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The Whitney Biennial 2004 Catalogue
"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).
Screen captures of original website (Google Drive folder)
OCR conversions of screen captures (Google Drive folder)
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.