world usefully? To express the hollow, honorific nature of references made within arthood. Can they edify? We’ve sought to make the use of a reference useful and failed, but it is not about what we produce or what our output references but how we conduct ourselves when producing.

13. First Pressings  s there a way of coming to knowledge, to establish progressive stages of certainty, by a reductive process beyond reference? Shall we stand mute and allow the peine forte et dure of the finished statement or shall we plead in a weekly critique on the evidential failings of exhibitionism? Once the exhibition is ‘up’ at that point in time, it might prove useful to know what not to exhibit; to attempt to make distinctions between what does and what does not constitute an artwork. What exactly is useful, what isn’t? 14. Buying Brass Off Brecht

 Messingkauf (buying brass): purchasing for instance a trumpet for the value of its raw material, as opposed to maximising any potential value contingent on some future production; recording, performance, &c. Why is it that middle-class people always reproached the man who is buying brass (der Messingkaufer) with having too little feeling and wishing to eliminate everything emotional in favour of the rational?

14a. Lard (Pressed in Stone)

 One part of the content of the exhibition at Lanchester Gallery Projects was the distribution of the text and performance of Brecht’s Messingkauf Dialogues. This constituted the use of a reference of a kind consistently used by artists; it can be seen to imply that there is some correlation between our output and Brecht’s. Is the use of however many references within the production of the work a facile attempt to strengthen the critical durability of the practice?

14b. Butter

 Why present Brecht’s Messingkauf Dialogues as a significant part of an art exhibition? The Messingkauf Dialogues as organised (printed, performed) by JCHP is intended to register as another part of the content of the exhibition that stands between the spectator and the potential of a completed work of art presented as unfinished. The production of a finished artwork is contingent on accepting heart and soul the corporately lead relations of art’s distribution.

14c. Grease

 Implicit in the Messingkauf Dialogues is the potential of an aesthetic product, specifically the performance of a piece of music. We see an analogy with this potential production and the ongoing production of a pencil rendered version of Courbet’s The Stonebreakers. The theory is relatively simple. It deals with the traffic between the stage and the auditorium; how the spectator consumes the incidents on the stage. Part of the traffic between the potentially performed work of art and the audience is an obstruction in the form of a less than aesthetic transaction: the purchase of the trumpet for the value of its raw material, its value calculated by its weight and the price of brass. Are the conditions that determine this transaction more conspicuous than those that determine the production of an artwork? The Messingkauf Dialogues consists of the production of real-life incidents on the stage in such a way as to underline their causality and bring them to the spectator’s attention. This way the acting draws all its force from comparisons with reality; in other words, it is continuously drawing attention to the causality of the incidents reproduced.

14d. Margarine

 We’re after a comparable situation where the validation of art objects is based on their being socially caused, like a tool, rather than as corporately valorised or mysteriously created. The contents of the exhibition at Lanchester Gallery Projects, such as texts, unfinished drawings and décor, was intended to function on a par with ordinary objects. The production of a completed work of art, something like the pencil Stonebreakers is contingent on better conditions for the production and consumption of art.

Any artist is determined by the technical advances in art made before him, by the organisation of society and the division of labour in his locality, and, finally, by the division of labour in all the countries with which his locality had intercourse. Whether an individual artist succeeds in developing his talent depends wholly on demand, which in turn depends on the division of labour and the conditions of human culture resulting from it.

14e. Virgin Olive Oil

 Going on what we’re producing, there is an interest in revisiting a historical moment of meaningful production by way of reproductions of pre-existent pictures. Likewise there is a reflex, in the face of such an amount of gloss to reduce the productive act down to as base and accessible an act as possible. Both approaches, enlisting past president and demystifying production, represent meaningless and useless excuses for, and a heavy reliance on, production. They are sorry excuses for production. It is a reaction to the relations of distribution and consumption that persist and weigh heavily on the relations of production. Those relations of production are hamstrung by bureaucratic assessors. Pushing the fraudulent proposition of ‘artistic freedom’ and iconoclasm to one side, business models of production are endlessly reproduced. The reflex from our point of view is to withdraw to a level that exemplifies by a lack of so-called artistic significance. Can a work be made where literally nothing about the activity of producing infuses the outcome as being in anyway distinct from an object off the production line as with Brecht’s Messingkauf or by someone who knits, not for the sweater produced but for the pleasure of doing the knitting. But the outcome of (our) labour has no utilitarian function and we take no particular pleasure in the act of producing works, that which is ordinarily used by the usufruct. The darker a reproduction of a preexistent work is, the more this is all happily enacted. The act of producing is unavoidable when some form of distribution is sought. This all may have the flavour of just “pissing in the wind” but at least we’ve positioned ourselves lee side…

