I stumbled home to Alison Knowles, and announced that we had found a press [...]
“Really,” she said. “What’s it called?”
I didn’t know. I said something [...] like “Shirtsleeves Press.”
“That’s no good,” she said. “Call it something else.”
The exhibition Call it something else: Something Else Press, Inc. (1963-1974) focuses on the books, projects, and activities of Dick Higgins’s publishing house Something Else Press, as well as on his theoretical notion of Intermedia, a term the publisher reappropriated to designate the heterogeneous and category-defying forms sustained by the Something Else matrix.
The publishing house was founded amid the “linguistic turn,” a crucial moment in the arts of the 1960s, when artists began using language and text as the material of their aesthetic propositions. These projects—ranging from Fluxus in the first half of the decade to Conceptual Art in the second—often took the form of publications, such as books, newspapers, or magazines, which were made in explicit opposition to rarefied artworks, and aimed for wide distribution.
The Something Else Press aimed from the start to seize and build upon the creative experiments by composers, dancers, authors, and artists of all kinds (many in Higgins’s circle) and to give their ephemeral work the necessary buttressing to carry it into the future. If the book itself is an object—a fact Higgins made impressively concrete when he noted that four hundred pages equals one inch in thickness—its covers, paper, and binding, like canvas and primer, constitute its support. Could high-quality paper, striking layouts, and new distribution methods imbue creative gestures and statements with enough substance to be graspable? At the time, certain forms of advanced art were avoiding the object at all costs. In committing himself to book-objects, Higgins confronted the object status, including but not limited to the objectification of the creative act and the rise of art as a commodity object.
The show is divided into three major sections. It begins with an archival core showcasing the complete output of the Press. The second section is devoted to the exhibitions and events program of the Something Else Gallery, an auxiliary of the publishing house active between 1966 and 1972. The third and last section focuses on a selection of publications, issued by the Something Else Press during its eleven-year existence, which exemplifies the variety of practices supported by Higgins’s project. The exhibition will help restore the position of the Something Else Press in the history of postwar art and demonstrate the relevance of Higgins’s intermedia in the practices and discourse of advanced art.