At one time I devoted extensive time to a PhD in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester. My dissertation was an extended discourse analysis of the discipline of art history, in particular looking at the rhetorical limits of art history, limits established in the acceptance of certain defining categorical concepts (style, period, and canon, of course, but by extension artist, history, work, and time) at the foundation of the discipline in the late nineteenth century.
This durance in academia was somewhat fated from the start, in that I was less interested in an academic career than I was interested in attempting, as far as possible, to stop making visual art. While the dissertation was abandoned in the final stretch, two lasting results came from this tenure. The first, academic credibility, which continues to grant me relatively easy access to various libraries and archives. The second, an invigorated studio practice that puts into concrete form much of the ideas and interests that I was pursuing in my formal studies.
In particular, my work entails a close reading of ‘classic’ texts from the Western philosophical tradition. Paying attention the structural forms of these texts (collectively as an class, and individually as specific instances), I undertake a form of rogue editing, drawing out structural themes and motifs that make the primary text possible. Important to my practice is that the work I produce is a secondary text, written ‘over top’ of existing texts. The refiguring of these texts is done through various devices of distanciation. The execution of this work is as necessary as the pre-figured thought that goes into its planning. Like many contemporary conceptual artists, I view the embodiment of the physical work as a necessary aspect of my practice.
Where possible, I prefer to display and contextualize this work in situ, as books (e.g., not as artist books) that infiltrate the structures of the dissemination of the primary texts themselves.