Victim of Improvement
Telegrams, Stories, Letters, Monologues, Interviews, 1985-2006
by Donald Baechler
EP 29: Victim of Improvement: Telegrams, Stories, Letters, Monologues, Interviews, 1985-2006, is comprised of diaristic entries, unsent letters, anecdotes, monologues and interviews, where the performative overtakes linguistic protocols. If we experience our humanity as something endlessly appropriated and inevitably subject to dissolution, this would explain why DONALD BAECHLER’s images are collaged, seemingly pathetically pieced together, from the detritus of our daily lives, and why his utilize so many different forms of discourse and communication. For this reason, we find in his first book of writings, Victim of Improvement, a Western Union telegram-exchange with Joseph Kosuth; a story BAECHLER recounts about loitering around town (Rio di Janerio) with Guillermo Kuitca; a tongue-in-cheek description of a journey he took to India and the time and money he “wasted” there; an obsessive diary BAECHLER kept of expenses he incurred during a trip he took for ten days going up and down the Nile, from the most trivial (Le 1 for chewing gum in Luxor, Le1 for baksheesh for the “annoying boy with incense in Esna”) to the most costly (Le 6000 for the hotel bill at the Nile Hilton). There are the letters he wrote, which he never sent, about the time he spent in Tangiers and Marrakech together with Philip Taaffe, describing an “obligatory visit” to Paul Bowles, as well as a visit with the native Moroccan writer, Mohammed Mrabet. Baechler objectifies the denigration of self by telling a shaggy dog story about being
taken for a fool by several boys in Tangiers, who trick him into buying a pair of sneakers for one of them. In “The English Lesson,” he travels from Tetouan to Quarzazate, getting into a car accident that slowly and surrealistically becomes more about the accident report in French than
about the accident. “Shepherd’s Pie” is a hilarious account of the time he spends near Essouira cavorting with shepherds. There is a text about Kuitica and drawing and its importance, casually revealing the fact that he has never seen Kuitca ever draw. “Paint It Black” and “The Flower Thief” are monologues about BAECHLER’s experiences and the techniques he uses to make work, which are also the subject of the three interviews published here, in Victim of Improvement.
DONALD BAECHLER has had museum exhibitions at Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea, Trento; Kunsthalle Basel; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; Fischer Landau Center for Art, New York. His work was included in the XIX Bienal de Sao Paulo, Brazil (1987); the Whitney Biennial (1989); the 43rd Biennial at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1993). His work is in the collections of the Guggenheim (N.Y.), Museum Ludwig (Budapest), MoMA (N.Y.), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), and the Albertina (Vienna), among others. He is represented by Cheim and Read Gallery in New York.
First edition paperback, MAY 2017, 120 pp., sewn, bound and printed in Italy, with a two-color cover and a black and white photograph of the author on the frontispiece.