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PLEASE READ

CAREFULLY:

AN INSTRUCTION BASED SHOW
-catalog-

John Clark
Niina Cochran
Terence Trent Darby
Andy Fry
Theon Jones
Christopher Bryn Jackson
Duncan Kissinger
Eduardo Luna

AT THE SHOW ROOM

DECEMBER 4, 2014 THRU FEBRUARY 2015
OPENING PARTY
THURSDAY, DEC. 4TH, 6-9pm
Big Car and artist Andrew Salyer bring you an instruction-based
show. Come complete the piece by doing what you’re told.

John McCormick
Kevin McKelvey
Nathan Monk
Ian Oehler
Pauline Oliveros
Aryn Schounce
Jim Walker
Max Walker

AN INTRODUCTION: Andrew Salyer

Who is allowed to write the scripts, and who is allowed to question

Please Read Carefully:
An Exhibition of Instruction-Based Art

tension play out is in the work of 20th century avant-garde artists.

We live our lives by instruction. We encounter instructions everywhere we go. Some are social conventions that seem (sometimes
problematically) “understood,” and then there are the “obvious”
instructions: a stop sign, directions that help guide us from physical location to location, or a combination of words and diagrams
that show us how to put together a bookshelf from IKEA. However,
instructions might be more deeply ingrained, and this exhibition,
although thoroughly playful in its intentions, might help us to un-

them? One generative place we can find this script/resistance

While it is difficult to pinpoint an origin of such artworks, the historic precedent for the impulse can be seen in conceptual art, performance art, music, and theatre, among others. We could look at
(or would it be read? maybe, perform?) Yoko Ono’s playful, instructional, and humorously subversive 1964 artist’s book, Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions, for some understanding of this kind of
work. Just as easily though, we can find the artists Miranda July,
Lawrence Weiner, Marcel Duchamp, Piero Manzoni, Bruce Nauman, Robert Barry, Ben Vautier, Louise Bourgeois, Erwin Wurm,

cover the everyday instructions that inform and help shape us.

George Brecht, Paul Chan, and, last, but certainly not least, Sol

We perform in the world according to scripts related to class,

of conceptual art that “the idea becomes the machine that makes

gender, race, sexuality, ableism/disablism, human vs. animal,
citizenship, education, science, etc. These are the scripts that
become the habits that create the performative efforts we call
everyday life. Can there be moments of resistance within these
scripts? We would like to think so. What if the instructions, script,
or performance became the moment of disrupting the script, a
kind of subversion by instruction? This is the possibility we seek
in writing our own instructions. The act of writing them or the act
of interpreting them on our own terms has the very real possibility
of allowing a disruption when following a simple set of instructions. We might even resist writing or performing as an act itself.
Who is granted agency when contemplating corporeal resistance? Who is granted the power and authority to author instructions or prescriptions of behavioral modes of being in the world?

LeWitt, working in a similar vein. This last artist famously stated
the art,” which has a particular resonance with this exhibition. We
would also be remiss not to consider the musical scores of John
Cage, whose work challenged, by instruction, our very understanding of the possibilities of sound.
One key element to instructional art is the participatory element.
One needn’t actually do the thing requested physically - there are
times that consideration or contemplation is the only effort needed
to become a participant - but this might also trouble the notion of
physicality, for isn’t the act of reading or contemplating a physical
gesture? This mind-body dualism isn’t productive as neuroscience is quickly teaching us. In fact, doing nothing is impossible,
so this too is still an act of participation. To push further, our aim
here is to also reconsider the artist/non-artist dualism that sep-

arates the creative act as an area of specialization. Philosopher

Each curator selected one version of these objects for the exhibi-

John Dewey said, “Art is not the possession of the few who are

tion, objects that might represent “the everyday.” We had in mind

recognized writers, painters, musicians; it is the authentic expres-

historic and contemporary art gestures for these objects. Artist

sion of any and all individuality.” This sentiment was echoed in

Mierle Laderman Ukles in her 1983 work “Social Mirror,’” replaced

the works and ideas of artists Allan Kaprow and Joseph Beuys.

