6. Important Artifacts: Leanne Shapton

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6. Important Artifacts: Leanne Shapton

Post  Patguy on Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:34 pm

The full title is actually: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry—Saturday, 14 February 2009, New York.

The story is told in the form of a fictive auction catalogue, and consists entirely of photographs and short descriptions of objects owned by Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: furniture, art, books, clothing, letters, mix CDs, knickknacks, etc. The presentation of the lots traces the arc of a failed relationship—the first objects here date from before Lenore and Harold met; then we see the first photograph of them together, at the Halloween party at which they met; we see the little gifts they give each other as they date and grow closer, then move in together, meet each others’ friends and families, etc. Eventually the objects tell the story of the relationship souring and breaking apart. Many of the lots are letters between Lenore and Harold, which allow us to read about the characters in their own voices.

It’s a very clever conceit, and Shapton does a good job with the oblique storytelling. It’s true that sometimes I grew tired of all the tasteful, arty, or calculatedly whimsical things Lenore and Harold filled their lives with—the book can feel a little like yuppie porn in parts. But ultimately I liked it: it tells a simple story, with real feeling, in a unique way.

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