The spring 2019 Hawn Gallery exhibition, Information/Object: Late 20th – Early 21st Century Artists’ Books, features a selection of artists’ books from the Hamon Arts’ and DeGolyer’s libraries collections as well as some personal loans from collectors. One of the books, The Royal Road to the Unconscious, is a work by the conceptual writer and professor, Simon Morris. This work documents Morris’ project of having each word in Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams cut from its page, collected in over 200,000 slips, and later scattered at 90 mph upon a road in Dorset, England, approximately 122 miles from Freud’s psychoanalytical couch. These instructions mimic that of Royal Road Test by Ed Ruscha with Mason Williams and Patrick Blackwell. The two works are on view and share a space in the first case.
I recently corresponded with Morris to ask for permission to have his work scanned and digitally displayed in its entirety in the exhibition. It is now available for viewing in the gallery until the exhibition’s close on March 8th. Not only did Morris grant permission, he also agreed to an interview for the Hamon blog. This opportunity creates a fuller understanding of this work and his art practice.
- Could you please discuss your work, The Royal Road to the Unconscious (2003), and the relationship you see with Royal Road Test (1967) by Ed Ruscha with Mason Williams and Patrick Blackwell?
Surprisingly, the relationship isn’t as close as it may ostensibly appear. There’s an entire industry making iterations of Ed Ruscha’s book works, as you can see from exhibitions like Ed Ruscha: Books & Co. at the Gagosian in New York, LA and Paris and the Brandhorst Museum in Munich,organized by Gagosian director Bob Monk with over seventy examples. Or Follow-ed at Rennes University, curated by Michalis Pichler and Tom Sowden with over 400 examples. However, my motivation for The Royal Road to the Unconscious was in order to conduct an experiment on the writing of Sigmund Freud as I was working closely with a psychoanalyst at that time on creative projects for a period of around five years. I utilised Ed Ruscha’s Royal Road Test as a set of Readymade instructions in order to conduct an experiment on Sigmund Freud’s book, The Interpretation of Dreams (1899). I had observed a contradiction in Freud’s work that I wished to explore. Freud investigates the realm of the unconscious, the space of the irrational, but to do so he employs rational procedures such as syntax, grammar and punctuation.Continue reading “Q & A with conceptual writer and professor, Simon Morris”