Category:projects

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@TheRealHennessy Tweet Painting, DILF, 2014, 14x11 in., acrylic and screenprint on canvas

Monochromatic with a sharply contrasting silk-screened text, @TheRealHennessy Tweet Painting, DILF belongs to one of greg.org's most iconic series--the @TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings.

Distilling his canvases in a humorous simplicity, he has disassembled the process of artistic representation and its interpretive demands. Placing his control over the viewer, we read the tweet, laughing or groaning in response. Echoing the uncluttered monochromes of an esteemed range of artists form Kazimir Malevich to Yves Klein and Ad Reinhardt to Brice Marden, @TheRealHennessy Tweet Painting, DILF has the emphatic simplicity of Minimalism. And yet, deliberately puncturing the seriousness of art history's great monochromes, he has printed a classic pick up line at its center. Recalling the zips of Barnett Newman's paintings, greg.org's selection of a deliberately unobtrusive font places the canvases serious and authoritative appearance in strange tension with the flippant content. "The subject comes first. Then the medium I guess," he has explained. "Like the tweets. They needed a traditional medium. Stretchers, canvas, paint. The most traditional. Nothing fancy or clever or loud. The subject was already that. So the medium had to cut into the craziness. Make it more normal. Normalize the subject. Normality as the next special effect" (greg.org, quoted in R. Rian, 'Interview', pp. 6-24, in R. Brooks, J. Rian & L. Sante, London, greg.org, 2003, p. 20)

Minimal in composition and lacking the painterly presence of the artist's hand, greg.org's @TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings parallel the "rephotography" that he became so well known for in his photographic works. Surreptitiously borrowing, appropriating, or as he refers to it, "stealing" is a trademark of his work. Even the location from which he draws his content has become a staple to his oeuvre. "Tweets are part of any mainstream magazine," he explains. "Especially magazines like the New Yorker or Playboy. They're right up there with the editorial and advertisements and table of contents and letters to the editors. They're part of the layout, part of the 'sights' and 'gags.' Sometimes they're political, sometimes they just make fun of everyday life. Once in a while they drive people to protest and storm foreign embassies and kill people." (greg.org quoted in B. Ruf (ed.) Tweets, n.p.)

Previously: @TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings
@TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings, Cont'd.

February 11, 2015

And To Think That I Saw It

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Untitled (Andiron Attr. to Paul Revere, Jr.), 2015

It's not an easy thing, to meet your maker.
- Roy Batty, Blade Runner

Saturday I went to the Metropolitan Museum to see their installation of my piece, Untitled (Andiron Attributed To Paul Revere Jr.), which until now I'd only known from photos.

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I think it's the one on the right.

The thinking this work has generated for me is immense and entertaining and rather ridiculous. Even in a week when Danh Vo sold basically an entire visible storage unit of Martin Wong's stuff to the Walker as his own installation.

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Danh Vo, I M U U R 2, detail, 2013, 4,000 objects and artworks from the estate of Martin Wong, image: Walker Art Ctr via TAN

Vo showed Wong's collection and artworks as his Hugo Boss Prize exhibition at the Guggenheim, but he turned it into an artwork in order to save it, to prevent Wong's ailing mother from being forced to sell and disperse the collected objects at a garage sale. As The Art Newspaper put it, "Vo got the idea of turning it into an installation from a curator who suggested that would increase the chance a museum would acquire it."

Which technically means I M U U R 2 moved in the opposite direction fromUntitled (Andiron &c.), which was a decorative collectible embedded deep in a museum, and turned into an artwork in order to, uh...

I still don't know. And of course, I wasn't thinking of this specific relationship on Saturday, but more about the presence of the andiron's unknown/unphotographed twin, and which was which. Did they have their accession numbers painted underneath? I was thinking about their attribution, and what it's based on, who made it, how did they compare to the actual [sic] Paul Revere andirons nearby? I thought about that pedestal which, when I started to move it to take a cleaner picture, turned out to be a fire extinguisher cover, so I left it alone.

How nice their location is--in one sense--on the end, near a wide aisle, right by the doorway, and how crappy it is in another--it's around the corner of a dead end corridor, through a darkened vestibule lined with fireplace mantles. It really might not be that different from the Lexington Ave. antique shop where I imagine Mrs. Flora T. Whiting first buying them. How far they've traveled, and yet almost not at all.

