Blog Post

Artists in the Library

The current show at apexart, a non-profit contemporary art gallery in New York, is made for readers. In part because it’s made of readings. The show is small. There are more words in its title—You can’t get there from here but you can get here from there—than there are works in the show.

Here’s a Harper’s Index-style rundown:

- Total number of works in You can’t get there from here but you can get here from there: 8

- Number of visual media represented: 8+

- Number of artists exhbited—Sophie Calle, Patty Chang, Rodney Graham, Joachim Koester, Kris Martin, Bruce Nauman, Allen Ruppersberg: 7

- Number of countries in which these artists live: 5

- Number of years the show spans, 1968-2006: 38

- Number of literary works that the show reads—Samuel Beckett’s Watt; Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot; Ian Fleming’s Dr. No; James Hilton’s Lost Horizon; Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Hervé Guibert’s To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life; Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal; and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Bells”: 8

- Number of the page insert, narrating James Bond’s alarming encounter with a centipede, that Rodney Graham creates for Fleming’s spy novel: 56a

- Number of pages of the edition of The Idiot that Kris Martin transcribes in graceful script, replacing Prince Myshkin’s name with his own: 1,494

- Number of textual marks Martin makes in his transcription of Poe’s “The Bells,” one of his recent Endpoints series: 1 (the final period)

- Number of final days of a love affair that Sophie Calle counts down in her multimedia work, Exquisite Pain: 92

- Number of winners of this year’s Unsolicited Proposal Program, one of apexart’s experiments in independent curatorial practice: 2

- Number of curators who organized this show: 1—Courtenay Finn

- Cost, in dollars, of admission to apexart: 0

- Date on which You can’t get there from here but you can get here from there closes: 10.30.10

- Number of minutes it takes to walk between The Drawing Center, currently showing an astonishing collection of Gerhard Richter's drawings, and apexart: 4, it’s a win-win.

- Estimated percentage likelihood that an extant academic literary syllabus or book addresses more than two of the authors read in the current apexart show: .02

You can’t get there from here but you can get here from there gathers works that artist-readers have made more or less in the spirit of “just do it” that Marjorie Perloff suggests we bring to literary criticism. More on the readings this show stages to come…

Claire Seiler's picture
Assistant Professor of English, Dickinson College
Claire Seiler's research and teaching focus on modern and contemporary literature and culture in the U.S., England, and Ireland. Her work makes an inquiry of inconspicuous terms that inform twentieth-century literary criticism, among them "midcentury" (which she investigates in her first-book-in-progress, titled "Midcentury Suspension") and the "generation" (the problematic category that organizes her next project, on twentieth-century poetics). Her work has been published in Twentieth-Century Literature, Comparative Literature, Modernism/Modernity, and elsewhere.