Better Books: Art, Anarchy & Apostasy

An archival exhibition including film, sound, installation and events presenting a portrait of the Better Books bookshop, a hub of the London avant-garde during the late 1950s and the 1960s.

Featuring work and material from Gustav Metzger, John Latham, Jeff Nuttall, Stephen Dwoskin, Bruce Lacey, Keith Musgrove, Islwyn Watkins, Bob Cobbing, Criton Tomazos, Dave Trace, Pip Benveniste, Heather Richardson, Jeff Keen, Alexander Trocchi, Jennifer Pike, Annea Lockwood, Werner Schrieb, Jeffrey Shaw, Tjebbe van Tijen, John Sharkey, Group H, Writers Forum and more.

Organised by independent curator and writer Rozemin Keshvani.

In the 1950s and 1960s, London underwent a cultural revolution, which altered forever the trajectory of contemporary art and gave rise to a radical re-formulation of artistic production. United in their distrust of culture, the emerging generation of post-war artists, poets and writers were searching for new ways of responding to their alienation from the previous generation and the smothering geopolitical anxiety of the cold war.

Many of these artists found each other while taking refuge at Tony Godwin's Charing Cross bookshop, Better Books. Under the successive management of Bill Butler, Barry Miles, and Bob Cobbing, Better Books became guardian and sanctuary, platform and voice for the explosion of radical gesture in London, providing platform, meeting space, idea generator and voice for a host of avant-garde artists, poets, filmmakers, musicians, and writers.

The exhibition and events at Flat Time House bring together the artworks, film and poetry as well as rarely seen photographs, ephemera and archival materials, to initiate a deeper excavation of the Better Books scene, -- the sTimga experience, The International Poetry Incarnation, Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS), The People Show, the formation of the London Filmmakers Cooperative, John Latham and Jeffrey Shaw's Book Plumbing events and Tjebbe van Tijen's continuous drawing event. Art, Anarchy and Apostasy proposes to examine the dialectics and disjuncts between 'word' as structured and de-structured thought, image and sound, and art and reality, which emerged from the cooperation, collaborations and confrontations, which transpired at Better Books.

Supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, The Arts Council England and in partnership with LUX


South London Gallery
67 Peckham Road London, Greater London SE5 8UH
Wed 25 Jul 2012, 7pm

Screening of early London Filmmakers Coop films, includes filmmakers Stephen Dwoskin, Simon Hartog, Jeff Keen, John Latham, Kenneth Anger and Pip Benveniste.

Followed by a discussion led by Dr. Gillian Whiteley, curator and Senior Lecturer in Critical and Historical Studies, School of the Arts, Loughborough University, and Dave Curtis, film art historian and author of A History of Artists' Film and Video in Britain, 1897-2004, with artists Bruce Lacey, Islwyn Watkins and others.

FILM SCREENING: Luke Fowler All Divided Selves (2011)
Fri 27 Jul 2012, 7-9pm
Part of SLAM Last Fridays

The film concentrates on archival representations of radical psychiatrist RD Laing and his colleagues as they struggled to acknowledge the importance of considering social environment and disturbed interaction in institutions as significant factors in the aetiology of human distress and suffering. RD Laing was associated with the art and poetry gatherings at Better Books and his controversial psychiatric writings and methods considerably influenced the creative practices of the artists involved at Better Books. All Divided Selves reprises the vacillating responses to these radical views and the less forgiving responses to Laing's latter career shift; from eminent psychiatrist to enterprising celebrity. A dense, engaging and lyrical collage- Fowler weaves archival material with his own filmic observations, including footage from a SIGMA gathering with John Latham and others at Brazier's Park in 1964.
Better Books: Art, Anarchy & Apostasy

Event Title: Better Books: Art, Anarchy & Apostasy
Postcode: 210 Bellenden Rd, London SE15
Further Details:
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