Lonesome Wife

30 Sep 2016 – 5 Nov 2016

Regular hours

11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00

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London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • 149, 55, 48
  • Old Street
  • Liverpool Street
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The exhibition Lonesome Wife takes its title from ‘Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife’, a 1989 book by the experimental American novelist William H. Gass.


‘No one can imagine – simply – merely; one must imagine within words or paint or metal, communicating genes or multiplying numbers. Imagination is its medium realized. You are your body – you do not choose the feet you walk in – and the poet is his language. He sees his world, and words form in his eyes just like the streams and trees there. He feels everything verbally. Objects, passions, actions …’

‘I am only a string of noises, after all – nothing more really – an arrangement, a column of air moving up and down, a queer of growth like a gall on a tree, a mimic of movement in silent readers maybe, a brief beating of wings and cooing of a peaceful kind, an empty swing still warm from your bloomers … ummm … imagine the imagination imagining … and surely neither male or female – there’s nothing female about a column of air, a gall on a tree – surely both, like bloomers on the swing’s seat… so I’m a spiky bush at least, I like to think, knotty and low growing, scratchy though flowering, a hawthorne would suit me.’

William H. Gass, Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife

The exhibition Lonesome Wife takes its title from ‘Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife’, a 1989 book by the experimental American novelist William H. Gass.

The book is narrated through the voice of Babs Masters, the lonesome wife of the title. Disappointed by her inattentive husband, she engages in a breezy display of the varieties and visual qualities of language – diverse typefaces, speech bubbles, typographical experiments, in order to seduce a clandestine new lover, who is slowly revealed through the book as the Reader themself.

Using text as a starting point, Gass creates a parallel between a concrete use of language and the female body of Babs Masters, both employed as tools of persuasion, absorbing the reader-viewer in a game of intimate eclipse and revelation.

The exhibition looks at the multiple ways in which seduction can serve as narrative tool as well as an antidote to boredom and disinterest. The exhibited works hint at the body, the physicality of text and the linguistic capacity of objects; moving between the registers of form, process and content, to be read or to be felt.

Featuring: Victoria Adam, Adriano Amaral, Noah Barker,
Luis Miguel Bendaña, Patrizio di Massimo, Justin Fitzpatrick, Lisa Holzer, Isaac Lythgoe, Vanessa Safavi

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