Jac Leirner

Jac Leirner

I’m not a big fan of art that can be made by anybody but the above picture is kind of interesting. It’s amazing that so many people fall for this stuff. Jac Leirner is a Brazilian artist whose work was selected for Documenta IX. Here’s some funny quotes from a Houston Press article trying to explain to its readers why Leirner’s work is so profound:

“(T)he peripatetic artist systematically snagged ashtrays from the armrests of about every airline she flew. Then she chained them all together, as if trying to prevent re-theft, and displayed them with the ticket stubs and boarding passes from her flights. The result was something of a travelogue, documenting her far-flung carriers and destinations, but what was especially striking about the piece was the dogged patience and determination required to execute it.”

Yes it must have taken many minutes, if not hours. If only the rest of us had that kind of dogged patience. Here’s another quote:

“Corpus Delicti (sickness bags) (1992) is part of the same series. Leirner neatly filled 20 airline barf bags with blocks of Styrofoam and strung them all together; they hang from the ceiling in a curving line of multicolored rectangles. From a distance, the bags read as formal elements, but up close you see that the collection has been carefully scavenged from a variety of air carriers.”

What one might have thought were mere formal elements are actually carefully scavenged barf bags. Here’s more:

“Leirner’s Lung (1987), on view in the Roesch exhibition, is from the cigarette series. It’s a small, rectangular Plexiglas box that hangs unobtrusively on the wall. Its transparency makes it look clean and delicate. Closer inspection reveals that what’s inside are fragile cellophane husks from the artist’s cigarette packs. According to gallery owner Sonja Roesch, there are 12 inside, representing what would have been a week’s worth of nicotine for Leirner. The pristine object vies with the viewer’s mental image of blackened lungs. Leirner’s cigarette pack works are exacting records of addiction, with the damage elegantly implied.”

“She has an amazing talent for methodically collecting — or swiping — daily life’s debris and transforming it into art.”


The Houston Press article isn’t all flattering. But its criticisms only reveal the author’s naivety in making any kind of value judgment about something like this

3 Responses to “Jac Leirner”

  1. mike says:

    yeah, review sounds like someone try to make sense of something that made to be conceptually shallow…

  2. divided says:

    There could also be different justifications that I am
    not pondering of proper now that could carry the day.

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