the outside of a garbage truck with mirrors in order to interpolate

Kaprow, the founder of Happenings, considered the moment a

the viewer-participants into the socially invisible world of the New

person came into the space dedicated to the event, a participant -

York Sanitation Department - the truck is still used today in pa-

not unlike the exhibition you are engaged with presently. A similar

rades, festivals, and other community events. Artist Erwin Wurm,

artistic gesture to Kaprow’s, but even further reaching, was the

famous for his one-minute sculptures (that are certainly also per-

idea of a “social sculpture,” an idea developed by artist Joseph

formances), draws our attention to the everyday object and how

Beuys. This Beuysian gesture was an effort to have each person

we might reconsider our relationship to it. He shows his works in

realize the benefits of adding creative thinking to their daily lives

various media - photography, sculpture, video, performance, etc. -

and was expressed in his oft quoted, “Everyone is an artist.”

but also uses the exhibition as a participatory social space, inviting
viewer participation in a playful effort to instigate others to join

In creating this exhibition, these ideas, ideas that expand the

him in creating their own one-minute sculptures with the everyday

consideration of who might have an authentic artistic voice, were

objects that he supplies.

always at the forefront of our minds. You did not need to be an
artist to submit instructions, nor do you need to be one to per-

Is the artwork the act of writing the instructions, the act of inter-

form the instructions that were curated into the show. We are, of

preting and then performing the instructions, or is it the instruc-

course, very aware that choices were made in curating the show,

tions as objects themselves? It is our intention as curators that

choices that helped to shape the instructive possibilities… but you

each of these events constitutes the fluid nature of such works,

have similar choices here, to curate your involvement - to perform

that each process is non-hierarchical and transmigrates effortless-

or resist each instruction.

ly through each stage. Further, these stages are just markers of
possible moments, and we might imagine events pre- or post-writ-

Participants were invited to submit one (or more) sets of instruc-

ing, pre- and post-performing, or pre- or post-object as moments

tions for gallery visitors to enact, consider, resist, interpret or

of work. Maybe drawing attention to instructions performs the

revise. These instructions needed to be set for one person, two

service of exposing blueprints and rules - the program, if you

people, or a group to perform. The original call for instructions

will - that many have understood as the “natural” or “real” state of

also included the option to instigate an interaction with a small list

things.

of objects - ball, chair, mirror, bed sheet, pillow, and stack of paper.

Nathan Monk

THE INSTRUCTIONS

“Banana Phone”
1. Separate a single banana from a
bunch of bananas
2. Answer the banana phone, converse
3. Hand the banana phone off to a
shopper proclaiming “it’s for you”,
“they want to speak with you”, “do
you have time to take a call?”, etc.

John McCormick

Theon Jones

1. Look in the mirror. See what you saw. Use the saw to cut

Every time you hear the phrase “and also” take off your left

the chair in half. Put the halves together to make a whole.
Crawl through the hole.

shoe and sit on it for 5 mississippi seconds- count out loud
without saying the numbers.

Kevin McKelvey
“Gallery/Museum”
1. Draw a picture of your favorite thing on the paper
provided.
2. Grab the chair and the bedsheet in the Show Room
(if no one is actively using them. If they are, ask nicely
if you can use them.)

Ian Oehler

3. Place the chair in your favorite area of the Show
Room.

Stand up tall perfectly still. Breathe three or four times.

4. Place your drawing under the chair.
5. Drape the bedsheet over the chair.

While you breathe calmly, think of home. Open your eyes
if they were closed. Look straight up. Breathe three or
four times, closing your eyes at the end of exhale and

6. Name your new gallery after yourself: “Lastname
Gallery.”

opening at inhale. Look straight down, breathe. Look ahead

7. Invite others in the Show Room to crawl under the
bedsheet and see your art show in your gallery.

of returning. Turn around and start again. Think for a brief

8. Invite others to draw their favorite things to add more
pieces to your show to make it a museum.

ahead. Look up, look down, look left and right. Breathe.

