There’s no object too mundane to catch Micah Lexier’s eye. He collects scraps torn off cardboard boxes, envelopes and papers lying in the street, even bathroom-cleaning checklists at restaurants — anything that deals with the passage of time or with systems, the driving forces behind his own work as an artist. “I love garbage day,” he says. “It’s hard for me to walk home and not find things. I keep a knife in my pocket just in case.” It’s not that Lexier necessarily uses these found items in his own pieces, like the 1994 series in which he photographed 75 men from age 1 to 75, all of whom were named David, and then photographed them again ten years later. They’re just another part of his lifelong fascination with the aesthetics of order, a way of seeing the world that was mapped out perfectly in the show he recently curated at Toronto’s MKG127 gallery, where curiosities from his collection sat alongside sequentially themed works by other artists.
Called A to B, the exhibition — which closed yesterday — included 70 items arranged inside four glass vitrines of Lexier’s design, from a triptych of dot matrix–inspired oil paintings down to a tiny bottle cap he threw in at the last minute. (It came from the floor cleaner he bought to spiff up the gallery pre-show, and featured a 2-step instruction graphic indicating its removal.) Each was chosen for its own unique A to B progression, whether abstract or literal: A series of art postcards designed to be mailed sequentially, a before and after shot of a mortician’s handiwork, a dim sum ordering card, a sign printed in two different languages. “They zing back and forth in surprising ways,” says Lexier, who laid the objects out in ways that often furthered the subtle connections between them. But since there was no gallery guide explaining each item’s provenance, Sight Unseen asked Lexier to revisit the exhibition and describe how and why certain curiosities made the cut. Here are his answers.
Sighted on MoMA's Inside/Out blog: "Many of MoMA’s employees aren’t just guardians of the Museum’s collection: they are artists in their own right, and have found inspiration for their own work through their engagement with artwork shown at MoMA ... This new series of blog posts will focus on a few of MoMA’s many employee/artists, and will address the ways in which they have incorporated their daily work experiences into their own artistic processes."
“I was so dim,” says Greg Krum. It’s a Sunday afternoon, and Krum, best known around New York as retail director of the wonderfully quirky Shop at Cooper-Hewitt, is puttering around the sun-drenched kitchen of a renovated 1890s townhouse he shares with two roommates in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He’s trying to recall the origins of his other career: that of a photographer about to mount his first solo show this May at New York’s Jen Bekman gallery. “Growing up, I was always attracted to making art, but I didn’t think I could do it because I couldn’t draw. I was like, ‘Okay. That’s out.’ Then I finally realized it’s not about that. It’s about living a life of ideas.”
Is it times of trouble that attract us so keenly to the nostalgia of souvenirs — the snow globes, the ticket stubs, the ubiquitous museum totes? At the end of a chaotic decade, a rash of exhibitions has popped up dedicated to the kitschy takeaways of travel. The largest of these, “The Souvenir Effect,” curated by Òscar Guayabero for Barcelona’s Disseny Hub design museum, opened at the height of Spanish tourist season in July and comes to a close this Sunday.