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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

David Adey: John Henry @ The Athenaeum

I went to see
David Adey's solo show "John Henry" at the Athanaeum in La Jolla last Friday.

From Wikipedia: [John Henry is an American
folk hero, notable for having raced against a steam powered hammer and won, only to die in victory with his hammer in his hand. He has been the subject of numerous songs, stories, plays, and novels.]

David Adey in the middle of his piece

One large piece consisting in two rows of hundreds of books going from one wall to another. Each row of books is sustained by two metallic rails on the side tightened by a number of devices. There is no glue between the books and nothing underneath them to sustain the row - except a few sawhorses which are able to rotate if touched (as David showed us).
The installation of the piece is shown in an interesting and short accelerated video.

The piece is certainly heavy but seems to float effortlessly. Unfortunately, the piece is fenced by a wire. It is not possible to see it from close. "
It could collapse" says Adey, "It is dangerous. When I was trying in my studio, it happened several times. Then you have a big pile of books on the floor and you have to do it all over again. But at the gallery, there will be someone there all the time watching. There will be no wire. You'll be able to walk underneath it."

I would like that. This is so bizarre not to walk "in" the piece. To have to stay away, like when one visits the Chateau de Versailles with the ropes everywhere to prevent any touching. It really puts a huge distance between the piece and the viewer.
So the piece is site-specific.

"The Postmodern Prometheus" Adey made in 2008.
(photo David Adey)

The idea of having a piece made of books came after Adey talked with the curator of one of the group show at the
Athenaeum a year ago. Show in which Adey had "The Postmodern Prometheus".

"John Henry" will soon travel to Los Angeles and will be part of Adey's first show at the Luis de Jesus Los Angeles gallery in Bergamot station. There, the piece will be adapted to different measurements of the walls.

But what about the content of the piece? What will it mean to be in the gallery space after being shown in the space of the library it was made for?

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
February 27, 2010 - April 3,
1008 Wall Street
La Jolla, California

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