A textbook of inspirations features the words of Abramović, Eliasson, Gormley and 278 more

Annotated Reader IMAGES
Left, @dr.curlet, annotated by François Curlet. Right, One-Way Street, by Walter Benjamin, 1979, annotated by David Batchelor
(Image credit: François Curlet, David Batchelor)

Artist Ryan Gander and critic Jonathan P Watts have spent the last year and a half delving into 281 of the most interesting creative minds of our time. They've gathered their findings into book form (or, more accurately, USB-book form), that you can buy for £5, by ‘downloading’ it from a pop-up vending machine in London's Cork Street Galleries.

‘We asked a cohort of internationally creative people to imagine they’ve missed the last train home,’ Gander and Watts write in the introduction. They asked: ‘Is there one piece of writing that you would want with you for company in the small hours?’ Each creative figure submitted a text with personal annotations and notes made directly onto it. The impressive reel of contributors – which spans three A4 content pages – includes Marina Abramović, Art & Language, Antony Gormley, Olafur Eliasson, Ragnar Kjartansson, Sarah Lucas, Alistair Hudson, Tony Chambers and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Zeros + Ones, by Sadie Plant, 1997, annotated by British sculptor Alice Channer

(Image credit: Alice Channer)

Zeros + Ones, by Sadie Plant, 1997, annotated by British sculptor Alice Channer

Which text each creative figure picked is as revealing as what they scribbled on it. Kjartansson chose an extract by fellow Icelander and Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness; Eliasson chose Sensorium – Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art, by Bruno Latour 2006; and Pedro Reyes, (who, along with his wife Carla Fernández, has just been awarded the Design Miami/ Design Visionary Award for 2018) picked Who Shall Survive?: Foundations of Sociometry, Group Psychotherapy and Sociodrama, by Jacob Levy Moreno, 1977.

Some of the annotations are elucidating: ‘Can my perspective through the camera be as open as these words?’ muses artist Rob Crosse at the close of Ash Wednesday, by Samuel R Delany, 2017. Some are instructional: ‘Worth straining your eyes for!’ writes artist Pavel Buchler on the almost illegible How I Write, written in tiny typewriter print by Viktor Shklovsky in 1930. Others still are filled with the mundanity of the everyday: ‘+ wine / + broccoli / + beans / + tampons’ reads a shopping list at the dogged-edge of SCUM Manifesto, by Valerie Solanas, 1967, as picked by British artist Rachel Ara.

The pages are haphazardly scanned into the book; a communal, global scrapbook of the digital age. ‘As a non-profit project, our hope is to create an educational resource that can be used as both a teaching aid for future generations alongside being an archive that captures personal mementos and unique perspectives from a variety of contributors that are at the forefront of our contemporary society,' write Gander and Watts. ‘The Annotated Reader will be a curriculum, an index and an ethics.

Annotated Reader

Will Happiness Find Me?, by Peter Fischli & David Weiss, 2003, annotated by William Cobbing

(Image credit: William Cobbing)

Introduction, Cartographic Cinema, by Tom Conley, 2006, annotated by John Bloomield

Introduction, Cartographic Cinema, by Tom Conley, 2006, annotated by John Bloomield

(Image credit: John Bloomield)

SCUM Manifesto, Valerie Solanas, 1967, annotated by Rachel Ara

SCUM Manifesto, Valerie Solanas, 1967, annotated by Rachel Ara

(Image credit: Rachel Ara)

Franny and Zooey, by J. D. Salinger, 1961, annotated by Uri Aran

Franny and Zooey, by  JD Salinger, 1961, annotated by Uri Aran

(Image credit: Uri Aran)


The Annotated Reader is on view at Cork Street Galleries from 2-13 October. For more information, visit the website


Cork Street Galleries
9a-9b Cork Street
London W1S 3LL


Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.