Monday, October 31, 2022

Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber | Haunted Book

Michael Dumontier and Neil Farber
Haunted Book
Winnipeg, Canada: Self-published, 2019
dimensions vary
Open/varied edition of signed and stamped books

Haunted Books are a series of carefully chosen library discards that they artists have altered with a rubber stamp and sometimes other interventions. 

Copies may still be available from the artists directly, at:

Friday, October 28, 2022

Milton Acorn | More Poems For People

Milton Acorn
More Poems For People
Toronto, Canada: NC Press, 1972
116 pp., 11 x 18.5 x 1 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

I picked this up last month at a University of Toronto book sale that was otherwise a bust. Acorn is quoted in my Dead Ringer film, which I had just screened the night before. He was one of several residents of the now demolished Waverly Hotel:

“The Waverley Hotel was full of character and characters,” said poet Milton Acorn, “a place for all sorts of strange but true types. People who were certainly down, but not out.” Acorn, known as the “people’s poet”, resided at the Waverly from 1970 to 1977, reportedly paying the daily rate rather than the monthly, in case he needed to leave quickly, and often changing rooms, fearing that he was under surveillance by the RCMP.

The copyright page of the book explains that the poems may be used "free of charge by anyone serving the cause of Canadian independence and the cause of the working people in any country."

It wasn't until I got home that I realized that the cover image is by Greg Curnoe. 

"I remember Greg Curnoe as the artist among the poets. He did pictures for books by David McFadden and Milton Acorn. When I published a little book of Victor Coleman's poetry, Greg made a cover drawing of Victor as a bust, a kind of statue or chesspiece. Greg did the covers of two of my Vancouver books, and he did the piece seen on the cover of an issue of a magazine about my stuff. I cherished that connection and I do so even more now. I love his great circles of colour and I love his drawings on my books, even if no one has the books."
- George Bowering, 1992

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Daniel Eatock | Back to Front (Greeting Card Sculpture)

Daniel Eatock 
Back to Front (Greeting Card Sculpture)
Toronto, Canada: Paul + Wendy Projects, 2022
4 x 6"
Edition of 100

The 67th edition by Paul + Wendy Projects is a greeting card sculpture by Daniel Eatock consisting of folded matte paper with a gloss laminated exterior, in an envelope. 

The work is available for $20 CDN at their website, here, or this weekend at their booth at the Toronto International Art Fair (below). 

"Stand upright on a flat surface, open at a 45-degree angle. The back of the greeting card is rendered as 'hidden lines visible' on the front of the greeting card."
- Daniel Eatock

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Rodney Graham | A Little Thought

[Rodney Graham]
A Little Thought
Toronto, Canada/Los Angeles, USA/Vancouver, Canada: AGO/MoCA/Vancouver Art Gallery, 2004
208 pp., 25.5 x 30.5 x 2.75 cm., hardcover
Edition size unknown

A Little Thought is the first North American museum retrospective and accompanying catalogue from one of Canada's most celebrated artists. Art Gallery of Ontario curator Jessica Bradley provides the introduction, Cornelia Butler examines Graham's relationship to the Canadian landscape and identity, Lynne Cooke looks at the construction of the artist's persona in works such as City Self/ Country Self (2001), and Shep Steiner discusses the joke as a conceptual strategy for Graham. 

The latter is key to appreciating Graham's practice. My favorite work of his (and - almost - of anyone's) is Verwandlungsmusik, a work which the artist has brilliantly dismissed as trivial and a "musical joke", before adding that the piece "redeems itself only because it is a joke of cosmic proportions". 

The above copy of the book was signed for me by Graham, hurriedly arranged by curator Jessica Bradley moments prior to the opening reception at the AGO. I had helped her put on a performance by Graham at the Gladstone Hotel a day or two prior (see flyer, below). Not sure if the misspelling of my name was deliberate or not. 

Graham loved playing music but was also stricken with stage fright, often vomiting before taking the stage. In addition to the Gladstone show, I had seen him play in Berlin (alongside Martin Creed) and again in Toronto many years later (an event put on by collector Paul Marks, the doctor for the Toronto Raptors). I wish I enjoyed the performances more, but I never felt the music ever really rose above a bar generic band with witty lyrics. 

I like the song that accompanies Graham's acid bike ride film Phonokinetoscope, and of course Verwandlungsmusik is a musical work. I don't listen to it often, but I think about it all the time. It reminds me of something Ben Vautier told me during a phone interview, about John Cage: "Reading Cage is very boring, listening to John Cage is boring, but thinking about John Cage is extremely funny". 

