Ninety-fourth Connection: Unexpected lesson
In the category of learning something unexpected, here is an interactive site specific installation I made for a printmaking exhibition at the Detroit Focus Gallery (Detroit, Michigan) in 1983. The piece began with a grid of red numbers stenciled on the wall. Under each number was a small collage, made from fragments of drawings and shiny things left over from other projects- often these fragments were hand sewn together, threads left to hang- with an emphasis on the layers and edges.The red numbers corresponded to the dates that the exhibition was open. On a small table placed below the grid was a pile of pre –addressed, postage paid, business envelopes. These envelopes came in the mail with various unwanted Direct Mail offers for credit card applications, life insurance, magazines, etc. Instead of sending back the requested form, I sent a fragile, mute collage with no other identification. One per day. As the actual collage was removed, I replaced it with a photocopy.Towards the end of the show I found hand addressed envelopes in the pile, from gallery visitors and other artists. This reaction took me by surprise and is what I remember most about this piece. I am drawn to how people subvert and make processes their own in this way. My original idea was kind of a one liner, kind of smarty pants- y. This interaction opened up the desire to make work that could genuinely be generous, offering an authentic way to connect, and to go beyond anonymity and facelessness without being self-righteous.