Requiem is an installation of seven paper scrolls memorializing the American soldiers killed in the conflict in Iraq. Six of the scrolls are inscribed in black ink with the soldiers' names while the seventh remains blank as if waiting to be filled. A stone sits at the rolled end of each scroll, while a metal plumb bob suspended on a black cord hovers above. A plumb bob always hangs perpendicular to a tangent of the earth’s core, and this constancy is for the artist a symbol of truth, rectitude, and moral character. The hand-written inscriptions of the names, together with the overwhelming size of the work and the almost sacred quality of the scrolls, suggest a consecration of respect for the individuals whose lives were lost.
Conceived by conceptual artist Harriet Bart, 13 ÷ 14 is a visual interpretation of the poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking At A Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens, and fits squarely into the formalist tradition of Conceptual Art as envisioned by Sol LeWitt, Joseph Kosuth, Hanne Darboven, and others. Bart used the mathematical puzzle known as the Loculus of Archimedes, or the Stomachion, as a starting point for her illustrations. A dissection puzzle game, the Loculus consists of a square divided into 14 polygons in accordance with certain specific geometric constraints. Bart rearranged these 14 polygons in different layouts to create an illustration for each of the stanzas in the riddle-like poem.
The plumb bob is a tool that has been used since ancient times to create a true vertical reference, or plumb line, in architecture. For many years, artist Harriet Bart has used these objects in conceptually-based installations such as Pendulum (2003) and Requiem (2003-11). Bart’s engagement with the plumb bob began with her interest in architecture and evolved to encompass a symbolic understanding of the tool as an object denoting rectitude and truth. The book is devoted to her now deceased father who, in the artist’s words, was “a blind man who saw everything.”
Drawn in Smoke is a project created by conceptual artist Harriet Bart to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. Historically important for the changes in labor practices it galvanized, this tragedy claimed the lives of 160 victims, most of them young immigrant women and girls. An important work in Bart’s oeuvre, Drawn in Smoke continues the artist’s practice of advocating for women and memorializing the sacrifices of those who often go unrecognized. Working with a list of the victims held at the Cornell University Archive, Bart used smoke to create an original abstract “portrait” for each woman whose name is on the list.
While a resident at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts in 2010, conceptual artist Bart began to view the paint-splattered floor of her studio as a palimpsest containing memories of the forty-six artists who had been there before. After marking off sections of the floor and scrubbing the spaces between them, Bart photographed the resulting compositions and layered these images onto hand-drawn maps. Housed in a two-piece box covered with textured black paper, Invisible Cities features nine archival pigment prints on heavyweight rag paper. Each print is signed, numbered, and dated by the artist on the verso. This suite of prints was published in an edition of 7 copies.
Ghost Maps is part of a site-specific project by conceptual artist Harriet Bart that documented the history of artists who worked in Studio VA5 at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts between 2004 and 2010. While a resident at the Center in 2010, Bart began to view the paint-splattered floor of the studio as a palimpsest containing memories of the forty-six artists who had been there before her. After marking off sections of the floor and scrubbing the spaces between them, Bart photographed the resulting compositions layered these images with hand-drawn maps to create the illustrations in this book. Additional geometric designs referencing the blue tape used to mark off the floor in the original installation accompany the images in this book. Also included are an artist statement about the project, photos of the process, and a list of the maps that were used as references to create the images.
Silhouette III is part of a body of work developed by conceptual artist Harriet Bart that is based on portions of garment patterns. The minimal forms depicted in this work explore the relation between the presence of the fragment and the absence of the whole.
Silhouette II is part of a body of work developed by conceptual artist Harriet Bart that is based on portions of garment patterns. The minimal forms depicted in this work explore the relation between the presence of the fragment and the absence of the whole.
Patterns explores the idea of garments as a point of memory, a theme that runs throughout much of Bart’s work. The prose poem “Clothes” by C.P. Cavafy, translated by Walter Kraiser, is here accompanied by the artist’s silhouette-like images based on Vogue and Simplicity garment patterns.
This small portfolio in an elegant blue box portrays the word “Blue” in orange and blank embossing, thus deconstructing the word as a signifier of its associated color. One of 17 copies.
An exploration of world population data, Figure Study is a collaboration between artist Sarah Bryant and David Allen, Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Middlebury College. Based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Data Base, this work features linoleum prints on transparent drafting film that visualize the demographic differences in populations in different regions of the world.
One of 10 deluxe copies numbered and signed by the collaborators out of a total edition of 35.