9. Your show in your gallery/museum closes when you
leave the Show Room. (Others will be able to then
use the chair and bedsheet.)
10. Have a closing reception at a local restaurant (India
Palace, Saigon Restaurant, Szechwan Garden,
Havana Cafe, Machu Picchu Restaurant, or Spice
Nation).

comfortably. Look left, look right when appropriate. Think
moment of what was behind, a brief moment for what was
Step.

Christopher Bryn Jackson

Duncan Kissinger

Sell This Print Immediately

Call your mom

John Clark
Rub
Find paper.
Place paper upon textured surface.
Find crayon.
Rub crayon variously upon paper upon textured surface.
Add dots or lines to resemble faces and other imagery.
Repeat daily for the rest of your life.
Tell everyone you meet how to “rub”.

John Clark
Boogie
Whenever you remove an article of clothing, pretend it is
your dance partner. Repeat until naked or exhausted.

John Clark

Eduardo Luna

Annotate a Used Book

The Human Translator.

Go to a thrift store and buy a used book.

1. Select a word in English.

Write a preface and an afterword to the book
on available spaces in the front and back (writing
may or may not refer to the book’s original contents).

2. Send that word in a text message to 317-601-9084

(Optional): Illustrate the book with drawings, collage, etc.
Include contact information for possible further
collaboration with person who ends up buying
your annotated version.
Upon completion, furtively return the annotated book
to the same store and re-shelve approximately where you
found it.
Repeat as necessary.

3. Wait.
4. Receive translated text message. This may take
a few minutes depending on time of day.
5. Grab a sticky note and a pencil.
6. Write the word in English and Spanish on the paper.
Include an illustration if possible.
7. Share the word out loud with neighbors of station.
8. Tape the word to the wall to add it to our visual
dictionary.

Jim Walker
For a stairwell with seven levels (or less) and lights on the
wall at each level

Jim Walker

THIS LIGHT (2014)

The Lovers III

This light hangs over the woodshop. Make yourself useful!
You. Hammer, drill, saw.

Two people, possibly strangers, cover their heads and
shoulders with white bedsheets, embrace, and kiss.

This light is from the end of a pier in Ludington,
Michigan. Jump in the cold water. Feel it take your breath.

Any First Words
Look at a ball and call it the first word you ever spoke.

This light wants its picture taken. Go ahead then. Now put
it on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag
#thislightwantsitspicturetaken

If You Can’t Find a Partner…
Dance with a wooden chair.

This light is creating white space. Step aside.
This light believes itself to be a lost poem of Sylvia Plath.
What does it mean?

Leaks (requires a mirror mounted to the wall)
Stay in the mirror until somebody else enters it
then vanish immediately, immaculately, beautifully.

This light sounds. Listen, hear.

Pillow
Go to sleep right there on the floor for four minutes.
Set your alarm.

This light makes a place for you. Stay until the next person
arrives. Say only this as you leave: “It’s all yours.”

You
Make a snowflake just like this one.

This light will appear in your dream tonight. You are in this
light’s dream right now.

Andy Fry
Screensaver
Max Walker
Futbol
Find three balls and three people. Play three-­ball soccer.
You be the goalie.
Mall Yodeling
Get a chair, take it to the mall, then stand on it and yodel.
Spooky Dances
Put a bedsheet over two or more people. Dance
underneath.
You’re a Bird
Make a nest with a pillow and pretend to lay an egg.
Paperception
Draw a piece of paper on a piece of paper. Then draw one in
the one you drew then draw another in that one.
90s Mirror Time
Wear a pair of MC Hammer pants made from trash
bags and dance in front of a mirror to “U Can’t Touch
This”.

