The book as a physical object is the ostensible subject of carefully made, realistic pencil drawings by Allen Ruppersberg and Molly Springfield. Like everything else in both exhibitions, they are paradoxical: Writing is material, and, then again, it’s not. Made in the 1970s, Mr. Ruppersberg’s works represent books like Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du Mal” and Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” lying closed on undefined surfaces. What’s the relationship between what these volumes look like and what they contain?
Ms. Springfield’s drawings are from a 2007 series called “The World is Full of Objects,” whose title refers to the conceptualist Douglas Huebler’s famous statement, “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.” From a distance, they appear to be a grad student’s smudgy, black-and-white photocopies from library books. Up close, you see that they are lovingly hand-drawn copies of photocopies of pages from books about conceptual art of the 1960s, including Lucy R. Lippard’s “Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object.”
What is an object, anyway? Must it be something material? Can a concept be an object? Are words and poems objects? What about sounds, actions and events? If an object exists only in a photograph, is it still an object? Do imaginary objects count? If you allow that a question can be an object, then such queries could be the primary objects of Ms. Springfield’s beautifully realized, brain-teasing drawings.
Excerpt from When How It Looks Matters More Than What It Says: ‘Drawing Time, Reading Time’ at the Drawing Center by Ken Johnson.