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Picture This: Taking Down a House of Cards
July 31, 2009

Jean Shin

De-installing Chance City by Jean Shin

Jean Shin’s exhibition Common Threads just closed at American Art. Once a show is over, American Art’s Registrar’s Office is tasked with de-installing it. If the work is from our permanent collection, each piece is returned to storage or to the Luce Center, our open storage center. After Shin’s work is taken down and packed, it will be returned to the artist and other lenders.

De-installations can take from one day to two weeks or more, depending on the size and the complexity of the show. Here Assistant Registrar Jane Paul carefully removes each lottery card, one at a time, from Chance City, a piece made up of thousands of cards. Each card is stacked with others of its kind before being packed up and sent home. Typically art handlers wear gloves when handling artwork. This work was handled without gloves at the artist’s request.

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  • Posted by Jeff on July 31, 2009 in Behind the Scenes, Picture This


    Them look like lottery cards in that pitcher! Why y'all gonna send them back? You need to scratch and win! Powerball y'all!

    Don't leave us hanging! Why did the artist request that the cards be handled without gloves?

    Wow! In pieces like this, does the artist always maintain a record of the single way to construct (and deconstruct) the piece, or is it often reassembled differently for different shows? Is there only one "version" of the assemblage called Common Threads or is it the concept?

    I imagine this is different for different artists, but I'm curious both in this specific case and in the abstract.

    This is an interesting look behind the scenes. I'd like to see also what goes into setting up an exhibit!

    That's quite an impressive stack job if it's not somehow subtly affixed internally (which appears to be the case)... obviously that's one of the artist's points here. But that also means the air flow in the room had better be well-controlled, eh? A gusty A/C vent would be, er, an unfortunate result of Chance. [grin]

    In the past the artist hasn't used gloves for handling Chance City. When I asked her about it, she said she might ask people to start using them next time since so many more people are involved in handling the work these days than when it was just her installing it by herself.

    It looks different every time it is installed, based on the space available and Jean's decisions during the building process. And no, there isn't anything holding it together other than gravity (!), so our curator and exhibition designer did have to take things like gallery air flow into consideration when designing the show.

    Very impressive work there. Did they use gloves when the setup the exhibition?

    Jane told me Jean Shin and her studio assistants installed the piece. They did not use gloves.

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