The Annotated Reader

1 September 2021 — 3 October 2021
A publication-as-exhibition and exhibition-as-publication conceived by Ryan Gander and Jonathan P. Watts.

“Imagine you’ve missed your last train – what single piece of writing would you want with you for company in the small hours? “

The Annotated Reader is a publication-as-exhibition and exhibition-as-publication conceived by Ryan Gander and Jonathan P. Watts. It features almost 300 creative personalities’ responses and handwritten annotations on a chosen piece of writing. 

Ryan Gander and Jonathan P. Watts invited a range of people, encompassing contemporary artists, designers, writers, institutional founders, musicians and more – to imagine they’ve missed the last train. “Perhaps this text transformed your thinking.” they wrote in their introductory letter, “It might be a mantra continually returned to. Perhaps it is a text you felt should be read by younger generations or that you wish you’d encountered as a student.”

The impressive list of 281 contributors to the project include Marina Abramović, Rodney Graham,  Saâdane Afif, Holly Hendry, Cory Arcangel, Alistair Hudson, Rachel Ata, John Kaldor, Art & Language, Ragnar Kjartansson, David Batchelour, Sarah Lucas, John Bock, Jonathan Monk, Jim Broadbent, Alek O., Pavel Buchler, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Gregory Burke, Hannah Perry, Banu Ceenetoglu, Prem Sahib, Tony Chambers, Jerry Saltz, Paul Clinton, Rosemarie Trockel, Matt Darbyshire, Richard Wentworth, Richard Deacon, Shen Xin, Tom Godfrey, Bob and Roberta Smith, Sir Antony Gormley, and Nicholas Fox Weber.

First launched during Frieze Art Fair, London 2018 at London’s Cork Street Galleries (UK), The Annotated Reader has been shown nationally and internationally including, at locations across Great Yarmouth by originalprojects (UK); M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp (Belgium); Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University, New York (North America); Quartz Studio, Milan (Italy); Printed Matter’s Art Book Fair, New York (North America); and Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (Scotland). As part of its continuing tour Castlefield Gallery is presenting The Annotated Reader

As part of the exhibition, each of the contributions are printed and exhibited. Visitors to the exhibition are able to compile their own ‘ANNOTATED READER’. In addition, a vending machine distributes USBs’ containing the entire ream of submissions at the cost price of £5, with the ability to either be printed or read digitally.

The mission of Gander and Watts was to create a free and accessible educational resource and index for future generations, alongside being an archive that captures the unique perspectives from hundreds of contributors, who for Gander and Watts are, at the forefront of our contemporary society. 

Coinciding with The Annotated Reader at Castlefield Gallery will be The Naming of Things curated by Bryony Dawson. The Naming of Things was selected from proposals submitted by Castlefield Gallery Associates by guest selector, and Artist Patron of Castlefield Gallery; Ryan Gander OBE, and Castlefield Gallery’s Curator & Deputy Director, Matthew Pendergast. The exhibition explores the unfixed and mutable potential of language. 

Special thanks to Castlefield Gallery Commissioning Patrons Allan & Jo Melzack.

Podcast: In conversation: Bryony Dawson, Ryan Gander and Matthew Pendergast

Image: Ryan Gander and Jonathan P. Watts, The Annotated Reader. Installation view, 2019, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh. Image courtesy Chris Scott.