Graham died on Saturday, at the age of 73. 

Jon Sasaki | I Would Rather Share A Pumpkin Than Be Lonely On A Velvet Cushion

Jon Sasaki
I Would Rather Share A Pumpkin Than Be Lonely On A Velvet Cushion
Buffalo, USA: Hallways, 2022
12 pp., 28 x 21.5 cm., staple-bound
Edition size unknown

A slim exhibition catalogue documenting the always-brilliant Jon Sasaki's current exhibition at Hallwalls, in Buffalo, New York. 

The show features three works: Improvised Travel Adapters, A Constellation For Every Person On Earth and the titular Pumpkin piece. 

Improvised Travel Adapters is a series of photographs documenting precarious and dangerous looking 
makeshift electrical outlet adaptors. The series, which began in 2018 and is ongoing, includes a number of MacGyvered items travellers might carry in their luggage, repurposed to allow their small electrical appliances to work in international sockets. 

A Constellation For Every Person On Earth features a computer-controlled set of patio lights which cycles through all 8,589,934,592 permutations of thirty-three bulbs, illuminated for five to ten seconds. 

The work refers to the Pan American Exposition held in Buffalo, in 1901, where every building was outlined in incandescent lights. When the two-million-plus bulbs were turned on simultaneously, the effect was said to be staggering. William McKinley, the 25th president of the United States excitedly attended the event, where he was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz.

Despite the number of lightbulbs illuminating the exteriors of the buildings at the fair, the emergency hospital had no electric lighting and the president was attended to by doctors while a pan reflected sunlight onto the operating table. McKinley did not survive. 

I Would Rather Share A Pumpkin Than Be Lonely On A Velvet Cushion takes its title from a Henry David Thoreau quote and features a group of flailing air-dancers perched atop an inflatable pumpkin. 

The exhibition, which opened September 16th, closes this Friday, October 28th. 

"The piece would invite a multitude of free-associations. Visitors might envision constellations of stars, and attempt to "connect the dots" as humans have done for eons. They might take the opportunity to think about chance, randomness, uniqueness in our genetic makeup, the nature of individuality; they might contemplate the disparity between human and geological timescales, the vastness of the cosmos, exponential population growth and so on and so on. And possibly they might give some thought to the Pan-American Exhibition of 1901, where Nikola Tesla visited in order to see the illuminations that he helped create. Apparently, according to some accounts, his mind was already on the next project… finding a way to communicate with any inhabitants of the planet Mars.1 So as Tesla was looking at Buffalo's electric lights, his imagination was transposing them to the celestial sphere, bulbs became stars and distant planetary destinations for his messages. He was reaching out to the new individuals he hoped to encounter there… an exchange that would not happen in his transitory lifetime."
- Jon Sasaki

Grappa Fluxus Box 2

[Various artists]
Grappa Fluxus Box 2
Molvena, Italy: Massimo Lunardon, 1997
40 x 62.5 x 16 cm.
Edition of 8

A follow-up to the original Grappa Fluxus, four years prior. A Serigraphed wooden box with hinged doors, containing glass blown works by six artists affiliated with Fluxus:  Eric Andersen, Dick Higgins, Milan Knizak, Takako Saito, Mieko Shiomi, Ben Vautier.

"In 1995 Luigi Bonotto asked me to design a bottle for Grappa (Italian brandy). I wanted to make a bottle whose shape has features of wind instruments and string instruments, yet is none of them – an imaginary primitive shape of an instrument. Inside the bottle is genuine Grappa."
- Mieko Shiomi

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Fluxus Grappa

[Various Artists]
Fluxus Grappa
Molvena, Italy: M. Lunardon, 1993
36 x 51 x 10 cm.
Edition of 8 signed and numbered copies

A serigraphed wooden box containing six glass blown works by artists affiliated with Fluxus: Philip Corner, Jean Dupuy, Geoffrey Hendricks, Alison Knowles, Ben Patterson and Emmett Williams. Each bottle is signed and numbered by the artist. 

The work was apparently initiated by collector Luigi Bonotto, and produced with the Italian Brandy manufacturer. 

In 1997, a second box was produced (see next post). 

Monday, October 24, 2022

Rodney Graham

Rodney Graham died Saturday at the age of 73. 

Gregory Green | Computer Virus Set

Gregory Green
Computer Virus Set (Timid, Kilroy, Intruder, Stealth)
New York City, USA: Feigen Contemporary, 1994
11.5 x 22.5 cm.
Edition of 25 signed and numbered copies

Four floppy discs and a warning not to use them.