An artist’s book exploring the language of protest.
A new artist’s book by Adam Pendleton (born 1984), As Heavy as Sculpture follows Pendleton’s 2021 installation of the same title, exhibited at the New Museum in New York. The book collects, repeats and processes over 80 source collages, incorporating drawings, sketches, writing and marks, often in combination with images.
Much of the language in the collages is drawn from the protests against police brutality that swept the US in 2020: Pendleton has transcribed slogans sprayed on walls and windows, combining them with his own improvised language as well as photographs of art objects and artifacts (sculptures, masks and figures). The work points to the poetic pressure that uprisings place on language itself, compressing it in some cases into the barest of forms: simple sequences like “ACAB” or “1312,” further reducible to the elements “A, B, C,” “1, 2, 3.”
In parallel with these operations of decomposition and recomposition, the collages in As Heavy as Sculpture have been duplicated, laid out across 30 sheets and folded into book signatures, creating new displacements and cuts. This folding is in effect a chance operation, a procedure of recombination and translation, resulting in arrangements of images not planned out in advance.