Wystan Curnow & Lawrence Weiner

(PDF Version)


‘TEXT FOR A CUL-DE-SAC’ was commissioned by The Power Plant, Toronto, and originally published in THE OTHER SIDE OF A CUL-DE-SAC, an artist book by Lawrence Weiner that accompanied the exhibition of the same name at The Power Plant, 14 March – 18 May, 2009.

This publication is an artist’s book, not an exhibition catalogue. Certainly, it was occasioned by an exhibition, whose title it shares. And it accompanies the exhibition in that the works it presents are the same as those exhibited. But the main purpose of the book is not to document or interpret the exhibition. The status of the works as presented in the book is equal to that of those in the gallery; the texts in the book are separate and distinct presentations in their own right of the works concerned. Weiner’s works claim an existence prior to and separate from their presentation in either context, each is what I would call a ‘pre-text’ whose precedents relate more to the performing arts, with their scripts and scores, than to the visual arts, with their originals and reproductions.

In what way does TEXT FOR A CUL-DE-SAC keep company with THE OTHER SIDE OF A CUL-DE-SAC ? Well, composed with limited prior knowledge of the works gathered together under that title, it is neither predicated on or illustrative of it. The 'subject' would be 'cul-de-sac', that was established. The new work (titled CUL-DE-SAC) was unfinished; neither had the extant works MORE THAN ENOUGH, 1998, FOR BETTER OR WORSE, 2001, been selected, which is to say the discursive nexus of the exhibition was not settled.Yet it was known that, through presentation the generality of a Weiner text seeks out specificities and reciprocities. TEXT FOR A CUL-DE-SAC is a largish collocation of various specificities, a collocation put in the vicinity of, which is to say near enough to, to be discovered by Weiner’s texts and subsequently by his illustrations. It was composed so as to play into their hands. It, too, is a set of language pieces lifted from and/or looking for context. Likewise, gaps, dashes, brackets and ellipses, (‘ out from a place in the line ’) together describe and extend invitations to reciprocation.
---Wystan Curnow