The Poetry Society, London, 2009
OperationRome is an invasion of The Poetry Society throughout its centenary year, MMIX: an invitation to exhibit, an opportunity to occupy. Told and untold audiences resist / collude.
Rome, a foundation of British history. Imperial pasts merge. Civilizations rise and fall. Ciao, bambino. Rome can be built in a day after all.
Invasion is not annihilation, but can be messy and involves negotiation. Art, Poetry, Rome collide; both superficial and in-depth engagement takes place.
It’s early days for the invasion and some things disappear. Memorials replace them, so as not to forget. Some things reappear: memory and presence co-exist. Other things are replaced, not the same, moved. New arrivals arrive. Conditions simultaneously hamper and facilitate progress.
Some things go on loan to other projects, or are removed for photography, and / or restoration. A museum culture is established; history repeats itself, again.
The implementation of new, more forceful, more visible strategies is required. Plans are developed for a stronger summer campaign to capitalize on new ground, code name: Gelati. Unfortunately fatigue, illness and decorating stall progress, draining morale. Reorientation on more secure ground provides some respite, whilst decorating is at least partially averted and / or commandeered. Morale rallies with a full force redeployment back to the front line: disorientation pivotal. Dependence on the past is swiftly dispensed with, to be more effectively substituted by illusion. Events culminate in The Final Onslaught, to which individuals are invited from The Art World and Beyond.
Complete withdrawal and rapid excavation are planned for the end of 2009, to reveal what, if anything, remains. In addition, new territorial opportunities arise: OperationRome invades Rob Pruitt's Holiday Flea Market in The Turbine Haul, Tate Modern. Emphasis shifts to economic gain and liberation: individual Remains are priced at £100 each; All Remaining Remains are also priced at £100, with a penalty of £10,000 if ever divided. Events culminate with the liberation of Grapes and a lot of interest in The Theme Tune to Fellini's Roma.
Exeunt omnes (before Christmas)
Full List of Memorials and Abbreviations (in order of appearance)
IN MEMORIAM C.F.P. - Clay Flower Pot
IN MEMORIAM I.M.T. - Italian Military Trousers
IN MEMORIAM R.H.B. - Red Hardback Book
IN MEMORIAM R.T.S. - Roma T-Shirt
IN MEMORIAM N.O.T. - Newspaper On Table
IN MEMORIAM C.O.B. - Chalk On Blackboard
IN MEMORIAM C.P.S. - Cannelloni Pasta Shells
IN MEMORIAM T.O.P. - Tin Of Peas
'Studio' - 1st floor, not open to the general public. Functions as a meeting and workshop space. (Referred to here as 'studio' so as not to be confused with an artist's studio).
Café - ground floor, open to the public. As well as The Poetry Society café, also functions as an occasional, wall-based exhibition space, with noticeboards, publications, etc.
Exterior façade - includes two entrances: one public (to café), one not (to 'studio'); also a glass vitrine, 'studio' window, various signs, bricks, paint, fittings and fixtures, etc.
Basement - downstairs, generally open to the public. Used for regular poetry evenings, surgeries, and rehearsals; can be used as an extension to the café. With toilets.
Staircase - links café to basement and vice versa.
Turbine Hall - Tate Modern
Synopses - in order of appearance
(Note: the present tense below describes actions of the invasion; the past tense, those of non-invasion forces).
Attempt to instigate immediate regime change with minimum disruption. Captured almost immediately. Recover some time later. Redeploy in first position with additional reinforcements. Goes A.W.O.L. for Final Onslaught, never to be seen again.
Online English to Latin translation. Remains throughout and as remains.
Clay and Roma football shirt. Encounters Tennyson, windowsill, 'studio'. Tiberius diverted to storage cupboard (albeit on top). Returns to windowsill, where repeatedly attacked, causing serious concern about survival. However, holds position until redeploy to top shelf, staircase, Final Onslaught. Front line, Turbine Haul.
SOLVO CAMENA RECENSEO
Chalk. Online English to Latin translation. Deploy basement. Remains throughout and as remains. (Online translation Latin to English reads: To Loosen Poetry To Recount (sic)).
Clay Clay Pot
Clay and clay pot. Deploy, bottom shelf, staircase. Captured. Provide memorial: IN MEMORIAM C.F.P. Also captured, never to be seen again.
