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All artists are David Michael Clarke or they are not David Michael Clarke - Neil Mulholland

[Edinburgh, February 2004]

In response to an invitation to be artist in residence in Fontenay-le-Comte, Clarke returned the kind gesture by breaking their local by-laws, Pisser contre le vent & mordre la main qui te nourrit [2000]. The birthplace of François Rabelais' humanism, Fontenay-le-Comte's polite lawns grow plush in the hinterlands, a prime target for an English vandal. Already having its fare share of handsome public spaces and renaissance architecture there seemed to be little that a contemporary artist might add or improve. Clarke's cheeky gestures of defiance are cloaked in humour. Clarke may be playing the avant-garde provocateur, resisting recuperation, but he doesn't push his luck too far, his transgressions are of no real threat to public order, civic pride or the status quo. Clarke parks his car in a space "reservé Mr. Le Maire", rides his bicycle along a prohibited pathway, drinks water from a fountain marked "eau non portable" and stands on a lawn clearly marked with the sign "pelouse interdite". The niggling sensation remains that Clarke's transgressions are, perhaps, simply the result of not understanding the paternalistic French signs. Perhaps he has misread the "no cycling" iconography as an instruction, or thought the sign was telling him that it was compulsory to drink from the fountain? In two of the photographs he grins blithely at the camera, in all, he wears a loud flowery shirt. Perhaps he is proposing that artists, like tourists, are simply people who have a tendency, whether consciously or not, to misappropriate signs, to read against the grain, to resist cultural hegemony. Alternatively, Clarke could be play-acting all along. "What if the artist is lying", he asks, "what happens to art then?"


David Michael Clarke - Pissing against the wind & biting the hand that feeds you     David Michael Clarke - Pissing against the wind & biting the hand that feeds you

David Michael Clarke - Pissing against the wind & biting the hand that feeds you     David Michael Clarke - Pissing against the wind & biting the hand that feeds you

Pissing against the wind & biting the hand that feeds you
2000 | 4 colour photographs mounted on dibond | 50 x 75 cm

Is Clarke lying when he titles a related work: This is not Fontenay-le-Comte [4 self-portraits with an adjustable spanner]? Is this an example of the liar's paradox [every word I tell you is stupid and false], a paradox that lies at the heart of postmodernism's cultural and ideological relativism, an epistemological hole that haunts our times? Perhaps it's a reworking of Rene Magritte's This is not a pipe [1926] after all the work in question is a series of four photographs, not a small town [1]. Clarke raises both spectres, but he does so by resorting to the humorous word play more befitting of farce, revelling in the use of bad puns, a pleasure that underlines much of his work. Beyond the obvious conceptual allegiance to Magritte, there is the issue of infinite semiosis, translation or of what iconologists once called "contamination". To an English-speaker, "clé anglaise" literally translates as an "English key", a combination of words that connotes "clue" or "code". What code is being manipulated? Is the code specific to the English language? Is Clarke acting the innocent, an English-speaker unaware of local road conventions? Such road signs always strike the British as being peculiarly French. A British "exit" sign might read "Scotland wishes you a safe journey". To score out the name of a place with a diagonal line would be considered discourteous. Clarke has identified something overly familiar to French citizens, which continues to harbour différance, despite the best endeavours of the Geneva Convention Road Sign Treaty to repudiate the arbitrariness of the sign.


David Michael Clarke - This is not fontenay-le-comte [4 self-portraits with an adjustable spanner]     David Michael Clarke - This is not fontenay-le-comte [4 self-portraits with an adjustable spanner]

David Michael Clarke - This is not fontenay-le-comte [4 self-portraits with an adjustable spanner]     David Michael Clarke - This is not fontenay-le-comte [4 self-portraits with an adjustable spanner]

This is not fontenay-le-comte [4 self-portraits with an adjustable spanner]
2000 | 4 colour photographs mounted on dibond | 50 x 75 cm