15. Backsliding

 Presumably there is some purpose in the potential to produce work or else it is solely a case of blind addiction, the propensity for us to allow the hooks to get in and our susceptibility to indoctrination, shaped at some point between infancy and now. Production from reproductions of preexistent pictures offers a significant excuse to produce a work that refers to the older work from the darkness of the plan-chest. These drawings are constituents of an excuse for exhibition. Individually they represent labour-intensive indicators of a successful example of a preexistent work that fulfilled its contemporaneous purpose to engage socially for the better. The best we can produce is an object that is not a subject but a demonstrator, a declaration that says: the object we reference had a quality that we fall well short of.

15a. The Rats Awake

 If the contents of exhibition are not works of art, do they only run the risk of being subsumed into wanton distribution? If we took the output out of the plan-chest and displayed it in a public context, appropriation or the production of a model of a preexistent work would inevitably be pursued as another lamentable excuse for an idea.

15b. Rats in Abeyance

 The use of pre-existent works for a subject to draw exemplify only some features of the original work; they exemplify only what properties of the original they possess at the same time as referring to them; to reference a feature without possessing that feature is not to exemplify; anything our work exemplifies from the original is selective and therefore ambiguous. Exactly what properties of the original work does our work possess?

15c. The Rats Triumph

 Historically most visual works of art have been pre-propositional; they embody concepts but do not assert them (Courbet vs. Proudhon). The inability to assert means that visual works such as paintings are especially vulnerable to the prejudice, interpretations, expectations, and the moral attitudes of the observer. To this extent the artist and the observer are involved in the same struggle against history whilst relying on it as either stepping-stone or foundation stone for further creativity or experience. The tendency is for methods of representation to become more important than inquiry itself. If you look at arthood the thing that fails to come through is the desire to reshape the conditions under which artists learn, and shape and develop their work and that these are the conditions that always need to be examined and at certain times it is the examination of the conditions that is far more important than what you can generate from those conditions. Only and insofar as you want to avoid the risk of becoming a new academy in art. Can the full-scale Stonebreakers side-step this tendency by means of its exhibition?

16. The Nub

 What is the purpose of publicly displaying the output of a practice? The market that induces the celebrative production that lubricates the relations of the distribution of art with such servile accommodation could be let seep away if exhibitionism were dispossessed of the hegemony it holds over the relations of production. Arthood’s relations of distribution themselves opportunistically accommodate production; evinced by the insidious rise of the rodent figure of the curator as producer. What the market feeds on and in turn baits the artist with, as it is as irresistible to the artist as it is advantageous to the corporative spread of arthood’s relations of distribution, is the exhibition of works in public. The market would dissolve as far as arthood was concerned if artists beat the addiction to exhibit. Their deft touch at managing their affairs goes hand in hand with an endlessly repeated and alleged newness. Its rattle grows louder and more intense in order to avoid the question: what is it actually for? The gloss of professionalism that mediates all apprehension of the contents of exhibitionism; the willing captive that sympathises with the captor’s nefarious design is the default setting of the present conditions of art production. The captor looms large in the studio. Everything is lubricated for consumption, like rats pissing on their dinner.

16a. Open Studio

 Exhibitionism depends for its successful reproduction by maintaining an opposition between the relations of production and the relations of distribution. Consider the tragic connotations of the open studio exhibition. Arthood filters out all evidence of practice or the studio from its object that asks itself, how will this function under the stately approach of an audience? Will all its components stay obediently in place, in circulation, when it enters fully the relations of distribution? The relations of production of an artwork, such as the time it took are stripped away. The relations of distribution have pervaded the relations of production to such an extent that production has mutated into distribution. This constant honing of its object is a consequence of arthood’s reliance on exhibitionism. The contents of the exhibition should aim to retain every redaction.

