Changed Press Marks of the Private Case, a 35mm Microfilm was shown as part of the group exhibition, 'Potential On Going Archive', showing at John Hansard Gallery June 2002; Symposium John Hansard, 22 June 2002, Tent, Rotterdam, Netherlands, November 2002 - catalogue published by Artimo (ISBN 90-75380-48-8)
Changed Press Marks of the Private Case was shown in a group exhibition 'Potential – On going Archive', at John Hansard Gallery, and Tent, Rotterdam 2002. The exhibition and catalogue were curated by Anna Harding, published by Artimo and John Hansard Gallery (ISBN 9075380488); A symposium on artists in the archive was held at John Hansard Gallery July 2002, where I spoke about Changed Press Marks. The work was featured in an article by Jonathan Faiers in Metropolis M no 2, April 2003 Holland; reviewed in Frieze October 2002; described in Journal of the History of Collections, Vol 14 No 2 2001, and I was asked to speak about the work at the London Consortium Summer School held at Tate Modern 2002.
Changed Press Marks of the Private Case came out of research I was doing on the history of pornography, or as is often said, the ‘invention’ of pornography. I was working on a project called 'Nothing is Hidden' with another artist Hermione Wiltshire planning a trip to Naples to visit the original ‘locked cabinet’ of hidden sexual material in the National Archaeological Museum. I noticed that many books I called up to read in the British Library had been re-classified over the last decade, having previously been kept themselves in a locked cabinet called ‘The Private Case’. Until the 1970s books in the Private Case were not entered into the public catalogue, nor were they initially entered into the electronic catalogue.
I made a collection of these catalogue changes which I was able to research in the basement of the library, where I found the record cards of all books which had changed their classification within the catalogue in this way. This collection of record cards show the title, author and date the books moved. These paper records became the starting point for the new work.
The London Arts Board gave me an artists grant to copy these records onto microfilm as a way of preserving and making accessible an aspect of the history of the library classification. This history reflects the liberalisation of social attitudes to sexuality as well as the overwhelming change that information has undergone with the internet. The history of pornography is about the segregation of certain kinds of books and objects in the public library and museum. 'Changed Press Marks' references this history by revealing the catalogue itself as a representation of the history of such regulation.
'Changed Press marks of the Private Case' is part of a larger photographic research project ‘Nothing is Hidden’ about the history of pornography within the public museum (2001). Out of this came my recent work, ‘Looking Back at the Life Room’; a PhD thesis and series of formal interior photographs or art academy life rooms and anatomy rooms. The museum or Royal collection of antiquities became a site returned to for my PhD as classical Greek statuary, so familiar in the museum, were the models for the figure in the life room and the anatomy room of the art academy, just as the obscene Greek and Roman remains also held by the museum often from the very same site, became the subjects of the hidden and locked away objects of the secret cabinet, the subject of the exhibition 'Nothing is Hidden'.
'Changed Press Marks of the Private Case' is on 35mm b/w microfilm and accessible on a microfilm reader. It has been shown in contemporary art context as well as being distributed to libraries. When exhibited, a microfilm reader needs to be sourced. At John Hansard Gallery one was hired from the Public Records Office and at Tent, Rotterdam, one from the Police station. This institutional form of information technology works well in the gallery context – where formal similarities to a computer monitor exist and yet every part of Changed Press Marks and its viewing apparatus distinguishes itself from the digital. The work exhibited in a gallery suggests an old fashioned information system and this is intentional.
Index and Archive have been notorious words in conceptual and contemporary art. Here another aspect is added to the well established tradition of artists working with/in/on the archive, and that is the material documented by Changed Press Marks is otherwise inaccessible and liable to disappear as the digital catalogue takes over. This microfilm is a work to do with conceptual art but intended to be used by future researchers on the history of sexuality and the index.
Changed Press Marks is held by a number of national and international libraries including Getty Research Library, Washington Art Library in the USA, the Hyman Kreitman Research Centre, Tate Britain, The National Library of Scotland, Chelsea College Library, Goldsmiths College Library and the Westminster Reference Library.
Changed Press Marks of the Private Case in Potential – On going Archive, catalogue edited by Anna Harding, published by Artimo and John Hansard Gallery ISBN 9075380488; feature article by Jonathan Faiers in Metropolis M no 2, April 2003 Holland; reviewed in Frieze October 2002; described in Journal of the History of Collections, Vol 14 No 2 2001.