Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts & Communications

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

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Nick Thurston


0113 343 5264

G.03b Old Mining Building

Office hours: Monday 10-11 *or email for an appointment at another time

BA, Open, MA, Middlesex, PGCertLTHE, Sheffield Hallam

I teach UG and PG. My research focuses on the possibilities of non-conventional writing in relation to the cultures of contemporary art and the disciplinary formation of Fine Art.


Nick Thurston is the author of two books plus some twenty journal articles and artists’ pages. He is also the co-author of two pocketbooks, the latest of which, Do or DIY (2012), is being translated into Spanish, Italian, French, and German.

Thurston has performed and exhibited internationally. His print and sculptural works are held in public and private collections around Europe including the Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Leeds City Art Gallery and The Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris). His bookworks are collected by the V&A (London), Tate (London) and MoMA (New York) amongst other institutions; and since 2006 he has been Co-editor of the independent artists’ book publishing imprint Information as Material (York), with whom he was Writer in Residence at the Whitechapel Gallery (London) 2011-2012.

He has been an Associate and Visiting Lecturer at various art academies in the UK since 2007, and in September 2012 joined the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds.

Forthcoming exhibitions include ‘Postscript’ at the Denver Museum of Modern Art (touring), and forthcoming critical work includes the essay “What Was Conceptual Writing” in the University of Chicago Press volume, Writing After Conceptual Art (due 2013). A new artists’ book of poems, Of The Subcontract will be released in late Spring 2013, after which he will be Artist in Residence at The Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin).


Research Interests

  • Histories and theories of late-modern and contemporary Anglo-American poetics, with a special interest in conceptualist writing.
  • Histories and theories of late-modern and contemporary European and North American art and aesthetics, with a special interest in artists’ publications.
  • New media theory and network technologies, with a special interest in collaborative writing and publishing platforms for post-print cultures.
  • Histories and theories of Conceptual art, with a special interest in its pre-histories and its consequences for post-conceptual and Intermdeia practice.
  • Artists’ writings and interviews with artists, with a special interest in curating and editing artists’ writings.
  • Collaborative practice, with a special interest in the histories and theories of writers’ collectives inside of and outside of the Western literary canon.

All of my work explores what art makes it possible to write and to think (to riff off a phrase by the Czech-born artist Pavel Büchler). I understand my own artworks as ‘conceptualist reading performances’: I take a conceptualist approach to writing, working through sensitive and precise appropriations, to produce texts that depend on becoming public for their artistic value; and I do so from the inside of contemporary art on to the outside of literature via the event structures of exhibitions (with a special interest in libraries), readings, publications, and affordable editions. My scholarship is focused on the ‘praxis of publishing’ as it has been refigured by the practice of and recent history of independent publishing, with a special interest in the communities and ecologies of self-publishing in an age of born-digital textuality.



BA Fine Art – studio teaching and Module Leader for ‘Practice in Context ARTF3080′.

MA Fine Art and MFA Fine Art – studio teaching and ‘Contemporary Art, Theory & Criticism ARTF5017′

External Appointments

Co-editor of Information as Material (York), 2006+.

Advisory curator for the Marathon programme, Serpentine Gallery (London), 2012.

Professional Practice

*[due date] indicates when a confirmed, forthcoming output is due.

Recent papers, invited talks, panels, readings, and interviews:

“Nick Thurston: Speculative Libraries”, Tuesday Session lecture curated by Vanessa Boni, Liverpool Biennial, August 2013.

‘Postscript: Symposium’, convened by Andrea Andersson & Nora Abrams, Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, January 2013. 

What If?, reading and panel convened by Achim Borchardt-Hume (London), ‘Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall’, Whitechapel Gallery (London), November 2012.

‘The Conditions for Making Art’, talk and symposium convened by Sean Kaye and Jenny West (Leeds), Leeds College of Art & Design, November 2012.

WTF?!, reading curated by Lucie Kolb and Romy Rüegger with Stefan Wagner, Corner College Gallery (Zurich), October 2012.

“Writing’s Retreat into the Context of Contemporary Art”, commissioned review essay, Afterall, October 2012.

‘Re-imaged Libraries’, talk and ‘in discussion’ with Charlotte Morgan, Site Gallery (Sheffield), September 2012.

“Artists at Work: Nick Thurston”, interview with Louise O’Hare (London), Afterall, August 2012.

“Reading. Some Positions”, paper with Sharon Kivland and panel convened by Emmanuelle Waeckerle (London), Book! Live conference, Southbank University (London), June 2012.

‘Global Conceptualisms’, panel convened by Vanessa Place (Los Angeles), &Now conference, Sorbonne University (Paris IV); reading, Gallery Éof (Paris), both June 2012.

