lisa radon

The book I read was in your eyes

Anne Hamilton at Elizabeth Leach, Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen at PDX Contemporary Art

When I first thought to write this essay for ArtsWatch, the artists for the 2014 Whitney Biennial had not yet been announced. I mention this because now I cannot consider the Portland exhibits I wish to write about without contemplating the tenor of the Whitney curators’ choices for the upcoming Biennial. Much of the art chosen is by artists who also write about art, or artists who often use text in their work, or artists who only use text in their work, and to fill out this line of thought, publishers of texts. (See the breakdown here.)

Not that I want to make claims for being prescient or any such thing, but the art that caught my eye in Portland the last two months also had much to do with writing and reading. Never mind that I am often creatively geared this way and that my own predisposition may guide me toward this type of work—I have seen a lot lately. In the last year or so I have written essays about artists who use text as a central focus of their work: Lisa Radon’s sublime ἐπί ἡμέρα (epi hemera) and Sue Tompkins’ typewritten works at Portland Museum of Modern Art and part of this year’s TBA Festival.

Now, Elizabeth Leach has an exhibit by Ann Hamilton that runs for ten weeks through January 11, plus Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen were around the corner at PDX Contemporary Art last month. Then there is an ongoing curatorial thrust of Yale Union. While I hesitate to call it a trend, I cannot brush it off as a coincidence. Something is afoot.

Whether text (and I mean this in the broadest possible sense) is finally getting its due as the inspiration for and an element of a fair amount of art we see these days, or that the worlds of the poet, philosopher, curator, critic and artist have irrevocably melded into a Leviathan of practice, it nevertheless has me thinking.

Does building a richer inner life, namely by reading, run the danger of becoming a form of hermeticism, thereby leaving something or someone behind?


Do you hear what I read?: The sounds of writing

Stephanie Simek and Lisa Radon investigate the sound-art-language loop

By Graham W. Bell

Writing as action. Writing as conduit. Writing as circuit. Writing as art.

The literary and visual arts do not seemingly experience as much crossover as the performing and visual, for the most part. Why not? When is a sentence really an artwork, the paragraph a performance? Conceptual artists pioneered using words as evidence of ideas being formed/formulated, although they were more interested, perhaps, in the intangible, unreadable thought than the squiggles that form perceptual language. One writes about art and one reads about art. But how does one write as (visual) art?

Two recent performances at The White Box as part of Show and Tell approach the idea and action of writing as an art form inextricably linked to the literary, but feverishly straining to make the jump to performance and visual time-based art. Furthermore, as an added bonus, both also ask how writing is a vehicle for sound. More on that in a moment.


Lisa Radon at White Box/Courtesy of White Box

Lisa Radon performing ἐπί ἡμέρα (epi hemera)/Courtesy of White Box

By Patrick Collier

University of Oregon’s White Box held a five-day action last week called “Show and Tell.” In hit-and-run fashion, each day highlighted a different artist or presentation. I made a special, Tuesday trip to see the waning hours of Lisa Radon’s installation and performance, ἐπί ἡμέρα (epi hemera).

Epi: A multipurpose prepositional prefix with a number of meanings, the most common, etiologically, being “on.” Regardless, a proximal place.

Hemera: Day, plus the name of the Greek goddess of daytime.

Before I proceed, I need to disclose a few things, although no disclaimer will suffice, so deep is my admiration for ArtsWatch colleague Lisa Radon. We have exhibited together, she has curated me into an exhibit, and we have exchanged gifts of art and books, all of which, now that I think about it, is pretty much just the way things are done in these parts anyway, so perhaps it’s not that big of a journalistic quandary. Nevertheless, the reader should not be surprised if the below lapses into something more than a review.


Oregon ArtsWatch Archives