“Focus on Blankness” is unlike any other previously published edition of Artwrit. Though in past letters to the reader I have marveled at the is-it-chance-? attraction on the part of our writers towards related ideas, this is the first themed edition of the journal. Our mission here was deliberate: to address, from various focal points, the notion of Blankness as a historical precedent and as a strategy still in use. We asked contributors to narrow their focus and respond to a single concept. The result is, we hope, a well-rounded appraisal of blank work, past and present, that includes visual, spatial, aural, textual and tactile iterations of the concept in question.
Michael Pepi looks at recent work by New York-based artist Joseph Havel, tracing a line leading back to the earliest examples of blank work in a sort-of crash course on the matter. With a dissection of Rachel Whiteread’s House (1997), Nalina Moses opens the discussion on rendering the void, and Anna Khachiyan’s piece on John Cage and silence lends the issue historical weight. A studio visit with emerging artist N. Dash serves as counterpoise to the discussion on established artists and offers a refreshing insight on how Blankness continues to be a generative path. In addition, Raw Notes on Blankness, by Lauren Klotzman is, by turns, a scholarly document and artist contribution. It melds academic language, canonical artists’ texts, and ultimately engages Blankness itself, textually though not verbally — an important distinction.
This special issue breaks with the rhythm of our quarterly calendar. We stop at the midway point between volumes as a palette cleanser to prepare for change. Blankness, then, seems an appropriate matter to take up as we pause and clean the slate for bigger and better things. In the spring, we will add a monthly supplement of reviews, interviews and profiles as a complement to our quarterly content, as well as an ever-growing oral history archive of unedited audio interviews with art world figures. Two exciting new projects, but more exciting yet is the prospect of being further attuned to the moment and more capable then of leaving behind a truer document of it.
The next time I write to you, Artwrit will look different, there will be more to read and hear more frequently, our masthead and our list of contributors will have grown longer. Rest assured that the quality of writing and production that we have pursued until now will not be lost as we expand, but rather enhanced by the promising group of people we are assembling to take this project into its new chapter. We welcome your ideas and suggestions. It is always a pleasure to hear back. But for now, draw a blank.