17. The Remission

 As things are, the production of an artwork is impossible in any meaningful sense. The contents of the exhibition should be presented in such a way as to discourage any association with being ‘read’, ‘perceived’ or ‘consumed’ as a work of art. It should be stripped of the gloss associated with the usufructory nature of arthood’s swollen discharge, which is indifferently applied by its masters and adherents alike. It should discourage the sort of approach towards the artwork that frequently occurs in galleries. The contents of exhibition should be set up like the relationship between an information board and the work the information is designed to illuminate. The audience approaches the information board that lacks gravity, usually to confirm authorship or learn something. The sign (tombstones in the trade) represents something incidental to the work, something of the fabric of the institution. The stately approach an audience makes towards the work that is the object of the text mounted on the wall is considered the real deal in arthood. We propose that something more interesting happens at the moment between the genuflected sign reading and the viewers’ return walk to their position of stately slumber.

18. Six Questions Broken by a Supposition

 Does a work where nothing can be extracted on account of its sequestration have potential?

18a. 2wo

  Read: What is the advantage of a work that doesn’t see the light of day?

18b. 3hree

 See: How can it be useful; better socially?

18c. Supposition… Questions 4our, 5ive & 6ix

 Where the object of exhibitionism is sequestered it avoids the market and the relations of distribution by retaining and remaining a functional part of the relations of production. It can’t be bought, sold or consumed. This is also in our meantime, the day to day, possible if the work remains incomplete and is only directed to as a potential work. Is it possible to keep the object that is distinguished as a work of art consistently unfinished and persistently a part of the relations of production and still open to extemporisation? Can our effort and work be put into sustaining this ongoing process of holding off? Can the work be prevented from lapsing as if it is arranged as a whole in some idealist millionaire’s flat?

19. Gist

 Incorporating exhibition into practice rather than shaping practice to exhibition allows a run up to the process of exhibiting with an openness that steers us away from the over-decided professionalism that abounds in current exhibitionism: the careerist finished statement that marks a point that can never be repeated – unless it proves successful, where all real production withers away. We can give what we have, including failure and expose it to criticism. The public nature of exhibition should allow the producers to be held to task.

19a. Struggle Session

 Over the duration of an exhibition we would conduct a series of discussions. The content of the exhibition can then be edited, redacted, reorganized… if lucky, added to as a result. The purpose of exhibition needs to be improved so as to be useful rather than celebrate the special status of some object as it now functions. The opportunity to exhibit should be used for self-criticism, to see if exhibition can be included productively in practice. We should focus not on the finished article; refrain from finishing anything that remains in the studio, and focus on exposing our weaknesses herewithin. By going through regular critique [there appears no third party] we will keep ourselves in check and see how each object works alongside each other and what purpose they may serve.

20. Not... But.

 ( Not… ) What is the point of persisting to produce in this wholly unnecessary way? The production of JCHP that fails to embrace distribution. Yet we would like the work to be apprehended. We try to seek a set of relations where the work we produce will no longer be sequestered, such as exhibiting half-complete work [page break if allowed to run]. That intention might be seen as reactionary, in our everyday, but it offers the best outcome we can foresee; the work being distinguishable...

from other objects making up the rest of the world.

(… but) It seems to be worth continuing with a practice rather than giving up, as long as we’re committed to producing works and sequestering them in the plan-chest... and if the opportunity should arise to exhibit, to exhibit descriptions and indicators. To produce work in a way that aims to rectify the situation that arthood currently inhabits.


In the development and improvement of method, as of science itself, we learn only by trial and error, and we need the criticism of others in order to find out our mistakes; and this criticism is the more important since the introduction of new methods may mean a change of a fundamental and revolutionary character.


 Where P¹ is the initial problem of exhibitionism, TS the trial solution proposed by our exhibition, EE the process of error elimination applied to the trial solution, such as struggle sessions, discursive practice, &c., and P² the resulting situation, albeit with grinding new problems.

