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Art & Leisure and Art & Leisure

Li Po Cocktail Lounge was my place for a rough gin and tonic, a drink to distract from bad days at work. It sticks out among San Francisco dive bars, with its gilded cave entrance and giant lantern caked with (what I hope is) opium. The bar’s namesake was a Tang dynasty intellectual, an Immortal […]

Li Po Cocktail Lounge was my place for a rough gin and tonic, a drink to distract from bad days at work. It sticks out among San Francisco dive bars, with its gilded cave entrance and giant lantern caked with (what I hope is) opium. The bar’s namesake was a Tang dynasty intellectual, an Immortal of the Wine Cup, who were celebrated wise men in Chinese history who loved to party. Li Po embodied the drunken scholar, who supported his thirst with poetry, and sometimes the other way around. In trying moments, I liked his style with ease.

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Years later at another bar (a Minneapolis gay saloon called the 19), a series of conversations turned into a project called Art & Leisure and Art & Leisure. My friends Ira and Simon asked if I was interested in collaborating on a small show in their space at the London Centre for Book Arts, and soon came some weird proposals: a smoke machine, a dish called “bear fly pizza”, hammocks in the space, graphic sci-fi teleportation pads on the floors and walls and calling the whole thing Intergalactic Pizza Safari.

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We thankfully ended up with something more coherent and stranger. A&L&A&L was a spiral-bound catalogue that was also a calendar which only marked every weekend in the year; a calendar that was also an exhibition about my personal practice that exists outside of “work work”; and finally an exhibition that was also a spiral-bound catalogue of research notes and details of projects from the last few years. It was produced by the LCBA and sold as a small edition.

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The title, which Ira thought up, refers to those ideas that ramble, words that slur, and the reason I mention Li Po. Why do ideas like labor and leisure imply something about the value of time? For our friend, it was sometimes hard to tell where work ended and fun began (wine is mentioned several times in his poems). But despite that, drunkenness was only a backdrop to his observational verses. The distinction between business hours and vacation time become foggy now.

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As this ended up being a hobby project outside of my day job, A&L&A&L also became an investigation about different forms of distractions. Examples (which even touched on those initial vodka pineapple-soaked ideas) like science fiction, myths and legends about laziness, stoner snapshots, link surfing, recreational mathematics, pro-wrestling moves that involved flying, and gaming surfaces like ball courts and fields. As activities outside of any utilitarian incentive, these were actually deep ideas motivated by the need to entertain ourselves.

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A fortune cookie once said, “If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy man: he will find an easier way to do it.” It poetically describes the shortcut as a concise solution, and the cheat as a knowledgeable solver, a shift from the usual negative connotation. Not that it’s a manifesto, but I think the cookie raises a good point! Imagine that leisure isn’t an idle state, but actually a strategy. For those that laze, a problem becomes an opportunity to amuse and stumble around helpfully, and afterwards, resume more pressing matters like finishing my beer.


Art & Leisure and Art & Leisure was a book published by the London Centre for Book Arts and is available for purchase on their website.

This text originally appears in Thought Experiments in Graphic Design Education, a forthcoming book edited and art directed by Joshua Trees and Yvan Martinez (Martinez & Trees) and designed by Eurico Sa Fernandes and Mariana Lobao (Ponto). The book launches in December and features studio projects from students of Central St. Martins and London College of Communication alongside contributions from Bart de Baets, Stuart Bailey, Victor Boullet, Delphine Bedel, Lionel Bovier, James Corazzo, Benedetta Crippa, Department 21, Bianca Elzenbaumer, Fabio Franz, Ken Hollings, Kenneth Fitzgerald, Harrisson, John Hammersley, Brockett Horne, Scott King, Elizabeth Legate, Jono Lewarne, Alexander Lis, Armand Mevis, Rens Muis, Stuart Price, Jon Sueda, Ken Kirton, Darren Raven, Rebecca Stephany, Sebastian Pataki, Alexander Shoukas, and Walker design studio alums Daniel Eatock and Silas Munro.


A Warm System—The Autoconstrucción Suites

Autoconstrucción: a definitely unfinished inefficient unstable affective emotional delirious joyful affirmative sweaty fragmentary empiric weak happy contradictory solitary indecent sensual amorphous warm and committed index Autoconstrucción (loosely translated as self-build) refers to a particular method in home construction. Those who don’t have the economic means to complete an entire house (but have enough for parts […]

Autoconstrucción: a definitely unfinished inefficient unstable affective emotional delirious joyful affirmative sweaty fragmentary empiric weak happy contradictory solitary indecent sensual amorphous warm and committed index

cruzvillegas001-002_front_webAutoconstrucción (loosely translated as self-build) refers to a particular method in home construction. Those who don’t have the economic means to complete an entire house (but have enough for parts of one) build structures in stages using whatever resources are available at their disposal. And as situations change or families grow, additions and modifications are made to the home that may not use the same material used in the last stage of construction, depending on circumstances. Visually, these developments can be a mish-mash of styles; architecturally, its a responsive approach to building, constantly trying to meet the needs of the inhabitants inside and the neighborhood outside.

The Autoconstrucción Suites is the latest survey of artist Abraham Cruzvillegas’s decade-long investigation of this phenomenon and how it informs his work. Born and based in Mexico City and growing up in a self-build, that experience is the basis for many of his projects, which range from sculpture to song-writing, drawing to performance, film and writing. Curated by Clara Kim, the exhibition brings together all of these thoughts and moments into a singular gallery space, and creates a world where this line of research takes the form of decaying maguey leaves, a rough splat of concrete, painted cardboard boxes on a wall, a chrome sphere on the floor, or even a tricycle with an audio/visual system built in. A 240-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition, and is conceived as a primer into the language of self building and a container for his research and works.




Warm: a warm system means an organic organization of re-arrangable elements, in which subjectivity, affection, emotion, but mostly needs, rule. An exhibition or a book can be warm systems.

In our first meeting with him to talk about the catalogue, Abraham brought a couple of books from his own collection that he was formally and conceptually interested in. One was this great Filliou catalogue, where everything—from artworks to text entries and random references—was organized in an alphabetic index; on one hand, it’s a pretty academic structure, but weirdly enough, that framework also introduces an element of randomness, with illustrations and reproductions and texts thrown in next to each other at unexpected moments. Another was a Duchamp book that actually comprised of several printed editions housed in a book-like folder, and included reproductions of artworks, small publications and even a little paper sculpture you could assemble. The density of information and the variety of ways to experience the work was really appealing to us, but how much could we achieve with just a plate section and a couple of essays?


Abraham then casually mentioned including a text he had just prepared a few months prior, a list of autoconstrucción terms and his personal definitions he uses not only to describe his work, but everything: love, life, food, sex, etc. (Some of these terms are scattered throughout this blog post). They waver between serious and light, pithy statements or heavy assertions. We thought it compelling enough to establish a basic conceptual structure for the book, a way for readers to engage with the work on a philosophical level. Above, the English and Spanish versions of the table of contents are structured as quasi-indices, listing all the individual terms as well as the titles of his songs and is an idiosyncratic way to see the range of information contained.

