Small Conversations, version 5, 2013

performance installation

Documentation from a series of performances collectively titled Small Conversations, 2011 – 13, where the artist sought out members in his community to introduce himself and develop a dialogue about creativity and expression within the context of their professions. Each project lasted 1 month and culminated in body of work and exhibition collaboratively produced by the artist and selected participants. The following statements are written by each participant.

John C Gonzalez

For our month-long collaboration, Lexi took on Installation Box, a project involving the construction of a series of sculptural works that I started in 2011. For the version of this artwork directed by her, Lexi and I collected materials from the deCordova Museum and packaged these materials inside each of the three boxes. The boxes were designed to be sold and the purchaser of the box is instructed to make arrangements with Lexi and myself to come to their home to use the materials for the completion of an artwork.

For the second component of our collaboration, I took on one of Lexi’s curatorial tasks, which is to review artist materials submitted to the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum. After reviewing these materials I responded to the submissions with a letter containing feedback and an invitation to continue a dialogue with deCordova. The letters were sent to the recipients and a copy was included on the wall the recipient name and information masked out.

Lexi Lee Sullivan

I should begin with the fact that I am not, nor have I ever considered myself to be, an artist. I took the requisite Drawing 1 to complete my art history major in undergrad, the results of which only serve to affirm the previous statement. So, when I was invited to participate in John’s Small Conversations project, it seemed a bit daunting. I was curious to hear how other “non-artists” had interpreted John’s request to make their artwork, and how the conversation(s) developed. John patiently relayed the different paths this project series has taken, and we started a very open dialogue about the structure and nature of the project, previous conversants, and how Small Conversations will live on at Howard Art Project. It was during one of these chats that we began reflecting on the role of a contemporary art curator, and how the line between artist and curator is often blurred. Curators are continually asked to give advice and guidance on art in process, and often help shape projects to conform to museological spaces or constraints. This is part and parcel of the job, and while I love the resultant conversations with artists, it is primarily just that – talk. This project became a fun and creative way to engage in both sides of this conversation with an Artist interested in taking up and questioning the structure of art-making and exhibiting in a direct and wryly funny way.

John and I quickly settled on the idea that it would be interesting to reverse roles – to intervene and finish each other’s professional projects. This sparked quite a bit of anxiety over which projects we might be willing to relinquish control (probably more anxiety on my part), and led to a series of conversations over what form this project could take. Ultimately I think that our mutual decision to have John craft responses to artists who have submitted material for curatorial review, and have the two of us collect material at deCordova for Installation Boxes, have a shared root in their potential to be something more. For the artists, the potential to show their work at a museum, with the encouragement of a fellow artist, and for the collectors of the Installation Boxes, the potential to have a sculpture that reflects a future conversation with the two of us. It seemed a fitting way to keep the conversation going…



John C Gonzalez