Tony May: Old Technology Art Catalogue: The Back Story
On the occasion of the expansive retrospective exhibition, Tony May: Old Technology , ICA curator Susan O’Malley undertook an exciting project to commemorate the exhibition. During the past several months Susan has worked with May and designer Joshua Swanbeck to create a very special exhibition catalogue. Part art object and part book, the Old Technology limited edition art catalogue will be available in early December and includes an introduction by ICA Executive Director and Chief Curator Cathy Kimball, a critical essay by Curator Renny Pritikin, over 40 full color plates and a one-of-a-kind object from Tony May’s personal collection.
We asked Susan to tell us more about this project.
Q: The catalogue looks and feels like a piece of Tony’s work. Was this the intent all along?
I’m so glad you think so! Yes, we definitely wanted this catalogue to feel like Tony’s artwork. Tony has the uncanny ability to elevate the most ordinary and modest materials into meaningful objects worth noticing. We wanted this to ring true for his catalogue as well.
Q: Why did this catalogue ultimately take on the form of a box?
Given that Tony is obsessed with books it’s actually amusing that his catalogue is in the form of a box. But I also find it completely appropriate since he has used books to make shelves, lamps, floors and even a roof. He has never really used books to function as a book!
We definitely considered the rich history of artists who have used the box as a book form and felt that Tony’s conceptually-driven work related to this tradition. And when Tony brought us the most beautiful brown cardboard box filled manila envelopes, photographs and slides of his work, a light bulb went off. I showed it to our designer, Joshua Swanbeck, and he just ran with it. Joshua designed the catalogue to feel like rummaging through a box of personal belongings, with the surprise of opening each envelope and the various textures of papers.
About the process:
This is as much a unique art object as it is a catalogue reflecting 40 years of Tony May’s artwork. Each box has been designed with attention to craft and form to reflect Tony’s unique voice, not to mention hours of printing, collating, threading, stamping and cutting! I hope that the care and attention we poured into this project is felt when it is held in someone’s hands and experienced in person.
It’s been a pleasure and honor to work on this and I can’t wait to launch on December 9!