Abraham’s resource room is a work in the show that was important to the development of the book. Pictured above, it’s made up of different elements: on a long table there are coil-bound photocopied books about things like architecture, poetry, and Mexican culture; upside down buckets and a converted wheelbarrow serve as seating; on a nearby wall, several large maps are displayed, showing growth and population densities in Mexico City over time; on a circular table a plant sits on top of a collage of photographs, images from his neighborhood that Abraham had taken with a point-and-shoot; and on another wall, a wall of Mexican and Latin American socio-political posters.

We thought about the project in this particular context and environment, and liked the idea that maybe the catalogue could potentially inhabit this specific space, or at the very least were related somehow. The room comes off as a little cosmos of ideas, as if an encyclopaedia had exploded onto the walls of a gallery. If this room was the big-bang, what if the book was the big-crunch version of the entire installation?

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So from these initial thoughts, we started to determine some major moves. The book would be structured in two parts: the core would house works in the exhibition, a 64-page plate section; wrapped around that center is the autoconstrucción universe: the constellation of songs, photos, posters, books, and index terms that he pulls from, in addition to the contributed essays. Because we were literally looking to nest these sections, we decided to saddle stitch the entire book (surprisingly easy to do, despite it a 240 page book, if you find an industrial stitching machine in Stillwater that sews sailboat sails together). The book is softcover, and gave the overall catalogue a very floppy, flexible feel.

Abraham later joked that he could use it to swat flies.

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Unstable: piling things atop of each other, not definitely fixed, makes stacks of transformable energy about to collapse. Here I’m talking of history, economy, society and culture. Physical and conceptual instability are something hard to sustain, but I like it.

I usually try to analogize my projects in unusual ways, to introduce a different way of looking at a particular problem. During our conversations, I kept referring to this metaphor of “the book as brick.” The comparison seemed appropriate for some reason: brick as a blunt object, brick as a singular unit, brick as a constructive force, brick as a destructive force, brick as a weight, brick as potential energy. The homely brick suddenly became loaded with things like personality and tone, conceptual ideas beyond its simple functional aspect. We thought it could be interesting to link the resource room to this strange analogy somehow, and view the elements of the installation as raw material from which he constructs the autoconstrucción world. Maybe these images—of his neighborhood, of the books, or the posters, or even the songs he wrote—were individual bricks.

So for this book, instead of laying images out on a pre-determined grid, or just simply centering everything with space in-between elements, what if we just stacked all the images on top of each other?

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So we did. And we liked it.

This reminds me of Carl Sagan’s thought experiment of two-dimensional shapes, living on a flatland, having to deal with the realization that there may be other dimensions beyond their perception. It brings up an interesting idea as a book designer, about the way we work with flat surfaces, and where our own perspective lies as the designer: are we the flatlander, or the booming extra-dimensional voice from within? And from there, it was kind of strange to think about creating a sense of weight in a “space” like a page in a book. But after this stacking strategy came up, it  introduced another dimension, maybe it was height, maybe it was volume?

This weirdly enough also sort of recalls those cup stacking championships, which was a funny way to think about Abraham’s work, on a couple of different levels: ideas about sculpture as a gesture, or series of built up gestures; and also about improvisation, as if the artist just stacked the images himself. And in the end, this new shape becomes much more interesting than a couple of squares and rectangles on a page. The content can now be activated because of its new shape, like the way that Abraham’s process creates new objects, but that object serves to highlight the individual components of the piece. Cups become pyramids, and debris become sculpture.

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Once this was all figured out, the system kind of took over and designed itself. And I think I use the word “system” very loosely, in the sense that it’s not really what we would think of (in a design context) as a tightly gridded out document. The strategy was more like an overall attitude or an outlook, a little less concerned about the final product and more interested in the process. It was also kind of a game we devised for ourselves, whose only rule was to stack the images in weird and interesting ways. And as a graphic designer, its interesting when you introduce an element of play like that. For this project, that quality allowed us to be very responsive and flexible to our own immediate needs and whatever random issue the world threw at us, whether it was not being able to secure rights for an image, or something being too low resolution to print. Whenever something like that happened, we were able to quickly shift images here and there, create new piles, and then move on. It’s pretty liberating not having to stress over minutae when you don’t build it into the structure.

Joyful: inventing the rules of a game to be played everyday in different ways. Rules are dictated from specific needs, then it can be played capriciously, with ingenuity and pleasure. If the game can be played collectively it could go better, depending on the people you invite and on their will to share, learn and risk together. Rules can also be modified, according to peculiarities of context, timing and circumstances.



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We applied the same strategy to the text pages, setting the type in columns and having the width of each paragraph vary, again, to give the impression of blocks stacked on top of each other. This happened to be pretty helpful, given the bi-lingual context of the catalogue, and is (hopefully) a helpful device that readers can use to determine where in the translation you are between different languages.

This move sort of shifted the piling metaphor into a different territory. After typesetting these, I started to see these columns of type as a kind of strata, or sediments that have settled on on top of another which compact over time and turn into a new and solid form. I haven’t tried this yet, but one could potentially take a couple of copies of the book and stack them on top of each other and represent each essay a one long geologic cross-section. The essay became something you excavate, sifting through layers of information rather than rock; and with some essays, sometimes there’s something to find, and sometimes there’s nothing but more dirt under there.

And like strata, autoconstrucción becomes a way to understand the world of objects as things made up of a variety of moments and ideas, rather than something singular and isolated. Each layer, whether it’s a particular building material, or a line from a song lyric, or a photo in a stack of images, tells its own story about where it comes from, how it is used, what its particular function is, unintended or not. While the combinations of these layers might be novel and exciting, Abraham’s work recognizes that our own constructions don’t manifest themselves out of thin air, but are built upon (and are sourced from) the context of prior knowledge. The mix may be as homogenous as concrete or as chunky as a stack of crates, but looking closely, you might start to realize that maybe the sum of its parts can be greater than the whole.


Fragmentary: contradictory elements making a whole, there’s no chance for mistake. Tales are short moments of experience or imagination. Married pieces from clashing contexts make beautiful conversations. A book of tales makes a universe.

Abraham Cruzvillegas: The Autoconstrucción Suites is currently on view in Target and Friedman Galleries until September 22, 2013. Afterwards, it will be travelling to Haus der Kunst in Berlin in 2014, and then Fundación/Colección Jumex and Museo Amparo in Mexico City in 2015.

The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal by Mirza and Butler

The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal is a fictional museum by London-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler. The exhibition’s multilayered text, sound, film and performance addresses peculiar evolving questions around the public institutions and the collisions of art and the political praxis. In their new act, The New Deal, the duo transforms the […]


Installation view of The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal

The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal is a fictional museum by London-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler. The exhibition’s multilayered text, sound, film and performance addresses peculiar evolving questions around the public institutions and the collisions of art and the political praxis. In their new act, The New Deal, the duo transforms the gallery space into an open-ended platform to question the marginalization of the common, perpetuation of the bourgeois, urgency of the political resistance,  growing tension between the 99% and the 1%, among other social and political struggles we are confronting in this geopolitical entanglement. Mirza and Butler keeps the audience at the verge—purporting the importance and the urgency to choose a political position for social change. The artists also curated the Walker’s Art News From Elsewhere as another form of their participatory reaction. Their investigations in the dissonance of the public realm and the idea of turning around the public’s positions and perspectives intrigued the initial idea for the exhibition’s graphics.


The word MUSEUM is horizontally flipped to create a subtle tension within the title—turning the museum into the city and vice versa. (It’s similar to glass doors that have push and pull signs on the same side to disorient you.) Reversed type also connotes the act of resistance and Urdu alphabet’s right-to-left writing system.



