Poetry News

At Frieze, Joseph Mosconi Connects Oulipo to SNL and Allen Ruppersberg

By Harriet Staff
SNL, The Californians, still from sketch

Joseph Mosconi writes for Frieze about the accidental connections—or "'anticipatory plagiarism,' a provocative expression the Oulipo use to identify its predecessors who, living in the past, remain woefully unaware of their literary crimes"—between Saturday Night Live's sketch, "The Californians," and the work of conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg, whose retrospective is now on view at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (through May 12). Mosconi also folds in poetry:

It was a poet, the late Bill Berkson, who numbered Ruppersberg among an older cohort, ‘the California literati,’ ‘Word People’ for whom spoken and written language was vital, such as John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha. Ruppersberg might fall into a slightly separate category of ‘Collecting People,’ for whom collecting pop cultural ephemera and tossed-away objects has been a critical practice. (See also: Jim Shaw, Martha Rosler, Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler, Noah Purifoy.) For Ruppersberg, centering the expiring or forgotten object in a work of art is all about ‘bringing the past forward’ and saving objects or ideas from vanishing forever. ‘I do try to find things that are on the verge of disappearing so I can resuscitate them, use them so that they are present again,’ Ruppersberg told the artist Cheryl Donegan in 2009. A non-exhaustive list of the things Ruppersberg has been known to resuscitate include: phonographic records, jigsaw puzzles, movie posters, educational films, slide projections, religious tracts, calendars, newspaper clippings, library card catalogues, audio tapes, comics, postcards and books. It is only now, as reading habits move from the printed and the bound to Kindles and clouds, that the book seems in sudden need of resuscitation.

When I first discovered Summer Days (1971), a few weeks before the opening of Ruppersberg’s career retrospective at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, I became obsessed with following the convoluted directions given to You by Me on the photo-narrative’s text panels. I excitedly hopped in my car and set out into the night...
Find the full piece at Frieze.
Originally Published: February 20th, 2019