Notes on Lawrence Weiner’s self-published artist’s book Statements (1968).
- Statements was a small booklet produced as the artist’s “sole contribution” to a 1968 presentation organised by Seth Siegelaub: “since the work consisted of nothing but words, there was no reason to display a physical object”. (The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation 2022).
- A Statement of Intent Weiner wrote in the same year asserted that: “(1) The artist may construct the piece. (2) The piece may be fabricated. (3) The piece may not be built. [Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.]”. (The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation 2022).
- While I do find Weiner’s intent interesting, in terms of this project I am more interested in the way that he articulates his thoughts – and sculptures – by means of short, pithy sentences (or “statements”) that get right to the point of what he is trying to communicate.
- Examples of this direct approach appear throughout Statements, which includes examples such as “one sheet of plywood secured to the floor or wall” and “one standard dye marker thrown into the sea”. (Weiner 1968).
- I wonder if it would be useful to emulate this approach for my own research outcome – perhaps articulating the “manifesto” as a series of Weiner-esque “statements” which represent the “rules” or guidelines” of a philosophy of approaching the work/site.
- In this way the research outcome – which explores the positive benefit of “enabling constraints” – would itself offer a number of “enabling constraints” to the reader, in the form of “rules” on how to approach their own limitations.
- I am also interested in the design of Weiner’s publications – which, like Statements, tend to be quite straightforward, accessible, and almost “businesslike”, in a similar manner to many “conceptual art” publications that appeared during that period. Again, this is a stylistic trope that I could potentially explore for my own research outcome – perhaps linking my text to both the “self-help” material it aspires to, and the conceptual art stereotypes that inspired it.
The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation. (2022). Artist: Lawrence Weiner. Guggenheim.org. Available online at: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/lawrence-weiner. [Accessed 05/08/22].
Weiner, L. (1968). Statements. Available online at: https://monoskop.org/images/4/4b/Weiner_Lawrence_Statements_1968.pdf. [Accessed 05/08/22].