The F Papers (by Kenneth Goldsmith)


First presented as a performance in the form of a continuous reading of school papers which received an F. At least that was the original idea, but we quickly found that an F graded paper is a chimerical entity—often the grade is given to a paper that failed to be written. What quickly became more interesting to consider was how a teacher would write what they would assess to be an F paper. Thus, two teachers were commissioned to write F papers for the project. Both were published in WOOD (Blackwood Gallery, 2011). Only one was performed (the one pictured on the right here). The teacher who produced it preferred to remain anonymous.

Kenneth Goldsmith is renowned for his notion of uncreative writing as creative plagiarism—a position which provocatively prods the standard grading scheme of educational institutions. Appropriately,The F Papers question and undermine the adulation for originality. The performance simultaneously dismantles and praises the equations F is for Failureand F is for Fake (nod to the film by Orson Welles).

An additional element on the subject of originality and authorship is that this project is in fact mine but at first I couldn’t own up to it because it was included in an event I was curating (Drop Out for Nuit Blanche in Toronto). So in that context it was credited as The F Papers by Kenneth Goldsmith. Now both the title and the initially credited author become the title (the parentheses functioning as a perverted dedication, one that retains the by denoting authorship instead of the customary for marking a dedication): The F Papers (by Kenneth Goldsmith). This arrangement was done with Kenny’s complicity.