The title of the work, of course, also refers to the large [and rather phallic] spanner in Clarke's hand, which he has used to loosen the bolts of the Fontenay-le-Comte road signs [another literal take on "deconstruction"]. Clarke gets up to polysemous mischief, swapping the entry and exit signs, slighting the town by suggesting that the average driver might not realise that they have passed through it. This elision or erasure of "Fontenay-le-Comte" presents an analogy with Derrida's work, as Clarke experiments with the desire to legitimatise space through language. To leave the town of Fontenay-le-Comte is to enter a territory that is so ill-shaped that it must be space that it can only be defined in the via negativa, "Not Fontenay-le-Comte". By reversing the road signs, Clarke transforms the world via positiva into Fontenay-le-Comte, a gesture that parallels Piero Manzoni's Socle du Monde [1961]. Yet, it's clear that Clarke's act is not one of a man trapped within art, unlike the proto-conceptualism of Manzoni. Clarke avoids the baggage of the art world [signatures, plinths, frames, etc.] and uses simply what comes to hand. His gesture is ambient and thoroughly rooted in the everyday, a simple act of rearticulation and appropriation. In many ways, Clarke's gesture has no direct connection with the artworld; he simply examines the relationship between Fontenay-le-Comte, the road signs that represent Fontenay-le-Comte, and Fontenay-le-Comte's position within the world at large [2].


David Michael Clarke - Two lines made by walking hand in hand with my girlfriend

Two lines made by walking hand in hand with my girlfriend
2001 | BW-type photograph mounted on dibond | 100 x 80 cm

Clarke here, as in many of his works, produces a tautology that stresses the primacy of everyday life over art. Clarke is fond of tautologies, particularly Ad Reinhardt's "art is art-as-art and everything else is everything else" [3]. "I love statements like that", he enthuses, "they really get my head spinning, pure tautology, and not a definition in sight. Freedom. Donald Judd - fantastic stuff. If I say it's art, then it is art. It's a simple as that. This should be easy". Of course, Clarke is all too aware that it's not so straightforward. Life gets in the way of such hermetically sealed tautologies. Clarke's more recent work stems from his conviction that declarations of love are often made without conditions and in a way that cannot be denied without inconsistency. The kinds of statements favoured by analytical conceptualists and those made by lovers are strongly tautological. Despite this, analytical conceptualism made no direct reference to human relationships, editing the author out of the picture. Clarke deliberately reverses this, by reworking a series of canonical works of photo-based conceptualism, performance and land art. Richard Long's A Line Made by Walking [1967] becomes a black and white image of Two Lines [Made Walking Hand in Hand with My Girlfriend] [2001]. Gina Pane's Ideal Situation: Land - Artist - Sky [1969] metamorphoses into Ideal Situation: Land - Artist and Girlfriend - Sky [2001]. The lost subject of Pane's work [her girlfriend taking the photograph of the artist "alone" with nature] is integrated into the frame of Clarke's work. Long and Pane's existential bravado is rebuked by Clarke's insistence that life is not undertaken alone and thus that making, documenting and thinking about art cannot be artificially segregated from living and loving.


David Michael Clarke - One square metre of raw canvas with 212 stolen kisses [from Fabrice Hybert]

One square metre of raw canvas with 212 stolen kisses [from Fabrice Hybert]
2001 | 2 C-type photographs mounted on dibond & lipstick on canvas | each element 100 x 100 cm

In Clarke's translations, this relationship can take a farcical turn as he attempts to romance works of art as if he were a character in a François Truffaut comedy. "The surface of, Fabrice Hybert's One Square Metre of Lipstick [1981] would appear to be formally fixed, but in fact it changes each time it is exhibited. The FRAC des Pays de la Loire, who have it in their collection, continually reactivate the surface by applying a fresh coat of lipstick" [4]. Intrigued by this unusual conservation practice, Clarke decided to reanimate the lipstick surface of Hybert's painting to produce a new work. Kissing the painting as a means of transferring the lipstick to another canvas resulted in One square metre of raw canvas with 212 stolen kisses [2001]. Clarke raises a number of thorny issues. Given that the surface has been reapplied on many occasions, is Hybert's abstract painting really the same one that he made in 1981? Does the work reside in its physical properties, or can it be distinguished from its properties in an abstract sense? Does Clarke's intervention create an entirely new work, does it alter and extend the properties of Hybert's painting, or does it destroy it by stealing its properties? Metaphysicians would have their work cut out if it weren't for the sneaking suspicion that Clarke, dressed in a loud shirt, like a painterly Don Juan, is having an illicit affair designed to rob Hybert of his honour. As Clarke states:

