Tompkins' performances involve rapid readings from typewritten works.
While Sue Tompkins' work owes much to various literary and art-historical movements, such as Concrete Poetry, the Beat poets and typewriter art, she frequently emerges as the rebellious offspring rather than as a clear descendent of these genres. Her performances usually involve three items: a stool, a microphone and a ring-binder full of hundreds of sheets of paper. She reads from these at a hyperactive pace, developing her rhythm. In a previous incarnation, she was a singer in the now defunct post-punk band, Life Without Buildings.
Tompkins's typewritten works are not residues of her performances, but a parallel practice, often using broadsheets that have been folded to fit into a typewriter, and that still bear the creases of this process. She presents segments of language, often de-contextualised snatches of everyday conversations. Words are given emphasis through repetition, juxtaposition, misspellings and uneven spacing.
Sue Tompkins was born in Glasgow in 1971, graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 1994, and is still based in the city. She has had solo exhibitions in numerous venues, including the Showroom, London, in 2007. Tompkins has also performed at institutions and events around the world, notably the Scottish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2005, and Tate Britain in 2006.