42 discounted & discarded art publications, vitrine
Site-specific installation for the Whitney Museum
20 x 2 x 3 feet
2014 Whitney Biennial
Curated by Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms & Michelle Grabner
Whitney Museum of American Art
New York, NY
March 7 – May 25, 2014
Some Working Notes About Zero-Sum
I’ve come to think of this work as a kind of self-portrait. It is a macro survey of my interests as an artist.
This work is first a kind of performance or action, and then an installation.
Zero-Sum is completely ruled by chance. I have no control over what book I will find, where, or when. This work is actualized in the moment of looking, of discovery.
When I find a book, I often wonder why I’m the only one who wants it. I sometimes think of Zero-Sum as a rescue operation.
The work advocates on behalf of artists, art, and ideas. This work is about others, my ancestors, my tribe, my artist colleagues.
The work is critical of fashion, taste, and trends. It is therefore critical of the art market.
I thought a lot about Robert Rauschenberg’s “Erased de Kooning Drawing” (1953) while making this work, but feel Zero-Sum employs an opposite strategy.
All books are part of my personal library and I know them intimately. They’ve been stamped, signed and inventoried as part of this ongoing project.
All books reflect the scope of the Whitney Museum itself — Modern and Contemporary American art.
Most of my time making the work for the Whitney was spent editing, paring down. The work could have easily included four or five times the number of books. The presence of each and every book needed to be justified in some kind of rational way.
The books are ordered chronologically from left to right in the vitrine by their subject matter, not their date of publication.
The vast majority of the books trace the development of early Modernism, abstraction, geometric abstraction, Minimalism, Post-Minimalism, and reductive art in the United States.
All of the books were either discarded or purchased on discount. As artists, we work with the dream of being included in exhibitions and publications like these, to have them stocked on library, museum, and bookstore shelves. To me, seeing them discounted or discarded is heartbreaking.
I think of these books as works of art. By presenting them within an exhibition context, I’m able to return them back full circle into the realm of art and ideas.
Four books were purchased on discount at museum bookstores: Whitney Museum of American Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.
The installation is located on the lower level of the museum, which is the closest location possible to the museum’s bookstore, where I purchased several of the books included in Zero-Sum.
Four books were published by the Whitney Museum: American Visionaries: Selections from the Whitney Museum of American Art; Geometric Abstraction in America; Immaterial Objects; and Lyrical Abstraction.
Two books are about Whitney Biennial artists, past and present: Joseph Marioni (2000), David Diao (2014).
One book was published by Michelle Grabner, the curator who invited me to participate in the Biennial, about her exhibition space in Oak Park, Illinois: The Suburban, The Early Years, 1999-2003
One book is a catalog for the 2013 exhibition, 10th Circle, curated by the Los Angeles-based critic, curator, and educator David Pagel, who interviewed me for the Biennial catalog.
There are 13 monographs total on the following artists:
-Marcel Duchamp (book as readymade)
-Alfred Jensen (my graduate thesis in art history)
-Michael Asher (situational aesthetics)
-Joseph Marioni (monochrome painting)
-David Diao (conceptual painting about other artists)
One book concerns Modernism in the Midwest, where I grew up: After Many Springs: Regionalism, Modernism & the Midwest
Two books are artists writings: My Dear Stieglitz, Letters of Marsden Hartley and Alfred Stieglitz 1912-1915; and What Abstract Art Means to Me, Statements by Six American Artists.
Four books are about innovative, alternative exhibition systems: Gallery of Living Art; Museum of Living Art; The Jane Street Galley, Celebrating New York’s First Artist Cooperative; and The Suburban, the Early Years, 1999-2003.
Eight books concern major survey exhibitions of abstraction: Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America, 1927-1944; The New American Painting; Sixteen Americans; The Responsive Eye; Geometric Abstraction in America; The Art of the Real, USA 1948-1968; Lyrical Abstraction; and After the Fall, Aspects of Abstract Painting Since 1970.
There are approximately ten books that include artists that I know personally and/or have presented at MINUS SPACE. Examples include Art of the Real, USA 1948-1968 (Robert Swain, Sanford Wurmfeld, Doug Ohlson); Wall Painting (Marcia Hafif, Lucio Pozzi, Roberta Yasuda); and Abstract Painting as Surface and Object (Merrill Wagner, Russell Maltz).
I found the book Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art being used as a doorstop at an art school here in NYC.