I bought a little City
In the Summer of 2012 Giles Bailey spent two months in Marfa, the small, West Texan town to which the minimalist sculptor Donald Judd relocated from New York in 1971. Over the following two decades until his death in 1994 he transformed what was little more than a remote outpost in the Chihuahuan desert into the home of a landmark collection of 20th century sculpture and a hub of cultural activity. Juddʼs identity pervades the town, now a popular tourist destination and host to a large community of galleries and creative endeavours, leaving a complex, entangled legacy of philanthropy and megalomania.
I bought a little city is the title of a short story written by Donald Barthelme in 1974. It gives a first person account of the whims and vagaries of a individual following his purchase of the city of Galveston. The protagonistʼs immense wealth and consequent power leaves him in a moral quandary, torn between an apparently benevolent impulse to improve the city for its populous and his own myopic self-interest. Strange and darkly comic the text can be read as a wry, absurdist indictment of proprietorship and urban regeneration. Barthelmeʼs story became a tool to assist me in unpicking Juddʼs weighty and canonical lineage but also address more broadly the lens that such figures provide as a means to view ambition, culture and the writing of history
At OUTPOST Bailey will attempt to invoke the panoramic vista from the cupola of the Presido County Courthouse (Marfaʼs highest point) where he performed his adaptation of I bought a little city. Alongside this Bailey will present the project he developed as a resident in the town together with performances that informed it.
Giles Bailey is an artist based in London who makes performances that attempt to rethink conventional approaches to writing histories. Born in York in 1981 he studied at the Glasgow School of Art, Royal College of Art and the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam where he received his MFA in 2011. He has presented projects at The Chisenhale Gallery, London, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Van Horbourg, Basel, Etablissement dʼen Face, Brussels and CAGE, New York. In July 2012 he was a researcher in residence in Marfa Texas for Fieldwork:Marfa at the invitation of ESBA Nantes Métropole, HEAD-Genève and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie
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