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Regional Art Stories A Published Event

in conversation with Cristian Tablazon for Regional Assembly

Justy Phillips: What happens in those moments of sitting down to write something and thinking, “I'm going to write this”, and then you start writing, and inevitably, when you look back at what you've written, they're just these ideas and thoughts that you've never had before? It is completely fascinating to me how you can imagine, “I'm going to write this”, and then your fingers just start doing something and writing something completely unthought of in your own body. And I think that sort of unknown, that unknowable sense of what writing brings to a life, is likely one of the things that has pushed us both into the literary and text-based media.

Margaret Woodward: It's great fun to be able to combine various elements with our love of type and our love of not just the felt experience, emotionally, but the felt experience of the book, too—the pleasure and the intimacy that that holds with it when you hold the book in your hands. And we're constantly trying to extend that experience as well in the printed form.

JP: The book is inherently a private object and is by its nature, and most often, taken into a private space and read as a solitary act. Of course there are all sorts of expanded ways that books can be communally shared. But by and large, a book is something that has to be held by the body and is taken into that space of quiet reading and study, and it's also an object or an artifact that can be returned to. I think there's something really interesting in the book that it has this latent period sitting on a shelf or sitting somewhere and can be returned to. And each time the reader is kind of reinventing that experience. That's always enticed us, I think.

There's also that threshold that makes publishing so exciting: the moment of shifting something from a private to a public domain. And that threshold is the most kind of uncontrollable, dangerous, speculative space there is because you have no idea what's going to happen.

MW: In this expanded notion of the book and the work that the text can do, not just by itself, but in collaboration with other people as well, what happens when you bring those books into an assemblage, like a library? And then what happens when you give that library permission to be a performance library, inhabiting a space over a month where 50 different events are generated from that collective library and from those collective voices? So, again, this was very speculative. And for us, I think the real success and the pride in that work came from what happened when we assembled all those elements in a space in a gallery. But the people, the events, the books, the energy that emanated from that—it feels that that is what has enduring value in a very expanded way, rather than seeing these isolated artifacts as single books on shelves through a traditional publishing platform.

I'm also thinking we are fortunate because we are A Published event—it's just us. It starts with the core of it with our relationship, which comes out of intimacy, but we can extend that and that attitude to the social relationships that we have with other people. We're not working for an institution, we don't have policies driving how we behave, and so we have the great liberty and the great privilege to work from this position of love. And we all know how much is invested in creative work, in creative practice, in making things happen. And we're at the stage where we just don't want to waste that time, all that effort, all that energy, on things that aren't deeply felt and on people who aren't deeply loved, because we know that that will ultimately translate into the work and then that has a kind of a liveliness underpinning it that will hopefully continue to resonate as it goes out into the world.

Justy Phillips and Margaret Woodward

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