Friday, October 29, 2010

The Well-Photographed Tool

The awesome Detroit artist Liz Cohen is showing her Trabantimino at Salon 94's space on the Bowery. In fact, she's demonstrating the hydraulics tomorrow, so hop to.

But also, this, on the wall behind it:
the gallery will be showing a series of photographs called the 5 P’s (Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance) from 2005. Cohen documented every tool amassed by her original mentor, Bill Cherry, throughout his thirty-plus years as a mechanic. The tools are photographed starkly, in black and white on a cement ground, and are reminiscent of Walker Evans’ 1955 project “The Beauty of the Common Tool.”
And thus Cohen simultaneously pays homage to Walker Evans, even as she punks him on Google.

Because Evans' original portfolio--really, just five photos were published in the July 1955 issue of Fortune--was actually called "Beauties of The Common Tool," and so every search result mention of "The Beauty of..." is purely on Cohen's terms. Also shot a lot more tools than Evans, for which I, for one, am grateful.

For the student or scholar, the Metropolitan Museum has provided digital images of the 16 negatives in the Walker Evans Archive pertaining to the Common Tool project. The only tool that didn't make the cut [sorry] was a "'Grape Harvesting?' Knife."

Liz Cohen: Trabantimino, through Nov. 11 [salon94]
Walker Evans, "Beauties of the Common Tool," Fortune, July 1955 []