DUMMIES: A BOOK LAUNCH & READING
Moskowitz Bayse is pleased to present a Book Launch and Reading of Hawaii (160), an artist book by Kim Schoen, featuring essays by Jan Tumlir and Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer. The volume was published on the occasion of Schoen’s exhibition Hawaii, on view at Moskowitz Bayse through April 22, 2017.
April 2, 2017
Readings by Jan Tumlir & Kim Schoen
Discussion with Rebecca Morse
Once upon a time in the post-historical present, there was a man
who devised a magical book. This book was extraordinary in that it
couldn’t be opened, yet the reason for this was perfectly plain: there
was nothing inside it. This book was not only empty, but hollow,
gutless, and so anyone who naively insisted on prying apart its covers
would no longer have a book in their hands—this was a book on the
outside only. Yet from this external perspective it was fully a book
and, one might add, much more so than most of the books that fill
the local bookshop. All of the bookmaker’s attention was devoted
to the book’s protective shell, its clothbound cover and spine, which
were crafted with consummate care. The magic in his work promoted
belief in the fullness of the book, but it would be wrong to put this
down to trickery or deception, for inside it contained a whole history
of books, their secret history, or that which pertains to erasure.
Transparently, the man designated his creation a “blank.”
This, then, was monument to the book, a representational sculpture
that doubled as the real thing. It was made to occupy the same
shelves on which books have always sat, and moreover to occupy
these shelves in great numbers. The bookshelf served as a pedestal
of sorts for their elegant, colorful rows, which could extend as far as
one wished without repetition. The bookmaker was a businessman
first and foremost, and he sold his wares by the meter. On a
pragmatic level, one could say that his empty books were made
simply to fill empty space, the void hollowed out by non-readers of
books, who themselves were growing in numbers. This was a growth
industry and it called for an increasing automation of the production
process. That these books were largely constructed, fabricated,
manufactured by machines was not in itself remarkable, however; it
was rather the fact that these machines no longer worked on behalf
of writers that deserves attention.
The man responsible for the design of both the books and the
machines that made them did not identify himself as an author, and
yet a measure of literary savvy was nevertheless exercised when it
came to titling. A range of genres was summoned by the words he
chose to emboss, with evocative typography, into the textile surface
of his books: Little Encyclopedia, New Large Lexicon, Memories,
The Summer of My Own Fist, Hawaii, etc. Displayed on the shelf,
their spines could be read one after another like lines on a page,
and would have added up to a collection, at once exhaustive and
circumscribed, generic and peculiar—one person’s library, but
potentially also anyone’s and everyone’s.
At the heart of the enterprise was a cipher-protagonist. Characters
once produced through the interaction of authors and readers
here instead took shape in the absence of reading and writing.
Neither spirits nor spiritual instruments had been dispatched from
this process, however; rather, this is where they came to rest. The
blank book factory was located in the fabled Black Forest region of
Bavaria. One still imagines the trees outside pressing in, en garde, yet
*Jan Tumlir “Black Teeth Bite Air,” Hawaii (160), First Edition, Moskowitz Bayse, 2017
Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer is a writer and curator in Los Angeles. She is the author of Joint Dialogue Book: Lee Lozano, Dan Graham, Steve Kaltenbach (Overduin and Kite, 2012), Lee Lozano: Dropout Piece (Afterall Books, 2014), and Can’t Reach Me There (Midway Contemporary Art, 2016). She co-runs The Finley Gallery and is the editor of Pep Talk, with an upcoming issue collecting the writings of Rhonda Lieberman.
Rebecca Morse is Associate Curator in the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where she recently curated Larry Sultan: Here and Home. She was previously Associate Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) where she organized Amanda Ross Ho: Teeny Tiny Woman, Cai Guo-Qiang: Ladder to the Sky, Rodarte: States of Matter,The Artist’s Museum, and Florian Maier-Aichen. She has written about the evolving relationship between photography and sculpture, contemporary photography and the hotel, and photography’s changing role in contemporary art beginning in the 1980s.
Kim Schoen (b. 1969, Princeton) lives and works in Los Angeles and Berlin. She received an MFA from CalArts in 2005, and a Master of Philosophy from the photography department at The Royal College of Art in London in 2008. She has exhibited her work internationally, at venues including the Los Angeles Museum of Art; LAXART in Los Angeles; The South London Gallery and MOT International Projects in London; the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah; the Kunstverein Springhornhof in Neuenkirchen, Germany; and the MMoCA in Wisconsin. Her work is included in both private and public collections, and has been written about in Art Forum, Art in America, Mousse, and The L.A. Times, and her essays on repetition and photography (“The Serial Attitude Redux”, “The Expansion of the Instant”) have been published in X-TRA Quarterly for Contemporary Art. Kim is also the co-founder of and co-editor of MATERIAL, a journal of writing by contemporary artists.
Jan Tumlir is an art-writer and teacher based in Los Angeles. He is a founding editor of the local art journal X-TRA, and a regular contributor to Artforum. He has written catalog essays for such artists as Bas Jan Ader, Uta Barth, John Divola, James Welling, Jorge Pardo and Cyprien Gaillard. Tumlir is a member of the MFA faculty at Art Center College of Design, and has in the past taught at Otis, CalArts, USC, UCR and UCLA. This year he is visiting Washington University in St. Louis as the Wallace Herndon Smith Distinguished Professor of Art. His book LA Artland, a survey of contemporary art in Los Angeles co- written with Chris Kraus and Jane McFadden, was published by Black Dog Press in 2005. Hyenas Are…, a book on artist Matthew Brannon, was published by Mousse in 2011. Tumlir’s latest book, The Magic Circle, On The Beatles, Pop Art, Art-Rock and Records was published by Onomatopee in 2015.