Some publications we love and had a hand in the making of…
Sanford Biggers: Codeswitch
“What I want to do is code-switch. To have there be layers of history and politics, but also this heady, arty stuff—inside jokes, black humor—that you might have to take a while to research if you want to really get it.”
Sanford Biggers (b. 1970) is a Harlem-based artist working in various media including painting, sculpture, video, and performance. He describes his practice as “code-switching”—mixing disparate elements to create layers of meaning—to account for his wide-ranging interests. This catalogue focuses on a series of repurposed quilts (many made in the nineteenth century) that embodies this interest in mixture. Informed by the significance of quilts to the Underground Railroad, Biggers transforms the quilts into new works using materials such as paint, tar, glitter, and charcoal to add his own codes, whether they be historical, political, or purely artistic. Insightful essays survey Biggers’s career, his art in relation to music, and the history upon which the series draws. Also featured is a short yet powerful graphic essay by an award-winning illustrator that introduces the layered meanings inherent in the art and craft of quilting.
Edited by Andrea Andersson and Antonio Sergio Bessa with contributions by Greg Tate, Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard, Mia Kang, and John Jennings with David Brame and Esperanza Bey.
Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen
“An object is not an object; it is a witness to a relationship.”
“The works draw attention to the most basic details of the environment, and there is an implication in them that once you are acutely aware of any object, you are responsible for its welfare…. Awareness of a stick leads to awareness of a tree, then to land and the people who occupy it, to the fragility of entire cultures.” —Ray Mark Rinaldi, The New York Times
Beginning and ending at the edge of the ocean at the sacred mouth of the Aconcagua River, About to Happen serves as a lament for and a love letter to the sea. In this artist’s book, Chilean-born artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña weaves personal and ancestral memory while summoning collective power to confront the economic disparities and environmental crises of the twenty-first century.
Collecting the detritus that washes up on shore, Vicuña assembles out of the refuse tiny precarios and basuritas—little sculptures held together with nothing more than string and wire, which she sometimes makes as offerings to be reclaimed by the sea. These acts of creation and erasure mirror the ways in which her art inhabits and enlivens the liminal spaces between the remembered and forgotten, the revered and the discarded, the material and the dematerialized.
About to Happen, a companion publication to an exhibition that traveled from New Orleans to Berkeley, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Miami, traces a decades-long practice that has refused categorical distinctions and thrived within the confluences of conceptual art, land art, feminist art, performance, and poetry. Vicuña’s nuanced visual poetics—operating fluidly between concept and craft, text and textile—transforms the discarded into the elemental, paying acute attention to the displaced, the marginalized, and the forgotten.
Cecilia Vicuña (b. 1948, Santiago, Chile) is a poet, visual and performance artist, and filmmaker whose multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional works bridge art and life, the ancestral and the avant-garde. Vicuña’s work emphasizes transformative acts and “metaphors in space”: an image becomes a poem, a film, a song, a sculpture, or a collective performance. Beginning often with a delicate line (drawn or written) or a piece of string, she weaves complex works that are rich with political and social awareness as well as aesthetic beauty.
Widely exhibited internationally, her work is in numerous international private and public collections, including the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin; Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain de Lorraine, Metz, France; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago, Chile; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Gallery, London; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago; and the University of California Berkeley Art Museum.
Vicuña is the author of twenty volumes of art and poetry published in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Her filmography includes documentaries, animations, and visual poems. Vicuña has received several awards, including the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts (2019); the Anonymous Was a Woman Award, New York (1999); and the Andy Warhol Foundation Award (1997), and in 2015 was appointed the Messenger lecturer at Cornell University.
Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible
Reframed, reconditioned, and perpetually reoccurring, found images have served as Adam Pendleton’s primary tools and source material throughout his career. Becoming Imperceptible follows the logic of Pendleton’s museum installations, constructing social and aesthetic histories composed of images in process and inscribed in the structure of their container. Including Pendleton’s texts “Black Dada” and “Amiri Baraka” and drawing on a diverse archive that traverses the European, African, and American avant-gardes and civil rights movements of the last century—from Dada and Bauhaus to Black Lives Matter literature, from Language poetry to Black Power poetics, from conceptual art to African Independence movements—Becoming Imperceptible frames a complex dialogue between culture and system. It also embodies Pendleton’s practice by inviting the reader into an unfolding conversation about race and history, art and form.
The publication, with a reverse-fold dust jacket, features a poster-size artwork by the artist as well as a booklet of critical essays. Becoming Imperceptible has three different dust jackets and includes essays by Andrea Andersson, Naomi Beckwith, Kitty Scott, and Stephen Squibb.
Adam Pendleton (b. 1984, Richmond, Virginia) is a conceptual artist known for a multi-disciplinary practice that moves fluidly between painting, publishing, photographic collage, video, and performance. Pendleton utilizes language as his primary tool, recontextualizing appropriated imagery to shed light on underrepresented historical narratives. He is particularly interested in social resistance and avant-garde artistic movements and has synthesized a variety of practices under the rubric of “Black Dada,” a term borrowed from the poet Amiri Baraka. Drawing from a vast array of archives, he incorporates material and aesthetic strategies from sources as diverse as the Black Arts Movement, minimalism, conceptual art, experimental performance, and philosophy.
Recent solo exhibitions include Le Consortium, Dijon (2020); Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2020); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2018); Baltimore Museum of Art (2017); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2017); Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2016); and Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (2016). Pendleton’s work is included in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and Tate, London, among other institutions.
Hinge Pictures: Eight Women Artists Occupy the Third Dimension
“The work is conceived as a ‘hinge,’ opening and functioning on multiple planes, yet tied to an initial point. Thus the title of this exhibition and book, and the design choice to create a delicate hinge binding with visible red string. The book is hyper-specific without being overly explanatory and offers a seamed (as the concluding essay by Alex Klein, titled “At the Seams,” suggests, the book actually and figuratively exposes its seams and binding) reading experience, a call-and-response of groundbreaking pre-war modernism and the vibrations of its legacy in the radical work of women artists today.”
In 1960, George Heard Hamilton published the first complete typographic translation of Duchamp’s The Green Box in English. A trade edition of one thousand copies, the landmark publication circulated and translated Duchamp’s notes and conceptual ambitions for his three-dimensional masterwork, The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even. And as a book, designed to hinge at its binding, the work fulfilled Duchamp’s conceptual proposal for art that would move from two- into three-dimensional space.
Hinge Pictures: Eight Women Artists Occupy the Third Dimension is an artist’s book in eight parts—a gorgeous, palimpsest publication that layers the practices of Sarah Crowner, Julia Dault, Leslie Hewitt, Tomashi Jackson, Erin Shirreff, Ulla von Brandenburg, Adriana Varejão, and Claudia Wieser over the pages, history, and framework of Duchamp’s imagination. With a Swiss binding that unveils the spine of the book and multiple vellum overlays that create layered interlocutions, the book’s physical qualities mirror its conceptual occupations.
Hinge Pictures: Eight Women Artists Occupy the Third Dimension is also companion publication to an exhibition (Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, March 14−June 16, 2019) in eight parts, a confrontation with the patrimony of European modernism in the practices of eight leading artists. A literal reading of Duchamp positions The Bride, a nude woman, suspended above a host of ogling bachelors. In his writing, Duchamp narrates both social and physical constraint (“The Bride accepts this stripping”) and formal liberation (“discover true form … develop the principle of the hinge”). The artists of Hinge Pictures use formal constraint—a commitment to abstraction—in a demonstration of social liberation. Theirs is a knowing, deconstructed rehearsal of form and color, weighted by the errors, limits, and categorical proscriptions of transatlantic Modernism.