Allen Ruppersberg - Camden Art Centre

Allen Ruppersberg transformed Gallery 3 into a room for reading, recalling Camden Art Centre’s former life as a library.

The exhibition is based on ‘Literatura de cordels’ – roughly translated as ‘Stories on a string’- pamphlets produced by travelling poets and writers in Brazil. These simply made booklets contain folk stories, poems and songs and are illustrated with wood cuts.

For this exhibition Ruppersberg had produced his own versions of these objects. His contain text and images gleaned from his extensive collection of books, postcards, photographs, magazines, slides, posters and educational films- material reflecting his interest in the cultural mythologies, narratives, and common truths of everyday life.

The ‘cordels’ are hung from the ceiling over a floor piece Reading Standing Up, 2004. The text in the floor is made up of oppositions – us/them, left/right, text/margin, Italy/France, compelling viewers to read aloud and form their own rhythms and sounds.

The exhibition coincided with Wallace Berman’s in the neighbouring galleries, a significant influence on Ruppersberg and other artists and poets emerging from the legacy of the Beat generation.