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Chelsea Space: Astro-Poems and Orgasmic Streaming

karens show
karens show
Claire Potter, Touching, performance with microphone and script fragments, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist
Written by
John Wallace
Published date
27 April 2018

Two exciting new exhibitions at Chelsea Space explore the relationships between text and performance-based practices.

This term Chelsea Space will play host to two exhibitions that explore the links between text, space and performance, looking at work from the 1960s to the present day.

Orgasmic Streaming Organic Gardening Electroculture includes work from 2018 Turner Prize nominee Charlotte Prodger, who has been nominated for her solo exhibition BRIDGIT/Stoneymollan Trail at Bergen Kunsthall (2017) comprising two single-channel videos. Chelsea Space are currently showing Prodger’s 2014 work Compression Fern Face.

We asked curators Gustavo Grandal Montero and Karen Di Franco to give us an idea of what we’ll see in Chelsea Space throughout the spring.

Hi both. What can we expect from your upcoming exhibitions?

Karen di Franco: Orgasmic Streaming Organic Gardening Electroculture is a group exhibition about art practices that emerge in the space between text and performance. Based around two key historical publications, Carolee Schneemann’s Parts of a Body House and Alison Knowles and Annea Lockwood’s Womens Work, the exhibition will include a newly commissioned installation and performance from Claire Potter alongside Ghislaine Leung’s two score-based works Shrooms and Colour Hides the Canvas, Moulding Hides the Frame, that intervene in the gallery environment as an organic concept. The gallery display includes newly made film from Beatrice Gibson, whose works are often score-like and improvised in nature, exploring the pull between chaos and control in the process of their own making. Drawing on figures from experimental composition and literature such as Cornelius Cardew or Gertrude Stein, her films are often participatory, incorporating collaborative processes.

Gustavo Grandal Montero: Astro-poems and Vertical Group Exercises: Concrete poetry at CSA (Chelsea School of Art – the college’s previous incarnation) will look at the adoption of Concrete poetry by British artists and designers in the 1960s. The exhibition will chart its rapid evolution, with a range of experimental approaches producing on- and off-the-page work which explored the possibilities of language materialised into 3D objects. It will feature artists based at Chelsea, which was an important hub for these practices at the time. The show will include the work of influential graphic designer Edward Wright, Head of Graphics 1963-77, along with his students and collaborators, and also the (important but now almost forgotten) work of Tom Edmonds. In addition to newly found documentation of Tom’s creative output, the exhibition will present his “astro-poems” (glass boxes that create 3D typographical structures) for the first time since the 1970s. The subject is really closely linked to my own research about the origins and influence of Concrete Poetry – which I’m looking at primarily from a British perspective but in the context of it being an international movement.

Installation view including artwork by Tom Edmonds, Diploma show CSA 1967 (Digitised slide, courtesy Chelsea College of Arts Library, University of the Arts London

Installation view including artwork by Tom Edmonds, Diploma show CSA 1967 (Digitised slide, courtesy Chelsea College of Arts Library, University of the Arts London

Can you tell us a little about yourself, your practice and your role within University of the Arts London?

Gustavo: I am a librarian and special collections curator at Chelsea College of Arts and Camberwell College of Arts. One of my areas of responsibility is developing and managing the important collection of artists’ books and magazines held at Chelsea, of international significance. Concrete poetry is one of the many strengths of the collection. Trained as an art historian, I write and present regularly on art and librarianship topics, including artists’ books and publishing, Concrete poetry, art ephemera and archives, and information literacy. I am Deputy Editor of the Art Libraries Journal and a member of ARLIS UK & Ireland’s Council. I am also a PhD candidate at UAL, and this exhibition is closely related to my recent research. My thesis is titled: The “Turn to language”: Concrete poetry and visual art in Britain in the 1960s

Karen: I’m the Programme Curator at Chelsea Space, Chelsea College of Arts. I’ve been working here since 2013 and I’m also a PhD candidate with Tate Britain and Reading University, researching forms, strategies and contexts within artists’ publishing. I have been working on this show alongside Irene Revell, a curator and writer whose work seeks out new contexts and connections for practices with challenging social and political implications across performance, sound, moving image and text. She is Visiting Curator on the MA Sound Arts at London College of Communication where she is engaged in doctoral research. Since 2006 she has been part of the volunteer collective that oversees the maintenance and distribution of the Cinenova feminist film collection.

Installation view including artwork by Tom Edmonds, Diploma show CSA 1967 (Digitised slide, courtesy Chelsea College of Arts Library, University of the Arts London

Installation view including artwork by Tom Edmonds, Diploma show CSA 1967 (Digitised slide, courtesy Chelsea College of Arts Library, University of the Arts London

As well as the Private Views, will there be any other special events open to the public during the exhibitions?

Karen: Yes! A one day event on Sunday 20 May at LUX will accompany the exhibition, expanding on its live possibilities. This will include contributions from Anna Barham, Daniella Cascella, Ami Clarke, Tomoko Hojo, Natasha Lall, Aura Satz, Linda Stupart and others. Full details will be announced shortly. Gallery events include a performance from Claire Potter and a workshop ‘These are the Scores’ led by Irene Revell. An affiliated symposium, What’s On Women in Conceptual Art, convened by Dr Jo Melvin and supported by the Chelsea Camberwell and Wimbledon Graduate School will happen at Chelsea College of Arts on Thursday 24 May.

Gustavo: There will be several events to accompany the Astro-poems exhibition too, including a panel discussion with students and staff who were at Chelsea in the 1960s and a display in the library of new work by current students related to the ideas explored in the show. For more information, visit

Orgasmic Streaming Organic Gardening Electroculture is at Chelsea Space 25 April – 25 May, with the private view on 24 April, 6.30pm – 8pm

Astro-poems and Vertical Group Exercises: Concrete poetry at CSA is at Chelsea Space 13 June – 13 July with the private view on 12 June, 6.30pm – 8pm

Book your place on the ‘Women in Conceptual Art’ symposium on 24 May, visit:

For more about the college’s public gallery and its opening hour, visit the Chelsea Space website.