Invitation to Forms

Invitation to Forms was an exhibition and seminar series examining ‘form’ at the Poet’s Corner in the Mitchell Library (Glasgow).

The Poet’s Corner has a preserved Victorian interior complete with bookshelves and furniture. The room itself was one starting point for an installation of diverse research materials on form presented by the writers and artists: Kate Briggs, Joseph Buckley, Francis McKee, Vivian Sky Rehberg and Nina Wakeford. The exhibition was produced by Jamie Green and Isobel Lutz-Smith, designed by Stephen Murray and curated by Sarah Tripp.

Invitation to Forms was punctuated by four seminars presented by the artists/writers on forms they identified. The exhibition and seminars offered a new idiosyncratic vocabulary for talking about form, and, in so doing, offer a varied inquiry into what we mean by form when we speak of it in relation to art.

The contributors proposed terms that worked across, collapsed or collided the three definitions of form: as overall shape (graspable as a whole); as structure (graspable as duration); as device (graspable as technique). Each term was very important and close to the artist/writer’s own work: a feature they had been trying to achieve in their artworks or writing and/or noted in their research.

We were directly inspired by Calvino’s lectures, within which he frequently draws on examples from literature as a means to talk about terms that are transferable to a wide range of practices.

Taken in their entirety, the exhibition and seminars acted as an exploration of what we mean by ‘the formal’ in the context of the narrative arts of the screen, stage and page at a time when moving image, performance and art writing are blossoming within contemporary art.