April 3 – May 30, 2015
Louis Zoellar Bickett
Louis Zoellar Bickett: The Archive “My artwork is about identity, the passage of time, and death.”
Since 1972, Louis Zoellar Bickett has been developing what he refers to as The Archive, a documentation that strives to catalogue the totality of his environment, encompassing art projects and the materials that make up and are contained within his home-studio. Much like Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, it contains the commonplace that surrounds him, things he has received or that have been given to him, such as letters, papers, receipts, photographs, and memorabilia. Unlike the Time Capsules, however, Bickett’s is not a haphazard agglomeration of things packed away for future archivists to investigate but a deliberately collected and catalogued record of the things that surround him. It consists of everyday objects, stored in boxes or displayed in cabinets (which themselves are documented in The Archive) and on shelves, and includes his extensive collection of art books and drawings, as well as the paintings and prints, acquired from friends, family, and yard sales, that hang on the walls throughout his house. Systematically embracing the things that come into his life from outside, it also includes all the art that he has created, a body of works that itself constitutes an historical archives of sorts. Around Bickett’s home-studio groups of glass conserve jars of various sizes, sealed with Roman wax, are arranged on shelves and in cabinets. These vessels are filled with different materials, such as dirt from historical sites he has visited or needles and prescription pill containers he has acquired from friends. Each is an artwork created by Bickett, a record of an event, place, or person that is acknowledged with a title, date, and archive reference on the typed, vacuum sealed label attached to it. Like all of Bickett’s art, these objects proclaim his political and cultural interests and, alongside other artworks in the form of provocative texts, images, and 3 dimensional objects, they address issues of sexuality, race, identity, and discrimination in all its forms. Tagged, or due to be tagged, each and every one of these artworks is part of The Archive and, together with the everyday objects and memorabilia that occupy Bickett’s home-studio, they are accounted for in what he refers to as the Cultural Memorabilia Volume Project, an exhaustive, detailed reference index that is bound in black plastic folders and which currently takes up over 70 feet of shelf space.
EVERY HAT I OWN, July 31, 2008
The archive and archivisation is hardly new territory for contemporary art and, for over a century, a long list of artists, including the likes of Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Broodthaers, Hanne Darboven, and Ilya Kabakov, have been preoccupied with it, whether in the form of projects dealing with real archival material or artworks which use the archive as their theme. Taking his cue from these pioneers, and artfully employing Duchamp’s idea of the Readymade, Bickett’s own engagement with archivisation can be seen as a kind of autobiography that aims to describe the artist’s life and bear witness to his being here, recording his presence so that his subjectivity is available to audiences of the future. Cast in this light, The Archive’s ambition appears to be the creation of a giant, all encompassing self-portrait, a “Gesamtkunstwerk” that somehow presents a sum record of Bickett’s life—and ironically points to its own completion through the final tagging of the artist’s body in the morgue. Clearly this utopian goal is unattainable, as the ability to represent Bickett’s subjectivity in its totality is rendered partial by the restraints of time and space. However, while the idea of an exhaustive self-portrait is bound to fail, The Archive does make visible Bickett’s critical engagement with issues of identity. By attempting to substantiate and visualize the subject, the modifications that result from each new addition to The Archive reveal a portrait that describes his changing subjectivity. Seeming to echo philosopher Jacques Derrida’s declaration that the process of archivization “produces as much as it records the event”, Bickett’s art, by dutifully taking account of what surrounds him, incessantly augments and refashions his surroundings with new objects so that the shape of The Archive is continuously being altered. Viewed this way, The Archive can be understood not simply as the record of things that have been but as a means of charting a continuously changing present. It is a system that conveys significance on the arbitrary and expanding traces of Bickett’s daily life and, rather than being a totalizing picture of the artist, it represents Bickett not in the past tense of recorded history. Instead it embeds his identity in the mutable present, as a process of perpetual becoming. JULIEN ROBSON 2015
Louis Zoellar Bickett is a self taught artist, and published critic and poet, who lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky. Since the early 1980s Bickett has been included in many solo and group exhibitions both in the USA and abroad, presenting special projects as well as selections from The Archive. Bickett is a YADDO Fellow and three times recipient of the Al Smith Artist Fellowship of the Kentucky Arts Council. Among many others, his works are held in the collections of Contemporary Art Museum, Kiev; Kent State University; Speed Art Museum; and University of Kentucky Art Museum.
