Stack (after Felix Gonzalez-Torres)

Somewhere in my things, I think I still have a sheet from of paper that I took from a Felix Gonzalez-Torres installation. The paper — and a single piece of licorice candy that I carried with me through multiple moves, but finally lost somewhere between the last move and the one before that — came from Gonzalez-Torres’s posthumous show at the 52nd Venice Biennale. The paper, white with black edges, came from his piece “Untitled (Republican Years).” I kept it all these years, out of tenderness, and sorrow. I loved how his pieces looked so monumental, but as time progressed and visitors took parts of those pieces home as souvenirs, they diminished, and a melancholy overtook that that initial sense of monumentality. Time, and Sisyphus, and all that.

One Sunday morning, hurrying down Broome St. to beat the heat, I passed by a pallet of flour, waiting to be unloaded. I don’t know why, but I stopped and shot a photograph of the pallet. Later, processing the film, I realized that the stack of flour reminded me of a Felix Gonzalez-Torres stack. It had that same physicality, a monumentality undercut by the pallet’s ephemeral nature. Soon — in hours? — it would be gone. But for now, here it sits, under the hot summer sun.

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