Caricature, intervention for the exhibition Hans-Peter Feldman, Serpentine Gallery (London), May 2012.

“Reading Beckett Out Loud Makes Your Jaw Ache”, paper and discussion convened by Peter Fifield (Oxford), Samuel Beckett: Debts and Legacies seminar series, St John’s College & the Faculty of English (Oxford), May 2012.

“Publishing as Praxis”, talk and discussion convened by Jerome Fletcher (Falmouth), Performance Writing 12, Arnolfini (Bristol), May 2012.

‘I Don’t Want to Make a Book’, talk and panel convened by Kit Hammonds (London), Publish and Be Damned, ICA (London), March 2012.

Sucking on Words, reading and co-curated (as Information as Material), Whitechapel Gallery (London), February 2012.

“Conceptualist Reading Performances”, paper and discussion convened by Maria Fusco (London), for MFA Research Lecture series, Goldsmiths (London), January 2012.

‘Free Association’, talk and workshop leader convened by Royal College of Art MA Contemporary Curating, Wysing Art Centre (Cambridge), December 2011.

Artists’ talk, for the exhibition Lygia Pape: Magnetised Space, Serpentine Gallery (London), December 2011.

“Iam Contra ‘The Proper’”, paper and discussion convened by Sharon Kivland, for MFA Art Theory Lecture series, Wimbledon College of Art (London), December 2011.

Artists’ talk, Whitworth Gallery (Manchester), December 2011.

“Publishing as Praxis”, talk and discussion convened by Anke Schleper (Berlin), for the MISS READ Art Book Fair, KW Institute of Contemporary Art (Berlin), November 2011.

“Information as Material: Ten Years”, talk and discussion convened by Jessamie Self (Derby), for Visiting Artist Lecture series, University of Derby, November 2011.

‘Convergence Symposium’, talk and panel convened by Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, Limerick City Art Gallery, October 2011.

‘Cultural Piracy’, panel convener and moderator, Whitechapel Gallery (London), September 2011.


Of The Subcontract, Or On The Poetic Right, foreword by McKenzie Wark and afterword by Mark Fisher (co-pub York: Information as Material & Toronto: Coach House Books, 2013). Info here.

Do or DIY, with Craig Dworkin and Simon Morris (York: Information as Material, 2012, ISBN 9781907468124). Info here.

THE DIE IS CAST, with Caroline Bergvall (York: Information as Material, 2009, ISBN 9780955309298). Info here.

Historia Abscondita (An Index of Joy) (York: Information as Material, 2007, ISBN 9780955309267); re-published as PDF by EPC Digital Library, ed. Charles Bernstein, downloadable here. Info here.

Reading the Remove of Literature, ed. with an introduction by Craig Dworkin (York: Information as Material, 2006, ISBN 9780955309212). Info here.

Key exhibitions, editions and residencies:

‘Learn to Read Differently’, solo show (as Information as Material), cur. Circa Projects, Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art (Sunderland), August-September 2013.

‘Pretty Brutal Library’, solo show, cur. Derek Horton, & Model Gallery (Leeds, +touring), July-August 2013.

Notes for a Pretty Brutal Library, limited edition, cur. Andrew Wilson, Hannah Festival (Hannah Mitchell Foundation), June 2013.

The Visitations at ****, limited edition, cur. Johanna Melvin, Whitechapel Gallery (London).

‘Adapt-Erase’, group show, cur. Derek Horton, & Model Gallery (Leeds), January-March 2013.

‘Marrakech Press’, group show, curs. Mathieu Copeland and Philippe  Decrauzat, Les Halles (Porrentruy) [December 2012-January '13].

‘A Kind of “Huh?”’, group show (as Information as Material) curs. Jérôme Dupeyrat and Maïwenn Walter, Toulouse Museum of Contemporary Art (+touring) [November 2012+].

‘Postscript’, group show, cur. Andrea Andersson, Denver Museum of Contemporary Art (+touring) [October 2012+].

‘Do or DIY’, solo show (as Information as Material), cur. Patrick Wildgust, Laurence Sterne Museum (Coxwold), August-September 2012.

‘In Conversation’, group show, curs. Carrie Duff and Philippa O’Driscoll and Helen Spence, Government Art Collection (London), April-May 2011.

‘Do or DIY’, solo show (as Information as Material), cur. Nicola Sim, Whitechapel Gallery (London), March-April 2012.

‘Convergence’, group show, cur. Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, Golden Thread Gallery (Belfast) and Limerick City Art Gallery, mid-2011+.

