[ #ReFi83 verbs ]

0 Posted by - November 5, 2014 - Tracks


MoMA, To collect: “Drawing is a verb,” the artist Richard Serra once said. An important new acquisition for MoMA’s Department of Drawings, Serra’s Verb List (1967–68) serves as a kind of manifesto for this pronouncement. In pencil on two sheets of paper, the artist lists the infinitives of 84 verbs—to roll, to crease, to fold, to store, etc.—and 24 possible contexts—of gravity, of entropy, of nature, etc.—in four columns of script. Serra described the list as a series of “actions to relate to oneself, material, place, and process,” and employed it as a kind of guide for his subsequent practice in multiple mediums.

Serra has talked at length, for example, about the central place this language-based drawing occupied in the development of his early sculpture. “When I first started, what was very, very important to me was dealing with the nature of process,” he said. “So what I had done is I’d written a verb list: to roll, to fold, to cut, to dangle, to twist…and I really just worked out pieces in relation to the verb list physically in a space.” A sort of linguistic laying out of possible artistic options, this work on paper functioned for the artist “as a way of applying various activities to unspecified materials.”


to veil
to fake
to bug
to narrate
to pretend
to mock
to trick
to conceive
to roam
to hypothesize
to inform
to gossip
to hallucinate
to fictionalize
to feign
to hound
to dissemble
to doubt
to track
to wiretap
to believe
to censor
to masquerade
to falsify
to shadow
to concoct
to stray
to bamboozle
to monitor
to invent
to tell
to puzzle
to act
to unearth
to simulate
in rumour
in suspicion
in stealth
in illusion
in paranoia
to fabricate
to deceive
to reproduce
to confuse
to misrepresent
to cloak
to deface
to recognize
to inquire
to imitate
to mistrust
to gravitate
to distort
to suspect
to explore
to confound
to mystify
to mislead
to camouflage
to fantasize
to expose
to dissimulate
to distinguish
to spy
to drift
to overstate
to blot out
to deviate
to build castles in Spain
to lurk
to disguise
to misreport
to detail
to forge
in secrecy
in memory
in projection
in impossibility
in endlessness
in conspiracy
in dimensions
to sneak
to equivocate
to uncover
to delude
to show
to eavesdrop
to produce
to theorize
to speculate
to dream
to hide
to dig
to trace
to tail
of imagination
of sensation
of bodies
of experience
to leak
to cheat
to describe
to disorient
to assume
to mask
to disclose
of reality
of fiction


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