Darren Bader’s Absurdist Conceptualism: The Book


Primary Information has just published the perfect gift for anyone in your life who values the conceptual/artistic potential of two burritos sitting on a window ledge. Darren Bader’s “77 and/or 58 and/with 19” is a solid embodiment of Sol Lewitt’s’ premise that “the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work,” although who knows what Sol would make of this work, with its emphasis on foodstuffs, live animals, random denominations of money, and text pieces (to be reproduced in LED lighting or in “any way imaginable”) featuring the phrase “your kid’s broken ankle stinks up the restaurant.”


Not everyone’s in love with Bader’s brand of tongue-in-cheekery, which has occasionally dragged the readymade down into ever weirder, ever dumber depths — the sadly defunct-seeming Freeze_de Instagram account seemed to have a real bone to pick with the artist, who they denigrated as a kind of B-grade Martin Creed.

But this slim volume should win over even the naysayers, especially if it’s treated as a finished work in its own right: an experimental novel about artworks that don’t even need to exist (and maybe shouldn’t). Bader’s prose has the specificity of an instruction manual: “The work is a pretty face. The pretty face can be any face, any time, any place, as long as it’s pretty”; “The work is a viola. It can be played and/or displayed.” A motorcycle has its tank filled with birth control pills. Pizzas are adorned with earrings. Crappy DVDs rest on the floor like holy relics. Silly, yes, but also a challenge: Where the hell do you go from here?

— Scott Indrisek (@indrisek)

(Photo: Installation view of Darren Bader at Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York)