ABC of Reading

CR 70. Year 1979

Wv 70 Abc Of 099
Wv 70 Abc Of 087
ABC of reading Jochen Gerz CR 70 8 web

Le jeu et les règles

… With a beautiful consistency Gerz bites the hand that feeds him as an artist and writer. This is precisely what makes his paradoxes even more stimulating. His visual fixations are intended to be operational. They only exist as long as they work in situ, that is within the context.

Günter Metken 1977. Translated by e_CR editors

So sägt Gerz in schöner Konsequenz den Ast ab, auf dem er als Künstler und Schriftsteller sitzt. Gerade das aber macht seine Paradoxe um so stimulierender. Seine bildlichen Fixierungen sind operativ gedacht, sie existieren nur so lange, als sie in situ, d.h. innerhalb einer Kunstsituation funktionieren.

Günter Metken 1977

Jochen Gerz is an artist who has mastered the methods and tactics of the visual arts and yet, at the same time, foils them; he is an artist whose position on the open border between the visual, the literary and performance is rightly defined as a no man's land "between the chairs", for he pursues a strategy which assimilates daily experiences with the "media world" and severely questions them with regard to the way they work.

Peter Friese 1992



Video recorder, cassette, television set, video beamer, table, chair, saw, book with snakeskin cover (both inside surfaces covered with aluminium foil), 37 x 12 x 1 cm
Duration approximately 30 minutes

The title of the performance and the subsequent works with the same title is a reference of Ezra Pound: ABC of Reading (1934). Jochen Gerz sits with his back to the audience at a table with a monitor showing current news. The performance Snake Hoods & Dragon's Dreams is played via a video beamer. Gerz saws at the table top and the legs of his chair from which he breaks off parts. He then shows his facial profile in the mirror surface of a snakeskin-bound book. The book is an Early single work (633). The performance ends when a person in the audience stands up and says: Le jeu et les règles.

See the single work (633), the video documentation (685) and the edition (753) of the same title.

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris


Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 1979


München 1987


Video, 9:31 min (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris)
Vidéo Les Beaux Jours, la Maison de l’Image, Strasbourg and imai, inter media art institute, Düsseldorf


I: Bielefeld 1981, pp. 56-57, 118. München 1987, p. 57. Yokohama 1987, p. 6. Essen 2002, pp. 86-87. Paris 2002, pp. 60-61

V: Gieser 2022, p. 181

Access general bibliography

My name is Jochen Gerz