 The best we can say about our exhibition Critical Décor: What Works! at Lanchester Gallery Projects, Coventry, England, 2014 is that it has enabled us to reach P² and that we are engaged in formulating a new P¹.

 We were concerned with doing an exhibition that approaches the problem of exhibiting without open arms: of not swallowing exhibitionism as immediately necessary or useful – with regard to production and the form of distribution for a practice’s output.

Exhibitionism Is Useful To A Career. If it is, in sustaining a practice, it has yet to be proved. We weren’t interested in treating the exhibition as a way of crystallizing or reifying practice but rather to make the process of exhibiting active, and bring it back into the fold of production: to leave an ellipsis... rather than a full stop. For now...

 Generally, self-organising or partaking in exhibitionism seems to be part of the process of maintaining the ongoing existence of arthoodistic practices: appearing to replicate how it has been done hitherto – the promotion of a falsified, historicist assumption of advancement by increments.

A Maoist Struggle Session / 批鬥 / A Critical Bout / A Cretins Confessional The Auto de Fé / Inciting the Spirit of Judgment and Fighting / Pedley vs. Teasdale/ ILP vs. LP Brighouse Branch...

 Whatever you want to call it, we thought it would be more productive to get ourselves held to task, that we should be admonished and made to account for our failings; to acknowledge publicly the contradictions we did not attend to successfully. This is no relational aesthetic… but something closer to piecemeal tinkering, required by there not being any real third party critique.

 We couldn’t see the point, in terms of making the process of discussion productive regarding practice, of discussing honed, self-certifying statements about output, or trying to unpick explanatory meaning from what artists say. We wanted to make the process of exhibition and its connected discourse, discursive rather than liturgical. We sought to keep the period of exhibition active without promoting ourselves as self-certifying creators of truth; the current honorific version of arthoodistic contributors.

What Are We to be Held to Account For?

 Everyday within the conversational process of our practice (the attempt to keep the exhibition vigorous) we made a decision not to engage with a mode of distribution that involved exhibiting the work in any immediately available way. We opened up a contradiction at LGP by trying to do an exhibition that itself was critical of ‘exhibitionism’ and to exhibit but refrain from exhibiting the work. Instead we filled the content of the exhibition with something like ‘secondary objects’ and cached the ‘real’ work within the plan chest. The exhibition at LGP failed to make all this explicit.

 The kind of work we didn’t want to exhibit, in order to recover its meaning regarding what caused it, would have to be explained as being caused under duress of the market. We’ve failed to make it clear how the contents of our exhibition were likewise caused under duress but also we failed to show how the work we didn’t exhibit was caused by it successfully avoiding being made under duress. This might be viewed as an example of how working with problems alone is productive.  Have we relied too much on contradiction in the dialectic sense (Hegel, Marx, Mao)? Did we use it too readily as a convenient excuse, like many propagated in arthoodistic roots, which steer production towards careerism in the form of a willing captive?

 Should we now concentrate wholly on problems and aim to eradicate all contradiction (as it is too easily subsumed into mystification) from our practice?

 The problem for arthoodistic practices isn’t about how to go about producing works of art – but rather the problem is: what to do with the work once it has been produced. To put it another way: producing works of art does not solve the problems that occur on entering into the relations of the distribution of art.

 If we think, in the studio, only of engaging with problems, that’s only outcome is the production of new problems then a decent, moral form of practice might become useable.

 Even failure to solve a problem teaches us something new about where its difficulties lie, and what the minimum conditions are in which any solution for it must be met – and therefore alter the problem situation.

 The aim was to simply to test out to what extent it is possible to exhibit and at the same time to exhibit nothing, to be simultaneously the person it understands and the person who understands it, the person who, within a world, talks of that world as though he or she were outside it; all in all, to take advantage of the strangeness of a dual work and an author split in two – into absolute lucidity and leaden darkness… into a consciousness that knows all but doesn’t know where it’s going - in order to feign the illusion of a commentary solely preoccupied with accounting for all and yet entirely aware of being able to explain nothing.


¬ Jeffrey Charles Henry Peacock 2016, Direct correspondences to {Studio}106 Hemingford Road, London N1 1DE or