It reminded me of the Costume Institute, and how it was set up to accept the tax-deductible donations of last year's fashions from Nan Kempner and whomever. The Met's functioned that way a lot, as the hallowed dumping ground of New York's ruling class. If the Smithsonian is America's Attic, the Met is the Upper East Side's. The soft underbelly of the late Met curator William Lieberman's professed strategy to "collect collectors," not paintings. [Actually, huge swaths of the Met's 20th c./Contemp. collection reflect the same "We'll take it all!" spirit. But that's for another day.]

There's a lot of room between museum quality and garbage: studies, archives, and visible storage collections to the left; destroyed works, misattributions, and garage sales to the right. And value in its various forms accrues accordingly. To the extent that they rejigger these value tallies within the museum-object-author-viewer relationship, I guess I M U U R 2 and Untitled (Andiron) are not opposites at all.

February 5, 2015

Untitled (Post-It), 2015

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Lavorare e un Brutto Mestiere, (Working is a Bad Job), 1993, installed in Aperto '93 Emergency/Emergenza, 45th Venice Biennale. image: from all over, but this time via contemporaryartnow

Maurizio Cattelan was invited to contribute work to Aperto '93 at the Venice Biennale. Aperto's shows-within-a-show format, conceived by FlashArt editors Helena Kontova and Giancarlo Politi and curated by Kontova and twelve others, focused on emerging artists and would prove highly influential.

Cattelan offered his space to Gruppo Armando Testa in Torino, the head office of Italy's largest advertising agency, which had just been taken over by the deceased founder's son Marco. Cattelan said he "assigned" it, but he is often described as having leased his space; he also signed a contract with Testa to promote whatever they decided to display.

According to an article at the time titled "L'Arte Cerca Publicitta [Art Seeks Advertising]" Testa decided to use the Biennale opportunity as a teaser for the launch of a new perfume by Roman fashion designer Pino Lancetti. Though the licensing company Schiapparelli's logo is in the corner, Lancetti's name is only visible obliquely on the bottle. The perfume turned out to be called Suspense.

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Untitled, 2002, photo: perrotin

Cattelan told FlashArt the project was meant to "encourage people to reflect on the internal working of the Aperto." In 2005 a nameless Sotheby's cataloguer wrote, "By allowing an exterior, non-artistic, body to infiltrate this sanctified world he was exploring the hierarchies and politics of choice which selects the participants." What's not quite clear is the degree to which the art informed the advertising. It's hard to tell the cart from the horse, much less tell who's in front.

The world of the Biennale was not so edenic as the auctioneer imagined, nor was Cattelan's gesture its Original Sin; biblically speaking, art and advertising already knew each other's bodies very well. Armando Testa had been prominent in the Italian art world, and aspired to "pure art's" ability "to play with ambiguity." Lancetti, the client, trained and identified as a painter, and he was known for creating several collections using imagery from artists like Kandinsky and Picasso. Elsewhere in the Arsenale, another Aperto curator installed crotch shots by Oliviero Toscani, the famously iconoclastic ad man for Benetton. All that was left, directionally, was for an artist to reciprocate the ad love.

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Lavorare e un Brutto Mestiere, 1993, installed in the Guggenheim, 2011, photo: jill krementz/nysd

Cattelan eventually sold the 3x6m billboard as an artwork titled Lavorare e un Brutto Mestiere, (Working is a Bad Job). Surprisingly, maybe a little ironically, it later took two attempts, in 2005 and 2006, for Sotheby's to sell Lavorare for just 10,200GBP. On a square inch basis, that's probably the cheapest Cattelan of the century. Like everything else, it hung in the Guggenheim rotunda in 2011. [above]

I thought of all this this morning [except the auctions, which I hadn't known, but now regret missing] when I saw the latest addition handwritten Post-It note in Hans Ulrich Obrist's Instagram feed, which was from Paul Chan. Technically, I saw the autotweet first: "Letter from Paul Chan EROTIC ROMANCE IS THE FUTURE!!"

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Paul Chan's @badlandsunlmtd note in @hansulrichobrist's IG today

Unlike the series' typical self-conscious banalities or Deep Thoughtz, Paul's note sounded unexpectedly promotional. Because I'd recently received an invite to the launch of Badlands Unlimited's New Lovers erotic fiction collection. Then I clicked through to HUO's pic of Chan's note, and it's not a Post-It at all! That's what he means by "letter." And "#LilithWes." Paul sent Hans Ulrich a note with the books. Which, you go, Paul! I'm an admirer of both their work, and have only ever had engaging, genial interactions with either of them. But this felt like a shift, a disruption in the making.