Rome Guide Book
Embed in bookshelves, staircase. Find in café. Redeploy to 'studio'. Ambushed - find on windowsill, not alone (see below). Ambushed again - find on windowsill again, this time partially camouflaged as a bookshelf, held between Tiberius and Tennyson. Redeploy to basement for Final Onslaught. In reserves, Turbine Haul.
Child’s Souvenir Roma T-Shirt
Occupies chair in café. Soon captured. Provide first memorial: IN MEMORIAM R.T.S. Recover Child’s Souvenir Roma T-Shirt soon afterwards. Restore to original position, maintaining memorial. T-Shirt ambushed - find on different chair. Later find again, on yet another chair. Redeploy to chair in 'studio'. Later find discarded on top of storage cupboards. Restore to chair. Embed in basement by stitching onto Sofa. Transfer to Second Sofa for Final Onslaught, with double-sided sellotape and invigilator. Hang, Turbine Haul.
Red Rome Hardback Book Cover
Soon captured from top shelf, staircase. Replace with Broken Clay Clay Pot. Install Memorial To Red Rome Hardback Bookcover on adjacent wall. Captured. Replace with Memorial To Continental Adaptor. Install IN MEMORIAM R.H.B. above Broken Clay Clay Pot. The latter then out of commission until Final Onslaught, after which goes A.W.O.L. All other remains join reserves, Turbine Haul.
Italian Military Trousers
Soon captured from basement, leading to second memorial: IN MEMORIAM I.M.T. Find Trousers and restore to basement; maintain memorial in café. Later temporarily loan Trousers to Rome: Oslo Version, replacing with First Museum Notice (object on temporary loan), later amended to say RETURNED. Trousers captured again. Recover again. Later remove and redeploy to 'studio'. Redeploy IN MEMORIAM I.M.T. to basement. Captured. Rescue. Redeploy to 'studio'. Captured. Find. Redeploy to Photos on Pillar (see below), basement, where remains for Final Onslaught. Hang, Turbine Haul. Trousers collaborate with Civvies, Final Onslaught and Turbine Haul.
Vent / Stair Post
Fittings in basement. Commandeer early on. Remain throughout and as remains.
Wax Information Tablet
Wax, frame. Hang near entrance to café for immediate, maximum communication. Redeploy to 'studio' for security purposes. Deploy to basement for Final Onslaught. Joins forces with Shovel, Turbine Haul.
Deploy casually on table in basement. Captured soon afterwards. Swift implementation of IN MEMORIAM N.O.T. Deploy New Italian Newspaper to notice board to increase security. To increase further, redeploy to wall at eye-level. Holds position despite injury. Redeploy to 'studio'. Decommission, Final Onslaught. Recommission, reserves, Turbine Haul.
Grapes, paper, frame. Install studio. Holds position until Final Onslaught, when second to café, with IN MEMORIAM C.O.B. (see below). Joins reserves, Turbine Haul, day 1; day 2, joins rear guard. Liberated by Judith Palmer, Director, The Poetry Society.
Deploy café. Remove and redeploy to 'studio', until remove and redeploy to basement, where remains for Final Onslaught. Incognito, Turbine Haul.
Guardian Newspaper Article
Photocopy. Deploy basement, with cumulative tape frame, until destroy with friendly fire. Remove. Remains join reserves, Turbine Haul.
THIS IS NOT AN INVASION
Chalk on blackboard. Invert. Deploy café. Erased. Install IN MEMORIAM C.O.B. Memorial joins forces with Grapes in 'studio' (see above). Much later accompanies to café, Final Onslaught. Joins reserves, Turbine Haul.
Install basement. Later graffiti with SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus: "The Senate and the People of Rome" or "The Senate and the Roman People"). Gold spray paint and chalk. Temporarily decommission. Reinstall in first position, Final Onslaught. Hang, Turbine Haul.
Install in basement: potential escape route. Remains throughout. Joins reserves, Turbine Haul.
Notice of Invasion
Ink, cardboard, paper. Deploy to vitrine, exterior façade. Find on shelf in café. Redeploy to 'studio' until Final Onslaught when deploy basement. Joins reserves Turbine Haul.