Attendees perform Bertolt Brecht’s The Exception and the Rule on the opening night

Mirza and Butler, with the curators and local participants, performed Bertolt Brecht’s Exception and the Rule as an inquiry into the conditions of capitalism, free market and power play. Play scripts for the players were incorporated as a part of the opening night performance.


The enlarged gallery guide (12 × 18 inches) evolved from the urgency of the situation. Non Participation: Acts of Definition and Redefinition is compiled with local and international contributors’ understandings of the art of opposition and resistance. It is on view in the gallery and for those of you who can’t make it, the texts will be available to read on the Visual Arts blog in the coming days.

The Making of the Lifelike Catalog

Lifelike, a Walker-organized exhibition curated by Siri Engberg, and now on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art, is documented by its eponymous catalog. I sat down last March with João Doria to talk about the making (and thinking) of the book. Transcript of João Doria with Andrea Hyde on the Lifelike catalog J: […]

Lifelike, a Walker-organized exhibition curated by Siri Engberg, and now on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art, is documented by its eponymous catalog. I sat down last March with João Doria to talk about the making (and thinking) of the book.

Transcript of João Doria with Andrea Hyde on the Lifelike catalog

J: I have the catalog here. I was wondering if we could start with a little description of the context in which this catalog was made?

A: The context I think you’re referring to is the Lifelike exhibition, now on tour. Siri [Engberg] curated the show as you probably know. She was interested in presenting artists working with realism from the 60s through the present. She touches on various incarnations of realism, from abstraction to installation-based work like Maurizio Cattelan’s sculptures to [Gerhard] Richter’s hyperrealistic paintings. I needed to find a way to reflect these themes in the book.

My initial meeting with [the curators] was very interesting. I presented some pretty radical ideas.

J: Are they worth showing? I mean to me they are but in a blog post?

A: Potentially. I feel protective about them. Perhaps they will be useful in the future [giggles]. You know, as a designer we sometimes recycle our ideas. I’ve found that it sometimes happens, but unexpectedly. Perhaps I will come upon the perfect occasion to use an old idea in the future…

With that said, one of the initial ideas that made it into the book—though a in a subtle way—was the idea of the book being a collection of stolen materials. For example, instead of a half-title page, the very first page of the book is a page from a published Charles Ray book. There’s no explanation as to why it’s there, but for a very small caption on the inside front cover. The gesture is meant to throw the reader and to refer to the art in the show—there is a moment where most aren’t sure whether what they see is real or fake. I’m thinking specifically of the Fischli and Weiss’ installation that looks like building materials and debris. Is it part of the exhibition or the byproducts from the show’s installation? In fact, it is an artwork. Or the Vija Celmins installation—it looks like a mistake, a remnant. That’s what that first page is meant to do: present the reader with something that doesn’t quite fit. I wish there were more instances like that throughout the book, but because the pagination was tight, it became necessary to economize those moments.

J: Before we go too deep into the catalog, what did the curators ask you for? How did it all start?

A: During the first meeting we talked about the ideas behind the exhibition and where it was going. I knew that there would be some reprints and commissioned texts. Siri was going to write [giggles] a really large essay, and I started type layouts based on the reprints. The first reprint I received was a [Josiah] McElheny article that first appeared in Artforum, which was really useful in figuring out some of the themes of the show: Duchampian readymades and work that followed in the same vein.

J: You did other catalogs since you started at the Walker and I wonder if you have an opinion about a curators’ general expectation when it comes to catalogs. Moreover, what’s the role of the catalog here at the Walker in relation to exhibitions. Why do they usually want to do a catalog?

A: Everyone wants a catalog. Sometimes they are more wanted than needed, but for this show a book made perfect sense: it’s a substantial exhibition, it’s touring, and the show’s grouping is unique.

Each curator has different goals for their catalogs. Eiko & Koma, which was the book I designed right before this one, is a good example. The curators, editor, and former publications director [Lisa Middag] wanted that book to stake out a position for performance art within the scholarly realm of art criticism usually associated with visual arts. It hadn’t been done often in the past. So that was the goal then.

But Lifelike is really true to its exhibition. It presents the ideas behind the show in chronological order. It’s similar to the way a curator would organize the exhibition’s physical space. Its a good accompaniment.

J: Now we can get more to the object. We talked about it before and also with Andrew [Blauvelt] and Emmet [Byrne]. I noticed that recent Walker catalogs have been more lightweight. They look (but in fact they’re not) less luxurious objects and this involves many questions I think.

I remember, for instance, the Frida Kahlo book or the books in that era of the Walker design department. They had hardcovers, cloth, etc., and it’s more apparent that they were meant to document the exhibition/made to last (which doesn’t mean they will) and that makes me think about the public. I would say that in a regular situation, in a context away from the collector or a designer interested in books, the Lifelike catalog would feel more appealing. To me, I would fear it less.

A: It’s less intimidating, I agree. I see the trend but I don’t know if this is intentional. I see it more as a byproduct of trying to pare down the cost of our publication program, at least temporarily. In the future there will be bigger moments. We will have more [Yves] Kleins, more [Frida] Kahlos. I know that will happen [for example, there is a Jim Hodges book on the horizon], but in this case, to a casual reader, this book feels a bit more like a reader because of its humble production. Because it’s less of an artifact, I feel more like reading it. Kahlo and The Quick and The Dead really feel like art books—you put them down on a table and they make a sound [laughs].

Before I came to the Walker I worked on books for Gagosian and the Guggenheim through a studio. Those institutions seemed to prefer expensive, exclusive books, more an artifact than a document. That’s also a challenge. I think both are extremes and challenges for the designer.

J: How do you articulate your own language/interests with the content and budget restrictions and the intellectual decisions taken by the curators with the practical design decisions you need to make?

A: It’s always a case of priorities. In this case, we prioritized a Swiss cover and  smyth-sewn binding so even though it’s a softcover it’s actually pretty sturdy.

Originally the idea was to use the second spine—as I’m calling the interior spine—and to stamp it with the same foil I used on the cover. We evolved away from this when we decided that to begin with the Charles Ray page. Initially, I was thinking of the whole book as a copy of something. I even sketched the title in the Life cereal logotype but in different crazy colors. It would have been a fun cover, less reverential to the artwork featured inside the book. Instead, we decided to put an artwork on the cover that corresponded to the Charles Ray page half-title and to add some materiality by using cast-coated paper, so that there is a textural  difference between outer and inner covers.






And when I talk to the artist/curator/whoever I’m dealing with when making a book, I generally talk about those different options all out and say ‘well, I think we should try to focus on those three things’ and then maybe the other nice things need to fall out as a consequence. It’s always a balance and even when you have a big budget you’re working to fit as much into the book as possible. It’s a balance between the production aspects, the physical aspects of the book and the idea behind the book and how it’s structured.

J: I remember talking to Emmet and he told me as well that one real interesting thing about the fake half-title page is that the artist himself he had lost the notion as it is said here on… wait a minute, is your book different?

A: Oh I forgot to say! [The book tape fabrics] are different. There are three different types. We went to the bindery and they had it on salvage, so we used their extras.

