And Who Was Writing Those Ian Wilson Invoices?

I'm slightly fascinated with the talk-based artwork of Ian Wilson. The last couple of weeks, I'd been working on a Conceptualism-related proposal, and so I had out my catalogue for Ann Goldstein and Anne Rorimer's awesome, formative [for me, anyway] 1995 MoCA show, Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965-1975.

Fifteen years, and I think I'd never read the entry on Ian Wilson. Maybe it's info fatigue by the time I'd get to the W's, or maybe the blank page where the images usually go just registered as a section divider?

Anyway, Rorimer discusses Wilson's "search for an art in which no evidence of physicality would intrude." His work evolved from the instigation of casual conversations about "time" to a less subject-centered, "Oral Communication."

Whereas his Time work stemmed from his understanding that a word might represent a concept, Oral Communication grew out of his realization that the Time project principally concerned the process of communication. The designation Oral Communication, he decided, more pertinent served to characterize an endeavor whose ultimate subject and object, he once stated, "is speech itself," or "art spoken."
Maybe it's the institutional vs commercial context, but while Rorimer mentions Wilson's dutiful contributions to checklists and catalogues for shows he was invited to participate in--even the invitation card for a newly configured work for a group, a 1972 Discussion at John Weber Gallery--there is no acknowledgment of the other, seemingly crucial evidence/remnant/ instantiation of Wilson's work: his invoices and receipts.

And Andrew Russeth just emailed me this awesome anecdote he reported from a Performa 09 panel discussion last fall:

No matter how difficult or intangible the work, of course, most agreed that artists or their dealers will eventually find a way to sell it, leaving the museum to work out some of the details later. [Soon-to-be-announced incoming MoCA director Jeffrey] Deitch recounted that, as a gallery assistant at John Weber Gallery in the mid-1970s, he once typed the words "There was a discussion" on a piece of paper as a record that collector Count Giuseppe Panza had talked to artist Ian Wilson, who abandoned sculpture to make art only by talking. He then made out an invoice for $1,000.
Maybe if MoCA ever reissues the Reconsidering The Object catalogue, they will add a correction.

Deitch Defends Dakis Joannou Show at the New Museum [artinfo]

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: March 15, 2010.

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