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Adam Pendleton

System of Display, E (HERE / Yaacov Agam, Contrastes, 1957)


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These four works from Adam Pendleton’s System of Display—an ongoing series of wall-mounted shadowboxes that frame found images—exemplify the artist’s open-ended method of accumulatin and arranging materials from his vast personal library. The images often refer to twentieth-century documents of colonialism and decolonization as well as the entanglements of European and African modernisms. In this case the two images of African sculpture come from the exhibition catalog The Art of Black Africa (1972), while the two striped images come from a 1962 book on the art of the postwar Israeli kinetic artist Yaacov Agam. Pendleton photocopied, enlarged, and then silkscreened each image on a mirrored surface, which is encased by a glass pane. He also printed onto the glass a single letter derived from a longer word that is indicated in the artworks’ titles. The series exists as an experimental archive that challenges conventional museological practices of interpretation, collection, and display, provoking us to question what we think we know. As Pendleton explains, “I want to create a situation where we’re inclined to rethink notions of the past and the future, as well as our ability to understand them enough to make reductive statements.” The artist’s use of a mirrored surface brings the viewer into the artwork, animating the image’s negative space with the vitality of the present moment while also serving as a reminder that meaning is contingent upon context. [Permanent Collection Label, 2021]

  • Artist Adam Pendleton (American, b. 1984)
  • Title System of Display, E (HERE / Yaacov Agam, Contrastes, 1957)
  • Date 2018–19
  • Medium Screen prints on acrylic and mirror
  • Dimensions framed | 9 13/16 x 9 13/16 x 3 1/8 in.
  • Credit line University purchase, Bixby Fund, 2019
  • Object number WU 2019.0006.0002

Received at MLKAM 9/10/2019; presented to ACC 11/21/2019
Pace Gallery, New York

At center, screenprinted on acrylic: E

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