"Stolen kisses is a magical expression. What does it mean? We know what it means to steal an object. But what does it mean to steal a gesture, to steal a moment? And anyway, what is all this about stealing? From whom are we stealing? If one party were really stealing from the other it would surely be an assault. For sure we are left with the idea that something "wrong" has been done. It seems that both parties are implicated in the theft. Both are guilty. So from whom are they stealing? And how does it become so "sweet", so "precious"? "

Clarke is framing the issues of appropriation and influence within the language of love. For him, art is non-linear and kinetic, forms and ideas passed from one artist to another that leave behind only lipstick traces [5]. While the lipstick smeared across Clarke's face might mark him out as a guilty love rat, it might equally be a sign of infatuation, one akin to the smeared lipstick worn by The Cure's perpetually lovesick singer-songwriter Robert Smith. Is Clarke a Hybert sycophant? Like Smith, Clarke certainly seems to have overindulged. Like a child binging on chocolate, he has been caught red faced:

Lipstick on your collar told a tale on you
Lipstick on your collar said you were untrue
Bet your bottom dollar you and I are through
Cuz lipstick on you collar told a tale on you, yeah! [6]

Like Connie Francis, Clarke, again, is dramatising the act of lying in a way that traverses art and life.


David Michael Clarke - Trouser word piece [after Keith Arnatt]

Trouser word piece [after Keith Arnatt]
2001 | 5 BW-type photographs mounted on dibond | each element 50 x 50 cm

Is Clarke's art really a subset of his everyday life? Could it not be that his [love] life is a work of art? With this question in mind, Clarke reworks Keith Arnatt's Trouser Word Piece [1972] in a way that incorporates his relationship with his partner Anabelle Hulaut. Arnatt's response to the Wittgensteinian philosophy of John Austin jokingly plays with the semantics of belief. In Sense and Sensibilia [1961], Austin asserts that many of the promises made in ordinary language have no basis in "reality". Arnatt's deadpan declaration that he is a "real" artist, therefore, is stubbornly sardonic, for, according to Austin, there are no ontologically given artists. Clarke complicates matters by adding his personal life into this equation. For Clarke and his partner to state that they are "real" artists means as little as saying that he is a "real" boyfriend or that she is a "real" girlfriend. In each case they clarify their intentions but cannot verify them. Each statement is illocutionary, neither true nor false, but reliant upon having faith that these promises will be kept. By personalising these issues, Clarke deliberately obscures matters drawing us to ask more questions. Does Clarke's boyfriend status negate his status as an artist [or vice versa]? Does Clarke's partner just happen to be an artist, or is she an artist who happens to be his partner? Are they both artists simply because they believe they are? Do they have a relationship simply because they believe that they do? Is their relationship more important than their art or a product of their art? Is their love for each other more "real" than art? The more we ask these kind of questions, the more we realise that their private and professional lives are built upon self-authenticating gestures and illocutionary statements. In this way, Clarke draws us back to Austin's speculative concerns with everyday speech acts, signifying that romantic declarations of love are just as difficult, messy and potentially fraudulent as analytical declarations of arthood.