materials needed: people, an enclosed room, or demarcated
barriers/boundaries
A minimum of 3 performers enter an enclosed room or
roped ­off area, gathering in the center with their backs
together, and arms crossed in front of their chests. At
the chime of a bell, each performer begins walking in a
straight line until he or she encounters a physical barrier.
Upon contact with a wall or other physical object (including
another performer), performer immediately turns 90 degrees
to his or her left and continues walking until the next
obstacle is encountered. Continue in this manner for 10
minutes.
Note 1 ­can be performed without walls, if the boundaries
are clearly marked. Performers simply act as if they have
encountered a physical barrier when they reach the
boundary line.
Note 2 ­onlookers may enter the boundary at any time,
but must then stay for the duration of the performance
Variation 1: immediately upon contacting a barrier or
another performer, performer says the first word that enters
his/her mind, loudly.
Variation 2: Choose a piece of music to accompany
performance. Performers take a step on every half note.

Terance Trent Darby
Take the ball in the room and soccer dribble around the
others in the room moving from one side to the other. Kick
the ball into where you believe the goal to be. Celebrate
your goal in true soccer fashion, but do it silently. Use of
other objects in the room during the celebration is good.

Niina Cochran
Instructions for 2
1. Stare into your partner’s eyes
2. Continue and now touch their shoulder
3. Continue and now touch their cheek
4. Continue and now lean in
5. Enjoy

Pauline Oliveros, 1974
THE SNAKE
for a Large Group, Either in a Large Space or Outdoors
One person is appointed the snake leader. The
snake leader gradually joins everybody’s hands together,
one by one, to form the body of the snake. The snake leader
starts a procession, winding this way and that — snakelike
– a serpent turning back on itself then going forward. Each
person is advised to look straight into the eyes of the others
as they pass each other. When the snake has explored the
space thoroughly, the snake leader begins to form a spiral
coil. When the coil is tightly packed, the snake leader grabs
the hands of the last person so that the snake swallows its
own tail. The group the begins hissing like a snake. When
the energy changes, the group gradually disperses, each
person making their own individual sounds.

From Anthology of Text Scores by Pauline Oliveros,
Deep Listening Publications 2013.

Pauline Oliveros, 2005
PAPERICITY
for Laptop Orchestra
Each player of the ensemble uses a piece of paper as a
sound source for improvisation (any kind of paper will do).
Improvise as many sounds as possible with your piece of
paper for three to five minutes (more or less) while recording
on your laptop — each individually but simultaneously.
Begin to play back your recording as part of the ensemble.
Playback can start while some are still recording or
altogether as an ensemble gesture.
Players can shape the ensemble by dropping in
and out and also recording more. The piece
continues until all sound stops.

From Anthology of Text Scores by Pauline Oliveros,
Deep Listening Publications 2013.

Pauline Oliveros 1975/1996
COLLECTIVE ENVIRONMENTAL
Each participant explores an environment to find a listening
place with something interesting to hear and listens for a

Pauline Oliveros, 1975

while.
FOR ANNEA LOCKWOOD
Each participant invites the other participants to hear their

AND ALISON KNOWLES

found listening place. There may be one or more places with
contrasting sounds.

Keep the next sound your hear

Each participant finds a way to enhance, nullify or otherwise

in mind

interact with the sound or sounds that the group goes to
hear.
Each participant finds a way to connect all of the sounds
either literarily, metaphorically, or graphically.
A performance agreement is negotiated.

From Anthology of Text Scores by Pauline Oliveros,
Deep Listening Publications 2013.

for at least the next half hour.

From Anthology of Text Scores by Pauline Oliveros,
Deep Listening Publications 2013.

Aryn Schounce
Find a person. Hand them the report and ask them to read it
out loud. Create the weather conditions in the report by any
means necessary. You can choose to use any props or not
use any at all.
Weather Report:
Winds at 20 mph SW. Heavy rain showers changing to snow
with temperatures dropping to the low 30s. Snow tornadoes
imminent.

NOW GO WRITE YOUR OWN

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