Another Misspent Portrait of Etienne de Silhouette
A Vogue Hommes September 1986 #92 magazine with Sylvester Stallone on the cover erased and inscribed by approximately 250 people in the years 1999 to 2004.
Over those five years mostly random people were asked to completely erase, with a rubber-eraser, one of the 246 pages of this intact and out-of-date French men's fashion magazine. They were also asked to anonymously write in pencil on their erased page both the time it took them to do this and whatever monetary value they currently received at work for their time, translated into an hourly rate or rates. The sum of these literal and symbolic expenditures gave each page a nominal value that, when added to that of all the other pages, established a value, of sorts, for the work as a whole - 267 hours 49 minutes and 5 seconds... valued at AUD$11,349.18... . The shortest time taken to erase a page was nine minutes, while the longest was around three and three-quarter hours. The value accrued 'on' each page ranges from nothing in a number of instances - some contributors were receiving no calculable monetary compensation for their time - to one page 'worth' over US$1,000. No one was paid for their time. The front and back covers of the magazine, though noticeably worn by years of scuffing, remain unerased.
Since 2004 this project has taken different forms on the occasions of its public presentation: Another Misspent Portrait of Etienne de Silhouette, Melbourne (2004/05), Think with the Senses - Feel with the Mind. Art in the Present Tense, Venice Biennale 52. Exhibition of International Art, Venice (2007), Behind the Image | The Image Behind (on covering and uncovering media), STUK Kunstencentrum, Leuven (2009), and a three person show at the Simon Preston Gallery, New York (2009/10).
The mass erased and reinscribed magazine - the material touchstone of the project - has been staged in conjunction with: a 'response' component presented by invited contributors that has produced talks, discussions, and performances generated either in direct response to the work or to the wider social and/or artistic context of its production and dissemination (nine locations in Melbourne '04/'05 and six on/off-site events in Venice '07); an installation of related works and an archive (Venice '07, Leuven and New York '09); and a shortwave broadcast (Leuven '09).
The transcripts of the site contributions in 2004/5, including an artist text, are to the right on the 'AMPEdS' page sidebar (or at this link). Those from the 2007 Venice Biennale of Art presentation are also available online and can be accessed here. Information, including sound clips, related to the project's February 2009 staging in Leuven, where the 'response' program took the form of a twice-daily shortwave radio broadcast, can be found at the Leuven sidebar link or by clicking here.
In 2013 Another Misspent Portrait of Etienne de Silhouette entered the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
The 2004/5 stage of this project was generously supported by the City of Yarra, Click Systems, West Space Inc. and Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, where Christian was a studio artist in 2003/4. In 2007 the Venice Biennale organization in conjunction with the Australia Council for the Arts funded the realization of the work in Venice. Additionally, in Venice the project was aided and abetted by important and timely contributions from a number of individuals who I dearly thank. In 2009 STUK Kunstencentrum funded the work to be produced in Leuven and supported it without hesitation, as did the Simon Preston Gallery in New York in that year. My gratitude also goes to all those who have been involved in the different stages of the project and have supported it on its journey.