J: The name of the exhibition, how did you approached it through typography? As a foreigner, I would say Lifelike has a good sound, a sort of wordplay. When you separate the letters people tend to say ‘aw, this is going to get difficult to read!’ making, naturally making the designer a little furious because we tend to believe people are more intelligent than they think.

A: Lifelike is really nice as a title because first, there is no subtitle [giggles]. Second, it’s clear and represents the show perfectly, and third, typographically, it’s nice that the words ‘Life’ and ‘Like’ share every letter but one, which gave me the perfect excuse to play around with shapes. I’ve always liked the tree and flower of life symbols. Starting from there, I created circular, triangular, and diagonal divider spreads and headers to play with the title and refer to the symbol.

Above: The flower of life, an inspiration for the divider spreads and headers (located near the gutters of each spread).


J: Now for nerdy stuff. This format is a little bigger than Eiko & Koma, so why did you pick that particular format? It’s a stupid question but…

A: …no no, not at all. I think Eiko & Koma needed to be more intimate, more like something you could read in your bedroom—there are so many details about their life and work. I feel like [Lifelike] is more like a manual in the sense that it’s main goal is to be informational, and the proportions are a little awkward, too big for intimacy but too small to be “coffee table.”  An in-between format, awkward. In fact, many of my decisions were made in order to make the book feel more awkward, in part because that’s the feeling the exhibition inspires. It’s a bit wide, too. I knew that the softcover would help the book to really open and I wanted to have some good text-spreads. I also knew that I wanted to use the gutters for the page numbers and running headers so I felt like it would be nice to have a almost-square proportion, which we extended to the exhibition didactics.

…Something you said before was interesting, something about the reprints being re-purposed copy, the Charles Ray page reproduced. This duplication is also evident in the contents page. I simply took the layout from select pages and placed it there, another reference to the work in this exhibition, in that divider spreads, made smaller become literal representations of those sections of the book.

J: The grotesque typeface, is it F Grotesk from Radim Peško? The typewriter monospaced typeface, which one is it?

A: It’s called Prestige Elite.

J: When I look at the surface of your pages in this publication, I see two planes, and I feel like you use thick lines to relate to the density of F Grotesk and to everything which is heavier and thin lines to relate to Prestige Elite and to what’s lighter.

I wonder, then, when we get to the book I look for how you organized the book’s different moments and how what we said before is expressed in that.

In the contents page, the letters circling around the page makes me thing you’re trying to place some hidden message, a continuity in each divider page. In the foreword the text is set in the grotesque typeface so it feels like the more institutional texts are set this way whereas the content that relates exclusively to the work is set in the monospaced type. So this is something that may be nice to talk about—can you explain more about the structure of the text?


A: Siri’s essay is first and is divided by themes. In many catalogs, there are distinct and uninterrupted essay sections. In this case, the plates and divider pages serve as bookends to the essays. Plates correspond to sections like ‘Previous Lives’ or ‘Common Objects,’ and directly correspond with the exhibition—as I said before, the book is a perfect reflection of the exhibition space because, in a sense, its layout is the same. Entering the exhibition, you first encounter works that illustrate the ‘Common Objects’ theme, and then ‘Uncanny’ follows, etc.

Sprinkled throughout are ‘Object Lessons,’ case studies of specific works. I wanted these to be distinct, rendered in an institutional voice and differentiated from Siri’s essay.

J: The text set with Prestige seems more for reading, and what’s set in the other voice seems more like extended captions.

A: That’s exactly what they are. It’s interesting because I was thinking of the Object Lessons as extended captions. Normally, I wouldn’t choose to use a typewriter face as the body text for an entire book, but in this case it made perfect sense. Prestige in its digital form is a copy of its original typewriter-produced self. I mean, typewriter faces are anachronistic, we don’t use typewriters anymore, we’re mimicking it.

J: How did they react when you presented those ideas/justifications? To my experience, the good thing about working with curators and artists is that usually the talk gets to a level where everyday life decisions for you as a designer are understood on a conceptual level.

A: They got it right away. When I presented initial ideas—I called one of the ideas ‘The Impostor’—I mentioned using typefaces that mimic others: Arial for example, which mimics Helvetica. With Prestige I am mimicking an outmoded mode of production. It also refers to scripts, like you were saying—”this is something to be read.”

J: What about grids and stuff. What’s underlying what we see?

A: I’ve always been a fan of how the Talmud is laid out. I like the big blocks of text brutally interrupted by notes, references, asides and diagrams. These interruptions don’t break the rectangular shape. It’s the inversion of what most designers consider “good design,” with white space, unforced kerning, etc. To me, the Talmud’s modular denseness is attractive.

One of my original ideas was to make a book that looks like a different book, an iconic text that most people would recognize. It would copy the look and structure but use our content. Does that make sense to you?

J: Yes.

A: Then it evolved. But to answer your question, I changed the grid depending on the type of content. The essay has a different grid type than the plates, which was a very different grid from the object lessons.

J: I was also wondering whether it was modular or not.

A: I would say there’s a master grid and variations on that, but the variations are so big it makes for very different layouts. Before we decided to intersperse the essay throughout the book I thought that sections of the book could look extremely different from one another, almost like different books stitched together. That idea evolved into type and grid variations.

J: About the images. In the show their scales vary a lot—how did you deal with it on this book? The chairs outside, the leaves in the corner, what goes through your mind when putting it together, giving it new relationships? It’s typical book design problem.

A: It was very interesting. Initially, we had all the dimensions right underneath the plates, but we moved them to the checklist. There are other moments we try to be true to proportion, usually when I’m pairing different works on the same spread.

J: Is it more a form problem? To put things with different sizes together and to see whether they fit or not, their shapes and colors?

A: Oh yes, we have lots of problems (giggles).

J: (laughs)

A: And remember, I couldn’t reorder the plates because they all had to exist within their themed sections. That was also challenging as well. It wasn’t strictly chronological

J: One last thing… the book has an insert!

A: (laughs)

J: (laughs)

Let’s talk about this insert.

A: It’s another obstruction, another confusing element, an intentionally awkward moment. The reader flips through the book and suddenly this thing is just there. It has a caption but it’s not bound or glued. It’s not tipped-on. It’s not something you would normally frame. It’s not a complete composition. It’s just a thing, a texture.

J: And what did the artist say?

A: That’s exactly what we wanted. [Keith Edmier] didn’t really mind whether we bound it in, tipped it in, or how big it was. I think he just thought, ‘It would be interesting to give you some wallpaper’ [from Kitchen, an excerpt from Bremen Towne, 1971]. We could have done what we wanted with it. It could have been a lot of things: endpapers, a dust jacket… Instead we chose to do this awkward thing.

J: Another stupid question—being an object, something actual, did it ever come to the talks that this could be then an original?

A: No that’s a very good question. I intend to address this in my blog post about the catalog, that the insert is actually an artwork. There’s no material difference between the insert in the printed book and the wallpaper in the physical exhibition space. It was done at the same time, the same process and the same paper. It is something meant to exist in a specific space, but we took part of it and gave it to the printer to cut and insert into our book. It’s another Charles Ray page moment.

J: It wasn’t problematic then.

A: No. I think going forward though, when the show starts to tour and go other places it will be useful to talk about it…

A: Let’s conclude with the backcover. Originally, I wanted to do something like this on the back [pointing to contents page], put thumbnails from the interior on the back. Another contents-like page where I copy and resize pages of the book. But then I received an interesting email from Siri, detailing her visit with Paul Sietsema. The painting he had in his studio perfectly illustrated the idea of the exhibition.

