X-Operative, X Marks the Bökship
17 November – 20 December

Click on the image to see a selection of work.


X Marks the Bökship

Subverting and playing with how we read, write, collect knowledge and what we think of as a book, specialist East London independent bookshop, publisher, and project space X Marks the Bökship is setting up at Wysing Arts Centre for a special programme that is part exhibition, part events series and part functioning shop for artist’s books and independent publishing.

The title X-Operative is taken from an essay by Ksenia Cheinman, who uses the term to describe common places where the cultural space becomes creative, productive, commercial, domestic, and educational all at once. Using this as a blueprint, X Marks the Bökship has curated an exhibition including specially commissioned artworks and display systems by Adam Burton, Sophie Demay, Rory Macbeth, Beatriz Olabarrieta and Keef Winter, which support a wide range of publications available to read or purchase from each station. Independently produced by artists, designers, writers and thinkers, these books sit in relation to five separate themes illustrating the multi operations of X Marks the Bökship: reading & writing, production, performance, distribution and exchange.

The five artists, who all have a strong relationship to writing in their practice, have each taken one of the themes as a starting point for their commission.

At the entrance of the exhibition, on the theme of ‘exchange’, designer Sophie Demay has created a purpose-built moveable stage and reading area. This space will be used for performances in the events programme, also functioning as a space for conversation, reading and discussion for the duration of the show. Feel free to play an artist’s record of your choice. Placed on the stage and on the theme of ‘writing and reading’, Rory Macbeth’s Reading Glasses (Fraud), 2013, is a set of spectacles produced to same prescription as Sigmund Freud.

While they accurately reproduce the experience of wearing Freud's glasses, they simultaneously hopelessly fail to allow us to experience what Freud would have seen. You are invited to try them on and examine the journals and texts placed alongside.


Occupying the centre of the space, on the theme of ‘production’, artist and publisher Keef Winter’s Self Editing, 2013, is a destructive production line. In a performative event at the start of the exhibition books on production are shredded and reformed into eleven cast concrete tablets which remain for the duration of the show. Alongside, in a selection of four new works on the theme of ‘performance’, Beatriz Olabarrieta has used publications as construction material and as sculptural objects. The carefully selected books are handled by Olabarrieta in ways which pull out the performative practices of their authors and subjects, with her constructions created as their stage set.

Finally, on the theme of ‘distribution’, artist and publisher Adam Burton has written a pamphlet, Untitled (), 2013, investigating the problems of independent distribution and how some of these problems might be resolved by an alternative independent distribution network amongst other options.

Over the duration of the five weeks, each construction will become activated as the focus of a packed events programme focusing on each theme including talks, screenings, workshops, readings and performances.

The events allow for an environment for exchange and study as well as action, reflection and discussion and include contributions from Anagram Books, And Public, Eleanor Vonne Brown, Adam Burton, Adam Chodzko and Rob Young, Michael Dean, Chris Evans and Will Holder, Rory Macbeth, PERSONA Journal with Melissa Gordon, Jessica Wiesner and Marina Vishmidt, The Fox with Mathew Whittington, and Lucy Woodhouse.

Rebecca Jagoe will be based at Wysing Arts Centre as Bökship Writer-in-Residence for the duration of the exhibition.

Saturday 16 November 5-8pm
Preview and Launch event

5-7pm Keef Winter Lets Build Our Own Tomb, Durational Performance
6pm Introduction by Bökship founder Eleanor Vonne Brown
6.30-8pm Lucy Woodhouse Experimental Ink Jet, Durational Performance

After an introduction to X-Operative by Eleanor Vonne Brown artist and publisher Keef Winter activates his installation, shedding books about production and reforming them into concrete book blocks throughout the evening. Alongside, Lucy Woodhouse uses printers and scanners to create live visuals and unique prints in the gallery.


Saturday 30 November 1-5pm
Day for the exchange of ideas led by Eleanor Vonne Brown

1-2pm Publishers Lunch
2-5pm Reading and discussion group, workshops on the themes of production and distribution for independent publishers with Adam Burton, Anagram Books and And Public.

From 1- 2pm there will be a free lunch available for publishers and those interested in publishing to meet and discuss new projects they have been working on. Afterwards there will be discussion on the theme of distribution led by artist Adam Burton. Speakers from varied fields, bookshops, a distributors, online platforms and independent publishers will meet to discuss solutions to current problems with distribution. 

Saturday 7 December 3-5pm

Screening of Adam Chodzko’s Plan for a Spell (2001) followed by an in-conversation with the artist and Rob Young, author of Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music.

From what seems like random patchwork of images and sounds Adam Chodzko’s Plan for a Spell conjures an oblique but compelling picture of Britain at the turn of the millennium. Playing with ideas of repeating patterns and cryptic codes (whose hidden meaning is always just about to be revealed), the piece even promises to be the definitive word on its subject, while self-consciously disclaiming how this knowledge could ever be possible. In this special screening at Wysing Arts Centre, Adam Chodzko looks back on the piece, and its place within his wider practice, in the company of writer and critic, Rob Young, Editor-at-Large at The Wire magazine, and author of Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music, published by Faber and Faber. The screening will be followed by a signing of the accompanying publication Plans and Spells by the artist.

Adam Chodzko’s Plan for a Spell was commissioned as a Film and Video Umbrella Touring Exhibition in association with Mappin Art Gallery. Supported by Arts Council England. This event is part of Film and Video Umbrella's 25 Frames.

Saturday 14 December 3-5pm
Launch of new publications and journals with talks and readings including

PERSONA magazine - East Coast / West Coast a conversation between Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson re-enacted by Melissa Gordon, Jessica Wiesner and Marina Vishmidt.

The Fox Journal - Mathew Whittington launches new journal

The Wanderer by Franz Kafka - Rory Macbeth presents an audio piece from his forthcoming book

Errors Hit Orient - Lyrics by B.S. Johnson. Live musical performance with Chris Evans and Will Holder.