Read More! Georges Perec & Rotterdam

Coincidences and synchronicity.

Georges Perec

There were 2 recurring coincidences that led me to the development of the concept for this project. Georges Perec and Rotterdam. Firstly Georges Perec, I’d never heard that name in my life, then one day I was reading this journal from one of my recently opened storage boxes:

AGDA Resonse whats next-hofstede-FO

Response no.1: What’s next? Design: Dominic Hofstede, Paul Marcus Fuog. Image via:

Response No. 1: What’s next? is a 2012 journal by Dominic Hofstede and Paul Marcus Fuog supported by AGDA Victoria, that explores contemporary graphic design in the form of written and visual ‘responses’ to a theme from invited contributors. It was a response from artist and designer John Warwicker that caught my attention; he quoted from Georges Perec’s 1997 book Species of spaces and other pieces, the quote came from the chapter named ‘The Street’.  Under the subheading  practical exercises, this passage in particular struck a chord with me.

“Observe the street, from time to time, with some concern for system perhaps.

Apply yourself. Take your time.


Note down what you can see. Anything worthy of note going on.

Do you know how to see what’s worthy of note? Is there anything that strikes you? 

Nothing strikes you. You don’t know how to see.

You must set about it more slowly, almost stupidly. Force yourself to write down what is of no interest, what is most obvious, most common, most colourless.”

It resonated with me because this was exactly what I was doing, collecting data from the street to form into a project.

At the exact time my friend was in the same room reading Michel Houellebeq’s Platform and in it–to her and my surprise–one of the characters was reading Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual. What a coincidence.

species of space  platform

The final straw (as it usually is with these coincidences-and he did come up again after this) was the 3rd iteration of the coincidence. The following day I was flicking through an old copy of the Saturday AGE’s Spectrum section (from February 28, 2015) that I hadn’t read, when there in-front of me was this face:


It’s Georges Perec! It was a review of his first novel, Portrait of a Man that had just been republished. Anyway that was it, Perec was now a definitive lead to follow, but to where? So far my research into Perec has been scant, but I believe his systems and methods of producing work are key, the systems created by the group OULIPO, of which Perec was a part are very intriguing, and I have just started reading Life: A User’s Manual.



Ok now for Rotterdam, all of a sudden Rotterdam kept popping up, so I got excited, but I had to search to find out why. I searched for clues, Rotterdam + Art brought up the Art Rotterdam Art Fair, here I was repeatedly being told Lees Meer >> Google translate told me “Read more”.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 5.29.13 pm Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 5.31.22 pm

Rotterdam wasn’t ready to be found yet.

Later I inadvertently found that one of the books i’d picked up from the library on Gerhard Richter was a monograph from the exhibition Gerhard Richter 1988/89 at Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
15 October 1989 – 03 December 1989,  which was one of the first places the 18 Oktober 1977 cycle was shown .

Publisher: Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam (1989)

Gerhard Richter 1988/89 Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands 15 October 1989 – 03 December 1989 Publisher: Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam (1989)

Another interestingly linked thing I found whilst browsing the Wikipedia entry on Rotterdam, was Dutch architect Piet Blom’s Kubuswoningen (Cube houses) that were designed in 1977 but built in the early 1980s. I feel like i’m getting closer to finding out the significance of the Rotterdam recurrences.


Photo: Raul Ayres, The Cube Houses in Rotterdam viewed from Blaak subway station. via




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  1. Pingback: BORED! | 77to15

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