Overview – Performance and Diptych

 

Tim Youd is engaged in the retyping of 100 novels over a ten-year period. He retypes each novel on the same make/model typewriter in a location charged with literary significance specific to the subject novel. Each performance is a multi-day, often multi-week event. His performances have taken him to a wide variety of locations in the United States and Europe over the past five years. The ongoing project has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions and has received a significant number of positive critical reviews and popular press exposures.

 

Each novel is retyped on a single sheet of paper, backed by a second sheet, run repeatedly through the typewriter. As the retyping progresses, the top sheet becomes saturated with ink, while the undersheet becomes embossed with indentation. As the top sheet further distresses, ink bleeds through to the undersheet. At the end of the performance, the two sheets are separated, and mounted side-by-side in a diptych (see image above, right). This diptych serves as a formal relic, containing the repeated rectangle within the rectangle geometry present in two pages of an open book. The entire novel is present, but entirely illegible. 

 

The Devotional Act of Being a Good Reader

 

The performance itself is a devotional and close reading of the novel (the reading is silent, the sound is the typewriter alone). Youd’s endeavor is not merely to copy the book, it is to experience deep engagement with the book. It is at its heart an effort to be a truly good reader who becomes an even better reader as he continues to move through the entire 100 novel cycle.  Most people have had the out-of-body experience that occurs during the course of an engrossing read.  It is a transportation to a higher plane of consciousness, an equivalent to religious ecstasy. 

 
Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, 2015
typewriter ink on paper 
17 x 25 inches (43.2 x 63.5 cm) 
 
Courtesy the artist and Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York. 
 
Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise, 2013
typewriter ink on Fujifilm Prescale pressure sensitive film
17 x 25 inches (43.2 x 63.5 cm)
 
Courtesy the artist and Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York.  
 
 Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 2013 typewriter ink on paper framed: 17 x 25 inches (43.2 x 63.5 cm)
 
Courtesy the artist and Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York.  
 
Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, 2013
typewriter ink on paper framed: 17 x 25 inches (43.2 x 63.5 cm)
 
Courtesy the artist and Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York. 
 

Related Work – Ribbon Paintings and Typewriter Sculptures

When Youd is not engaged in a retyping performance, he is in his studio creating work that is related to the retypings. The two main bodies of work are the Ribbon Paintings and the Typewriter Sculptures. There is here, also, an ongoing tension between the formal and the whimsical.

The Ribbon Paintings are made utilizing the residual ink extracted from typewriter ribbons and is a continuation of the formal exploration of the rectangle within the rectangle of the diptychs. A gessoed panel is laid flat and coated with glue into which typewriter ribbons are placed. Upon the glue drying, the ribbons themselves are pulled up, leaving behind residual ink suspended in the glue. Multiple layers of this process build up to create an almost encaustic like finish, with a significant amount of visual and actual texture. 

As an extension of Youd's fetishization of the author and the author’s tool, he has built a series of cardboard sculptures that represent the specific typewriters he has used in performance. A number of these sculptures were featured in a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. One of these oversized sculptures was just exhibited in conjunction with my recently completed overnight retyping performance of John Rechy’s City of Night at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Los Angeles premiere non-profit art institution. Written over fifty years ago, City of Night was one of the first gay-themed novels to cross over into the mainstream.

 

 
 Untitled 
Typewriter Ribbon Ink, Glue on Panel
24 x 30 in
Courtesy the artist and Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York.
 
 Untitled 
Typewriter Ribbon Ink, Glue on Panel
24 x 30 in
Courtesy the artist and Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York.
 
 Henry Miller's Underwood Standard
 
 
 Kurt Vonnegut's Smith-Corona Coronamatic 2200

Tim Youd (b. 1967, Worcester, MA) is a performance and visual artist working in painting, sculpture, and video. To date, he has retyped 67 novels at various locations in the United States and Europe. Residencies at historic writer’s homes have included William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak with the University of Mississippi Art Museum (Oxford, MS), Flannery O’Connor’s Andalusia with SCAD (Milledgeville and Savannah, GA), and Virginia Woolf’s Monk’s House (Rodmell, Sussex). His work has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions, including CAMSTL, The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, Hanes Art Gallery at Wake Forest University, The New Orleans Museum of Art, Monterey Museum of Art, Hemingway-Pfeffer Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, University of Mississippi Art Museum at Rowan Oak, and the Lancaster Museum of Art and History. He has presented and performed his 100 Novels project at the Ackland Art Museum, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Art Omi, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), and LAXART, and retyped Joe Orton’s Collected Plays at The Queen’s Theatre with MOCA London. He
lives and works in Los Angeles. www.timyoud.com

The Abandoned Playground is curated by Daniele Pantano.

Lincoln  •  Langenthal 

ISSN 2633-0725

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