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Missives

Printed Booklet Installation. Dimensions Variable. 2015

A collection of 10 half-letter format booklets are hung upon the wall. They are three dimensional objects, this much we can see, yet they are inaccessible- out of reach and restricted from our access.

What’s inside these pamphlets?

Why can’t the viewer handle the object?

Oxymoronic and no-win demands of ‘accessibility’ of art-work as well as the paradigm of ‘research-creation’ both outlaws and demands the use of academic forms of ‘knowing’ as justification for much of contemporary art work. It is the sort of paradigm which lets me put scare-quotes around ‘knowing’, as even this is suspect - though I belong to the authority of the academy which supposedly produces said ‘knowing’. Comprised of intricately designed typographic end-
pages based upon philosophical, political and religious treatises, the work plays with the notion of the book as the container of knowledge, information and that which offers the reader the pathway to understanding within its covers.

In fact-
there is nothing at all between these covers.

The booklets draw upon visual and verbal language of turn of the century proselytizing texts (be they treatises upon god, politics, science or society all are meant as argumentative and persuasive tracts created to argue one’s case and convince the reader of it’s legitimacy.) A plethora of headings, sub-headings, categorizations, and more ‘or’s’ than you can shake a stick at characterize the attempt to categorize the ideas held within a booklet. Such earnest attempts to prepare a reader for what it is that they will encounter has fallen out of fashion for the coolness of the industrial design aesthetic. Contemporary textual design is drunk on white space where less is absolutely more. And yet- this curiously outdated caveat-emptor perhaps provides us with more space for surprise and investigation rather than less.

What does this academic text, actually say? Why is there such a need for misdirection, verbal justification, obfuscation of one’s claims, the use of words like obfuscation?

The admittedly gobbledy-gook titles, subheadings and numbered lists which comprise the work are based upon those fleeting bits of text which were once tremendously important to me, as a scholar, and as an MFA student specifically: my notes. These phrases appear, almost verbatim in my notes, heavily underlined, much circled, accompanied with many excited exclamation points: this here is very important, this means something special: we have figured something out.

Today, my notations from seminars past, have lost their context. The excitement of ‘understanding’ even then fleeting at best, has evaporated. They are strings of words strung together with an academic tongue, impressive to the eye and ear, ultimately vapid. As a self-confessed lover of all things institutional critique, perhaps my now antiquated notes have helped me figure something out in the end: more intrigued by knowing, knowledge and power as systems and networks I would rather make works which question these paradigms than to generate content which rests comfortably within them.

 

NB: This Artwork is available for examination in person at the Vanier Library Special Collections at Concordia University. 

Call number :

 N 7433.4 R35M57 2016