was a center for contemporary art in Southeast Portland, Oregon. It was led by a desire to support artists, propose new modes of production, and stimulate the ongoing public discourse around art. This website serves as an archive of Yale Union’s programming from 2011 through 2021.

Yale Union acknowledges that it occupies the traditional lands of the Multnomah, Chinook, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla, and other Indigenous peoples.


A Talk
Thursday, March 24, 7pm

John Russell is an artist who writes. He has a good eye for the absurd damage that academics and galleries do to the English language. Often, he works the tools of the publicist. Outraged, philosophical, mock-didactic, and with disarming glints of lucidity, his works can take the form of press releases, gallery announcements, and delirious promotional images. Here Russell jams up the distinctions between art criticism and artwork, words and things, attempts at articulation and traps of self-validation—or as Foucault puts it, “…the oldest oppositions of our alphabetic civilization: to show and to name; to shape and to say; to reproduce and to articulate; to imitate and to signify.”[1] In Russell’s works, the voice does not hover in feigned clarity and grace, as it does with so many philosophers, ad men, and conceptualists. Instead the voice is meaty. It has a corpus.

A well-known case is Fax-Bak, a service Russell provided as a member of BANK, an artist group active in London between 1991 and 2003. BANK consisted of Simon Bedwell, Milly Thompson, and John Russell. Here is the Fax-Bak Press release from 1998:

fax back-page-001


John Russell lives in the UK where he is a director of research for art at University of Reading. He is the editor of Frozen Tears. He is also good at twitter.

[1] From Michel Foucault, This Is Not a Pipe (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983): 21. As refracted by John Russell in Press-Release-Particulars-Related-To-The-Information-Not-Contained-Herein-Constitute-The-Form-Of-This-Action-And-Or-Regarding-Support-Languages-And-The-Possibility-Of-Self-Validation-NB-Return-Of-The-Living-Dead-III in Dexter Sinister: True Mirror, 2008.

Thanks to Nick Irvin and Jamie Stevens, who made it possible for John to come to the West Coast.