Marfa Book Company exhibits “Last Words”
MARFA- In association with Alexander Grey Associates, the Marfa Book Company will be presenting Last Words, a recent work by the influential Latin American Conceptual artist, Luis Camnitzer from Thursday, October 4 through Sunday, November 11. Camnitzer is a German-born Uruguayan conceptual artist and academic who works in the media of printmaking and sculpture. His humorous yet biting work has appeared in many exhibitions since the early 1960s.
The work at the Marfa Book Company consists of six large consecutive panels where Camnitzer has printed a collage-text interweaving the last words of an unknown number of people executed on Death Row in Texas during the last thirty years. This is the first time the work will be shown in this state.
The quotations, which Camnitzer has selected for Last Words, are primarily statements of affection directed at friends, family members, and other loved ones. They were taken from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Death Row website, where the names of names of people currently on Death Row (along with the names and last statements of people whom the State has executed since 1982) can be found. The works are framed pigment prints, measuring 66 inches by 44 inches, with page numbers appearing at the bottom of each print. This aspect, a straightforward reference to the codex form, accentuates the linear, cohesive nature of the work.
The work, like many in Camnitzer’s oeuvre, troubles the distance and distraction that characterize our habits of viewership by implicating the viewer in the act, or acts, on which the works are based or in which the works consist. It also draws attention to the practice of publicizing and, in a way, making aesthetic, a person’s last words, which would otherwise be a person’s most private and intimate. In this sense, it relates to another line of inquiry, which is common in Camnitzer’s work, a consideration of the agency and behaviors of single individuals when confronted with the vast, impersonal and often very violent mechanisms of State power. And most importantly, the exhibition of this work in Texas raises critical questions about the actual policy of Capital Punishment.
Story filed under: Arts