The layout reminds me of a paperback with a blurb that screams: ‘Look what’s inside this book’—something a publisher’s marketing department would dream up—but the text below the photo is actually a really profound statement about the contents of the book, a summary of the exhibition.

J: In what way?

A: You have this trompe-l’œil effect of a nail seemingly sticking out from a still-life painting. Artists working during the time this painting was made would usually leave something like a nail out of their composition, because it was not considered art. It’s a mundane thing you don’t really paint, but here it’s rendered in such a realistic way that it looks like the painting could actually be punctured with a nail. The painting is similar to so many of the works featured in the book.

J: Now something not exactly related to this particular book but in Eiko & Koma you use the vertical text on the spine and here too, it’s so nice! Are you into that lately?

A: I actually wanted to do something strange on the spine, use the text in diagonal [sings, spelling L-i-f-e-l-i-k-e], is that what you mean?

J: Oh no, I just found a coincidence that both use vertical text—a good quirk of yours?

A: Oh yes I did do that in my last two books! I tried it the other way, but it didn’t feel right.

J: It is how it is!

A: Yes, I never turned the type elsewhere inside the book so… it’s always upright.

[Looks at phone]

J: Oh are we late?

A: Yes… We should go…

J: Miniburgers!


Eiko & Koma: This Is Your Life (and Work)

Time is Not Even, Space is Not Empty is Eiko & Koma’s one-and-only compendium catalog. As such, it needed to embody the life and work of their prolific partnership. Extensive research into the ephemera of the artists’ forty-year career—program notes, flyers, performative and editorial photography, video, reviews, and letters—yielded many of the images in the […]

Time is Not Even, Space is Not Empty is Eiko & Koma’s one-and-only compendium catalog. As such, it needed to embody the life and work of their prolific partnership. Extensive research into the ephemera of the artists’ forty-year career—program notes, flyers, performative and editorial photography, video, reviews, and letters—yielded many of the images in the book. The material also served as inspiration for everything from the stark image-only cover to the margins and typeface choices. Excerpts from a poem by Forrest Gander were used as section dividers to give the reader a verbal play-by-play of the artists dancing, a contrast to the abundant visual documentation of their dances. Printing and production choices were made to reflect Eiko & Koma’s humble but sparkling personalities: uncoated paper, natural stock for the front and back matter, simple black insert sheets for reviews and reprints, and silver edging that lends only a little sheen. The matte cover, as unassuming as it appears, was achieved by using four plates of black ink, and the spine’s text was set in dull white foil, all subtle details that, though modest in appearance, were fitting given the subject(s).

Below are a selection of spreads and source materials for Eiko & Koma: Time Is Not Even, Space Is Not Empty, edited by Joan Rothfuss and published on the occasion of Eiko & Koma’s Retrospective Project in 2011.


From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America catalogue

“ON A GREAT SLAB OF MESOZOIC ROCK”   ACROSS THE CRETACEOUS HOGBACK   Above: image research for the catalogue From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America (2010)   From From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America is the first exhibition catalogue to feature the full spectrum of the work of Alec Soth, one of […]





Above: image research for the catalogue From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America (2010)



From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America is the first exhibition catalogue to feature the full spectrum of the work of Alec Soth, one of the most interesting voices in contemporary photography, whose compelling images of everyday America form powerful narrative vignettes. Featuring more than 100 of the artist’s photographs made over the past 15 years, the book includes new critical essays by exhibition curator Siri Engberg, curator and art historian Britt Salvesen and critic Barry Schwabsky, which offer context on the artist’s working process, the photo-historical tradition behind his practice and reflections on his latest series of works. Novelist Geoff Dyer’s “Riverrun”–a meditation on Soth’s series Sleeping by the Mississippi–and August Kleinzahler’s poem “Sleeping It Off in Rapid City” contribute to the thoughtful exploration of this body of work. Also included in the publication is a 48-page artist’s book by Soth titled The Loneliest Man in Missouri, a photographic essay with short, diaristic texts capturing the banality and ennui of middle America’s suburban fringes, with their corporate office parks, strip clubs and chain restaurants. This full-color publication includes a complete exhibition history, bibliography and interview with the artist by Bartholomew Ryan. Alec Soth was born in 1969 and raised in Minnesota, where he continues to live and work. He has received fellowships from the McKnight Foundation (1999, 2004) and Jerome Foundation (2001), was the recipient of the 2003 Santa Fe Prize for Photography and was short-listed for the highly prestigious Deutsche Borse Photography Prize. His first monograph, Sleeping by the Mississippi, was published in 2004 to critical acclaim. Since then Soth has published Niagara (2006), Fashion Magazine (2007), Dog Days, Bogota (2007) and The Last Days of W (2008). He is a member of Magnum Photos.

From DLK Collection’s review of the book:

What I like best about Soth’s catalog is it’s overt subversiveness; while it of course contains plenty of images from the past 15 years and a handful of texts, it’s overall feel is unlike any other exhibition catalog I have ever encountered. The cover is both unpretentious and quirky. The essays wander all over the place, following exploratory tangents. Choice blog posts are interleaved, like little vignettes or thought bubbles. The obligatory artist interview is actually insightful and revealing. In short, the book is personal, real, and intelligently authentic, rather than packaged up in the normal trappings of haughty art world cool; it is joyfully nerdy and unabashedly eccentric.

From Nerose’s Amazon review of the book:

. . . there’s some smart texts by interesting writers, marred only by persnickety little blog entries e.g. bitching about photo-books with “America/American” in the title, but then, my goodness—this book is sub-titled “Alec Soth’s America”—right there on the cover. Sweet irony.

From the AIGA Archives:

During our typographic research we came across a DIY, simple-living magazine called The Mother Earth News, which we referenced for the general layout of the cover.

From Conscientious’ review of the book:

Alec Soth certainly isn’t chasing after the kind of “cool” the “MAC” guy seems to possess. That conversation’s title is “Dismantling My Career,” and From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America does just that, except it does it in such a way that’s not all that obvious whether or not there is something being dismantled here. After all, the artist is a very good friend of the old herring who might or might not be red.

From The PostModern Common’s review of the book:

This exhibition catalogue is more than a book, it is a guide to life using the medium of photography.

From Photoeye’s review of the book:

Everything you already knew and ever wanted to know about Alec Soth is accessible within the design of this book—and if you feel you have a few more questions about Soth the book didn’t answer, the photographer was even kind enough to provide his phone number and email address—you can’t miss it, it’s right there on the cover.

From Twin Cities Daily Planet’s review of the book:

Fortunately, the book contains more than critics’ analyses. There are plates representing the exhibit’s images, pages republishing some of Soth’s blog entries in ironically tactile raised letters, and a kind of art-book Izzy scoop: a little paper volume chronicling the artist’s search for The Loneliest Man in Missouri tucked into a pocket in the back cover.

From Zippidy-Doo-Daa’s Amazon review of the book:








Graphic Design: Now In Production catalogue

Our catalogue for Graphic Design: Now in Production is now available. Above is the illustrated colophon for the book which gives a lot of detail about the production so click in at your leisure!   Book blurb: With more than 250 artists and some 1,400 images, this ambitious catalogue and exhibition survey the vibrant landscape […]

Our catalogue for Graphic Design: Now in Production is now available. Above is the illustrated colophon for the book which gives a lot of detail about the production so click in at your leisure!


