The outcome of an extensive archiving project began in 2019, this publication traces the activities of Northern Irish artist John Carson and his life and work in Belfast, Los Angeles, London and elsewhere for over twenty years.
Featuring a keynote essay by London-based critic and writer Chris Fite-Wassilak, what not – selected artworks and ephemera 1975–96 details aspects of Carson’s early and mid-career, and his enthusiastic endeavours to make a socially-orientated art, one encompassing strains of conceptual art, everyday life, the immersive role of popular culture, and a form of storytelling peppered with insightful wit and humour.
Beginning with Carson’s studies in Belfast, documentation and previously unpublished material detail the making of fifteen artworks such as 1977’s Hilltop Triangle, where Carson enlists a local DJ radio to create telepathic contact between three friends. In Men of Ireland, Carson’s durational performance examines male stereotypes found in the country in 1980, while American Medley (1981–85) embodies a tour to fifty locations in the United States famed in song. A transcription of 1987’s freewheeling Off Pat, as presented in song, stories and images in London and elsewhere, prominently features.