Full of Objects, Again by Alisha Kerlin
Part of me genuinely wants to see a newspaper reproduction of a hand-drawn replica with a photocopy for a source - a drawing of a book's page in which the first line is the title of the show, and informs the headline for this review. Newsprint is the ideal substrate for the photograph of the drawing on paper, and after all the mimicry, the book page mentioned above was once again reproduced and sent digitally.
The other part of me is ready to criticize artists who make art that directly tells the viewer how smart the work is -- there is a "why" for every maneuver. Is Molly Springfield giving us all the answers? She's even showing us the books she's read, and her selections are very specific; her choices do not come from writings outside of an art context.
She includes in the installation 1960s and '70s texts on conceptual art. Her drawings read, "Because the work is beyond perceptual experience, awareness of the work depends on a system of documentation... Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution..."
Despite their wordy heavy-handedness and before the thought of "why" kicked in, I truly felt a material attachment to these drawings. I looked at each letter and traced the process of shaping every period or comma. Some of the drawn letters mimic areas that are blown-out or shifted from photocopying.
One might think that with all the stand-ins and the reproducing, some originality, authenticity, quality, or information would be lost along the way. This is not the case. The viewer stands in front of her work, leaning in to read, and when not reading, maybe is caught inspecting the drawings for deviations and those choices that move away from the original sources, Six Years: The dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 by Lucy Lippard, Conceptual Art by Usula Meyer, and Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, edited by Alexander Alberro and Blake Stimson.
Are these drawings in the sense that they are sketches for ideas? Maybe Springfield uses drawing as a way to observe and understand the subject better. Her pages raise questions, questions, especially about what I believe is already known. Puzzles are presented, but I wonder what Springfield has to say herself?
It would be hard to argue an open-ended interpretation of this work - what Springfield presents is a closed system. Although not mechanically reproduced, these drawings are what they seem to be ...reproductions. Her intent is not to trick the eye. This is not trompe l'oiel.
It is a straightforward read through Molly Springfield's eyes - front cover, contents, index, back cover. Her choice of text will now be reproduced yet another time, and the pages of this newspaper will not tell you what her work is all about, and neither will a page of one of the actual books from which the art is drawn. I recommend seeing these authentic reproductions in person, and reading the texts at home.