THE ESSAYING ESSAYS TEMPORARY COLLECTIVE
A Temporary Collective of Readers
A project by FREE PRESS/ PLAN 9 BRISTOL
1st July- 1st October 2009
For three months the Essaying Essays collective will explore the possibilities of the essay form. What forms can the essay take and how can such texts be read? What is an essay and who is essaying and where? What kinds of knowledge can be produced? What is lost and gained in moving beyond conventional discursive approaches into using visual and textual material, the space of the page, variations of typography and design?
Essaying Essays was proposed by David Berridge as one of seven research projects by members of Free Press, a collaborative project between seven artists/ writers exploring economies of ideas and alternative modes of dissemination and exchange. The seven projects developed from a workshop at Plan 9, Bristol in March 2009. Details of all the projects can be found at www.tradeunionartfreepress.blogspot.com
Free Press are David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Karen Di Franco, Pippa Koszerek, Matthew MacKisack, Sophie Mellor, and Ashkan Sephavand.
My reasons for involvement are as follows:
I have increasingly come to think of the essay as a form of Sisyphean labour, where its etymological origins in the French word essayer - meaning to try, a tentative attempt – are remembered and posited a value. Whilst there is perhaps a danger - even a sense of futility - in thinking about the essay in terms of its potential (indeed inevitable) failure, there is also a certain liberation in acknowledging that the essay is not always about arriving at a definitive conclusion but rather serves, at times, as an act of rehearsal where possibilities become marked, propositions trialed. The tentative, propositional indeed potentially failing possibilities of the essay are something I would like to explore further, as these are ideas that relate closely to my ongoing research that operates under the working title ‘Not Yet There’. In spite of my interests in the provisional, unresolved and incomplete, my writing has often tended to follow the format of established even conventional forms of essay writing, which I freely admit might not always be wholly appropriate to the ideas expressed therein. In recent work I have become more interested in the form that my writing might take, thinking about how it might function as a practice rather than simply as a structure, vessel or convention for holding together ideas. I have become interested in using strategies of listing for assembling fragmentary or partial sentences and in the conventions of footnoting as a critical and creative device for constructing non-linear (even wandering) text-works.