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Professor Simon Morris

Reading as Art

Pile of ash

Output Type:

Exhibition (M) & Edited Book (B)


Curating, Publishing, Text

Professor Morris is a leading contributor to the field of conceptual writing with a publishing imprint dedicated to the genre, multiple books, as well as the first film on key protaganist Kenneth Goldsmith (Sucking on Words, 2007 screened - British Library) and the first public exhibition of conceptual writing in the world (The Perverse Library, Shandy Hall, 2010, reviewed in Guardian and Independent).

This output builds on his existing research, examining the act of reading and how this could be seen as its own form of making. The new insight it proposes is that work in this discipline in the post-internet age has either too much language (The Ecstasy of Communication – Baudrillard) or too little language (The Infrathin – Duchamp). The methodology was to present a major museum exhibition and related publication with a careful selection of international practitioners that represented these two diverse forms of experimental literature.

The contexts for exhibition included Bury Art Museum, August-November, 2016, with a satellite exhibition, Reading Matters at Printed Matter Inc., NYC, October–November, 2016. Papers on Reading as Art presented at:

  • Forms of Criticism, the Institute for Modern & Contemporary Culture, University of Westminster, Parasol Unit, London, June, 2016
  • Designing Writing, Écal, Lausanne, Switzerland, June 2017
  • Missread, the Berlin Book Fair, July, 2017

Reading as Art reviewed by:

  • David Briers for Art Monthly
  • Zara Worth for This is Tomorrow: Contemporary Art Magazine
  • Megan N. Liberty for the Brooklyn Rail: Critical Perspectives on Arts, Politics and Culture, NYC
  • Thomas Campbell for Postscript (ed. Andrea Anderson), University of Toronto Press, Canada
  • Professor Morris in the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, vol. 9, no.3; Edwina McEachran for her blog
  • Jazmine Linklater for the TEXT ART ARCHIVE. Exhibition and publication funded by ACE, Bury Art Museum and LBU.

Publication distributed internationally by Cornerhouse Publications, Manchester.


Conceptual Writing, Art, Publishing, Text, Curating

The overall first impression of ‘Reading As Art’ atBury Art Museum, is of a fairly anaemic looking groupexhibition. With the exception of the cherry tomato-redletters and symbols picked out in Himalayan wool andChinese silk by carpet weavers, in Craig Dworkin’s ‘Fact’(2013), the artworks appear subdued. Yet, this pallidappearance is subterfuge. The works in this exhibitionrage, intrigue and unnerve.

Zara Worth, This is Tomorrow

(Contemporary Art Magazine)

"This is not the first time that Bury art Museum’s curators have evinced a strong interest in venturing into territories where text and art meet. Building on that foundation, this is their most successful foray in that direction so far: carefully selected, rewarding and genuinely absorbing.”

David Briers

We wanted to come and see the workand hear Simon Morris’s talk — we workat Chetham’s Library and were interestedin possible collaborations as well assimply having an interest in the subject.I was very inspired to see a small localart gallery doing a challenging and verycontemporary show, loved Simon’s talkwhich illuminated the exhibition brilliantly.It was great, and we loved it!

Sue McLoughlin, Heritage Manager,

Chetham’s Library, Manchester