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About the Work

I was invited by Peter Carey, Director of the Camden Arts Centre, to propose an exhibition of the conceptual kind. I found out that the Camden Arts Centre used to be the Hampstead Public Library. This inspired the idea for an exhibition about a library. Living in London had also informed me that Hampstead was the self-proclaimed headquarters of the English intelligentsia. So I wanted to do something on the concept of intelligence. The title of the exhibition came from a childhood experience when a schoolmaster told me that I was 'below the normal level of intelligence'. He was technically correct as my IQ is below average.
The proposal consisted of placing book stacks in the main gallery and stretching white plastic over each stack. There were to be many stacks equally spaced, at right angles from the walls. Black horizontal lines, representing the shelves, would then be drawn on the white plastic at one-foot intervals. As one walked into the 'library' between the first two stacks, a transparent plastic sheet would be stretched between the horizontal lines, connecting the top shelf of the stacks. This first connecting sheet would be above head level. As one was directed to walk around the stacks, it could be seen that the transparent plastic sheets were stretched between stacks at decreasing intervals of one foot until the last one was stretched only one foot above the floor. The white book stacks also had vertical lines drawn on them at three-inch intervals. This produces a grid which represented the spines of the books. On the spines, invented book titles would be written. All the book titles on the shelves below the transparent plastic sheets were intelligible; all those above were unintelligible. As one progressed through the exhibition one could behold the unintelligible titles above the plastic sheets becoming more numerous as the sheets decreased in height. On each transparent plastic was written 'normal level of intelligence'.
My proposal was cancelled soon after 'The Emperor's New Clothes' was vandalised. It was replaced by an exhibition called 'Idea Structures', which was the first London showing of the work of British conceptual artists.

″I still use the same approach to my work: I get an idea, think of the title and then make the work. So not much has changed since 1964″

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