Julien Robson is an Independent Curator based in Austria and the USA. Previously he held positions as Curator of Contemporary Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Speed Art Museum. Important exhibition projects he has curated include Mel Chin: Itâ€™s Not What You Think (Vienna 2012), Bill Viola: Ocean Without a Shore (PAFA 2011), Philagrafika: The Graphic Unconscious (PAFA 2009), Werner Reiterer: Raw Loop (Speed 2008), and Presence (Speed 2003). As well as numerous exhibition catalogues, Robson recently published a book about the Shands Collection entitled Great Meadows: The Making of Here (Hatje Cantz).
Exhibition Checklist THE CULTURAL MEMORABILIA VOLUME PROJECT, 2015 Work in progress since 1972 Mixed media documentation in black ring-binders 9:11, 2007 Video on DVD 4:3 aspect ratio. Duration: 3.33.52 Edition of 5 DADDY’S BEDROOM, 2015 Work in progress since 2001 Mixed media with archived artworks by Raymond Paul Adams, Aaron Michael Skolnick, G. Haviland Argo III, Guy Mendes, R. Clint Colburn, David Hanlon, Duane Michals, Don Russell, Blythe Jamison (formerly Peggy Blythe), David Minton and Lauren Argo. Dimensions variable IN THE DREAM I WAS BEAUTIFUL AND EVERYONE LOVED ME (10,000 Selfies), December 26, 2012 - February 12, 2015, 2015 Digital images displayed on Android Tablet Edition of 5 + 1 Artist’s Proof EVERY HAT I OWN, July 31, 2008 A series of 19 photographic images presented as jpegs on video monitor (2015) THE CULTURAL MEMORABILIA CABINET, circa 1983 Archived June 19, 2006 Work in progress. Vintage commercial cabinet, various archived works contained in jars. WHAT I READ (THE HOLY BIBLE), January 4, 2008 Digital inkjet print (2015) 54 x 36 inches Edition of 3 + 1 Artist’s Proof WHAT I READ (THE MEANING OF THE HOLY QUR’AN), January 4, 2008 Digital inkjet print (2015) 54 x 36 inches Edition of 3 + 1 Artist’s Proof BACKBAR (A PISS A DAY IN 2003), 2003 Urine contained in 365 liquor bottles with laminated descriptive tags, Roman casting wax. Dimensions variable
Zephyr Gallery Artist Board
Patrick Donley Peggy Sue Howard Chris Radtke Michael Ratterman Brenda Wirth
Ken Hayden Matt Meers Robert Mitchell Joel Pinkerton Letitia Quesenberry Reba Rye
PROJECT 7: Louis Zoellar Bickett Julien Robson
Hannah Morgan Robert Mitchell
Peggy Sue Howard
Front Cover: WHAT I READ (THE HOLY BIBLE), January 4, 2008 Digital inkjet print (2015) 54 x 36 inches Edition of 3 + 1 Artist’s Proof
Project Supporters: Kathy Lundy Jones; Leslie and James Millar;
Ladonna Nicolas; Merrily Orsini and Rick Heath; Sandy and Bill Schreiber.
The mission of Zephyr Gallery is to serve as a platform to incubate, advocate, and facilitate innovative ideas in art and artistic practices in the region. In 2014, Zephyr launched an ongoing Project series with curated proposal-based exhibitions as well as collaborations with universities, colleges, and cultural institutions. Project 7: Louis Zoellar Bickett is the seventh exhibition in this series.
610 East Market Street | Louisville, KY 40202 www.zephyrgallery.org | Thursday–Saturday, 11–6