David Michael Clarke - Trouser word piece [after Keith Arnatt]

Today : Marriages 1969 - 1999 [detail]
2001 | 53 acrylic on canvas & 53 marriage certificates | each element 21 x 30 cm

Clarke's reworking of On Kawara's Today series develops this intermingling of the personal and the conceptual in a different direction. Today Marriages 1969 - 1999 [2001] consists of a large number of U.K. marriage certificates citing the groom as "David Michael Clarke". Clarke's doppelgangers are all authentic spouses, and the certificates legal copies acquired from British registry offices. Each certificate is accompanied by Clarke's copy of an On Kawara painting dated accordingly. The marriage certificates function as substitutes for the newspapers used to line the boxes containing Kawara's latest works. In this, Clarke creates a covenant between Kawara's daily index of the everyday and the special days in the lives of other David Michael Clarkes. This translation of Kawara's opus pulls in contrary directions. On the one hand, the repetition of David Michael Clarke marriage certificates speaks of a world in which everything from love to art is systematised, bureaucratised and reified. Conceptual art strongly identified with the serial and bureaucratic as a means of de-sublimating art practice. Clarke, at the same time wants to remind us that each marriage is an extraordinary leap of faith, one greater than that required for Kawara to make art each day. The dates of the paintings are important to those with an emotional investment in them, a qualitative response that stretches beyond Kawara's quantitative universe.


David Michael Clarke - Art & Language     David Michael Clarke - Art & Language

Art & Language
2003 | 2 C-type photographs mounted on dibond | each element 30 x 50 cm

Clarke is sceptical of the world of art narrowly delineated by the canon, a hermetically sealed world accommodated by textbooks such as Charles Harrison and Paul Wood's Art in Theory 1900-1990, a key text read by numerous art students. In the first panel of his diptych Art and Language [2003] Clarke and Hulaut skim through English and French versions of this classic reader. In the second panel, Hulaut has switched her reading to a well-thumbed copy of Happening & Fluxus. Beyond the obvious pun, the title refers specifically to the art historian Harrison, a member of the conceptual art group Art & Language. Clarke and Hulaut both regard Harrison's chosen essays as being biased towards his involvement with A&L [whose writings are generously reproduced in the reader] to the detriment of less overtly analytical movements such as Fluxus. Despite this, it would seem, Clarke remains drawn to the authority of Art in Theory 1900-1990, a book that's difficult to put down, metaphorically speaking.


David Michael Clarke - Life After John

Life After John
2001 | beer[drunk], cigarettes[smoked], table [altered] & book [inaccessible] | variable dimensions

The French version of the book Art en Theorie 1900-1990 also surfaces in Life After John [2002], where it is used to prop up the leg of a coffee table strewn with empty beer bottles and an dirty ashtray. Has Clarke left the seminar room behind to take part in life, a "real" world of drinking beer and socialising? The normative activities of smoking and drinking are literally supported by Clarke's engagement with theory. "John" is John Calcutt, Clarke's theory tutor at Glasgow School of Art, the figure who introduced him to the tautological delights contained in Harrison and Wood's tome. Calcutt was also instrumental in Clarke's initiation with the work of Jacques Derrida while he was an undergraduate at Glasgow School of Art from 1988 to 1991. Clark admits that his introduction to deconstruction was "formal", that is to say that he approached its philosophical implications via an initial fascination with the spectacle of Frank Gehry's Design Museum in Vitra and the sculptures of Eduardo Paolozzi. Behind this lay the preoccupations that continue to inform his practice, the nagging questions. What is art? What is an artist? Clarke remarks: "I failed miserably in my attempts to answer these questions. Indeed, it is a history of failure that goes on to this very day. It was all very tautological stuff". This stress on tautology and embrace of failure seems to lie at the heart of Clarke's practice.

