by Travis Jeppesen on February 25, 2014
In addition to his work as a novelist, art critic and poet, Travis Jeppesen has developed what he terms “object-oriented writing”—writing that seeks to use language as a site for a subjective, embodied encounter with and response to art objects. Jeppesen’s writing treats objects themselves as inhabitable, in an attempt to write from within the object; this approach intends to counter forms of critical analysis that assume distance from objects in order to speak about them. As he has said, “something that is located within an object can never be ‘about’ that object – aboutness is always external.”
In his installation 16 Sculptures, visitors—sitting while blindfolded—listen to recordings of Jeppesen reading his object-oriented re-creations of sculptures. Depriving us of our usual faculties for experiencing works of art—sight and visual-spatial reasoning—Jeppesen’s texts instead stage an encounter with objects through language that nonetheless retains the texture of embodied, physical experience, an imaginative realm in which he attempts to summon the autonomous essences and interior lives of objects themselves.
On the occasion of the Whitney Biennial, Jeppesen has published a book of his texts for 16 Sculptures; in addition, a marathon reading of his novel The Suiciders, published in 2013 by Semiotext(e), will be held at the Museum on May 9.
1. Les Trois Ombres, Auguste Rodin
2. Venus of Willendorf, Artist Unknown *
3. Walking Figure I (City), Thomas Houseago *
4. Untitled, Robert Morris
5. Incantatoire, Alicia Penalba
6. Spiral Jetty, Robert Smithson *
7. Untitled, Isa Genzken
8. Terrain, Koji Kamoji
9. Femme Assise (Annette), Alberto Giacometti
10. Misc. Spill, Cady Noland *
11. Neptune, Antoine Coysevox *
12. Staple Cheese (A Race), Dieter Roth
13. Relief with the Liberation of a Besieged City, Artist Unknown
14. Light Reign, James Turrell
15. Vierge à l’Enfant, Artist Unknown
16. Milon de Crotone, Pierre Puget
* These works will be included in the installation at the 2014 Whitney Biennial. The full 16 will be featured in the solo exhibition “Travis Jeppesen: 16 Sculptures” at Wilkinson Gallery, London, in July 2014.
Texts/Voice: Travis Jeppesen
Voice: Brian Tennessee Claflin
Audio Production & Sound Design: Paul “Snax” Bonomo
Graphics: Mario Dzurila
Special thanks to Stuart Comer and Amanda Wilkinson.
Published by Publication Studio (Portland, Oregon) in 2014
Copyright © 2014, Travis Jeppesen. All rights reserved.
isbn: 978 1 62462 055 3
717 SW Ankney Street
Portland, Oregon 97205
16 Sculptures is published on the occasion of the 2014 Whitney Biennial and the exhibition “Travis Jeppesen: 16 Sculptures” at Wilkinson Gallery, London.
A project supported by the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program.
Preface: On Object-Oriented Writing
This book is the culmination of a method of writing I have been working with for the past several years, a writing that attempts to inhabit the object. That is, a writing that positions itself within the work of art, while simultaneously including all the contradictions and impossibilities that come embedded within such an approach. Impossible, because of course one can never go inside a solid object. What I’m attempting here is a metaphysics of art writing. If need be, the reader of these texts can evaluate each according to its degree of failure with regards to the original work, though in the spirit of creation – or, to be precise, re-creation, the cyclical nature of art’s generationing – I have opted to exclude reproductions of the original sculptural works from this project in its various iterations, including the present volume.
It could be suggested that the father of object-oriented writing is the Gertrude Stein of Tender Buttons, the mother the Roland Barthes of Mythologies. Though object-oriented writing is more likely their aborted fetus, having been revivified on a UFO by an extra-dimensional alien race that exists on a plane parallel to our own, and returned to this reality in order to contaminate it.
Unlike criticism, which is always necessarily about an object, and unlike poetry, which is inspired by, object-oriented writing takes on the task of being. As such, another writer’s version of these 16 sculptures, selected according to whatever mysterious force drew me to them at various moments in my travels, would and should look very different from my own. This is a vehicle; not a school. I don’t believe in definitive statements and I don’t believe in endings. There is still so much more to be said and done.
– Travis Jeppesen, Berlin, 7 February 2014