Writers Making Books (in conjunction with "Whitman at 200: Art and Democracy")

Thursday, February 28, 2019 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Opening event for Arcadia Exhibitions'


Lecture by
"The Printer’s Urge:
Humility and Pride, Alone and Together"
February 28
6:30 Mirror Room, Grey Towers Castle
Book signing and exhibition reception in Spruance Gallery immediately following

Represented in this exhibition with a selection of six self-published chapbooks from the 2000s, William Pym is uniquely positioned to discuss the central theme of “Writers Making Books,” namely: the desire of writers to control the production of the physical object that serves as a vehicle for their texts. Currently the director of Josh Lilley Gallery (London), Pym lived in Philadelphia from 2002 to 2009 where he was director of the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery and a visiting professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The essays in his photocopied zines in the exhibition explore topics that range from an unforeseen relationship between the public works by Jacob Epstein and Louise Nevelson at the west entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (via a contemporary sound installation by Mark Leckey) to the enduring relevance of a little-known 1978 television production by Merchant Ivory.

Pym will discuss the printer’s urge: the impulse to broadcast, to speak to many people, while simultaneously connecting with one person at a time. Pym sees his zines, chapbooks, and broadsides as oration, a sermonizing that is rhetorical and felt, while also a form of naked self-investigation. “The execution of a zine” he writes, “takes place in complete silence, yet its physical form intends to have volume, to make noise. How do we hear writing? Within the realm of literature and literacy, what special role do these publications fulfill? Is it a lonely practice? Why are these objects of particular importance today?”

Pym’s talk will be followed by a book signing for That Way—(At Last Books, 2018). This anthology of 25 of Pym's prose pieces, previously unpublished or self-published in small numbers, including projects for ArtforumMegawords, the Philadelphia Independent, and the Village Voice.  Their subjects include Ari Marcopoulos, Gumby, Lindsay Lohan, French Montana, Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, Cali Thornhill DeWitt, Paul Ryan, Belle & Sebastian, Ornette Coleman and Jack Smith.

This event introduces a series of public programs in conjunction with “Writers Making Books,” conceived as part of “Whitman at 200: Art and Democracy," a citywide celebration of the bicentennial of Walt Whitman’s birth. 

Click here for more information about "Writers Making Books"

Above: That Way (2018), cover design by Oliver Payne, courtesy At Last Books.