Clarke mischievous streak and willingness to emphasise his flaws were traits that he shared with friends and fellow GSA graduates David Shrigley and Jonathan Monk. Monk and Shrigley were fond of making spurious funding and project applications during their studies. In the run up to the 1990 Glasgow City of Culture celebrations they earnestly wrote to Glasgow City Council and the Mayor of Paris suggesting the Glasgow School of Art be temporarily swapped for the Eiffel Tower [they received a serious response from Glasgow Council]. Such stunts parallel Clarke's audacious and irreverent attitude to artworld protocol in the first half of the 90s. In 1996 he applied for the prestigious Richard Hough Bursary from the Stills Gallery in Edinburgh, a valuable grant for photographers living and working in Scotland. Unsure of the direction his work was taking, he decided to show a series of slides in his interview. Rather than display his own work, he gave a ten-minute talk about the context in which he was working using 80 slides to illustrate his ideas. "The award had always previously been for "real" photographers", Clark recalls. "1996 was the first year they opened it up to artists who use digital photography, and artists who use photography in installations. But I was the only weirdo on the shortlist - so I was still considered a rank outsider with little to lose".

Much to his surprise, the penniless Clarke won the award. Word quickly got out around Scotland of his cheeky-chappie chat, and soon he was performing with slides to enthusiastic live audiences at venues around the country. Clarke had never suggested that this talk was an artwork, but audience curiosity encouraged him to develop a series of performances, including Pamela Anderson and Me [1996], Finding Out All About Love [1997], Blueprints and Pipe Dreams [1997] and Second-hand Emotions [1999]. Pamela Anderson and Me [1996], featured a full carousel of slides mixing recent reports on Anderson's prosthetic-induced rise to fame and episodes from Clarke's personal history: "I started to collect images and articles from newspapers and magazines. I kept them alongside love letters and family snapshots. After a while they all became jumbled, but as I sifted through, instead of the chaos that I expected, a strange sort of logic started to appear, almost as if I had become the protagonist in everything that I witnessed, as well as everything that I had done, whether it be through first hand experience, or mediated form. Suddenly the turmoil's in my love life became inextricably linked to the crisis in Bosnia, and the body sculpture of Pamela Anderson, seemed the key to the search for peace in Northern Ireland".

The dense talk was delivered in ten minutes at the frantic pace of a horseracing commentator, Clarke punctuating events in his life with parallel Pammie trivia. Of course, notwithstanding our voyeuristic intrusions, celebrities have imagined subjectivities and private lives like everyone else. As such, Clarke made no obvious attempt to distinguish between what could have been characterised as authentic experience [his own] and an inauthentic life [mediated celebrity gossip]. Using potentially embarrassing snaps from his family archive, he wove a tale of his cultural inertia and faltering love life into Anderson's seemingly unwavering career and erratic body sculpture. What emerged, whether by fault or design, was Clarke's failure to colonise life in narrative and images. At the same time Clarke showed his willingness to live with the contradiction between imagined polarities of the authentic and the fraudulent: "I was not making up my own juxtapositions. They were there in reality, and they were scarily real".

As Clarke honed his skills as an orator he was not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, including revelations about his early encounters with the opposite sex, his first orgasm, and his split with his girlfriend in all the unaffected and candid detail. In Blueprints and Pipe Dreams [1997], Clarke provided a vox pop bricoleur history of the forthcoming general election by asking the question that was on every Briton's lips: who is your favourite Spice Girl? If the personal is political, he reasoned, then the personality must also be political. Immersing the audience in a sea of pop trivia, he opens up a nest of cultural vipers, delivering his rapid-fire speech with the alliterative dexterity of a British tabloid: "So while Tony Blair's busy hoping his puerile pranks will get him picked for his first prime-ministerial parliament, the only thing likely to get between him and No.10, are the fast beating hearts of five feisty young females. For with their philosophy combining Thatcherite economics, Buddhist tolerance and feudalistic neo-plantagenet paternalism, their euro-scepticism is likely to force this most famous of federalists off the field."

