Screenshot from www.thechryslerseries.com, August 2011.


The Chrysler Series was a year of events held in an office on the thirty-first floor of the Chrysler Building in New York. The events ranged from a retrospective of Ad Reinhardt’s cartoons to Will Holder’s reenactment of an Alice Notley lecture from the 1970s. It was co-coordinated by Summer Guthery and Robert Snowden.

AND BUT SO WHATEVER WE SAY, we don’t want to love our answers to death. God, I mean, having an answer for everything is an infallible sign you hung the questions too low, and too much self-interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for what happened is absent, some retroactive theory will not supply it. The series is D.E.A.D. and the migraine is that last words are lazy and everyday, emanating a consensus, and arguing against the actual feeling of minute-to-minute life. And no matter how much you go out of your way to soften the last thing you say, it still comes out in All-Igneous Caps. I think what’s left to say publicly then is, Thanks. Thanks to the people whose loins we jumped out of. Thanks to the historical loins: Common Room, a “meeting place for artists and scientists” run by Stefan and Franciszka Themerson in London in the late 1950s. Stax/Hi Records from 1967 to 1969. No joke, at least subconsciously. Not everything has to come out of some Continental philosopher’s pooch, you know? Good Christ, what else? I don’t know, Robert Evans’s kidney bean–shaped Jacuzzi circa 1970. The prelapsarian hackney carriage from whence Wyndham Lewis ejected F. T. Marinetti. Oh boy, wow, perfect, any space of leisure through which at least one dead genius may have served his G.O.D. or gone to the devil, according to his own lights! And present loins: “He Said, She Said,” an exhibition and event series held in the Oak Park bungalow of Pamela Fraser and Randall Szott. A project that is, more than anything, a fat marital feud about art that goes on walls versus art that happens more imperceptibly between people’s mouths. Who else accounts for the marbles? Dexter Sinister. Light Industry. Cleopatra’s. The Steins, a homeless project running under the tagline “Short exhibitions in a small room, sometimes.” YU Contemporary, a new art center in Portland, Oregon. See, now I’m terrified my roll call will smell like a key party. (I mean, I wouldn’t want to be one of those name-droppey guys who’s always reminding you about the time he gave Christy Turlington toe turf during a slow number at the Ozymandias Lupus Ball.) But there’s a common denominator to the list, and it isn’t just hospitality, convalescences, lack of square footage, attitude (which loosely defined might be: taking what you do seriously, but without being seriously wooden-backed about it), or putting spoken language back into art, or poverty (which is not a virtue and should not be labeled as such), or “alternative,” which is, as far as I can tell, just another way to say “them with their finances in bad shape.”

The commonality is a line of questioning: How do you share information in the spirit of that information? That is, how do you not only show work but express or continue its ethic? The commonality is the way things are done. The way things are done is crucial, as the inflection of a voice is crucial. It might have come out of Don Barthelme’s mouth first: “The change of emphasis from the what to the how seems to me to be the major impulse in art since Flaubert, and it’s not merely formalism, it’s not at all superficial, it’s an attempt to reach truth, and a very rigorous one.”

There are other, deeper sympathies, but I’m too clumsy to get at them, or I can’t remember where my fingers go on the trumpet. Okay, end of Homily. It’s homilies that make us old. Goodbye with our naked hearts.

— As told to Lauren O’Neill-Butler