MUSEUM PIECE (FOR DON CELENDER), 2014:
The conceptual artist, Don Celender, was known for his humorous letter writing pieces. For example, he once wrote a letter to the director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, suggesting that the museum parachute 1,000 works of Asian art onto the state of Alabama. The Athenaeum has, in its collection, and artist book by Celender titled Musuem Piece. The book is a collection of response to a letter that the artist wrote to musuem staff around the world, asking for them to provide descriptions and photographs of their "loading docks or receiving areas." Celender collected the returned materials and published them as a book.
The humor in this piece seems to center around the artist ironic interest in the way museum's handle art objects. For an artist who mostly concerned himself with data driven survey based artworks and collection of written responses in many forms to be concerning himself with "loading docks" seems completely absurd. This absurdity contrasts nicely with the earnestness of the responses. In an age of typewritten letters and darkroom photography, the time spent on the responses is notable. The humor and sometimes confusion in some of the texts is also very engaging.
For Musuem Piece (for Don Celender) I chose to create an object/anti-object with a form that at first sight may appear little more than an empty pedestal. But, if explored further reveals itself to be an interactive sculptural object, with peculiar attachments mounted to the side. A distance sensor pointed through the window of a door within the gallery is triggered by passersby as they enter the Athenaeum. Once triggered, a recording of one of the responses Celender collected in the book is played through the glass of the door, via an amplified transducer. This allows the building itself to be activated as speaker. The recordings were created by friends of mine whom I emailed a request similar to Don Celender's original letter. With this project, like all of the work in Cover to Cover (On Loan from the Collection) I aim to reconsider the post-minimalist anxiety over the in/compatibility of concept and form.
Special Thanks to the Museum Piece Vocal Choir:
Noah Arceneaux, Vivian Beer, Lara Braff, Elisabeth Dubin, Shane Duenow, Andy Edmondson, Donald Fortescue, Jordan Gehman, Farmer Greif, BA Harrington, Peter Jaros, May Jong, Paul Kaplan, Allan LeSage, Tom Loeser, Adam Manley, Sarah Mesle, Don Miller, Shana Moulton, Meredith Oda, Amertah Perman, Robert Pettersen, Scott Polach, Scott Ralston, Michael Rea, Mariah Robertson, Bird Ross, Forster Rudolph, Jared Stanley, Gabie Strong, Eva Struble, Michael Sumner, Ericka Walker, Mary West, and Benjamin Wooten.