Enlarged from the Catalogue: The United States of America


This project was based on the catalogue of the permanent holdings in the American wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The plan of the American wing was overlaid onto the plan of Postmasters Gallery, New York, forcing the scale relationship between the two. In relation to sites of contemplation, information, and thresholds at the Metropolitan Museum wing, display vitrines were placed in the Gallery. 

The vitrines, each holding two overlaid silk-screened images taken from the catalogue of the Museum, were rationally placed in relation to the plan of the museum, but eccentrically placed in relation to the gallery, creating a new "space" for the spectator. 

A new "catalogue" was also produced for inclusion in the installation, including images from the Museum catalogue, excerpted captions, and three additional text excerpts printed on translucent paper: a table of contents from an 1861 American slave narrative ("authenticated" by a white abolitionist); a discussion of the case of a Native American woman who sued her tribe over their patrilineal, although preservationist property rules, and an excerpt from a Chinese grammar primer about the use of ungendered pronouns.

This project was meant to be "site transferable," i.e. able to be displaced in a specific way to another location. Such a relocation took place at The Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown at Federal Plaza, in 1990.

(9 wood and Plexiglas display vitrines w/silkscreens on wood, leather bench, silkscreen print, books.) In the collection of MAMCO, Geneva.

Selected Bibliography

Review, Artforum (November 1989)

Review, Arts (February 1989)

Review, Flash Art (February/March 1989)

Review, Art in America (April 1989)

The Desire of the Museum (The Whitney Museum of American Art, Downtown at Federal Plaza, catalogue) 1989

"Artist's Book Beat," by Nancy Princenthal, The Print Collector's Newsletter (March/April 1989)

"Folio, Artist's Publications," by Barbara Moore, Artforum 1989

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© 2023 Silvia Kolbowski