Perpetual Inventory

Sara Sowell

Installation, Performance
Expanded Cinema, 16mm film, Single Channel Video, Audio.
Perpetual Inventory1 is an exploration of canonical cinema—from the global establishment of Dada in the 1920s to the structural2 films of the 1970s by film artists like Paul Sharits. Using film I accumulate historical precedents into a non-linear, material narrative.3

This material survey borrows its name from art critic Rosalind Krauss’s accumulative collection of essays charting the “myth” of “the master narrative of modern art”4 in the “post-medium condition”.5 Analogizing Krauss’s inventory of art-allegory to my impulse to re-materialize, destabilize, and fictionalize? Is restaging a work a criticism, or is it art history’s terminal condition? Is recycling
images an act of resistance or a reestablishment of homogeneity?6

1 Perpetual Inventory; Introduction. “In a conversation with Barbara Rose, Robert Rauschenberg mused on the title for a future work. ‘I went in for my interview for this fantastic job,’ he said. ‘The job had a great name–I might use it for a painting–’Perpetual Inventory’.”

2 Paul Sharits: Dream Displacement and Other Projects. “[The] will towards abstraction runs deep within the tradition of Independent Cinema. Its most aggressive, single-minded emergence has been the work of the last ten years in what P. Adams Sitney has called the Structural Film. With this title Sitney refers to [redacted]. By this term he means to indicate ‘a cinema of structure in which the shape of the whole film is predetermines and simplified, and it is that shape which is the primal impression of the film.’”

3 Notes on the Index: Part 1. “Duchamp’s relationship to the issue of the indexical sign, or rather, the way his art serves as a matrix for a related set of ideas which connect to one another through the axis of the index, is too important a precedent (I am not concerned here with the question of ‘influence’) for 70’s art, not to explore it. For as we will see, it is Duchamp who first establishes the connection between the index (as a type of sign) and the photograph.”

4 Perpetual Inventory; Introduction. “The master narrative of modern art turns on the importance of specific aesthetic mediums understood as simultaneously empowering artistic practice and leveraging the works’ possibility of meaning”

5 Perpetual Inventory; Introduction. “If this effort works against the grain of the received ideas of contemporary criticism, I welcome this antagonism, which also characterized the work collected in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths. I consider the ‘post-medium condition’ a monstrous myth. If Perpetual Inventory can expose it by its example of an alternative, I will consider the book a success.”

6 Formlessness; No to… Joseph Beuys. “On the contrary, what interested Bataille was the fact that homogenous society, anxious to submit everything to the laws of efficiency and thus to recycle all its products, nonetheless produces waste that it cannot assimilate – excremental waste that builds up as a heterogeneous threat.”

Support for this project provided by The Open and Poor Farm with Funding from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Opening Reception: Saturday January 7, 2023, 6-9PM.

Closing Performance
Friday January 20, 2023
6:30-9 PM

Screening and Performance Times
7:15 – Color Negative
8:15 – Dada’s Daughter

Sara Sowell