Restless Souls Wise Teeth: Doug Aitken’s Animals and Valeria Luiselli’s Workers

Our first lot is a piece in a somewhat deteriorated state. Yet, considering its antiquity, the overall condition is good; one might even say excellent. Significant flattening of the point leads to the supposition that the original owner, Mr. Plato, talked and ate continuously. He was five feet five inches tall and thirty-three and a half inches broad; he was of medium height but robust, with a fighter’s build. He had a long, cotton-woolly beard, light brown in color; thick hair of the same hue and texture. Mr. Plato flaunted the conventional fashions of the day and wore his toga loose, without a belt. Neither did he wear sandals. Mr. Plato once made a comparison between the period of dentition and a man falling in love: “In this state, the soul enters into effervescence and irritation; and this soul, whose wings are just beginning to develop, can be compared to a child whose gums are inflamed and enervated by its first teeth.” Lovely, don’t you think?

– Valeria Luiselli The Story of My Teeth

– Description of the catalogue The Hunter and the Factory

Many of the stories told in this book come from the workers’ personal accounts — though names, places, and details are modified. The discussions between the workers also directed the course of the narrative, pushing me to reflect upon old questions from a new perspective: How do art objects acquire value not only within the specialized market for art consumption, but also outside its (more or less) well-defined boundaries? How does distancing an object or name from its context in a gallery, museum, or literary pantheon — a reverse Duchampian procedure — affect its meaning and interpretation? How do discourse, narrative, and authorial signatures or names modify the way we perceive artwork and literary texts? The result of these shared concerns is this collective “novel-essay” about the production of value and meaning in contemporary art and literature.

– Valeria Luiselli ‘Aferword’, The Story of My Teeth

[This post was written in honor of the four wisdom teeth that my partner Rebeka Campos-Astorkiza had removed yesterday, who, like many of us, in spite of their individual struggles, still managed to work well together]

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