Q & A with conceptual writer and professor, Simon Morris

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.

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Collection spotlight: Harriet Bacon MacDonald Collection

Harriet Bacon MacDonald organized the performances of notable musical acts from around the world including Sousa and Rachmaninoff among many others in Dallas, Texas. MacDonald was also a teacher of classes in the Dunning Music System. The bulk of the material in this collection was gathered during her time as an impresaria in Dallas, Texas and a teacher of Dunning classes across the United States. The collection includes correspondence, documents, ephemera, programs, published works, photographs, and a scrapbook. Most of the material originates from Dallas, Texas, but there is also material from other states and cities.

Harriet Bacon MacDonald (1865-1935) was a notable impresaria in Dallas, Texas and teacher of the Dunning system. MacDonald received musical training in her hometown near Boston, Massachusetts where she first studied piano under the tutelage of James M. Tracy. MacDonald became a professional accompanist. She continued her training in Europe and worked with prominent artists. After her studies were completed, she returned to the United States and toured with the Norma Trio and the Constance Balfour Concert Company as an accompanist and impresaria. She came to Dallas, Texas through the Constance Balfour Concert Company and opened a studio in 1910. Soon afterward, she became director of the Schubert-Choral Club and used her connections from Europe to arrange musical acts in Dallas. MacDonald partnered with Mrs. Wesley Porter Mason to manage the performances of influential and well-known artists in Dallas, TX. MacDonald took the Dunning System course in 1915 and became a teacher soon after. Through this position, she traveled all over the United States teaching the Dunning System. In 1928, Macdonald’s husband, James R. Saville, became the new lessee of The Circle and renamed it the Showhouse. The theater hosted musical acts managed by MacDonald. In 1931, after being unable to pay for an opera troupe’s performance, along with some other scandals, MacDonald began having financial problems, which in turn caused her to go bankrupt and end her career as a manager. MacDonald passed away in 1935 at the age of 70. Her husband, James R. Saville, donated her papers to Southern Methodist University a week after her passing.

Please take a look at the detailed finding aid available through Texas Archival Resources Online here: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/smu/00298/smu-00298.html

Image Courtesy of Harriet Bacon MacDonald collection, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University

Arts, Humanities, and the Study of Governance: a conversation about arts and politics with Anthony Bertelli and Alex Turrini

Hamon Arts Library and the Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship Division


Arts, Humanities, and the Study of Governance: A conversation about arts and politics with Anthony Bertelli and Alex Turrini

Venue and Time: Hamon Arts Library, Conference Room 2250 (2nd floor)
February 12th, 12 – 1:30 pm (lunch provided)
Registration via email: mkeene@smu.edu

The relationship between arts and politics is widely studied in cultural studies, but scholars in the field have always underestimated the role of arts institutions in cultural policies. These agencies might work as gatekeepers and influencers in either speaking truth to power or in strengthening the narrative of power. The conversation will focus above all on the how today’s political instability shapes the behavior of intermediaries (i.e. independent funding agencies, bureaucracies deciding on funds, nonprofit arts institutions and its constituencies) in the arts world and, vice versa, how these actors shape the political discourse.


Anthony M. Bertelli (PhD, University of Chicago) is Full Professor at the Department of Political and Sciences at Bocconi University, Milan (Italy). He has been Professor of the Politics of Public Policy and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. His research is focused on issues of governance, centering on the role of political institutions in shaping public policy outcomes and organizational structure. He is the author of four books, including: Madison’s Managers with Laurence E. Lynn, Jr. (Johns Hopkins University Press); The Political Economy of Public Sector Governance (Cambridge University Press); and Public Policy Investment with Peter John (Oxford University Press). His work has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals, including: American Journal of Political ScienceJournal of PoliticsBritish Journal of Political ScienceJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and Public Administration Review.  

Alex Turrini (Ph.D., Bocconi Universit) is chair of the SMU Meadows Division of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship as well as visiting professor of arts management and cultural policy at SMU Meadows and Cox School of Business. Turrini is the author of numerous books and papers on these topics. His works have been published in International Journal of Arts Management, Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, International Journal of Cultural PolicyPublic Administration Review, and American Behavioral Scientist, among others. He serves as reviewer of some national and international journals and is associate editor in management for the International Journal of Arts Management.

Feature image: Ambrogio Lorenzetti. (1338-1339). Effects of Good Government on Town and Country at http://www.amiciperlacitta.it/news/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Gli-effetti-del-Buon-Governo-in-citta-1024×423.jpg  

Stephen P. Jarchow Collection: new gift for the Jones Film & Video Collection

The G. William Jones Film & Video Collection in the Jake and Nancy Hamon Arts Library is pleased to announce a gift from executive producer, Stephen P. Jarchow, of elements from the award-winning 35mm film “Gods and Monsters.” Additionally, this gift includes a significant collection of original film posters and advertising materials. This generous donation will further the Jones Collection’s mission of supporting and fostering student understanding in the creation, presentation, and preservation of film as an art form.

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