Originally published in 1983, Writings 1973-1983 on Works 1969-1979, by Los Angeles artist Michael Asher (1943-2012) presents select documentation of 33 works through writings, photographs, architectural floor plans, exhibition announcements and other ephemera.
For most of his career, Asher did not create traditional art objects; instead, he altered the existing institutional apparatus through which art is presented, creating work that intervened in the architectural, social or economic systems that undergird how art is produced and experienced. For example, in 1974, he removed the partition wall dividing the office and gallery space of the Claire S. Copley Gallery in Los Angeles, revealing the day-to-day activities of the gallery to the public. In another work from 1979, Asher had a bronze replica of a late 18th-century sculpture of George Washington moved from the exterior of the Art Institute of Chicago to a museum gallery that housed 18th-century art, reintroducing the statue to its original period context and shifting its function from public monument to indoor sculpture.
Due to its site- and time-specific nature, Asher’s work generally ceased to exist after an exhibition, which makes this highly sought-after book an invaluable resource. As the artist states in the introduction: “This book as a finished product will have a material permanence that contradicts the actual impermanence of the art-work, yet paradoxically functions as a testimony to that impermanence of my production.”
Initiated by Kasper König, Writings 1973-1983 on Works 1969-1979 was originally copublished by the Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and was largely shaped by Asher’s close collaboration with Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, who succeeded König as editor of the press.