Ann Hamilton is an installation and conceptual artist who also makes independent objects, such as this altered book. This original book was published in 1872 and called Little Folks Astray. On page nine, where the text of the book begins, Hamilton has disbound some of the gatherings and laid the leaves out, adjacent to the foredge of the original volume, as though they were flowing from it. Obscuring all of the text on the visible pages, word by word, are polished pebbles of various sizes and colors with which Hamilton has rendered the book unreadable. She has employed similar strategies in the making of other books: as part of a 1992 installation at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis she pricked pinholes in the text of a book to make it illegible and, in indigo blue (1991), she obliterated the text of a number of volumes with the aid of erasers.
Created in an edition of 40, the book is displayed in a lacquered birch and glass case
One of Yoko Ono’s most famous works of any medium, Grapefruit, is an influential example of conceptual art. Associating the work with freedom and independence, Ono self-published the first edition under the imprint Wunternaum Press on July 4, 1964. Like many of her artworks, this book is interactive in nature and contains a collection of text-based conceptual artworks, or instruction pieces.
Presented under the headings of Music, Painting, Event, Poetry, and Object, each page features a set of instructions proposing an artwork that readers imagine or realize themselves. “Cough Piece,” for example, instructs readers to “Keep coughing a year,” while “Tunafish Sandwich Piece” invites readers to “[i]magine one thousand suns in the sky at the same time. Let them shine for one hour. Then, let them gradually melt into the sky. Make one tunafish sandwich and eat.” Ono’s democratic conception of the book extended to its production and the first edition of this book was inexpensively printed in a small square format and perfect bound with cardstock covers. The first edition of this book, of which this copy is one, was limited to 500 copies. In the summer of 1964, during the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Ono sold copies of it on the streets. An expanded version of the book was reprinted by Simon and Schuster in 1970 and several times thereafter. It has been translated into many different languages.
Due to its instructional nature, the book remained a factor in her work for several years. In 1966, she sailed from New York to London to participate in DIAS, a month-long event formally called the Destruction in Art Symposium, organized by London based artist Gustav Metzger. Her participation in this event included Cut Piece, where members of the audience cut away parts of her clothing. This created quite a buzz, and Ono was invited to show her work at an exhibition held at the Indica Gallery and Bookshop. It was at the preview for this show, held the night before the opening, that Ono met John Lennon.
The works in the Indica show drew heavily from the instructional “menus” found in Grapefruit. In the words of a recent MoMA exhibition catalogue: "A great many of the works in the exhibition were examples of her “instruction paintings” and demonstrated her notion of “brain painting.” The sources of many of them were the scores printed in the 1964 edition of her book Grapefruit." Biesenbach and Cherix, Yoko Ono: One Woman Show 1960-1971.
This copy of the scarce first edition features a handwritten inscription by the artist in English reading “To Francis, Yoko Ono London ‘66”, and thus ties it to her Cut Piece trip and her first meeting with Lennon. Like much of her work made during this period, Ono was preoccupied with war, and in the lower left of the same page the artist has by hand copied, as part on the inscription but written in Japanese with Kanji characters, a poignant haiku by Basho:
Ah! Summer grasses!
All that remains
Of the warriors’ dreams
Aokigahara is the name of a forest at the base of Mt. Fuji. It is the world’s second most popular place to commit suicide (after the Golden Gate Bridge).
This eponymous book was created by artist Veronika Schäpers with a very faintly reproduced text of a poem by Stephan Reich whose work, in both German and English, picks up on the signs posted in the forest which are designed to discourage suicide: “Your life is a precious gift from your parents” “We still need to see each other’s faces.” The translucent sections of this volume are folded and cut at different widths so that each spread opens to a different size. In lieu of traditional printing methods, the text is created through an inventive stencil process that exposes the paper to extremely intense ultraviolet light that was designed to disinfect water (i.e., kill micro-organisms) and that subtly discolors the paper. As the reader turns the pages, Reich’s brief sentences fade in and out of view. The haunting, overlapping text and the staggered pages create the impression of a person fading into the forest.
Adding to the ghostly quality of the book are the covers, which are made up of layers of clear foil and translucent paper that has been laser cut with overlapping text. This volume features a Coptic binding and is housed in a two-piece box of transparent acrylic. The box is silkscreened in white with the title and the colophon. The traditional color for sorrow in Buddhism is white, and a white felt blanket wraps around the box for protection.
One of 18 copies signed and numbered by the artist.
“A boundary is not that at which something stops but . . . the boundary is that from which something begins its presencing.”
A visual representation of Heidegger’s 1969 seminal essay on sculpture Art and Space, this hand-painted screenprint addresses the abstruse and difficult meaning of Heidegger’s aesthetic theories. Heidegger explored the nature of space not as emptiness but as the material used for human relations, where art emerges from the gap between the meaninglessness of materiality and the meaning endowed by history and social relations.
The edition limited to twenty copies each signed, numbered, and hand colored by the artist.