Friday, September 29, 2023

Jiri Valoch | Do It Yourself

Jiří Valoch
Do it yourself, 1971-1974
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Kontexts Publications, 1975
8 pp., 7.5 x 10.7 cm., staple-bound
Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies

Following Do It Yourself 1: Signs and Do It Yourself 2: Dialogues (both from 1972), this 8 page title collects three years worth of score based works that also function as poetic writing prompts.


"A transparent poem about the air"
"Any poem with clouds"
"Long poem about death"

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Helen Chadwick | Piss Flowers

Helen Chadwick
Piss Flowers
Self-published, 1991-1992
12 parts, each approx. 70 x 65 x 65 cm 
Edition of 5 [+ 3 APs]

Helen Chadwick's brilliant Piss Flowers debuted in 1991 as works in progress, at the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff, and Mercer Union in Toronto (long before I worked there). They have subsequently been exhibited in Athens, Barcelona, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Liverpool, London, Mumbai, Nottingham, São Paulo, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, and Vienna.

The work was initiated during a three-week residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, in February 1991. Chadwick and her partner, David Notarius travelled to different locations, made mounds of snow and laid out a flower-shaped metal cutter. They took turns pissing in the snow and then poured plaster into the cavities. 

In a poem written the same year entitled Piss Posy, Chadwick describes the works as "Vaginal towers with male skirt/ Gender bending water sport?". The flow of her urine, described as "strong and hot", resulted in a "central penile form", her male partner's was "diffuse and cooler", creating a "labial circumference". 

The twelve bronze castings of urine-melted snow remain the Turner-Prize nominated artist's best known work. Chadwick died five years later, of a heart-attack, at the age of 42. 

“It may have been mischievous to piss in the snow, but it was damn hard work to end up with the 12 bronzes. Piss Flowers took two years, largely because I had to find £12,000 to make them.” 
- Helen Chadwick


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Alan Belcher | Kill Me Button

Alan Belcher
Kill Me Button 
Toronto, Canada: Art Metropole, 1997
2" diameter
Edition of 200

A button related to a controversial billboard Belcher produced for the Paradise Europe exhibition produced by Bizart, in Copenhagen, in 1992 (below). The billboard featured the artist's home phone number and the instruction/invitation to kill him. 

Art Metropole commissioned a re-design of the work to display at Yonge and Dundas Street in Toronto in 1997, but the project was rejected by the billboard company at the last minute. The series also included Moriko Mori, Alfredo Jaar, and Steve Reinke. All were printed and all but Belcher's installed in public locations throughout the city of Toronto. 

The 10-sheet, 10 x 20 feet billboards were produced in an edition of five, plus two printer's proofs and an artists' proof. They remain available for purchase from Art Met

Of the 200 buttons produced, the first fifty are signed and numbered by Belcher. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Liz Magor: Living in the Wild Wild West

Jennifer Fisher
Liz Magor: Living in the Wild Wild West
Edmonton, Canada: Edmonton Art Gallery, 1991
12 pp., 25 cm, softcover
Edition size unknown

A slim and scarce exhibition catalogue with an essay by Jennifer Fisher that can be downloaded for free, here: 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Coins by Artists

Coins by Paul McCarthy, Maurizio Cattelan, Jess Dobkin, Paul Couillard, Claire Fontaine (twice), Micah Lexier (thrice), Bill Woodrow, Germain Koh, Micah Adams, Jan Sokota, and Ryan Gander (twice).  

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Voorwerk 1

Fiona Rae, Doriana Chiarini, Aernout Mik, Kay Rosen
Voorwerk 1
Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Witte de With, 1990
21 x 31 cm., boxed
Edition of 500

In October of 1990 Witte de With in Rotterdam held the first of their Voorwerk series, which featured works by Doriana Chiarini, Aernout Mik, Fiona Rae and Kay Rosen.

Voorwerk translates to "preliminary work" and the series featured then-younger and emerging artists, with the intention to provide "the first substantial presentation of works by relatively unknown artists". Their track record of picking those who would go on to greater success, especially in this first year, is pretty incredible. The shows were annual and presented without thematics or common denominators.

