National Gallery of Victoria
Book Launch: Lockjaw
Surpllus/Telephone Publishing co-production
Sat 30 Apr, 1.30pm
Part of Melbourne Art Book Fair 2016
Zerox Dreamflesh (1979–1984) worked in the underground and around the edges – but mostly against the grain of – Sydney’s early-1980s postmodern philosophy and art scenes.
Dreamflesh was a loose group of writers, graphic artists and musicians who would have rejected the term “collective” in favour of something more like, say, “gang”. They produced a series of ’zine-ish print objects, music cassettes, colour Xerox postcards and a Super 8 film (The Black Cat, a riff on an Edgar Allen Poe story), working loosely – sometimes all together, sometimes not.
Their work was oppositional, not very accessible (though when you got it, you really got it), and always inspired and inspiring. Lockjaw (1983) – their fourth print object – was probably the most fully realised Dreamflesh project: A5, perfect-bound, part book, part magazine, part cultural terror manual.
Lockjaw was produced in a small run of a few hundred copies using a mix of two-colour xerography, offset and screen printing, and was collated and bound by hand. It was sold in independent bookshops, galleries, music stores and through the mail-art network.
Lockjaw is a multi-layered mix of photocopy, cut-and-paste graphics and text – a mashup of the intellectual and cultural world of 1982. The dense layering of words and images reflects an equally dense intellectual and emotional layering. It’s difficult to read, but rewarding, the writing a mix of metafiction, reflection, edgy philosophy, cultural journalism and existential comedy splashed across the page.
Dreamflesh’s work was produced in the spirit of Situationism and punk rock – it was ephemeral, not meant to last. Their physical traces today are scant: leftover copies of Lockjaw and their other publications (Zerox #1, Zerox #2, La La Sequence Bruit and Cargo, some colour Xerox postcards, and several music cassettes, including Wampum, a companion to Cargo) stashed on bookshelves and in boxes under people’s beds.
This reissue of Lockjaw is a co-publication of Telephone Publishing and Surpllus. The book has been scanned from an original copy and been reproduced by risograph – a 21st century analog to early-1980s photocopy art.
This new edition includes a separate section with essays by George Alexander and Professor Ross Gibson, an introduction by Sonya Jeffery, and a reflection on Lockjaw’s impact on one reader by Matt Holden.
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