The Drumhead

Gerry Bibby


Book, 13,5 x 20 cm, 118 p, language: English, publisher: Sternberg Press, Berlin & If I Can't Dance, I Don't Want To Be Part of Your Revolution, Amsterdam, ISBN: 978-3-95679-065-2.
Materials: Ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2027/39).

Literary synopsis

Over the past half-decade, artist Gerry Bibby has inserted narratives and instructional texts into his artworks as acts of tactical withdrawal. The Drumhead is Bibby's first publication, and includes a series of his 'Language Costumes' or fragmentary texts which, like the Burroughsian 'routine' or Walserian 'microscript,' attest to an offended intelligence. Evoking William Burroughs’s The Wild Boys and Robert Walser’s The Walk, it pays homage to an unruly tradition of radical and queer literary presences over the last century. Exhaustion and frustration besiege a set of characters and the architecture that barely contains them, all of which are cipher-like in their multiplicity (and duplicity).

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

Gerry Bibby’s artworks move across performance, sculpture and writing, taking form at the uncomfortable fissures between the three. His ‘Language Costumes’ arrive at these junctions as self-styled instructional texts, photocopy machine manuals, drinks menus and poetic passages. His captivating passages brim with wit, wry observation and occasionally with disgust, offering viewers ‘ways out’ even if only at the time of reading. Commissioned by If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution, The Drumhead follows a two-year collaboration with KUB Arena of the Kunsthaus Bregenz, The Showroom London, CCA Glasgow, and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. The book immodestly distills these institutional encounters into a multipart narrative that delves into the lives and psyches of those in the service industry.

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