Italian artist Doriana Chiarini presented elegant objects that combined design and art. Aernout Mik showed his Dummies series, which consists of cushions from photographic linen, loosely modelled after the human body, that are photographically printed with children’s portraits. The two painters couldn't have been more different - Fiona Rae exhibited abstract works and Kay Rosen presented textual paintings rich with visual jokes, taken from everyday conversation, pulp novels and telephone directories (see below). 

The "catalogue" for the exhibition featured a compartmentalized cardboard box containing works by all four artists: an original painting by Fiona Rae (each unique), five cards by Kay Rosen, a fold out paper by Chiarini and five photocards by Mik.

Art Metropole stocked at least two of the three boxes that were released, in the first year that I worked there. I can't remember the exact price, but I seem recall them being between thirty and fifty dollars. All of the titles have increased in value considerably since that time, with the first one (owing much to the inclusion of the unique Rae painting) particularly costly.

The copy above (bottom three images) copy is from Cult Club, a store and gallery project by Jeannette Dekeukeleire and Harry Ruhe in Amsterdam. A copy of the complete set of boxes can be purchased from Ruhe, here

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Dara Birnbaum | Every TV needs a revolution

Dara Birnbaum
Every TV needs a revolution
Gent, Belgium: Imschoot Uitgevers/ For IC, 1992
112 pp., 20.9 × 14.7 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

In May of 1968, a student revolt that began in a suburb of Paris soon escalated into seven weeks of civil unrest throughout France, punctuated by demonstrations, strikes, and the occupation of factories and universities. 

The student population had almost tripled in the preceding decade, from 175,000 to more than half a million. As with elsewhere in the world, 'youth culture' was becoming a formidable force, yet French society remained autocratic, hierarchical, and tradition-bound.

Students initially protested against capitalism, consumerism, American imperialism, traditionalism, and the ten year rule of Charles de Gaulle. The president had ascended to power via extra-constitutional means and maintained it via state control of television and radio. 

Heavy-handed tactics by the police against the student protestors led France's trade union confederations to call for sympathy strikes. With more ten million workers striking (a fifth of the population), the country's economy ground to a halt. de Gaull fled to Berlin, amid fears of outright civil war. 

May 1968, as it came to be known, was a watershed moment, with an enormous impact on French society. Alain Geismar, a student leaders at the time, said the movement had succeeded "as a social revolution, not as a political one".

Filmmakers who have recreated the riots include François Truffaut (Baisers volés, 1968), Jean-Luc Godard (Tout Va Bien, 1972), Diane Kurys (Cocktail Molotov, 1980), Louis Malle (May Fools, 1990), Bernardo Bertolucci (The Dreamers, 2003), Roman Coppola (CQ, 2001) and Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch, 2021)

Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone magazine that the May '68 revolts were the inspiration for "Street Fighting Man", despite it being recorded in April and May of that year: 

"Yeah, it was a direct inspiration, because by contrast, London was very quiet ... It was a very strange time in France. But not only in France but also in America, because of the Vietnam War and these endless disruptions ... I thought it was a very good thing at the time. There was all this violence going on. I mean, they almost toppled the government in France; de Gaulle went into this complete funk, as he had in the past, and he went and sort of locked himself in his house in the country. And so the government was almost inactive. And the French riot police were amazing."

Dara Birnbaum produced a work in 1990 called Cannon: Taking to the Street, in which amateur footage of a Take Back the Night march held at Princeton University in April, 1987 is reframed through the lens of the Paris uprising. 

Two years later - and almost a quarter-century after the events of May 1968 - she produced this bookwork, which applies her video celebrated editing techniques to the printed page.  

Images of anonymous street posters and graffiti from the uprisings are cropped, rotated, inverted, re-sized and re-sequenced as commentary on the public space of television and mass media.

In addition to the (already scarce) softcover trade edition, there were forty deluxe grey linen hardcover copies produced, each signed and dated in black marker.