February 16th, 2013 / 2:20 pm

Some archaeology


In 1974, Sol LeWitt made a series of “incomplete open cubes,” portraying all the possible configurations an incomplete cube could have. His early sketch studies of them resemble cuneiform, the rise from babble to meaning. The conceptual minimalist wasn’t interested in human volition, discretion, or gesture, but rather, the algorithmic underlining of things. Immune to will, art was granted a meaningless presence that could become beautiful on its own. Some of them sold at Christie’s between $50,000 – $250,000 dollars, depending on how mutated or fucked-up each one was. The more amputated the violated square looked, the more it fetched at auction. In short, absence had been purchased on a sliding scale, and maids finely dusted the masterpieces in their respective homes. His 1968 “Buried Cube Containing an Object of Importance but Little Value” is supposedly buried in its collector’s backyard. LeWitt was photographed digging a hole with a shovel though, the way condemned men are oddly obedient to their imminent executor. The will to prolong life as Darwinian tic. The IKEA “Lack” side table is $9.99 if you want it in “birch finish,” and $7.99 in plain white, a color which — when not imbued with high modernist sheen — concedes to a post-industrial grim boredom, even guilt, that is always trying to find its way back into the woods. This may be Walt Whitman’s fault, who saw a “journey work of the stars” in a blade of grass, so I have him to blame for my meandering horoscope. Everything looks so beautiful in IKEA’s labyrinthian showroom, until you haul a box full of flattened glued sawdust home. The instructions are made for the illiterate; one’s personal language reverts grunts and squeals, reduced to their hands and knees. Hours later, if you’re lucky, the representation of an ideal object has manifested inside your home, itself turned into a new object by its very representation of the original. Every clone in every home is theoretically the same, except secretly broken in unique ways. You come across a bag of screws, and hope they were extra. My personal lack holds an alarm clock for which I lament waking up, each day a slow parody of the one before, my bones buried under flesh, the birch now slowly peeling off. Imagine a species after this one coming across these objects, excavating their parts from the rubble, and trying to put the pieces back together. It might be hard to tell what was missing. The sifted legs resemble robot femurs, as if making the perfect person. They decide we were sloppy aliens. We often lied about what was underneath. In need of a place to rest our keys, and minds, we brought the strangest things home.


  1. Brooks Sterritt

      nice connections

  2. A D Jameson

      Sol LeWitt was Swedish?