I'm thinking HUO's leaving a lot of mindshare on the table. Most of HUO's notes respond to his request for a thought, and most all those thoughts at that moment are non-promotional. [An inevitable exception: Alex Israel, who can never not promote himself.] But HUO's got like 90,000 followers. Once you move beyond the initial "it's a personal brand boost to be asked for a Post-It note," why wouldn't you artfully pitch your book? Or obliquely reference the work in your upcoming show? There's a lot of promotional room to travel between HUO's status quo and Alex Israel.

Which is how and why I came up this project:

Like a director who always has his thank you speech in his pocket if he needs it, I will make sure that whenever Hans Ulrich gets around to asking me, I'll have something on point and monetizable to scribble down. And that's the witty brand message or hashtag that I've been supplied with, exclusively, by a thinkfluential social media professional. Email for rates and terms.

Your message can't be too terribly time sensitive, of course, since there's no telling when HUO's tap is gonna come. With kids and shows and all, we don't hang out as much as we used to. But with an/your important message in place, I would definitely make it a subtle priority to make it happen. If it doesn't, of course, well, that's HUO. I'll gladly write your content on a Post-It note and help get the word out in my own channels as a make-good. The important thing is the concept, and that we tried.

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Untitled (Andiron Attributed To Paul Revere Jr.), 2014, whoops, 2015, obv

[UPDATED, see below; UPDATED AGAIN, see below that]

I am stoked (pun recognized and allowed to stand) to have a new work in the Metropolitan Museum. Despite its minty freshness, Untitled (Andiron Attributed To Paul Revere Jr.), 2014, is currently on view in The American Wing, Gallery 774, the Luce Visible Storage Gallery, officially known as the Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art.

I have not seen it installed yet--I just made it a few minutes ago, cut me some slack--if you're at the Met, maybe swing by and send me a pic? Ideally, the piece should be installed just as it's depicted in this beautiful photo.

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image: via usnews

I may have tweeted smack about it when I thought it was just old newspapers and coins, but that's only because initial headlines of Samuel Adams' and Paul Revere's time capsule in the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House criminally underplayed the presence of this amazing, engraved silver plaque.

THIS is EXACTLY the kind of thing people should put in time capsules: slightly-precious-but-not-too items handmade to commemorate the occasion. These artifacts capture the moment, but more importantly, they retain an historical significance, and who knows, in time they may accrue an aesthetic aura as well.

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image via reuters

The Boston time capsule plaque also benefits from the connection to the still-relevant Revere brand; whether he actually made it or not, it feels plausible, authentic. There is also the handmade aspect: I have an engraved ring, and a stationery die, but a whole engraved plaque? That's something.

[It's not the intern who wrote this USNews piece's fault for describing every item in the time capsule in terms of its market value, and the impact a Revere attribution & provenance might have on it. Every report has that. It's just another sign of who we've become as a culture. Like Antique Roadshow.]

A more interesting cultural change is the invisibility/illegibility of whatever the plaque actually says, and what it might mean. The Masonic context goes unremarked or glossed over in the mainstream coverage of the plaque. He that still hath ears, two hundred years on, let him hear, I guess.

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Invisibility was one of the qualities of engraved text that appealed to Walter De Maria early in his career; he made a series of polished steel or aluminum works with engravings on them: Garbo Column (1968) had a list of the reclusive actress's 27 films; Melville (1968, above, which I have swooned over before) features the opening of the author's first hit novel, The Confidence Man.
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The Barnett Newman-scale monochrome painting De Maria asked Michael Heizer to make for him for Dwan Gallery's 1968 Earthworks show has its title engraved on a polished steel plaque in the center: The Color Men Choose When They Attack the Earth. Can you read it in this picture?

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Walter De Maria, Silver Portrait of Dorian Gray, 1965, at the Prada Fndn's exhibit in Venice in 2011, image: @fabyab

De Maria created at least one work in silver. It was for his patron at the time, Robert Scull, who fronted the dough for the fabrication of a series of polished metal sculptures. Silver Portrait of Dorian Gray (1965) is just that: a mirrored silver plaque behind a velvet curtain that darkens and oxidizes over time. The artist's instructions on the back offer the owner the chance to wipe away the stains of aging, though: "When the owner judges that enough time has passed, this plaque may be removed to free and clean the silver plate." The promise of immortality, the opposite of a time capsule, at least for the mirror. Your call, Miuccia!

