October 10 – December 12, 2021
Otis Houston, Jr.
Confessions of the Century continued the Broodthaers Society of America’s interest in the idea of work—what it means to work, or to make work, or to work for a living—and to what extent these ambitions might relate and overlap.
Confessions of the Century was inspired by three things: a text in which the young Marcel Broodthaers worked as an undercover journalist on the construction site of the Brussels World’s Fair; the recalcitrant labor market; and a selection of artists whose art, in various ways, approached work as an amalgam of wonder, productivity, and resistance. The artists in the show share a commitment to complex and often eccentric technical skills, skills that require a lot of work even though they don’t necessarily make sense.
The show features recent work by:
Louis Cameron (Berlin). A conceptual artist whose art takes the form of various premeditated system failures
Mina Han (Brooklyn). A recent SVA grad who makes drawings of world leaders and of her husband, sleeping
Lily Healey (New York). A graphic designer for the New Yorker who designed Utopia, an algorithmically mutated title font
Otis Houston Jr. (New York). A concrete poet, performer, sculptor, and all-around proselytizer
Jírí Kovanda (Prague). A conceptual artist renowned for his liminal objects and performances
Ellen Lesperance (Portland). A multidisciplinary artist working with the legacies and haptic skill sets of feminism
Judith Shahn (1929–2009). A painter and illustrator who published extensively in Harper’s, The Nation, and the New Yorker
Trupa Trupa (Gdańsk). A post-punk band with ambient/art rock leanings whose new single is due out in November
Work, or the absence of it, was a lifelong concern of Marcel Broodthaers, affecting both his principles as an artist and his politics as a citizen. Confessions of the Century, as a show, negotiated this balance, a balance described in the eponymous article cited above that was previously thought to have not been published. In fact, “Les Confessions du Siècle” was published in the Bruxellois magazine Le Patriote Illustré on December 15, 1957, and included 400+ words (and supporting photojournalism) missing from the manuscript included in Broodthaers’ Collected Writings.
A new translation of the fully reconstituted text was included as part of the exhibition, accompanied by the original French language copy in the Society’s archive. The translation was done by New York critic and curator Nora Kovacs in collaboration with the Broodthaers Society, and is available for purchase in print or PDF for ten dollars. All proceeds further the mission of the Broodthaers Society.