Book blurb:

With more than 250 artists and some 1,400 images, this ambitious catalogue and exhibition survey the vibrant landscape of graphic designers who have seized the means of production and are rewriting the nature of contemporary design practice. Charting a rich vein of activity that cuts across wildly diverse fields, Graphic Design: Now in Production chronicles the postmillennial scene of all-access design tools and self-publishing systems, the open-source nature of creative production, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the designer turned producer. Part operating manual, part academic reader, and part sourcebook, the catalogue features writings by some of the field’s major thinkers, including Åbäke, Ian Albinson, Peter Bil’ak, Andrew Blauvelt, Rob Giampietro, James Goggin, Peter Hall, Steven Heller, Jeremy Leslie, Ellen Lupton, Ben Radatz, Michael Rock, Dmitri Siegel, Daniel van der Velden, Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio, and Lorraine Wild. Freely mixing writing styles, from personal rants to the collective speak of Wikipedia, the book touches upon hundreds of topics. Picking up where the design authorship debates of the 1990s left off, this catalogue examines the evolution of graphic design in an expanded field of practice. It considers myriad issues, such as the changing nature of reading and writing, self-publishing and clientless design, the persistence of the poster and the book in a screen-based culture, the designer’s voice in the age of crowdsourcing, the visualization of journalism, the ubiquity of branding, and the democratization of design tools and software. Sprinkled throughout are numerous bits—factoids, explanations, and tangents—exploring everything from fake Apple Stores to Adobe DPS, Ghanaian coffins to cultural analytics, Scriptographer to heraldry.

Above: stack of proofs

The design of this book is the culmination of a text-image strategy first employed in a campaign created to promote an exhibition of the Walker Art Center’s painting collection (2009). Inspired by museum founder T. B. Walker’s own salon-style hangings in his nineteenth-century mansion and our painting storage facility, this display style allows for a dense presentation of material and unexpected juxtapositions. Although dominated by its strong visual approach, the design also integrates textual material throughout its composition. In 2010, this layout strategy was used in a poster to celebrate the Walker’s twenty-five-year collaboration with the AIGA on the Insights design lecture series. For this catalogue, the strategy was elaborated and extended. Previously utilized in the design of a single poster or billboard, the layout approach was used to create more than one hundred pages of this 224-page publication. Small texts that we call bits are incorporated throughout the catalogue and represent a combination of original writing, aggregated authorship, and excerpted quotations. In this way, the design weaves together the voices of curators, “crowds,” and artists with images of works found in the show and beyond, including the supplemental and the tangential. This premodern style of arrangement, which attempts to impose an order and sensibility on an often incoherent assemblage of objects, speaks to our contemporary condition of information overload in an increasingly fragmented search-based culture. The Whole Earth Catalog was also a key reference point, both in terms of layout as well as the general intention of the book to provide “access to tools.” As part of the content generation phase we created a wiki, editable by Walker Art Center and Cooper-Hewitt staff as well as the guest curators, to collect all these bits of knowledge. The layout of this book was a unique process for us, in that every page was inevitably designed 2 or 3 times. We would take a first pass at the general layout, then assess the specific content, add in new texts and images, assess again, and redesign the page again. To say the generation of the book was “organic” is an understatement. The book clocks in at about 118,000 words with 1366 images (collecting image rights for this book was an endeavor in and of itself).

The book also includes the 21st issue of Åbäke’s “parasite publication” I Am Still Alive. This ongoing project only exists within other magazines and books, relying on publishers donating pages for Åbäke to use. This particular issue of I Am Still Alive is a transcript of a lecture presented as a play that Åbäke gave (and continues to give in various forms) about the form of the lecture as an art form. That’s right.

The book ends with a great essay called “School Days” by Rob Giampietro on the production of designers themselves—an overview of the influence of graduate programs on the field. Read more about it on Rob’s blog.

The book is a paperback wrapped with a thin, coated, four color dustjacket. We were looking for a very floppy book, something that falls open quite easily and is very easy to read. In order to achieve that we asked our paper mill, French Paper (which I visited in Niles, Michigan), to cut the paper on the opposite grain direction than what they normally do, to make sure that the grain fell in line with the binding of the book. Åbäke’s parasite publication is the only signature in the book that is cut in the typical grain direction, which is quite noticeable when you flip through the book.

In tandem with the run of the exhibition, the design department is also teaching a class called “The Designer as Producer” consisting of students from the College of Visual Arts (St. Paul), the University of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. (Look for posts on that soon.) We took the class on the final press check for the catalogue at Shapco Printing, and photographed them on press, ran back to prepress, chose the photo, color-corrected the photo, wrote the caption, inserted the photo into the layout (its in the colophon . . . see top of this post), burned the plates, and printed the final form. And of course we even caught some unexpected typos at the last minute . . . “in production” doesn’t even begin to describe this book . . .


The Parade: Nathalie Djurberg with music by Hans Berg

Breast milk, cake frosting, melted wax, viscera, piss, blood, mud, and egg yolks: This is how exhibition co-curator Eric Crosby describes Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg’s newest project, The Parade. With her musical collaborator Hans Berg, the Berlin-based couple has created an environment populated by more than eighty individual bird sculptures, each with wildly varying colors […]

Breast milk, cake frosting, melted wax, viscera, piss, blood, mud, and egg yolks: This is how exhibition co-curator Eric Crosby describes Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg’s newest project, The Parade. With her musical collaborator Hans Berg, the Berlin-based couple has created an environment populated by more than eighty individual bird sculptures, each with wildly varying colors and mish-mash anatomies. The flock is also circled by five new stop-motion animated short films, and a multi-channel soundtrack by Berg, with each channel corresponding to a specific film that work simultaneously to create an overall ambient effect.


Installation view of the exhibition The Parade.
As a new body of work, there was a unique opportunity to document the birds and the films. It was an ambitious task, carried out expertly by the staff here at the Walker. From our registrars coordinating, receiving, and conditioning the birds as they arrived from Germany, to our staff photographers who opened up their studio to stage and capture them.

Some behind-the-scene shots of the bird conditioning and photography.

Research for the book and the exhibition design took us through a range of ideas including stories of avian behaviors, music theory and notation (‘the parade’ as musical canon), taxidermy and natural history museum dioramas.

Incredible video of a ‘transformer owl’ that can morph into three distinct body shapes, depending on the predator it encounters.

Some views of The Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota.

About that last point: Eric (pictured above) and I took a quick field trip to the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota, the best part of which was a very meta diorama of diorama production. The real exhibits were impressively rendered and posed, and gave us ideas on how to present each bird in the book. Given the context, we considered the idea of the field guide, which is another kind of catalogue, and more interestingly a different experience from encountering the birds en masse in the gallery. We’d later use the idea of a guide or audobon to shape the materiality and modest size of the book.

Spreads from the catalogue

The larger typographic moments remind me of another animation called Le Merle (The Blackbird), by Norman McLaren. Based on a French-Canadian children’s song, it’s a story of a bird that loses various body parts and appendages, only to grow three more in its place. The stop-motion animation is elemental: a very simple bird composed of lines and circles, which morphs into to more complex structures with each iteration, and in the end, transforms into something that is unrecognizable from the original.

