Friday, December 18, 2009

On Wednesday I began installing “to show, to give, to make it be there”: Expanded Literary Practices in Vancouver, 1954-1969 at SFU Gallery. One work that presented a problem was Maxine Gadd’s Practical Knowledge (1969), a legal-sized unbound book the artist printed at Intermedia using a Roneo and multi-coloured inks.

Practical Knowledge comes with instructions: certain editions are to be exhibited with a slice of bread (though not the one we borrowed). But that's not the problem. Because the book is rare, it cannot be handled; so I had to find a suitable method of display. My decision was to fan out its pages on a table, revealing portions of each, then covering the "book" with Plexi.

Our quest for the right table took us to SFU Stores. Nothing presented itself, so we improvised, beginning with a small swiveling stool. The carpenters at Stores were kind enough to cut a 30” diameter circular plywood top and a matching piece of Plexi; from there they would attach it to the stool. Now viewers can circle the book or turn the table.

I thought of apprising Maxine, but decided to surprise her instead. If she protests, I will put the book in the "Appendix" section of the exhibit, a cabinet of four covered drawers.

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