Louis Zoellar Bickett II: Selections From the Archive

by Phillip March Jones, Guy Mendes, Louis Zoellar Bickett II

Director's Note:

Since 1972, Louis Zoellar Bickett II has meticulously collected and cataloged items from his daily life and assembled them into a functioning installation he refers to as: THE ARCHIVE. Photographs, dinner receipts, dog brushes, jars, binders, and items of every sort are tagged and neatly placed within the 3-D collage that serves as home and studio to the artist. The archive's contents are seemingly endless and infinitely varied.

Bickett's genius lies in his ability to transform the most basic object into a highly sophisticated work of art using a simple associative process. The collection, organization, and archiving of everyday objects imbues them with significance beyond function or simple metaphor. Every object is tagged with a name and date, corresponding to a set of events, an idea, or some larger ongoing project. The object's viewer knows precisely what it is, where its from, why it was purchased, the name of its previous owner, or the role that it plays in the artist's life. Its placement within the archive further secures its importance and guarantees its survival. Sculptures, photographs, and paintings are tagged in the same manner (and with the same precision) as flashlights, bowling bags, and hats. Certain objects are "tagged" or "stamped" several times to reflect their inclusion in several projects. The debate about "what is art" is clearly answered in Bickett's process: anything he chooses.

Selections from the Archive is a quick glance at a seemingly random sampling of objects. It is not intended to be a retrospective or an accounting of various projects. Indeed there are too many for a book and exhibition of this size. The intention is rather to select objects that resonate with simplicity and illuminate the artist's transformative abilities, while hinting at the larger themes of sex, identity, and death that permeate Bickett's work. Furiously collecting and archiving towards death, Bickett has become the central object of the archive -missing only the tag he will receive, not unlike the rest of us, upon his own death. With this book, we invite the viewer into the artist's studio for a fleeting glance at Bickett's work and the machinations of his vast and ever-growing archive.