Clarke's imagined subjectivity as a Spice fan saw him enact a vivacious critique of corporate pop and packaged party politics by occupying the very structure of the culture he sought to deconstruct. The Spice Girls had recently gaffed by admitting their admiration proto-spice Margaret Thatcher, views that didn't please a polis tired of Tory sleaze. Clarke rightly identified the Spices as a barometer of political inertia in a state that had shown more interest in their haircuts than in the impending demise of 18 years of Conservative rule. The battle for Britain in 1997 lay in a trivialised packaging of policy as though it were washing powder. The Spices soon played their part in New Labour's New Britain, providing foreign markets with a simplified vision of cultural differentiation. The culture industries would help London claw its way back to pre-eminence in a globalised marketplace. "Cool Britannia" was a branding exercise built around London-based Brit Pop and Young British Art, a Sohocentric media circus had little direct economic impact or cultural relevance to the rest of the British Isles, and one that entirely ignored the contributions of Scottish-based artists such as Clarke. If Clarke's performance marked a kind of resistance, it did so in full recognition of the feebleness of the gesture, drawing attention to the absurd and the comedic, doubling-up and collapsing.


David Michael Clarke - Me, girls & other lost subjects

Me, girls & other lost subjects
1999 | 9 diapositives & 9 slide-viewers | dimensions variable

Although Clarke continued to give slide performances until 1999, his concern that he might begin to resemble Clive James [7] rather than Charles Dickens brought an abrupt halt to his career on the stage. The work produced for his Master of Fine Art show at Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Art drew on similar concerns with found history and a Lefevresque fascination with everyday life. One work, Me, Girls, and other Lost Subjects [1999] consisted of a series of slides given to Clarke by his mother's neighbour:

"Frank, the old man who lived next door, died. His wife asked my Mum if I'd like any of his old stuff. My mum said that she was sure I'd be delighted, and thus an enormous box of stuff was sent up to Glasgow. So I discovered, cameras, projectors, reels of Super 8 and a ton of slides. Most of it was boring, holiday shots of Devon etc. Then I found this little box label "Zoo", and in it I found these pin-up photos. I really studied these photos, but there was something that didn't make sense. Firstly the format of the images didn't match up with any of Frank's cameras. But then again, they didn't seem to be "bought" slides. The mounts were the bog standard Kodak kit, and the handwriting belonged to Frank. The photos themselves were clearly amateur stuff. I would have asked his wife about them, but morally didn't think that such a good thing to do. Better let sleeping dog's lie. But I liked this idea that the truth would be so easy for me to find, but somehow the mystery also seemed appealing. I showed the work in old style slide-viewers that I had found at car boot sales and flea markets. I considered them to be as much objects of desire as the images. I liked the fact that a "lost subject" is the opposite of a "found object", and all this stuff I could consider in both ways. But the real subject that was lost somewhere was "truth" and "knowledge"."

Again the tendency here was for Clarke to confuse the categories of the found, the faked and the archival by blurring the distinction between the private and the public photograph. [8]


David Michael Clarke - Not Waving [with Karen Brown]     David Michael Clarke - Not Waving [with Karen Brown]

Not Waving [with Karen Brown]
1999 | face-to-face video installation | full runtime: 3 mins [looped]

Also evoking the discourse of the private photograph, Clarke's large-scale video work Not Waving [1999] took this issue of authenticity to the hills. On one screen Clarke can be seen waving to camera, on the screen opposite his [then] girlfriend Karen waves back. Although they appear to be together on a camping trip, they are, in fact, pictured in very different parts of the British Isles. Separated by hundreds of miles and by cultural, religious, linguistic, historical and geographic differences they wave across the mammoth Highland geological fault line. Clarke pitches his tent in the rugged landscape seeking communion with the barren Outer Hebrides of Scotland while Karen visits civilizing sights in England such as the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford and the Roman remains of Bath. These spaces are very loaded, the 'natural' Celtic Hebrides playing the Other of Roman and Anglo-Saxon "culture" [9]. In being specifically identified with these spaces, Clarke and his lover overturn the received polarisation of male and female. Clarke is playing nature to Karen's culture, abdicating sole responsibility for the production of the work and confirming that his art could not exist without her. Clarke follows the Romantics in their obsession with Highland Scotland, vainly seeking to discard the mannerisms of art in favour of a Gaelic affection for hearth, home and heart.

