STEPHEN EMMERSON: The Making of the English Working Class

The Making of the English Working Class is a performance which re-contextualises the books subject matter. It becomes a new product of labour. It is both cause and effect. It is process and repossession. It is reclaimed and reconstituted. It is destruction and reconstruction.

The subject of the book has been re-purposed. It has been turned into an object of its own imagining. It has been sanded, filled, primed, and painted. The pages no longer turn, the words cannot be read. It is a blank slate, a history waiting to be (re)written. What is more important – the process, or the object? Maybe neither? In it’s former state as a book did it have greater value, and if so, to whom?

I am a painter by trade, and I have often thought about how I might bring that work into my creative practice. I am a poet, but my definition of what poetry is, is constantly changing. My work has become more and more, (for want of a better word), conceptual, but I do not define myself as a conceptual poet. I believe that reading is a creative act. It is not passive. Each readers worlds are unique. I like to present readers with spaces in which they can become participants not just in the experience of the act, but in the act of the experience. Ideally I want to present a blank canvas in which participants have almost total freedom. But writing is also about control. A reader who has total freedom is a writer. I like to think that my work explores the areas in between writing and reading, and how language (all language) is inherently about control.

 

 

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