Is time travel even possible?
In the spring of 1970 I participated in an grad school exhibition, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Each participant was allowed to exhibit two pieces, but I managed a third.
My first two pieces used books as the material and subject. Funny how that works. I had been introduced to handmade paper the previous fall, but was caught up addressing the relationship between printmaking and books .
The two works in this exhibition had been constructed from a random books. One book I drilled a hole through a cover to cover and screwed the book to the gallery wall. The screws had washers to prevent the pages from being turned. The book was opened to the exact middle of the book and turned up side down. It was an unreadable book. It told a story to which no one had access. But it remained an open book. It was presented in the form of a painting, as a flat wall piece.
The second book was sculptural, suspended in space, without a base. Anchor bolts were placed in diagonal walls and held the book like the rope tight rope walker would cross between two trees.
If a visitor had put pressure on the spine, the book would have split in two.
Those were the official pieces in the show that to allow. The third piece was a special unrecognized installation.
I silkscreened a sign, black ink on red board. I used Helvetica as the font, as Helvetica was the most common typeface for actual signs. I completed the illusion of signage by framing the signs in the round black moldings. I hung the unofficial signage inside the elevators that went up to the galleries.
The signs read: quote use the elevator on your left”.
I thought it was clever at the time. There was only one elevator.
It was the only elevator left to take. I rode up and down a few times until someone figured out that I must have put up the sign.
One passenger rode up with me and then down after he’d spent time in the exhibition. My friend, Steve McMath, was in the elevator as we went down. Before we reached the ground floor the stranger spoke to me.
He said he’d come a long way to see the show and was glad he had. He said it was exactly as he remembered it. I didn’t know what he meant by that. I had the sense that he’d probably been an art student many years before. I also had the feeling that I was supposed to know him, but I didn’t.
What he said I’ll never forget. “The important thing is to continue to work, to make art, fifty years and beyond. The value in making art is the making of the art ”.
I’ve tried over the years to figure out who this man was. The image in my mind is of an old man well-dressed, with dark loose clothing. His hair was thin and gray almost white and he wore spectacles. It might have been tortoiseshell, maybe round. I’m pretty sure they were round. I would have remembered had they been blue.Is Time Travel Even Possible?