“The Glorious Whitewasher” from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

October’s Reading: “The Glorious Whitewasher” from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Wednesday October 26 2011
VIVO Media Arts (1965 Main Street), Vancouver BC
7pm Salon Free
Facilitated by the Lower Mainland Painting Co. 

“Why, ain’t that work?” asks Ben Rogers to Tom Sawyer in “The Great White-washer”, the second chapter of Mark Twain’s classic of children’s literature from 1876, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In this brief and iconic episode a fundamental question of the subjectivity of work and value is framed in the realm of punishment and pleasure as experienced by young boys in the rural America of the mid-19th Century. What is work worth and when does it become play? Twain depicts the transforming axis of artist and worker calling in to question our own assumptions as to what constitutes either of these identities. As Ranciere suggests, the Artist is “a worker who does two things at once” – work that is not work and work that is not art, where art making is “impossible” because of an “absence of time” and must be excluded from the commons. What conditions can emancipate both the Worker and the Artist from the tyranny of time which is not their own and labor which has no promised value?

Samuel Clemens (1835-1910) published dozens of novels, articles and essays as Mark Twain, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, its sequel the The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Clemens worked as a typesetter, journalist, printer, river boat pilot and gold miner, but he received international renown as a writer and speaker. Known for his humour and brilliance, Clemens was outspoken in his relatively radical political views later in life promoting unions, abolition and emancipation for slaves, animal rights and anti-imperialist, pro-revolutionary ideals. Twain was born the day Hailey’s Comet passed Earth and, as he predicted, he died the day following its subsequent return.

The Lower Mainland Painting Co. (LMPC) is a professional independent painting co., conceptual artwork, and research initiative. Their work is a vehicle for knowledge production that engages in questions of publicness, object-hood, and economy by testing shifting forms of value and the modes of labour and negotiation around which art operates against more exhaustive constraints, and scales of aesthetic expression. They are currently seeking paid employment and commissions doing painting, carpentry, and art both internationally and in the Vancouver area.

No Reading After the Internet is a monthly opportunity to gather and read a text aloud in hopes that it might provoke theoretical illumination on particular art works, or the broader scape within which such work exists. This program departs from Cineworks’ Thought on Film series, conceived by cheyanne turions. Whilst still very interested in cinema, the focus of this incarnation is softened to accommodate the more broad (and ever expanding) scope of media art.

The idea of a reading group isn’t new. No Reading nonetheless poses itself as an experimental learning and discussion space. Simply put, we are suspicious of our own reading abilities, and the extent to which our readings are conversant with one another. No Reading means to offer a slow space within which to retrace our steps in the hopes of discovering individual and collective ways through the realms of language and interpretation. The strategies we have at our disposal are twofold: through the yoking of our discussion to a text; and inducing conversation, where possible, between text and specific, local, contemporaneous art discussions and happenings.

Participation in No Reading After the Internet is free and open to everyone, regardless of his or her familiarity with a text or its author. Texts will be handed out at the gathering. No pre-reading or research is required. Those who wish to access the text in advance can contact alexander.d.muir@gmail.com