Frames from the film Le Merle

The gradient backdrops in Le Merle were similar to the colorful grounds of Djurberg’s more recent work. In the catalogue, gradients and colors inspired by her sets became a way to identify the individual films, which also played out in other instances of the exhibition identity.

In spreading out his fan, this bird
Whose plumage drags on the earth, I fear,
Appears more lovely than before,
But makes his derrière appear.
—Guillame Apollnaire, “The Peacock”

The Parade: Nathalie Djurberg with music by Hans Berg is on view in Burnett Gallery and runs until December 31, 2011. Afterwards, it travels to New York and San Francisco.


A Paper Allocation Agency From July 1942 to the end of 1944, Marguerite Duras worked in Paris for the state authority that controlled the distribution of paper to publishers in German-occupied France. Acting as a censor, the Paper Allocation Agency (P.A.A.) determined which manuscripts were appropriate for print. Source: Laure Adler and Anne-Marie Glasheen, Marguerite […]


Paper Allocation Agency
From July 1942 to the end of 1944, Marguerite Duras worked in Paris for the state authority that controlled the distribution of paper to publishers in German-occupied France. Acting as a censor, the Paper Allocation Agency (P.A.A.) determined which manuscripts were appropriate for print. Source: Laure Adler and Anne-Marie Glasheen, Marguerite Duras: A Life (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1998), 101.


Duras’ First Novel
“It was perhaps because Duras held this sensitive position that her own first novel, Les Impudents (which had been turned down by several publishers), was now accepted and received a glowing review from the brilliant collaborationist critic Ramon Fernandez (who also worked for the paper control service and whose wife, Betty, was Duras’ best friend). Duras at least was able to admit it years later: ‘If my first novel finally appeared … it was because I was part of a paper commission (it was during the war). It was bad.’ ” —Edmund White, “In Love with Duras,” review of multiple books authored by Marguerite Duras, New York Review of Books, June 26, 2008.

A: Haegue Yang: Integrity of the Insider: gallery guide for the exhibition. 4-Color process, additional unnecessary scores.

B: PAPER CONTROL: documentation of Yang’s residency Shared Discovery of What We Have and Know Already. Black-and-white, through   Buy   The residency’s sessions are chronicled here.

Design by Emmet Byrne, Ryan Nelson, Abi Chase



PAPER CONTROL was generated from a unique artist-in-residence project with Haegue Yang at the Walker Art Center in the fall of 2009 and winter of 2010. Shared Discovery of What We Have and Know Already began as a conversation on the nature of artist residencies between Yang and then Walker curator Doryun Chong. It evolved into an experiment in which the artist aimed to “domesticize the institution” as an apprentice in the museum. A provocative exploration of her concept of the antagonistic relationship between artists/artworks and institutions, Yang’s project mobilized the Walker to bring together a group of “expert” participants in a skill share and knowledge exchange for a series of seminars that revolved around the artist’s interests and themes in her work. It concluded with a series of public programs centered on the work of the late French writer Marguerite Duras (1914 –1996) and a private theatrical workshop in which Yang staged a production of Duras’ novella The Malady of Death. The texts in this publication are reflections on that series of interactions and an effort to unite the two segments of the residency. This booklet is designed to be nested within the gallery guide for the exhibition Haegue Yang: Integrity of the Insider, which was on view at the Walker from September 24, 2009, through February 28, 2010. Together these two documents can be viewed as a physical manifestation of the conflict in the relationship between artist and institution: the varying needs each has for the other that can’t always be reconciled. The gallery guide—a printed document distributed in the gallery and organized by the exhibition curator—serves as the institutional voice for the presentation and interpretation of an artist’s work. The residency publication—printed on-demand, distributed online, and envisioned with no preconceived directive for its final form—is intended to present a less official position that puts into print the words of the artist as well as those of the project’s participants and organizers. It is necessary to note, though, that while trying to escape the limitations of an institutional publication—a piece that would involve alternative voices and avoid traditional production methods—the residency documentation inevitably remains a product of the museum.

Marguerite Duras’ surprisingly unconflicted attitude regarding her involvement with the Vichy government acts as an interesting parallel to Yang’s exploration of her own complicity with art institutions and their curators, and provides a loose inspiration for the design of this booklet.




Video of the exhibition here. More images here.



Duras and Love
“Going in person to the offices of the Cercle, [Claude Roy] pleaded his cause, implored them to allocate the paper needed for his work. He was received by Marguerite Duras. She asked him about the contents of the manuscript. Roy told her that it contained love poems. She responded by saying that she would do her best, that she would somehow intervene in his favor. Roy obtained satisfaction very quickly, for Duras delivered the required paper to him. Such anecdotes reveal Duras in her moments of dazzling generosity, her unexpected encounters, and the dreamlike situations in which love always has its place, along with utopia.” —Alain Vircondelet, Duras: A Biography (Normal, US: Illinois State University’s Dalkey Archive Press, 1994), 72.


Shared Discovery of What We Have and Know Already took place in two segments. In the September series, the artist worked closely with a small group of participants to investigate critical notions in her work. Over the course of one month, the seminars addressed the relationship between Yang’s abstract forms and the influence of such topics as the history of transnational wartime resistance; the biographies of historical figures Marguerite Duras, Kim San, and Nym Wales; the cinematic and literary work of Duras; the history of abstraction in art; and the plastic arts of carpentry, knitting, and origami. In February 2010, prior to the closing of the exhibition Haegue Yang: Integrity of the Insider, the Walker presented a series of public programs that resulted from Yang’s time at the institution. Working closely with the film/video department, Yang curated a series of films by Duras that were accompanied by a lecture and a public seminar on the author’s theatrical work. In addition to these programs, the final week of the residency included a three-day private workshop during which the artist developed a staged production of a Duras novella. Seminar organized by Andria Hickey and Sarah Peters.

“Knitting” in the FlatPak House, presentations by Charisse Gendron and Isa Gagarin

“On Objects and Abstraction (Part 2)” in the Carpentry Shop, presentation by Walker programs services staff and Haegue Yang

“On Community” in the Barnes Conference Room, guest speakers John Mowitt and Hamza Walker

“On Objects and Abstraction (Part 1)” in the Print Study Room, presentations by Yasmil Raymond and Margaret Pezalla-Granlund

Staged production of Marguerite Duras’ The Malady of Death, directed by Haegue Yang, featuring Jade Gordon



Duras’ Role in Underground Newspapers
While working for the Paper Allocation Agency (P.A.A.) by day, Duras embraced the French Resistance by night, joining the Mouvement National des Prisonniers de Guerre et Déportés (MNPGD; National Movement for Prisoners of War and Deportees), hosting meetings in her apartment, and working for their magazine Libres to create networks between the Resistance and escaped prisoners, deportees, and their families.