Chalk. Outline in café, staircase and basement. Either obliterated, or remain throughout and as remains
Café Exhibition Photograph of Poet with Memorial to Red Rome Hardback Bookcover
Photograph. Install basement. Decommission as history inhibits the future.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Acrylic paint and oil pastel on canvas. Hang basement. Redeploy to adjacent wall: documentation of first position accompanies immediately, mainly as pre-emptive memorials, also for reference. Extend first position documentation in this (second) position, to assert past more forcefully. Return painting to first position: documentation remains. Deploy documentation from both positions in first position, printed as ink running out on printer. Painting slips into the diagonal with the addition of further documentation of second position, as well as documentation of earlier (other) deployments, e.g. withdrawal en masse to 'studio', Roman Blind in basement; ink still running out on printer - colour unrealistic, image fading, etc. Decommission all documentation, as again inhibits the future. Straighten painting. Dedicate commensurate wall space to painting - white emulsion paint, green and red gaffa tape. Holds final position, Final Onslaught. Hang, Turbine Haul.
Deploy basement. Discover discarded on low platform, far left hand corner of basement: sightline to Rome wasn’t built in a day dramatically improved. Discover Shovel discarded again on low platform, this time with Nasturtiums and Italian Flag. Discover discarded behind sofa [sic]. Discover on low platform again. Final Onslaught: deploy rear left flank in casual formation with Sofa, Ovid, Classica Crisps, Dot, Dot, Dot. Forms rear right flank with Wax Information Tablet, Turbine Haul.
Museum Notice no.2 (remove for scientific research)
Computer printout on foamboard. Deploy basement. Captured, never to be seen again. Deploy New Museum Notice no. 2 (remove for scientific research), 'studio'. Redeploy to basement in new major manoeuvre: discover on floor by toilets. Court martial.
Gold Decorative Fingerprints
Acrylic paint. Install basement, a couple of times. Remains throughout and as remains.
Museum Notice No.3 (remove for photography / on temporary loan)
Computer printout on foamboard. Deploy basement. Captured. Recover. Redeploy 'studio'. Find in pile, windowsill, with Rome Guide Book, Italian Newspaper and Tiberius (see above). Redeploy basement. Deploy opposite end of basement: invert. Find disturbed but not annihilated. Restore for Final Onslaught. Joins reserves, Turbine Haul.
Acrylic and emulsion paint. Embed, shelf, basement. Prepare for repeat manoeuvre - not forthcoming. Remains throughout and as remains.
Deploy basement. Captured. Install IN MEMORIAM C.P.S. on door to toilets. Redeploy 'studio'. Captured. Deploy New Cannelloni, basement, both ends. Captured repeatedly. Employ remains as Crumbled Cannelloni in first position. Moved. Remove and decommission. IN MEMORIAM C.P.S. joins reserves, Turbine Haul.
Tin of Peas
Deploy basement. Captured, never to be seen again. Deploy IN MEMORIAM T.O.P. Redeploy to 'studio'. Find down back of radiator. Recover and reinstall. Remove and redeploy to basement where remains for Final Onslaught. Joins reserves, Turbine Haul. Deploy Double Pea Carton as substitute for Tin of Peas, under surveillance, Final Onslaught and Turbine Haul.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, No.2
Pencil on canvas. Deploy basement. Temporarily remove. Redeploy basement. Synchronize manoeuvres with Rome wasn’t built in a day (see above), with equivalent documentation, without slippage. Decommission all documentation, to liberate the future, again. Equally, dedicate wall space to painting. Holds position, Final Onslaught. Hang, Turbine Haul.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, No.3
Oil and acrylic paint on canvas. Deploy to basement, vulnerable from outset. Chalk Lines highlight danger of position. Ambushed with minor consequences. Reinstall, More Chalk Lines referencing ambush and painting's precariousness. Temporarily remove. Hang comfortably within furthest extent of newly decorated space. Deploy computer printout on foamboard to painting. Remains, Final Onslaught. Mainstay, right flank, Turbine Haul, with support from Grapes (day 1), and IN MEMORIAM R.T.S. (days 1 and 2).
Italian stamps on envelope
Deploy basement. Remove. Join reserves, Final Onslaught and Turbine Haul.
Embed variously, basement. Remain throughout and as remains.
