I’m a list maker. Lists not only help me to remember those pesky tasks that I need to do (oh dammit! like the insurance forms!), but also they record — and sometime prompt — ideas for things that I want to explore in the future.
I saw this Verb List recently in a Richard Serra exhibit. I seem to recall it was at The Metropolitan Museum, but it is owned by MoMA, so it could be that I’m confused as to where I saw it. I did see the retrospective of Serra’s drawings at the Metropolitan in August — and I was at MoMA in late September. Regardless of where I saw this, it caught my attention and stuck with me.
As I looked at the list closely, I fell in love with the long list of verbs, verbs that could be used to describe lots of things, including Serra’s work: to cut, to fold… to smear, to rotate, to swirl…to enclose, to surround, to encircle…. I was confused when the list, seemingly at random, switches from the infinitives to prepositions: of inertia, of gravity, of simultaneity… Wait! Is that a word? If not, it should be… of tides, of reflection, of mapping, of context.
Today, not having thought of this piece for several weeks, I saw a link to this post on MoMA’s website.. The post discusses how Serra created this list — and then worked from it. The prepositional of phrases are not random at all; they are the context in which he might utilize the verb. It isn’t merely a brainstormed list of words, but a guideline, a prompt, for his future work.
The article includes a link to this multimedia piece that Serra did. One might think that you could waste some time exploring this site, when you could be doing something else, but that would be wrong. Click through the links; you’ll be glad that you did!