White Columns

Project Other People’s Projects: Oliver Wasow’s ‘Expansible Catalog’

Other People's Projects is an occasional programming strand at White Columns, in which we offer our project space to idiosyncratic organizations, collectives, publishers, individuals, etc. to introduce their activities and/or enthusiasms to a wider audience. We are proud to present the first public presentation of the New York-based artist Oliver Wasow’s ‘Expansible Catalog’

In a recent statement Wasow has described the ongoing project:
“The ‘Expansible Catalog’ is an index of images that exists as both an on-line site and, occasionally, as an installation of framed artworks. It is an ongoing project with new images added almost daily. All pictures are printed in unlimited, signed editions and are available for purchase in prices ranging from 10 to 100 dollars. The project is based loosely on Wallace Nutting’s catalog of the same name, originally published in 1915. Nutting, utilizing new modes of image production developed at the turn of the century, produced literally millions of photographs and sold them for a few dollars each in department stores throughout America. Because he was constantly making new pictures, his picture catalogs were obsolete almost as soon as they were printed.

Like Nutting, I have an investment in the application of new technologies to the production and distribution of artwork. I also share his interest in content that is somewhat slippery in terms of historical specificity. Employing a team of artists to hand color his photographs, Nutting created works that were a kind of hybrid of photographic objectivity and human subjectivity. His methods were ideally suited to the suggestion of temporal transcendence. I imagine there is a parallel here with the digital processes I use in my own work. He was also an aggressively reactionary artist (“everything new is bad” was his most famous quote), and focused almost entirely on re-creations of a mythic, pre-industrial America. I’d like to think my work differs from his in this respect. Mine is a vision of a past that clearly never was and a future that never will be. Mostly these are pictures of places and things I like to look at. “

Oliver Wasow is an artist based in New York. He has shown his work internationally since the early 1980s. He had a previous solo exhibition at White Columns in 1987. For more information about his work and the ‘Expansible Catalog’ please visit www.oliverwasow.com

Related Press

Oliver Wasow - The Village Voice - July 7, 2008

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view