Writer in Residence, (as Information as Material), curs. Sofia Victorino and Nicola Sim, Whitechapel Gallery (London), April 2011-April 2012.

‘We Are Grammar’, group show, curs. Dave Beech (London) and Paul O’Neill (Bristol), Pratt Manhatten Gallery (New York), February-May 2011.

‘Off The Record’, commission, curs. Nicole Yipp et al**, Royal College of Art MA Contemporary Curating and Resonance FM (London), March 2011.

Il, limited edition, cur. Didier Mathieu, Le Centre des Livres d’Artistes (Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche), 2010.

‘The Perverse Library’, group show, cur. Simon Morris (York), the Laurence Sterne Museum (Coxwold), September-October 2010.

‘HaVE A LoOk! HAve a Look!’, group show, curs. Francesco Pedraglio and Caterina Riva and Pieternel Vermoortel, FormContent (London), May-July 2010.

‘New Wave: Artists’ Publishing in the 21st-century’, group show, curs. Sarah Bodman and Tom Sowden, University of West England (Bristol), September 2009.

The Enigma Variations, commission for ‘Signs of the Times’, cur. Tony Trehy, part of ‘Text Festival 2’, Bury City Museum and Art Gallery, May-July 2009.

He, limited edition, Information as Material (York), 2009.

‘Inkubator 2’, group show, cur. David Fiathful, Durham Art Gallery, September-October 2009; following ‘Inkubator 1’, Edinburgh Printmakers’ Gallery, March-May 2007.

THE IDEOLOGY OF DAVID CAMERON’S CONSERVATIVE PARTY, postcard poem edition, Information as Material (York), 2009.

‘The Poetics of Erasure’, group show, curs. Bill Jeffries and Ariana Kelly, Simon Fraser University Gallery (Vancouver), November-December 2008.

‘Visions 1: information as material’, group show, cur. Johan Deumens, Johan Deumens Gallery (Haarlem), April-May 2008.

Spinning, chapbook and performance with Simon Morris for ‘Instal Festival 08: Kill Your Timid Notions’, curs. Arika (Edinburgh), The Arches (Glasgow), October 2008.

A Perverse Library, commission with Simon Morris for ‘Writing Encounters’, curs. Claire MacDonald and Claire Hind (York), York St John University, September 2008.

Key chapters, journal articles, artists’ pages, and anthologised texts:

Selections from Of The Subcontract in Here*Now: Anthology… [2014] ed. Steve Tomasula (Chicago) (Tuscalosa: University of Alabama Press).

“Publishing as Praxis”, in Journal of Writing in Creative Practice [2014] ed. Jerome Fletcher (Falmouth).

“What Was Conceptual Writing?” and Index, in Writing After Conceptual Art [Spring 2013] ed. Andrea Andersson (New York), (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

‘Pool’ (2011), in Gardening Marathon [in print] ed. Will Holder (London) (London: Serpentine Gallery and Cologne: Koenig Books).

“Reading. Some Positions.”, chapter with Sharon Kivland, in Book!Live [winter 2012] ed. Emmanuelle Waeckerle (Sheffield: Research Group for Artists’ Publications).

Selected works in Re-print. Appropriation & Literature [in print] ed. Annette Gilbert (Weisbaden: Luxbooks).

Selected works in The Dark Would: Anthology of Language Art [in print] ed. Philip Davenport (Manchester: Apple Pie Editions).  

Excerpt from A Dress (2011), in Thinking ed. Kenneth Goldsmith (New York), Liverpool Biennale 2012 catalogue [in print]: pp. 233-4.

He Wore (2009), in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing eds. Craig Dworkin (Utah) and Kenneth Goldsmith (New York) (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 2011): pp. 548-9.

It Has Been Say’d, in The Responsive Subject: From OOOOOO to FFFFFF, eds. Francesco Pedraglio and Caterina Riva (London: FormContent and Ostend: Museum of Belgian Art, 2011).

Index, in The Happy Hypocrite Journal, vol.1:4 (2009), vol.1:2 (2008), vol.1:1 (2008), ed. Maria Fusco, (London: Bookworks).

Selected works in ‘Less is More: The Poetics of Erasure’, special edition of The Capilano Review, vol.3:7 (Vancouver: Capilano University Press), 2008.

“Erratum”, in ‘Inverted Visions’, ed. Ignaz Cassar, Parallax: Journal of Cultural Theory vol.14:2 (London: Routledge, 2008): pp. 137-138.

“Word for Word”, with Pavel Büchler, in ‘On the Page’, eds. Ric Allsopp and Kevin Mount, Performance Research vol.9:2 (London: Routledge, 2004).



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