DATE SENT: July 20, 2006
SENT TO: Ellen Quinn
SENT VIA: US Postal Service
DESCRIPTION OF OBJECT: 9” x 2 1/2” x 8”
diameter clear plastic bottle of spring water. A white plastic
screw/pop-up cap is covered by a second, clear plastic cap.
Ink stamped numbers and words appear just below the bottle
neck. It reads: PRD05312006 11:10 BEST BY05312008VICT#973.
A black and yellow paper label covers the mid section of the
bottle 3 3/4” from the top. The label is 2 1/4”
high and 8” in diameter. A yellow oval forms the central
image of the bottle. On it are the words THE BLACK FACTORY
and SPRING WATER. Between these words is the silhouetted image
of a small building, which appears to be one room with a window.
There is a large smokestack next to the building. From the
smokestack is a large black form of smoke. The smoke may be
abstract, but it has the appearance of two back-to-back facial
profiles. The faces in the profiles seem to have their mouths
wide open. On the side of the label reads the following in
CONTENTS: puffy cloud flavoring, daytime,
smidgens of Michael Jackson’s thriller album
(on cassette), pinch from the bell of the washington
monument, dash of hair curler worn by andy gibb
of the bee gees, ink scraped from a word on a page
from a book on Rwandan 21st century landscape painting…
Below that, in very small white type, the following is printed:
100% Spring Water, 16.9 oz.
Sources: Roaring Spring/Eureka Springs
NYNYSHD Cert. #092, CT #678
And in larger white type is written:
hope problem, thirst problem,
black problem, next problem…
The bottle has wave-like ridges circling its bottom portion,
below the label. The bottom of the bottle is slightly concave,
with a five-armed form, which divides the bottom into five
triangular shapes. A #1 recycling symbol is also on the bottom
of the bottle.
ORIGIN AND APPROXIMATE DATE OF POSSESSION OF OBJECT: Purchased
for $5 from a mobile art van created by William Pope L. in
July 2006. The van was part of an art event coordinated by
the Jersey City Museum and was parked on Newark Avenue in
downtown Jersey City.
MOST RECENT LOCATION OF OBJECT: On the third shelf from the
top of a tall bookshelf in the northeast corner of my studio,
to the right of the exit door.
RELATION OF OBJECT TO RECIPIENT: Ellen Quinn, my friend and
colleague, has spoken often of William Pope L. They attended
graduate school together at Rutgers, New Brunswick. William
is a video, performance and installation artist who has showed
his work fairly extensively. The Black Factory van, which
was parked for a day on Newark Avenue in downtown Jersey City,
was one such project. It included objects, images, and products
that referenced African-American culture. I cannot exactly
remember much of what the installation included, or even the
precise significance of the project, though I do remember
that there were a number of items for sale and the proceeds
were going to a charity. The water I purchased was the cheapest
item for sale. When I bought it, I thought immediately of
Ellen and her connection to William. But the stronger relation
that this object bears to Ellen is the idea of making an art
piece from a bottle of water, of using water in and of itself
as an art medium. This is because Ellen’s approach to
making art is grounded in conceptualism, and in part, to pay
attention to that which is often overlooked, of dealing with
the lost objects, places, and ideas that make up the periphery
of our consciousness. Ellen, it seems to me, works like an
alchemist, transforming the mundane to something of value,
beauty, and mystery. It struck me that Ellen’s ability
to see and transform is both metaphorical and factual in relation
to art making, to relationships, to writing, to the act of
living. Water, obviously, is the most essential of elements.
Its uses infinite, its pleasure profound, its value is priceless.
It takes artists, though, to point once again to the obvious,
to remind us where our feet our, of which space we occupy.
Ellen and William Pope L. both do that. My hope is that Ellen
will continue the collaboration that he started and that I
coaxed along by sending this to her.
RESPONSE OF RECIPIENT:
plan is to de-accumulate objects I now own during the course
of the exhibition year. I will photograph the selected object
then send the object with a letter to a person who has some
relationship to the object or whom I think might be interested
in the object. The letter will discuss the project and tell
the receiver they can keep the object, destroy it, give it
away, recycle it or anything else they choose. I will ask
them to document it in the place they now have it and send
their image and/or written description back to me of what
they did with it and where it is. I plan on de-accumulating
an average of one object per week. The new images/descriptions
will be placed in a plastic folder and exhibited along with
a photograph of the object as it was in my possession.