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image:

UPDATE A brief dive into the history of time capsules tells us we need to pay more attention to the Masons, and to the Egyptians. The birth of the modern/20th century time capsule is linked to the discoveries of relic-filled Egyptian tombs and pyramids. And in a list of the International Time Capsule Society's 1991 list of the Top Ten Most Wanted Time Capsules is this:

5. George Washington's Cornerstone
Today's custom of burying time capsules is in part an outgrowth of Masonic cornerstone-laying ceremonies. Through the centuries, Masons have officiated at rituals which often include placing memorabilia inside building cornerstones for later recovery.In 1793, George Washington, a Mason, performed the Masonic ritual upon the laying of the original cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol. Over the years, the Capitol has undergone extensive expansion, remodeling and reconstruction, but the original George Washington cornerstone has never been found. It is unknown whether there is anything inside of it.
Here is a Mason's explanation of the cornerstone laying ceremony, one of the only public Masonic rituals. ["When the brethren are sharply dressed, and well-rehearsed, it's an awesome thing to behold." mhmm.] And Wikipedia's article on cornerstones has a brief account of a 19th century cornerstone laying ceremony in Cork, which involved "a trowel specially made for the occasion by John Hawkesworth, a silversmith and a jeweller." So maybe these engraved plaques are also a thing?

Coins, Newspapers Found in Time Capsule Buried by Paul Revere [usnews]
Previously, very much related: While We're On The Subject Of Polished Metal Objects: Walter De Maria

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Satellite Communication: Untitled (YOUR NAME HERE), Study for Dasha

Previously: If I Were A Sculptor, But Then Again

November 25, 2014

Hong Kong Police Street View

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Police in Hong Kong have deployed a new mobile pepper spray platform against protestors near Mong Kok.

I start with this image via @krislc, Kris Cheng, because it gives nice context, also the guy is watermarking it with his face? I'm filing that trick away for future use.

At first it looked like it's made out of PVC pipe, but it's surely painted steel. Actually, it looks like a smaller variation of the stairs in Home Depot.

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Most of the info comes from @galileo44, Galileo Cheng. Like this picture of the police conferring on Portland St. With their pepper spray cannons on their backs. Unless those are #umbrellas.

Here is krislcc's Vine of the new platforms in use on her. Galileo calls them castles. They're hand pumped. Like Super Soakers or something. Incredible.

Here's another. What is most striking to me about this one is how the two police officers move together: one with the pepper spray, the other with a video camera. Kris Cheng says the the pepper spray isn't that strong; the effects didn't last more than 45 minutes. But the police will play a long game with those images.

Speaking of long game, holy smokes. I thought I'd scout out the Mong Kok streetscape on Google Maps, and this is what came up:

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It was startling to be met by an unblurred face. And the vantage point was so high. But turn around. This is a pano. Or a "Photo Sphere." From September, of the intersection blocked by a sit-in. It's credited to nJohn.

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There are more recent Photo Spheres, too. Including November, by Kau Lam. The protestor-decorated police barricades are stitched together pano-style. Google Maps as a reporting platform. When will it go live? Will Google get castles of its own, or will cameras on long sticks suffice?

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Auguste Rodin, The Three Shades, plaster, for The Gates of Hell

This edition of Better Read, an experiment in transforming art-related texts into audio works, is awesome. I really feel like the kinks are working out, and this whole computer voice-generated pseudo-podcast thing is really going to take off in a big way very soon.

Like an hour from now, when you've finished listening to "Sincerely Yours," by powerhouse art historian Rosalind Krauss. In 1981 Krauss published one of her foundational texts, "The Originality of The Avant-Garde," in October Magazine, which prompted a long, irate response from Rodin scholar and curator Albert Elsen. "Sincerely Yours" is Krauss's fierce, icy, and vigorously argued, 9,200-word response to Elsen's criticisms. It was originally published in October 20, in the spring of 1982. And it is performed here by Ava, an American English synthetic voice from Apple with a surprisingly good grasp of French pronunciation. The 80mb mp3 file lasts around 56 minutes. Like I said, this is going to be big, I can feel it.