Deploy basement, on Sofa, as partial camouflage. Redeploy, 'studio'. Ambushed. At forefront of major manoeuvre back into basement: hang, again as partial camouflage, this time for Rome wasn’t built in a day. Later find with Shovel and Nasturtium Leaves (see above and below). Hang, left hand side blackboard doors. Redeploy to Sofa, with Classica Crisps, Final Onslaught. Underlies invasion, Turbine Haul.
Museum Notice No.4 (remove for restoration)
Computer printout on foamboard. Deploy basement. Redeploy 'studio'. Lost without trace.
Museum Notice No.5 (remove for study purposes)
Computer printout on foamboard. Deploy basement. Lost without trace. Deploy New Museum Notice No. 5 in 'studio'. Remove. Deploy Photographic Museum Notice No. 5 in first position, basement. Remove. All remains join reserves, Final Onslaught and Turbine Haul.
Diving Christ Cross
Hang basement. Security concerns lead to temporary withdrawal. Rehang in basement, on Photos on Pillar (see below). Diving destroyed. Restore. Diving diverted. Restore. Remains, Final Onslaught. In front line, Turbine Haul; regularly ambushed, in spite of strong support from neighbouring allies. Restore repeatedly.
Black and White Photo of Red Rome Hardback Bookcover
Black and white photograph. Deploy basement. Remove. Joins reserves, Turbine Haul.
Dot, Dot, Dot
Red spray paint. Embed throughout basement. Remains throughout and as remains.
Red spray paint. Deploy beneath Roman Blind in basement. Remains throughout and as remains. Deploy Mea Culpa Version 2, exterior façade, Final Onslaught. Can of Red Spray Paint joins campaign outskirts, Turbine Haul.
White gaffa tape. Install wall to wall in basement. Routinely ambushed. Routinely repair, later in tricolore. Remains, Final Onslaught. Remains become Portable Running Track, Turbine Haul, where holds front line.
Early Roman Designs
Charcoal. Deploy various versions throughout basement, with tentative beginnings, complete realisations, incomplete annihilations. Deploy more ambitious supplementary versions, Final Onslaught. What remains, remains.
Empty Cannelloni Box
Deploy basement. Captured, never to be seen again. New Cannelloni (see above) facilitates deployment of New Empty Cannelloni Box. Captured, never to be seen again.
Clay Clay Pot Fragments
Deploy basement. Ambushed soon after: hold position. Captured - some remains remain: Clay Fragments. Deploy Additional Clay Clay Pot Fragments. Soon ambushed: hold position. Remove. Redeploy on same ground with adjusted formation to accommodate Double Pea Carton (see above), Final Onslaught. Embed and pervade, Turbine Haul.
1970s Photo Pillars
Deploy basement. Partially captured. Remove remains and decommission.
Museum Notice No.6 (please leave for invasion purposes)
Computer printout on foamboard. Deploy basement. Succombs to gravitational forces. Reinstate. Remove and redeploy 'studio'. Remove and redeploy in major manoeuvre back to basement. Remove for Final Onslaught. Joins reserves, Turbine Haul.
Hanging Clay Clay Pot with More Clay Clay Pot Fragments
Install hierarchically in basement. Further Clay Fragments soon fall from Hanging Clay Clay Pot onto More Clay Clay Pot Fragments. Hanging Clay Clay Pot captured. Recover for Final Onslaught. Goes A.W.O.L., Turbine Haul. Remaining Clay Clay Pot Fragments and Further Clay Fragments hold ground, Final Onslaught. Join forces with all other Clay and Clay Clay Pot Fragments (see above), Turbine Haul.
Deploy basement. Find on low platform at various times and in different configurations with Shovel, Italian Flag, and Trowel (see above and below). Deploy first position, Final Onslaught. Bring up rear, Turbine Haul.
Roman Web Pages
Deploy as frieze in basement. Taken prisoner, never to be seen again. Replace with PLEASE RETURN WEB PAGES ON LOAN, pencil. Remains throughout and as remains.
Deploy basement. Deploy More Leaves, basement. Some Leaves and More Leaves captured. Remove Remaining Leaves, except for a few, Final Onslaught. Remaining Leaf acts as mascot / figurehead, Turbine Haul.
Travertine Photo Panels
Deploy basement. Remove and redeploy 'studio'. Ambushed. Redeploy basement. Embed with Early Roman Designs (see above). Maintain when decommission most other photos (see above). Hold ground, Final Onslaught. Join reserves, Turbine Haul.
