LOUIS ZOELLAR BICKETT: Saving Myself
Since 1972, Louis Zoellar Bickett has maintained a rigorous practice of collecting and cataloging items from his daily life to form a vast archive of found, gifted, purchased, and made objects. Saving Myself brings together several specific projects that are part of what he calls THE ARCHIVE, his vast and detailed accumulation of photographs, receipts, articles of clothing, books, toys, furniture, and bodily fluids, to name a few, all preserved and placed throughout his home/studio in Lexington, KY. They tell the story of one man’s awareness of time, place, and connectivity to others.
Bickett’s methodology asserts that there is no separation between being in the world and making art, and, in this regard, his years spent working as a waiter, reading canonical literature, photographing political and cultural events, traveling, and maintaining friendships are all bound up with each other. He maintains a conceptual orientation that is informed by an awareness of and respect for artists whose works assert similar beliefs and accumulation strategies, including Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Hanne Darboven, On Kawara, and Dieter Roth.
Saving Myself will afford viewers a chance to examine some of Bickett’s most consistent subjects—religion, sexuality, family, friendship, and history—both personal and cultural. The exhibition features a dense installation of storage boxes that serve as architectural borders and pedestals for a selection of photographs, annotated objects, and ephemera. Soil collected from Civil War battlefields and notorious gravesites are sealed in glass jars. Portraits of the artist holding some of his favorite books or wearing his collection of hats show a hyperaware performer channeling his inner Buster Keaton. Postcards obtained by Bickett at faraway locales are modified and mailed to himself at home, revealing his Dadaesque spirit.
In his book Palimpsest, Gore Vidal says, “A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history requiring dates, facts double-checked.” Bickett’s poignant and playful endeavors combine an awareness of mortality with a love of ritual and risk. He lives the art life with vitality, curiosity, and grace.
Bickett has exhibited in galleries and museums, including Institute 193 and the Lexington Art League in Lexington, KY; Zephyr Gallery, the Speed Art Museum, and the University of Louisville Hite Art Institute in Louisville, KY; and Galerie Eugen Lendl in Graz, Austria.
This exhibition has been developed in partnership with other Lexington, Kentucky venues who will present exhibitions of Bickett's work this fall, including:
Institute 193: Selections from the Art Collection (Oct. 27 – Nov. 26, 2016)
Lexington Art League: All We Ever Wanted (Oct. 28 – Nov. 27, 2016)
UK Chandler Hospital Dining Pavilion: The Kentucky Dirt Project: 120 Counties (permanent installation)
21c Museum Hotel: What You Don’t Surrender The World Strips Away (Sept. 9, 2016 – Apr. 15, 2017)
Special Thanks to Smiley Pete Publications for helping us promote these exhibitions
Photos from the LOUIS ZOELLAR BICKETT Opening Reception
image: LOUIS ZOELLAR BICKETT, What I Read (Grapes of Wrath), 2008, photograph. Courtesy of the artist.
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