Untitled (a treatise on form)

7.4 / Moving Target

Untitled (a treatise on form)

By Anne Lesley Selcer March 22, 2016

The following was written on the occasion of the exhibition Peter Kirkeby and Maggie Preston at [2nd Floor Projects], on view October 4 to November 15, 2015 in San Francisco. A residency at Krowswork Gallery in Oakland supported research for the commission of this piece. It is repulished here with permission from the Author. Accompanying the piece are a selection of works by Kirkeby and Preston from their exhibition.


Everything within the formal field becomes form. Form feels tactile to the formless, which is unseen, without name, unaccounted for numerically. This is what is meant by economy, the market is in everything. Time is the main concern of form, next, formalizing communication.

When I seek communication, I often find form until I begin speaking in form, and all there is is form, and I seek form when I want exchange. Until there is no inside,  until there is only inside, until what's inside is spilling out.

Form is always waiting, intensely feminine, beginning lalations conjoined with emergent textures on screen. Form is slower than growing.  Form confronts time. At form's most intense edge, formlessness. At that most intense edge, form.

The question is not which is more powerful, but which is more reproductive. Then, since the terms threaten to flip or reverse, form asks, is it possible for the formless to reproduce or just spread? Thus, form encodes the definition of reproduction.

Form and light, form and the sun. Communication between objects and light, communication between objects themselves. The neat lines of cypress trees which preceded perspectival discovery suggest representation is a kind of property.

Robert Morris studied engineering at the University of Kansas City and the California School of Fine Arts, and earned a master's degree in art history from Hunter College in New York in 1963.

Eva Hesse was a graduate of Yale University School of Fine Arts in 1959.

Nancy Graves received her master of fine arts degree from the Yale School of Art and Architecture in 1964. She traveled in Italy on a Fulbright-Hayes fellowship.

Richard Serra received his master of fine arts degree from Yale in 1964.

Bruce Nauman studied with William Wiley at the University of California at Davis, where he received a master of fine arts degree in 1966.

Robert Ryman received no formal art training but studied works of art in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art where he was employed as a guard.

Sam Gilliam, Jr received his master of arts degree in painting from the University of Louisville in 1961.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles studied history and international relations before earning her master's degree in creative arts from New York University.

Ann Hamilton graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in textile design and earned a master of fine arts degree from Yale University School of Art in 1985.

Martin Puryear studied painting at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He received his master of fine arts degree from Yale in 1971.

Mark Thompson received his master of arts degree in sculpture from the University of California at Berkeley in 1973.

During his student years at the Dusseldorf Art Academy, Franz Erhard Walther began to theorize that art is a formless phenomenon solely activated by viewer participation.

Rebecca Horn studied art at the Hochschule Kunste in Hamburg between 1964 and 1970.

The formal age, with its quickness and constant production demands more and more forms.

Ronaldo Wilson is wearing a mask. Joan Jonas is wearing a mask. Sophia Wang is wearing a mask.

The socius curves around me, glaring. Everything I had spent my life fighting became its sole point: to enter the socius as a form of money.

Representation arises in an ecology of totality.

"Time is elsewhere. Only space exists, infinite and full like a dead stone."

A man gets out of a truck at Fukishima and walks back and forth across a bridge.

This is the form of the formless lament. This mourning does not redirect the dead back into their realm, but holds grief inside mercantile walls become an architecture of all systems that killed the sun.

Without name, qualities, masterpiece or practice, fountaining femininity, the formless is the negative basis of power. Order does not hide disorder, order hides the social. Informality is everywhere, but not in communication with power. Form hides the social.


  1. “The neat lines of cypress trees” is from Henri Lefebvre's The Production of Space in which the trees marking property lines offered the original model for how perspective could be represented on paper.
  2. "Time is elsewhere. Only space exists, infinite and full like a dead stone" is directly quoted from Leslie Kaplan's Excess- The Factory, Commune Editions, 2014. 
  3. The litany of artists' educational credentials is taken variously from Kristine Stiles' entry in Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artist Writings, marked in the index under "anti-form."
  4. This piece was produced for [2nd Floor Projects] as part of the exhibition: Peter Kirkeby and Maggie Preston. Time and space for research, many thanks to Jasmine Moorhead and Krowswork artist residency. 

Comments ShowHide

Related Content