How are you?
May I have some red wine?
I look like crap
Anyway—I’m pretty happy
I got a lot of exercise this summer
I have 2 loaves of banana bread I want to give one to your parents—do you want some of the other one?
What do you mean?
I’m all wrong?
inside the Tomato and Mushrooms?
good as in ‘good looking’?
I love scented geraniums
I also love colored papers
Winnie the Pooh’s birthday too
Give me Green
a square book with bright blue paper
a very feminine place
Do I look too housewifish today?
Do I look bad?
I’m a little fat but gnarly
Someone's singing a Jeanne Moreau song
Does it give away the story?
This is small talk, and for over twenty years small talk has been the subject of Joseph Grigely's art: everyday conversational exchanges that are important not for their grandiosity, but for their quiet understatement. Deaf since he was ten years old, Grigely converses with hearing people by asking them to write what they are saying, and these notepapers are edited into wall pieces and table-top tableaux that explore the subtle differences between talking and writing, and between listening and reading.
Grigely's conversations are the linguistic equivalent of a still life painting by Juan Sánchez Cotán: they refocus our attention on the neglected and overlooked aspects of quotidian life, and how words, like food, sustain all of us as human beings. The artworks that constitute Grigely's exhibition are not the actualized objects that are left behind; rather, these objects are unmade and remade, and become reified extensions of their previous reality. Captions have been removed; colors have been changed; clay and cast iron have been replaced with crystal urethane. They were once useful objects--the papers carried conversations, the stove produced heat, the newspaper conveyed timely information--but now their usefulness has transpired into a sort of uselessness; they have become, like the elements of classical still-life paintings, a part of a world ignored. These are the remains of human agency--and the inimitable ways we leave behind traces of our movement through daily life.
Joseph Grigely (b 1956, lives and works in Chicago) has exhibited extensively in Europe and the US. His work is in collections that include the Tate Modern, London; Kunstmuseum, Bern; SMAK, Ghent; the Whitney Museum of American Art; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Recent exhibitions and projects took place the Centre Pompidou, Metz; the 2014 Whitney Biennial; Grazer Kunstverein, Graz; and Kunstverein, Hamburg. In 2017 the Serpentine in London produced Blueberry Surprise, A Play for Three Voices, which Grigely both wrote and directed. His books include Textualterity: Art, Theory, and Textual Criticism (1995), Conversation Pieces (1998), Blueberry Surprise (2006), Exhibition Prosthetics (2010), MacLean 705 (2015), and Oceans of Love: The Uncontainable Gregory Battcock (2016), as well as essays on disability theory and body criticism.
With special thanks to Air de Paris, Paris.