On February 12th a group of dedicated (or at least not-quite-right) individuals trekked through the worst of winter sludge, snow and rain to Art Metropole for the opening of ABC… With Love (Too Cool For School).
It truly was a lesson in letters that we never received in school, or even on Sesame Street. The treatment of the alphabet by the artists remind me more of an (not so offensive) episode of Wonder showzen, with the letter “J”‘s look at Jewishness or the sexy Story of “O.”
I went alone, and was one of the first non-contributors/members to arrive. I was offered some advice on how to warm up quickly (taking off my cold layers really did work, thanks) and got to spend a few minutes alone at the doorway. Although I initially went back and forth from one letter to another based purely on curiosity and attraction, I eventually found myself unable to resist going through the exhibition in alphabetical order.
The instillation itself is comprised of 26 prints by 13 international artists measuring approximately 5 x 7″. The prints are hung in alphabetical order at the entrance to Art Metropole in blue, grey and orange ink. Each artist (including organizer Jill Henderson, David Shrigley, Fastwurms and Martin Wohrl) was assigned two letters “randomly.” There was a teeny bit of tweaking in order to assure that each artist’s letters were differently shaped.
On the reasoning behind her focus on letters, Henderson says: “I have been using hand-drawn letters and words in my own artwork for awhile and I find something funny and compelling about drawing and creating my own fonts. I guess that artists make drawings to create their own language so when they make drawings of words that are part of everyday language they are really breaking some more rules, bending language to make their own language”.
The entire collection is available in one of 52 boxes made by Henderson for $465.
At about 7:15pm, John Giorno, who also contributed two prints, began to speak. Giorno would perform six pieces, invoking all of the senses with tantrum-esque movements over phrases such as “Just make love and compassion.” Sitting cross-legged on the floor, it was hard not to remember the performances in my primary school’s library, where we were introduced to art out of art class, and words outside of reading buddies. Except, of course, at the public school library we were not given advice on the cum-shot.