This quest for an authentic form of living and loving, of course, is never satiated. This isn't "real life"; Clarke and his partner are just on holiday. As tourists seeking to separate themselves from their everyday lives, both take part in a form of daydreaming, yearning for the "other". Although incongruent geographies separate each screen, it is clear that both are present in each location since they are filming each other. As lovers they are together yet remain eager to fashion their sense of otherness, to maintain the longing that thwarts stasis [10]. Logical constructions such as affection and alienation, culture and nature haemorrhage. We will never really know if the waving to camera is affected or a genuine gesture of affection. In many ways, this work parallels Umberto Eco's famous Postscript to the Name of the Rose [1986], where he tells of how a post-modern sophisticate might say to lover "As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly".

"At this point, having avoided false innocence, having said clearly that it is no longer possible to speak innocently, he will nevertheless have said what he wanted to say to the woman: that he loves her, but he loves her in an age of lost innocence. If the woman goes along with this, she will have received a declaration of love all the same. Neither of the two speakers will feel innocent, both will have accepted the challenge of the past, of the already said, which cannot be eliminated; both will consciously and with pleasure play the game of irony... But both will have succeeded, once again, in speaking of love". [11]

Precisely because love and affection are based on faith rather than logic, Clarke wants to put his trust in love, avoiding irony: "Look, let's forget about art for a minute. Let's raise the stakes a little. Let's talk about love. If I tell you that I love you does that mean that I do? Well obviously it's not necessarily so. The fact that the question is raised at all makes me either a lover or a liar, but the answer is unclear. It rests on confidence and trust. How much do you trust me? "

Rather than spend all his time being "suitably" ironic, Clarke actively constructs false innocence, inviting us to trust him. Perhaps it's a similar leap of faith, or sense of longing, of constantly being on holiday, that makes art achievable.


NOTES

All uncited quotes by David Michael Clarke are either taken from unpublished documents written by the artist, or correspondence between the artist and the author.

[1] See also Michel Foucault, This is Not a Pipe, Berkeley, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1983.

[2] This has strong parallels with Clarke's Untitled Monochrome [Lost] [2002], a photograph of the blank back of a French road sign pictured against a slate grey sky. The sign gives no specific directions, parodying the modernist insistence that monochromatic abstraction is a self-sustaining sign system. It's clear that Clarke's road sign is gesturing beyond the picture plane, mutely directing us away from the photograph and towards an unknown worldly journey. This gesture is magnified by Clarke's Sometimes one has to escape from the world of art, a readymade cycling top sporting Mondrian's Neo-Plasticism which, if worn by a nomadic cyclist [such as Clarke's friend the art critic Robert Fleck], releases the omnipresent orthogonal schema into the world, precisely where De Stijl intended it to be.

[3] Ad Reinhardt, "Art as Art", Studio International, VI, No.10, 1962.

[4] David Michael Clarke quoted in Non, Fond Regional D'art Contemporain Des Pays de la Loire, 2002, p7.

[5] See Greil Marcus, "Lipstick Traces. Une histoire secrète du vingtième siècle", Paris: Allia, 1999.

[6] Lipstick On Your Collar [1959] Lyrics by Edna Lewis and Music by George Goehring.

[7] Antipodean broadcaster Clive James has long been famous in the UK for his motormouth satirical revues of world television and advertising.

[8] See John Berger, "Uses of Photography", About Looking, New York: Pantheon Books 1980.

[9] The Roman Empire ended at the Antonine Wall, a ditch and dyke buffer built on the narrow isthmus between the River Clyde in the west the Firth of Forth in the east.

[10] "...I don't have the slightest idea of what art could be, or what I might be doing as art in twenty years time. I would already be dead. For me, the most important thing is to keep the possibility of surprising myself, to go off in unexpected tangents. " Dave Michael Clarke quoted in Non, Fond Regional D'art Contemporain Des Pays de la Loire, 2002, p10.

[11] Umberto Eco, "Postscript to the Name of the Rose", 1986