Esther Windsor

Critical Dictionary

Salvatore Arancio, Morten Baker Jorgenson, David Campany, Simona Dell’agli, Neil Dyson, David Evans, Sean Harding, Chris Howgate, Gavin Jack, Karen Knorr, Rutbless Luxemburg, Ole Moe, Trish Morrissey, Bianca Redgrave, Mark Roberts, Birgitte Sigmundstad, John Tran.

10 Back Hill

16 January – 8 February 2002

Curated by Esther Windsor

Behind the banner of base materialism, George Bataille and allies used the pages of the academic journal Documents (Paris 1929-30) as a battering ram against all forms of idealism. One tactic was the compilation of a critical dictionary, offering counter definitions to key terms in the French language. A second tactic was the privileging of the photographic document. The unfinished business of Documents is the starting point for this exhibition. What are the tasks of base materialism today? Does photography still possess the corrosive potential, which fascinated Bataille? Such questions constitute the project critical dictionary.

Sometimes, a dictionary entry is addressed by one photographer: B for Bingo uses Chris Howgates studies of bingo halls: H for heroines uses Birgitte Sigmundstad’s female sports figures pictured at a moment of falling or failure. Sometimes an entry offers multiple perspectives: C for crime scene uses Gavin Jack’s street, empty but for the yellow witness appeal sign and Sean Harding’s found documents relating to a murder. The aim is to go from A-Z but not necessarily in that order.

This project was started by David Evans, as a website - It has now been developed into an ongoing project and exhibition in collaboration with mirror at London college of Printing.