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6 MARCH - 5 APRIL 2015


This all began as a dialogue between my turtle, Robert Wilson, and his filter machine, as a kind of comic strip. As you will see, some of that proposal remains. It is an incomplete project. It was made more complex and difficult than I initially thought it would be by my desire to have these two discuss economic, geopolitical, and art historical matters from their own particular perspectives. How will a turtle and an aquarium filter discuss these issues without resorting to the petty debasements of anthropomorphism? Their dialogue is mostly picked from writings by Lenin, Rousseau, Bataille, Alain Badiou, and Nick Land. Those just happened to be the things I was reading at the time. Some other artist types were also in my field of vision, but you can probably figure those out for yourself. I’m not declaring my allegiance to any media-manufactured scenes by writing a list like that here. My prayer for serendipity is after-the-fact and born out of frustration. It is less an affirmation of chance than a shredding of sense. The confetti left-overs of an attempt at communication are what you now see. Haphazard as it is, this lack of method may yet produce the miracle of a dustpan, which, failing to create order, might still assist in some form of condensation. This is the best I can offer by way of an explanation. I will, however, offer some excuses, and a vague promise to pick up the thread again one of these days.

1.There was not enough time. This is disingenuous, because given all the time in the world, I would still become distracted trying to articulate a concept with any degree of coherence. I am pretty lazy in that regard. I have no desire to make a virtue out of this condition, although I know some of you will attribute a degree of belligerence to these words. I assure you, it is not there. 

2. There was not enough money. It is true that given unlimited resources and an army of intern-slave-cult-followers, I might delegate the more tedious aspects of work instead of ignoring them altogether. This might have created a narrative you would have an easier time following. But my goal was never to serve you chicken nuggets of meaning in any case. Honestly, I am trying to keep my own intentions at a distance these days, as I no longer trust them as far as I could throw them. I admonish myself with the words of Mark E. Smith : “Don’t make a career out of it!”. 

Of course, that may be exactly what I am doing here, in revisiting old themes. I’ve already given the answer to the question of dialogue in the Bookshelf sculptures I made in 2007 and the video “First Thought, Then Sustenance” for my exhibition “The Prosperity of The Author, The Misfortune of The Plagiarist” so why ask the question again? As for the so-called “Super Supplemental” collages, they are an extended exercise in cowardice. Saying nothing by saying too much is like reading your laundry list to the therapist, or reciting tautologies from the lectern to a class of obedient pupils. “For whom?”, as Mao might ask, or alternately “Who is your Big Other?” from Jacques Lacan. Judging by my list of authors here, it would seem that I am trying to impress a hiring board in the comparative lit dept. of a community college. But it may turn out that my laundry list was what they really wanted to see anyway. Robert Wilson has his laundry list as well but has chosen a path of silent observation, rather than making a spectacle of himself. A modest temperament is befitting of a turtle, but I find it disingenuous in humans. So don’t bother dignifying yourself on my account. I won’t be handing out any prizes for it. On the other hand, I am sure there are those of you who would like to see me as your ally in some absurd “freedom of speech” crusade. Maybe you think by dint of my affinity for vulgarity, I will be on your side in this matter. Don’t count on it. Since thought is not free, it is stupid to pretend that some measure of freedom inheres in even the most offhanded remarks, or for that matter, the most considered ones. Freedom is a meaningless word when it comes to speech and art. You are as free to say what you like as Robert Wilson is free to move about his aquarium. 

Justin Lieberman, 9 feb 2015

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