Printed Matter, Inc., the leading NYC-based non-profit artists’ book organization, has announced the launch of I Was In The Middle Before I Knew That I Had Begun, a new curated series of Fundraising Editions featuring artists Moyra Davey, Coco Fusco, David Horvitz, Joseph Kosuth and Louise Lawther. The new series comes as a response to the recent dramatic shifts in the ways in which we engage with physical environments, whilst raising funds for the collective resistance against police brutality and social injustice. In fact, 20% of the proceeds from the artworks will be donated to #blacklivesmatter, Mutual Aid NYC and National Lawyers Guild.
The title of these Fundraising Editions, taken from Jane Austen and represented in Kosuth’s print, reflects the precarity of our collective experience, as interpreted by the artworks, embedded with a sense of movement and futurity brought on by the possibility of revolution. Discover the full series below.
Moyra Davey , 3 Frames, 2020, C-print, 8 x 11 inches, Edition of 30, Signed, $800
3 Frames is drawn from 16mm segments of Moyra Davey’s latest film i confess, which triangulates the lives and work of three writers: the American novelist and essayist James Baldwin, the Québécois revolutionary Pierre Vallières, and Quebec/Ottawa-based political philosopher Dalie Giroux. During the film’s making, Davey arrived at the work of each figure in succession, with Baldwin’s 1962 novel Another Country as its point of departure. As the film progresses, a thread connecting themes of race and poverty, language and nationalism is established while Davey entwines a personal chronicle of the 1960-70s – a turbulent period of Québécois history marked by separatism and violence, that remains unresolved today.
Coco Fusco, A Censured Prescription, 2020, 3:04 minute video, Signed Certificate of Authenticity, Edition of 30, $300
Dr. Li Wenliang was the first to sound the alarm about the escalation of what became known as COVID-19. Before his eventual death, he told the magazine Caixin: "I think a healthy society should not only have one kind of voice." Wenliang’s statement is uttered in various languages in Coco Fusco’s video A Censured Prescription. A murmur of a crowd is constructed out of voices from different locations, recorded while in quarantine. Voices belong to Fia Backström, Chang Yuchen, Coco Fusco, Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Chitra Ganesh, Emily Jacir, Paolo Javier, Tammy Nguyen, among many others, including Dr. Jane Kim of Brooklyn’s Kings County Emergency Room.
David Horvitz, notes from my library, 2020, Watercolor on repurposed paper from artist’s studio, approx. 18 x 24 inches, Edition of 30, $300
Sending art in the mail is an important and long-time method of production and exchange for the artist David Horvitz. notes from my library is in the form of repurposed sheets of embossed paper, folded to make lines, and then filled in with highlighted texts from various books in the artist’s library. Each edition presents a unique text, handwritten in watercolor, ending only once the page is covered entirely. The work is sent directly through the mail as a large postcard, where—in its handling—it will accumulate its own history, before arriving at the final destination. Since the pandemic, Horvitz whose daily routine is usually spent meandering around the city, found himself wandering through his library, rediscovering forgotten books.
Joseph Kosuth, Existential Time (a plan, a diagram, a play) #1, 2020, Letterpress print, Edition of 30, Signed and Numbered, 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches, $500
The texts used in this edition build on Joseph Kosuth’s Existential Time series, which is scheduled to be shown in the US for the first time in late 2020. As a reflection on the gap that holds together beginnings and ends, Kosuth’s Existential Time endeavors to punctuate the lack, limits, and surplus of meaning surrounding the narrative experience of time and life, while exploring the powerful and finite territory of the present. These texts are used to ‘draw’ the map of a possible play of meaning, like a diagram of an unknown entity: the architecture of uncharted thinking. This work continues the artist’s use of readymade texts, and appropriation strategies that he initiated in the 1960s. Existential Time includes texts by writers and thinkers that represent a body of theory or literature that has made a significant contribution to present day culture. The meaning of these fragments stand independent of Kosuth’s, while being simultaneously employed by him in the production of meaning.
Louise Lawler, Once There Was a Little Boy and Everything Turned Out Alright. THE END. (distorted for the times and for the benefit of Printed Matter), 1993/2020, Archival pigment print, 4 x 6 5/16 inches, Edition of 30, Signed, $1200
The eponymous two-line story was first encountered by Louise Lawler’s’s mother on the wall of a roadside café. The text has since occurred in the artist’s work on a few occasions; paired with a photograph of a living room (1985), printed on glass tumblers (1986), and as a wall paint and Letraset edition in varying dimensions (1993). The latter iteration was part of Songs of Retribution; a group exhibition consisting of a large number of women artists, curated by Nancy Spero at the Richard Anderson Gallery in SoHo. The directions for the 1993 work were to paint a wall a specific shade of pink, and to position the type in the center. Here, Lawler revisits the text as an archival pigment print edition with the certainty of the story distorted to reflect the instability of our time, and everyone’s incalculable fates amidst today’s concurrent crises.