Postcode lottery

His work is informed by the capturing of somaesthetic experiences in a notebook; as well as the appropriation of ideas from literature & philosophy.

Conceived as a part of a live project, Edward Hadfield’s third year BA dissertation extensively interrogates, paraphrases and broadens the reach of his artists’ book WC1R (2014), an A5 landscape publication, soft covers divided into black and white panels, with the severity of chess ‘squares’, its pages conveying what at first glance appear to be extracts from a hand-written diary or manuscript, lipstick red and white writing on a black background antiphonally offset by red and black on a white one, the fluid cursive text by turns lucid then entangled, the discourse problematised by overwriting. What Hadfield characterises as associative/negative leaves are executed in a Sharpie permanent fine point, the integrative/positive on the other hand drawn with a Tombow ABT dual brush pen, setting up a dialectical conversation that raises questions about the motivation required to turn such personal stuff into an art object.

Hadfield has declared the indexical trace to be crucial to his practice, and these running words do hover between the iconic and symbolic, neither abstract marks nor monumental inscriptions. But what are we to make of the title WC1R? Not an incompletely addressed letter so much as direct bio-rhythmic ouput from a particular London postcode, an automatic sample of the author’s momentary physiological and intellectual trance state expressed as performance, then digitized by Photoshop and InDesign and circulated; the lushness of the fluid lettering serving too as a reminder that calligraphy is a dying art lest it be worked at, writing still a joyous activity when liberated from its merely administrative or journalistic function; for we are all typographers now.

So in WC1R the reader gets faced with the immediate evidence of Hadfield’s preoccupations, and the playing out of tension. In an apparent parody of DWP terminology Hadfield’s intervention at the Whitechapel Art Book fair, 2014, was entitled ‘Work Placement’, which he quickly re-conceived as a full-time multi-tasking job comprising author, editor, producer, curator and live performer. Featuring conscious destruction of the negative landscapes in the booklet as an act of clearance prior to transmission of the positive scenes, and their deployment in public forums as the basis for affable group chat, he has revealed -in a nod to Ed Ruscha- it had always been intended to scale the book back onto canvas, his ambition for the work extending beyond the genre specific.

The double landscape format also worked particularly well for scaling to canvas as a triptych. For me, my art practice operates using words in a field, whether that field is a page, a wall or a canvas. (Email 8 Oct, 2014)

He might well have added postcard too, as he has taken to distributing the positive pages as A5 cards with personal contact details on the back in his own hood, a performative bias which gives his expanded practice genuine social value and pzazz way beyond the mute selfishness that typifies so much of today’s hegemonic commodity fetishism, the submissive gallery showbiz of corporate capitalism. And therefore despite being a slim volume WC1R succeeds as a means and mode of transaction and exchange, an unconventional reading experience, and mediated platform rather than end in itself; seismographically charged with a painterly beauty, as a user-friendly token it puts you under its spell in a ‘kindly’ (a favourite Hadfield term) way whilst possessing the courage of its own cool unintelligibility, graphic traces pulsing beyond the limits of the normal printed page. Hadfield is on his way to re-energising the poet/painter/performer tradition as represented so well by the unbridled activities of art school stalwarts such as the late Jeff Nuttall, Bob Cobbing and Adrian Henri.

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