Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Virginia Dwan, Flowers, Radius Books, Santa Fe, 2016

This 78ft long accordion came as a complete surprise to me. Just its length alone makes it noteworthy, but the artist who created this work has an illustrious and important history as a gallerist who started her Dwan Gallery in 1959 in Los Angeles, and in 1965 opened a branch in New York as well. Dwan promoted a whole roster of cutting edge artists of the period, and featured them in a stream of groundbreaking exhibitions in her gallery. In 1971 she closed the gallery and concentrated on sponsoring and helping earth artists to execute their works around the country.

This book took three and a half years to complete as she documented military cemeteries across the nation's national cemetery system. No text introduces this anti-militarist tome except for this brief quote at the beginning of the book by the activist and folk singer Peter Seeger, "Where have all the flowers gone?". This accordion is a visual poem, and there's a profound sense of silence that hovers over this enormous book —  a sort of reverence and a commemoration for the many missing lives that form the core of the book.

104 pages, each page 12" (h) x 9"(w), single-sided and when fully opened 78 feet.

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