Deploy basement. Captured. Find repeatedly on low platform in corner of basement with Shovel, Nasturtiums Leaves, et al (see above). Redeploy to 'studio'. Find down back of radiator. Pivotal to major manoeuvre back into basement. Maximise security by screwing to wall at eye-level. Captured again. Find on low platform with Nasturtiums again. Redeploy in first position, Final Onslaught, without screw, with guard of arms. On front line, Turbine Haul.
Rome Hardback Book Covers
Colour photocopies. Deploy amongst poetry publications, basement. Redeploy to music stand, 'studio'. Captured, never to be seen again. Deploy New Rome Hardback Book Covers, in singles and pairs, basement, Final Onslaught. Remains join reserves, Turbine Haul.
A0 black and white photocopies on bamboo. Deploy as camouflage for Ralph Steadman lampshades, café. Repeatedly ambushed / captured / annihilated: repeatedly reinstate until temporarily withdraw. Replace bamboo with faux tortoiseshell bamboo tent poles with brass fittings, c.1920, Final Onslaught. Index goes beyond the front line, Turbine Haul, whilst Other Flags join reserves.
Tricolore paper, cotton. Deploy café, from one end to the other. Captured, never to be seen again. Deploy More Bunting in basement in celebration of major new manoeuvre. Remove as remove most photos. Deploy New Bunting with Italian Christmas Decorations, tricolore plastic with computer printouts, in café, from one end to the other, Final Onslaught. Hang All Bunting Remains, Turbine Haul.
Photos on Pillar
Photographs of pillar on pillar, basement. Deploy one, others follow, to camouflage, fully embed, and reinforce pillar. Maintain when decommission most other photos, Final Onslaught. Join reserves, Turbine Haul.
Digital projection: chronological images of invasion. Deploy single showing of unfinished version to "The Eagle Document - The New Collection: A Performance/Events Symposium", Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich, November 2009. Slide Show Version 2 joins forces with Dot, Dot, Dot under stairs in basement, Final Onslaught. Slide Show Version 3 available by request, on laptop, Turbine Haul. Deploy Slide Show Final Version above.
Chalk on blackboard doors. Install, Final Onslaught. Remains.
Deploy as decoy cushions on Sofa, basement, Final Onslaught. Captured, never to be seen again.
Attends both Final Onslaught and Turbine Haul in Madonna-shaped plastic bottle. Gift from ally.
With clay remains. Deploy basement, Final Onslaught. Hang Turbine Haul
Commandeer, café to basement, Final Onslaught, with chalk remains of This Is Not An Invasion (see above). Repatriated by The Poetry Society.
Grissini Classici Chandelier
Empty grissini classici wrappers and plastic tubing. Deploy as chandelier, basement, Final Onslaught. Transfer to Turbine Haul.
Triumph Bicycle with Bamboo x2
Deploy basement, Final Onslaught. Goes A.W.O.L., Turbine Haul.
New Red Rome Book
Deploy to floor, basement, Final Onslaught. Central, Turbine Haul.
New Red Rome Book Cover
Deploy to shelf, basement, Final Onslaught. Joins forces with New Red Rome Book (above), Turbine Haul.
PRENDERE UNA CARTOLINA AVIARE UNA POESIA
Pencil. Online English to Italian translation. Deploy basement, Final Onslaught. Remains. (Online translation Italian to English reads: To take a postcard to aviare a poetry [sic]).
Deploy as camouflage on hanging sign, exterior façade, Final Onslaught. Holds position one night only. Annihilated subsequent night, never to be seen again.
Perronis, Margueritas, Italian Snacks, etc.
Provisions for The Art World, Final Onslaught. Italian Flag Napkins also available, on request. No remains.
Black ink. Apply stamp to hands of allies, Final Onslaught, Turbine Haul and front page, website.
The Theme Tune to Fellini's Roma
Play throughout Final Onslaught. Play on request, Turbine Haul.
With gold acrylic paint and shower cap. Deploy to bottom bannister, staircase, Final Onslaught. Pivotal, Turbine Haul.
Old tin and plastic lettering. Deploy to shelf in café, Final Onslaught. Protects rear guard, Turbine Haul, although lettering vulnerable at all times. Restore repeatedly.
Old notebook covers, string. Substitute for Café Blackboard (see above), Final Onslaught. Hang, rear guard, Turbine Haul.