Not Nothing: Selected Writings by Ray Johnson 1954-1994

Ray Johnson (Artist) Elizabeth Zuba (Editor)
& 1 more

Product Details

$45.00  $41.40
Siglio Press
Publish Date
July 31, 2014
7.9 X 1.3 X 10.0 inches | 2.75 pounds
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About the Author

Kevin Killian was a San Francisco-based poet, novelist, playwright, and art writer. Recent books include the poetry collections Tony Greene Era and Tweaky Village. He is the coauthor of Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance. With Dodie Bellamy, he coedited Writers Who Love Too Much: New Narrative Writing, 1977-1997.


The writings also convey the colorful, staccato delivery that characterized Johnson's unique manner of speaking that was so much a part of his elusive persona.--David Ebony "Art in America "
Perhaps this book's greatest accomplishment is that it not only clues a reader into the myriad thought processes of an artist like Ray Johnson, but--by way of correspondences--sheds light upon the mindset and artistic leanings of an entire generation of artists and thinkers.--John Gibbs "The Improbable "
The artist Ray Johnson (1927-1995) is best known for his collages, dense with images pulled from pop culture and personal obsessions. But his most radical work was his New York Correspondence School, devoted to the circulation of mail art - in the form of letters, postcards and drawings - through the postal system. Because much of the work in this epistolary mode isn't visual art in the usual sense, we don't see it much in exhibitions, and Siglio has come to the rescue with an extraordinary volume of Johnson's letter-essay-poem collages. Here he is at his witty, scary artist-poet best, and there is no one like him.--Holland Cotter "The New York Times "
Full of seemingly mad illustrations and poetically esoteric lists, the entries in Not Nothing almost explicitly demand artists to pick up where Johnson left off and continue the conversation.--Mark Guiducci " "
The book crackles with intellectual energy, with enough drawings and mini-collages embedded in its reproduced texts to hold even a nonreader's attention. Most importantly, it fills out the picture of what and who Johnson was: a brilliant, uncontainable polymath, an artist-poet, the genuine item.--Holland Cotter "The New York Times Arts & Leisure "
For, while the increased availability of Johnson's letters, notes, and statements subtilizes our understanding of this legendarily well-connected yet enigmatic artist, his flattened logorrheia is also just fun to read.--Francis Richard "Hyperallergic "
When Ray Johnson famously committed suicide by swimming out to sea in 1995, he left behind a conflicted legacy. Johnson was a pioneer of Pop, Conceptual and Mail art, yet the artist refuted all of these terms. He was an increasingly reclusive figure who, to paraphrase writer William S. Wilson, "made art that was not about social comment but of sociability," exploring new interfaces between his work and its audiences (and collaborators). His methods were temporal as much as they were spatial -- lacking finality, Johnson's practice embraced contingency and process over a finished product. These strategies resist the exhibition form, and one can see how the intimacy and transportability of the book might offer the perfect platform for his often diaristic work. This year Siglio Press has brought together over 200 selected letters and writings -- most of them unpublished -- for Not Nothing: Selected Writings by Ray Johnson, 1954-1994 and re-published The Paper Snake by Ray Johnson, an artist's book from 1965. Designed by Dick Higgins and envisaged as an experimental solution to compiling and exhibiting Johnson's works, The Paper Snake offers a selection of elliptical poetry, drawings, collages and rubbings. With introductory essays, and designed with an attuned sensitivity to the original material, the two new publications will introduce a new generation to the restless work of Ray Johnson.--George Vasey "Kaleidescope Magazine "
Not Nothing is a display of ashes. It is made for looking but, because of its reformulation of the social into a tangible maze, I prefer to torch and snort it. An experimental privacy manifesto invading my nasal passages. The documents it contains corrode things out of things--items more perverse than the baloney out of the sandwich, chomping out the meat upon which our artistic economy sustains itself. A cauterized performance of the direct mail campaign that weighs against our rabidly luxe social field. Corresponding fishing hole gradually dried up. No more nose bleeds.--Trisha Low "BOMB Magazine "