Monday, July 22, 2013

Mel Bochner | Misunderstandings (A Theory of Photography)

Mel Bochner
Misunderstandings (A Theory of Photography) 
New York City, USA: Multiples, Inc., 1970
[10] pp., 15.1 x 22.9 cm., loose leaves in envelope
Edition of 1200 unnumbered copies

From Artists & Photographs, a cardboard box containing six artist’s publications, four multiples, eight artist’s books, one poster and an exhibition catalogue, published by Multiples Inc in an edition of 1200 copies. In addition to Bochner, the box included work by Christo, Jan Dibbets, Dan Graham, Joseph Kosuth, Richard Long, Robert Morris, B. Nauman, Andy Warhol and many others.

“When I realized in 1967, that my work had become about photography without wanting it to – I thought, I should do some research, look into the history of the medium and find out what’s been written about it, what the issues are.” What I found was really pretty dumb – it had no value in any theoretical terms. And the more I read, the more I began to see it all as a colossal misunderstanding. So I started compiling a set of misunderstandings. After a while I had quite a large number of these quotations which I wanted to publish. The first title was “Dead Ends and Vicious Circles”… I submitted it to Artforum but Philip Leader said ‘we’re not a goddamn photography magazine, this is an art magazine, don’t give me anything on photography, we don’t do photography!’ Then I sent it to Art in America and they were not interested either, but suggested that I send it to a photography magazine! Like Popular Photography! Well I knew that no photography magazine could possibly be interested in this, so I put it in a drawer and forgot about it. Then in 1970, Marian Goodman, who then had a gallery called Multiples Gallery, came up with the idea of doing a boxed multiple set of artists’ photographs. She made this box which was quite an amazing thing, it had Smithson, Graham, Ruscha, Dibbets, Rauschenberg, LeWitt, myself and a number of other artists. My contribution was a version of Dead Ends and Vicious Circles, a compilation of quotations I titled “Misunderstandings (A Theory of Photography).” And to further add to the confusion, three of the quotes were fakes, I made them up. The last card in the envelope is a reproduction of a negative of a Polaroid, but of course Polaroids don’t have negatives!”

– Mel Bochner

Available for $215 US, here

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