Alan Riddell died on May 27th 1977. A retrospective exhibition of his work will be at the Ferens Art Gallery Hull from April 8th-30th 1978. This is the first in a series of exhibitions that will travel throughout Europe. Many of the works are the finest polychrome typewriter drawings in the field of concrete or visual poetry and they rank as supreme examples of pure graphics.

Organiser: Allen Barker ...

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[Scanned from an exhibitions flyer released by the PCL in late 1977]

Exhibition Notes

There will be an exhibition of Photopoetry, organised by Richard Allen of the Polytechnic of Central London and concrete poet the late Alan Riddel, at the Polytechnic's Regent Street Gallery, 309 Regent Street, London W1, from March 13th to April 1st, with 200 exhibits by 56 contributiors from 12 countries

Alan Riddell wrote in April 1977: 'The aim of this international exhibition which I have called PHOTOPOETRY - and which is the first of its kind - is to show how in the past 15 years or so, but particularly in the 1970s, concrete and other experimental poets from many countries and cultures have come to use phtotography in their work. (This is not of course to say that works by individual contributors have not been shown anywhere before in one-man exhibitions of their own work or as peripheral parts of mixed shows under the umbrella of concrete poetry. It is, though, the first time that this continuously developing and most active kind of avante-guarde poetry has been examined in detail on an international scale.)

'In some cases the poets' use of photography has been a stuctural one involving such photographic processes as enlargement or reduction, the reversing of black on white to white on black, or the systematic altering of tonal values by taking exposures of successive time-lengths.

'Photomontage is another area in which poets have been particularly active recently and some of the political and social comment works in this category are clearly linked to the experiments of between-the-war artists like Nannah Hock, John Heartfield and Raoul Haussmann, who was a poet as well as an artist and photographer: as indeed are a number of the contributors.

'Japan, Italy and Britain are the countries most active in Photopoetry, at least in terms of the numbers of participants, though the public are likely to be surprised by the strength and originality of the contribution from Czechoslovakia.

'At one end of the scale these photo sequences are documentary recordings of poetry events of happenings so that they can be appreciated by audiences other than those before whom they were originally performed. At the other are works performed by the poet specifically for the camera with the intention of their being exhibited later as photographs or published in book or magazine form.

'Works can be seen, often in object form, which need photography to create a special viewpoint that brings out most fully the poetic intention of the object.

'The most radical works in the exhibition come from Japan, where, according to Kitasons Katue, Japan's most noted exponent of Photopoetry, the camera "can create a brilliant poem from the most trifling objects". Many of these photopoems are devoid of semantic material and it will be interesting to see how succesfully their abstract visual language communicates with Western viewers.'