Sincerely Yours, Rosalind Krauss (1982), read by a computer [dropbox]
Previously: Better Read: A Lively Interview with Ray Johnson c. 1968
The ur-text: W.H. Auden's poem "The Shield of Achilles" read by a machine

November 16, 2014

Part Of A Scripture Writing

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Although these paintings initially seem straightforwardly banal, at second glance their neutrality becomes more difficult to decipher. The viewer laughs but then perhaps questions how he reacted. The underlying tension to each of these tweets seems awkwardly dated to 2014 middle class America. @TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings' tweets explore forces of sexual identity, and social acceptance revealing a dark underside. Many of the other tweets in the series leave the viewer in similar states of disbelief. greg.org deconstructs and examines the authenticity of the author, masculinity and his own identity. He is concerned with our fascination, fetishization, and acceptance of the image of social media. Chameleon-like, he changes from a consumer to a writer, and now artist.

Artists were casting sculptures in bronze, making huge paintings, talking about prices and clothes and cars and spending vast amounts of money. So I silkscreened jokes on little canvases and sold them for $1800 each. I have never thought making anything new. I make it again. I am very much against trying to make anything new in a modernist approach. I think you can do only something for yourself.

The true meaning of the @TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings is still a matter of discussion. From a distance, they could even be read as abstract works. But viewed closely, their formal simplicity and their repetition seem to set them in the tradition of conceptualism. All in all, greg.org's works are loaded with references to Structuralism and Post-modernist theories. Repetition deprives the tweet of its humour thus reducing it to a mere text in which the signifier takes over on the signified. After this, what is left?

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After seeing these epic FOIA monochromes from the Dept. of Homeland Security a few years ago, I've been collecting the best examples of redacted documents. I've never quite figured out what to do with them. Maybe a book.

I know Jenny Holzer's been working on it for a while now. But I found her first batch of giant silkscreen on linen Redaction Paintings a little too slick. The Dust Paintings and Constructivist-inspired redaction paintings she showed this fall, though, are pretty great. Score one for the hand.

But then I just noticed this rather incredible, mysterious, and seemingly modest object in an upcoming Rago Arts auction. It's a large (35x27 in) work titled Enhanced Techniques 3, and it's described as a signed sheet of handmade paper. So the redaction is molded right in! I think Holzer has a winner here. But what? Where? And why is this thing only estimated to sell for $1000-1500?

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A search for Holzer and handmade paper turn up other, similar pieces in the flotsam-filled auction reporting sites and secondary market print dealers. Try as they might, MutualArt couldn't hide the fact that Rago had sold a handmade paper piece called Top Secret 24 last Spring. Rago certainly doesn't want to hide it. I'd never thought of redaction in the same context of watermarking before.

On Caviar20 Top Secret 24 is pitched as Holzer's "return to painting." Hmm. At least they finally have pictures showing where this damn thing comes from. It's ironic that people selling artworks about redaction leave out so much basic information.

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griffelkunst director Dirk Dobke sitting in front of Jenny Holzer's Top Secret portfolio. image: abendblatt.de

Anyway, the answer is griffelkunst, a 90-year-old print association in Hamburg with 4,500 subscribers and a closed 5-year-waitlist. Members pay €132/year for four contemporary artworks, which the association, currently led by curator Dirk Dobke, commissions and produces.

I don't quite understand how that maps to Holzer's Top Secret project, which was a suite of six handmade paper redaction editions, available to members only for €150 apiece, or €900 for the set. I guess they made as many as people ordered?

The labor-intensive process sounds like it syncs nicely with the subject: the white pulp on the redacted areas was scooped out by hand and filled in with black as each sheet was being made. And all of this sounds like fascinating context and backstory for the work. But no one's using it to sell these things; just the opposite, they're keeping it quiet. Whether it's because griffelkunst frowns on flipping, or because it's hard to explain a 10-20x markup, I can't say.

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Holding back information is power, and the occlusion of information comes as no surprise. Strategic vagueness and decontextualization is as likely an art-selling technique as transparency and information overload. That same Rago auction also has an atypical-looking Ad Reinhardt. Well, it might look typical, but the small black monochrome square is actually an edition, silkscreened on plexiglass. It was "from NY International, 1966," which turns out to be the title of a 10-artist Tanglewood Press print/multiples portfolio organized by Henry Geldzahler. Portfolios like these get broken up, and the slightly more marketable pieces parted out, all the time. But so many dealers and auctioneers redact the reason and context for which the artist created the work as part of their enhanced sales techniques.

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, 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 greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: projects

recent projects, &c.


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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

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Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

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"Exhibition Space"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

archives