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Sitemap is a Reading of
The Whitney Biennial 2004 Catalogue


Some Context:

"The three curators have developed a new format for the Biennial catalogue. The catalogue comprises two elements: the first, a bound book that includes essays by each of the curators, as well as more than a dozen contemporary and historical writings by a range of authors, including historians, critics, and artists such as Susan Buck-Morss, Richard Davenport-Hines, Tim Griffin, Wayne Koestenbaum, Laura Mulvey, Robert Smithson, Anthony Vidler, and a collaborative text by Rachel Greene and Johanna Fateman. The second component of the catalogue features a box filled with projects created by artists participating in the exhibition. The book is available at the Whitney’s bookstore."

- eFlux, 2004


Part 1: Box Set

In late 2012 I purchased the Whitney Biennial 2004 catalogue for $10 from a used book shop and was surprised to find all 107 of the artists' projects in the box set present. My first thought was "What a deal!"; there's a sticker by Cory Archangel, film strips from Stan Brakhage, a zine from Elizabeth Peyton and 100+ other items for less than $0.10 each. I went online to learn more about them, but almost nothing could be found. So, I assigned myself the task of generating a amateur archive of sorts.

I retyped all of the text found on all of the works in the box, a process that ranged from the fairly straight-forward transcriptions of zines and posters to a more laborious practice, using a photo loop to try and identify all the small bits of text in photos, collages and paintings. I measured each work, making notes on the paper stock.


Part 2: Website

During this process I visited the 2004 Biennial's website which —fitting for the time— was produced in Flash. Flash, for those who remember it, displays text graphically and as such, you can't just copy/paste. For me this aspect of Flash had always been infuriating, so I took screen captures of each page on the site and ran those images through optical character recognition software (OCR). 


Part 3: Response Works

While doing all this archiving I also produced two original works. I suppose they were inspired by the act of deep reading, and by the existing works themselves but I don't recall specifically setting out to make any new works. You know, sometimes you're doing one thing and you just get another idea. 


Part 4: Public Access

While staying at Ace Hotel New Orleans as an Artist in Residence, I finally got around to some project housekeeping, cleaning up folders and making this website you're looking at now. I had previously emailed all my work to The Whitney (no reply) and done a minor "public launch" —emailing the file links to some friends— but it's never really been publicly accessible. I hope that others interested in project archiving find it useful and fun.


Thanks for rereading,

Ben Sisto
June 25, 2017
New Orleans