Phase 1 Seminars
· Seminar 1: “On Light,” McGuire Theater, presentation by Ben Geffen
· Seminar 2: “On Biography: Marguerite Duras”(Part 1), Cinema/Art Lab, presentations by Anne-Marie Gronhovd, Galen Treuer, and Sears Eldredge
· Seminar 3: “On Resistance and Transnationalism,”Tour Guide Study Room, presentations by Haegue Yang, Paul Solon, and Na-Rae Kim
· Seminar 4: “On Objects and Abstraction”(Part 1), Print Study Room, presentations by Yasmil Raymond and Margaret Pezalla-Granlund
· Seminar 5: “On Community,” Barnes Conference Room, guest speakers John Mowitt and Hamza Walker
· Seminar 6: “Knitting,” FlatPak House, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, presentations by Charisse Gendron and Isa Gagarin
· Seminar 7: “On Objects and Abstraction” (Part 2), Carpentry Shop, presentation by Walker programs services staff and Haegue Yang
· Seminar 8: “On Biography: Marguerite Duras” (Part 2), Cinema/Tour Guide Study Room, film screening and presentations by Anne-Marie Gronhovd and Joëlle Vitiello
· Seminar 9: “Self-Publishing,” Barnes Conference Room, presentation by Emmet Byrne

Phase 2 Programs
· Theater Workshop: Marguerite Duras’ The Malady of Death, Cinema, directed by Haegue Yang, featuring Jade Gordon
Working with Jade Gordon of the performance collective My Barbarian and the Walker’s theater crew, Yang designed the lighting, staging, video, and sound score during a private three-day theatrical workshop at the Walker.
· Public Seminar: From Page to Stage, Cinema
Sears Eldredge and Anne-Marie Gronhovd presented on Duras’ ideas of theater, and Yang discussed adapting The Malady of Death for theatrical production.
· Mack Lecture: Marcus Steinweg on Duras the Philosopher, Cinema
German philosopher Marcus Steinweg reframed the late French author as a philosopher rather than a writer or filmmaker.
· Film Series: Of Language and Longing: The Films of Marguerite Duras, Cinema
The Truck (Le Camion) and Césarée, introduced by Joëlle Vitiello; India Song, introduced by Anne-Marie Gronhovd; Destroy, She Said (Détuire, dit-elle), introduced by John Mowitt; Nathalie Granger, introduced by Anne-Marie Gronhovd

Seminar Participants:
· Emmet Byrne, design director, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
· Doryun Chong, former visual arts associate, Walker Art Center; curator, department of painting and sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York
· Sears Eldredge, professor emeritus, dramatic arts and dance, Macalester College, St. Paul
· Isa Gagarin, visual artist, Minneapolis
· Luisa Garcia, visual artist/industrial designer/scenographer, Minneapolis/New York
· Ben Geffen, events and media specialist, Walker Art Center
· Charisse Gendron, poet and knitter, Minneapolis
· Mohannad Ghawanmeh, teacher/film curator, Minneapolis
· Anne-Marie Gronhovd, professor of French at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota
· Joseph Imhauser, visual artist, Los Angeles
· Na-Rae Kim, graduate student, English department, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
· John Mowitt, professor of critical theory, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
· Margaret Pezalla-Granlund, artist/curator, Minneapolis
· Yasmil Raymond, former visual arts associate curator, Walker Art Center; curator, Dia Art Foundation, New York
· Paul Solon, retired professor of history, Macalester College, St. Paul
· Galen Treuer, performing artist and founder/director of Live Action Set, Minneapolis
· Joëlle Vitiello, associate professor/department chair, French and Francophone studies, Macalester College, St. Paul
· Hamza Walker, director of education and curator, Renaissance Society, University of Chicago

Walker Program Services Staff
· Bob Brown
· Susan Brown
· Doc Czypinski
· David Dick
· Phil Docken
· Scott Lewis
· Kirk McCall
· Peter Murphy
· Randy Reeves
· Cameron Zebrun

Additional Walker Staff Attendees
· Darsie Alexander, chief curator
· Aaron Anderson, projectionist
· Abigail Anderson, education and community programs assistant
· Dante Carlos, senior designer
· Peter Eleey, visual arts curator
· Courtney Gerber, assistant director, tour programs
· Eric Jones, visitor services specialist
· Adriana Rimpl, teen programs fellow
· Bartholomew Ryan, visual arts curatorial fellow
· Sarah Schultz, director of education and community programs
· Witt Siasoco, teen programs manager
· Camille Washington, visual arts curatorial fellow for diversity in the arts

Seminar Organizers
· Andria Hickey, former visual arts curatorial fellow, Walker Art Center; associate curator, Public Art Fund
· Sarah Peters, former associate director public and interpretive programs, Walker Art Center

Goshka Macuga: It Broke from Within

Remember France? It broke from within. That can happen here. We can only protect our own country within by making more of us understanding of each other’s freedom and each other’s work and possessions. We must learn to place a high value on the things that we have created an built and which we would […]

Remember France? It broke from within. That can happen here. We can only protect our own country within by making more of us understanding of each other’s freedom and each other’s work and possessions. We must learn to place a high value on the things that we have created an built and which we would inevitably lose through disunity and social revolution. Nothing is more important to us than those civic institutions, of which the Art Center is one, that create a broader appreciation of our common bonds — our homes, our work, and our personal expressions.

The London-based Polish artist Goshka Macuga uses the history of the Walker—from founder and lumber baron T.B. Walker to the Herzog and de Mueron expansion in 2005—to prompt a larger examination of the relationship between civic institutions and the communities that they serve. The quote above appears in a fund-raising brochure from the 1940s, and invokes the invasion of France by Germany as warning that if there was no effort to foster relationships and better understanding between different communities (whether cultural, political or economic), our “greater sympathy” would break and give way to disunity and social revolution as it was doing so rapidly in Europe at the time. This text became the source of the title of Macuga’s first solo-exhibition in the United States, Goshka Macuga: It Broke from Within, and helps frame her investigation into the Walker’s endeavors, both benign and controversial, and its connection to the Twin Cities and Minnesota.

Walker Art Center membership drive brochure, 1941

It Broke from Within is composed of a number of different elements, all of them the product of her research here at the Walker in April 2010. At the far end of the gallery is the centerpiece of the exhibtion: a large 48 foot woven tapestry, bringing together images and elements from her search in the archives against the backdrop of the Lost Forty, a parcel of land in northern Minnesota spared from the aggressive lumber industry in the 19th century due to a surveying error, making it one of the few old-growth forests left in the state. A raised platform in front features sunken areas for seating, which were based on an early Herzog and de Mueron sketch of Cargill Lounge with communal pits that was never realized. On the other side of the gallery, a collection of objects and archival pieces from our own collection displayed in custom frames (pictured above) based on a work by Sherrie Levine.

Installation view of the exhibition

This exhibition also marks a special collaboration between a visiting artist and the design department. The tapestry, while composed by Goshka, was composited by our senior imaging specialist Greg Beckel, and the photographic backdrop of the forest was shot by photographer Cameron Wittig, who accompanied the artist during her second visit to Minnesota in October 2010. Both Greg and Cameron will post more about the technical aspects of producing a tapestry of this size, and the experience of photographing the Lost Forty. A booklet, mainly organized by Macuga, and co-curators Peter Eleey and Bartholomew Ryan, was also included as a component to the exhibition, which includes an interview with the artist about her time here and thoughts about her practice and the Walker, as well as texts that examine some of the issues surrounding our institutional history. The publication also includes some of the archival material which Macuga uses in the tapestry, as well as a key to the piece itself. It is free and available to visitors in the gallery.

As a document that will be in our own archives for years to come, I’m personally interested in how this publication will be viewed in the future, and whether or not we’ve been true to the promise of providing sources of “new pleasures, to new horizons of appreciation, and, in community life, to a greater sympathy for the efforts of each other.”

Goshka Macuga: It Broke from Within is on view in Burnet Gallery until August.