Shotgun Reviews

Josh Greene: Bound to Be Held at the Contemporary Jewish Museum

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you a Shotgun Review of Josh Greene’s Bound to Be Held at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Author Adriana Rabinovitch notes that the exhibition “allows for visitors to grasp, and possibly reciprocate, a relationship that a stranger has with a literary work.” This review was originally published on April 18, 2015.

Josh Greene. Bound to Be Held: A Book Show, 2015; installation view. Courtesy of the Artist and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Photo: Johnna Arnold.

Josh Greene. Bound to Be Held: A Book Show, 2015; installation view. Courtesy of the Artist and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. Photo: Johnna Arnold.

Josh Greene’s Bound to Be Held: A Book Show presents a classic hands-off viewing experience paired with a very hands-on encounter. This two-part exhibition focuses on the value individuals give to literary texts, and invites museum visitors to share in this relationship. The two installations, while related, do not succeed equally.

The first part of the exhibition, Read by Famous (2013–ongoing), is an earlier project by Greene. The project collects books that have been read by people of note (Sterling Ruby, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Isiah Thomas, to name a few) and auctions them off via its website, with all proceeds benefiting literacy-focused nonprofit organizations. A selection of these books, along with enlarged scans of humorous and revelatory personal notes left by their celebrity readers, line two walls of the gallery. However, the process of selling to the highest bidder objects once belonging to the famous keeps the whole endeavor separate from the general public. Its inaccessibility forces visitors to remain viewers instead of allowing them to become participants. Read by Famous functions well in its origin as an online project, but as an aspect of a physical exhibition, it seems an unnecessary method of coping with empty wall space, and falls flat in comparison to its participatory sister project,The Library of Particular Significance (2015).

Read the full article here.

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