Legsicon, 2019, page detail. Courtesy Book Works and the artist

Beer and frites.

Improvised. Without a system

Extremely friendly,

derision of itself,

was very powerful.

pg 91

[instructions for the literate pulpo]

Turn it, flick it, the pages of this pornograph of the everyday, animal and queer aphorism. Fall in, love with tongues, some art-splattered pages and blown out writing beats.

With one appendage click this link [1], turn round or press the black plastic button again and again. Dial up deep Italo house, get it to eleven. With two others peel back the high-end pink covers of Legsicon, revealing a wet finish interior. With one more, click play on a secret link to a video depicting a group of nymphs eating a trout whole, whilst a middle age man wearing Milano slacks and a leather jacket donuts a scooter. You have four limbs left to do with what you will, smoke, drink, eat, read.

This is your research for reviewing Legsicon, a dictionary, laid out unjustified, in a high gloss format like the concept book for DUNE.[2] It is a selection of poets, critics, translators, novelists and cultural theorists making definitions for the stuff of life, written and edited by Laure Prouvost.

[for the archivio]

Prouvost is a euro-art-celeb and this bothers some but Legsicon uses this position to wrap it up. Her work cannot be banalised, and something about the combination of sketch, photograph and plain text within this piece marks a refusal or resistance to any homogenous art book aesthetic. That complicity is part of the bombardment of Prouvost’s hybrid video, sculptural, performative, Murano-blown-glass-titted work is evident. The viewer understands everything is troubling her. These troubles, often multi-phrenic in form, are slowed in Legsicon to a digestible pace. The reader is given an opportunity to process one of Prouvost’s working methodologies: the inertia of the collaborative development of a personally inflected lexicon. The book overlaps commissioned writers’ work within her own slippery subjectivity serving to dissolve anxieties regarding the interdisciplinary turn [3] from within the site of the text. Countering those wanting, in Jonas Staals words, ‘to force separation and maintain disciplinary boundaries.’ (pg 133)

Katsushika Hokusai 1760 1849 Diving Woman And Octopi Page From Kinoe No Komatsu Pine Seedlings On The First Rat Day Or Old True Sophisticates Of The Club Of Delightful Skills 1814 Illustrated Book Colour Woodblock
Illustrated in Legsicon, 2019. Image by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Diving woman and octopi, page from Kinoe no komatsu (Pine Seedlings on the First Rat Day, or Old True Sophisticates of the Club of Delightful Skills), colour woodblock, 1814

[for the hominibus]

I remember from Prouvost’s 2013 Turner Prize interview that she was interested in direct communication. And contrarily, objects that ‘pretend to speak to you’.

Whenever I talk to anybody about reviewing the book and it is physically there, it buzzes like a bee in a jar. Like a true objet trouvé, with its clam style appearance, the contents are a chicaning mystery. Once opened though, everyone has a great time, locating themselves within the assembled options; BOOBS, PERFORMANCE, FAMILY, INTUITION, PETROL, TEA, TRESPASSING, BUMS etc. The book is a performative read, each Legsicon experience will be different, juicy, dull, informative, kind, nuanced or pertinent.

A screenshot from www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA-OFS4rRig

It feels like a sort of pining, makes melong for both library and night club. This difference in common is what makes the book work. Its pinkyness, kind of turns me on, in the lucid way that somehow criticality can. And I think that is Prouvost’s knotted intention. If the art reader gets wet over her book, then no big deal, the action would be a cohesive part of her aesthetic… she loves a laugh.

Her collected cohort are sharp, particular and unabashed. Legsicon takes you through some specific art-time-space and for those of us who grew up around that, maybe the affect is almost nostalgic, but as a reflection it works. Although perhaps being asked to define FLANDERS is not the same as being asked to define LOVE, each contributor has made a decision about how their praxis interacts with Prouvost’s, filling the piece with something that feels like embodied solidarity.

[for lectio]

“ ‘Bring dark chocolate to the reading’ said Louise Bourgeois to Staal before hanging up the phone.” Expect some name drops. Look up Elisa Kay’s GRANDAD and Sophie Collins’ GRANDMA on page 103 and 113 to be touched, look up INTUITION by Emily Wardill on page 146 for conversational pedagogy or Nuar Alsadir on 287 for the presence/absence/destruction of an eight-legged ghost. I only wish that Lisa Robertston was one of the gang, there perhaps defining CRASS?

Prouvost says, ‘relax your legs and read with a cup of tea’ but I read it hedonistically, compartmentally. Once with pals, in a favourite pub. Better though, would be to keep it as you would a reference dictionary in your workplace and ask it, ‘What was it that IDEALLY means again?’

Rosie Roberts is an artist, writer and filmmaker from Scotland who is thinking about wet stuff, synchronicity and complicity. You can find her on Instagram @liftbackdown and Twitter @Rosie__Roberts.

Legsicon by Laure Prouvost is published by Book Works (2019) and is available direct for £26. www.bookworks.org.uk for more information.


[1] https://www.mixcloud.com/alexander_robotnick/alexander-robotnick-radio-01-snapshots-of-a-happy-time-italo-disco-classics/?fbclid=IwAR2eMQ-X79u4pG-dClj37sKK-9NNDYUz6sPQftdUKKeTqgWPjVQXoYJrKV4. Thanks to Calum Matheson for pointing me in the direction of the best selection.

[2] ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’, is essentially a thick book of art, scenescapes, shot lists and character concepts by an astounding team of artists that Jodorowsky’s collated to make the film. It is shown in the documentary ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’ several times, and copies of this ‘concept book’ are very rare.

[3] Alex Coles and Alexia Defert, eds.The Anxiety of Interdisciplinarity London: BACKless Books in association with Black Dog Publishing, 1997. Paper $14.95 (1901033759)