Brian O'Connell

To My Child Friend:

A set of 43 drawings entitled Sentences on Conceptual Art by Sol Lewitt According to the Game of Logic by Lewis Carroll as played by Brian O'Connell relies on the accidental formal identity of a game board intended by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) for the amusement of his "Child -Friend" and the serial compositions of Sol Lewitt. I use the rules of Carroll's game, meant to parse basic logical problems, e.g. syllogisms, according to sets of binary oppositions, to diagram Lewitt's "Sentence on Conceptual Art" from 1969. Subjecting the rules of one era - Conceptualism's hay-day - to those of another - Late-Romantic Victorianism - complicates not only these eras' relationship to one another but also that of our own to the formal strategies of conceptualism. It's tempting to say, "These drawings comment on conceptual art but are not conceptual art." But as with Lewitt's own self-contradiction such a claim forces the question of the implicit definitions that it relies on.

A sculpture extended this project. Literally adding a dimension, it draws on the gallery's situation across the street from the Fröbel Seminar in Aachen. The founder of 'Kindergarten,' Friedrich Fröbel (1782-1852) in many ways produced the child to which Carroll addressed himself. Dependant on a series of increasingly intricate object-based activities know as gifts (Spielgaben) Fröbel's theory attempted to allow the child's 'being' to develop 'naturally' through 'inner connection' between mind and object. Much has been made of the influence real and imagined of Fröbel's gifts on Modernist art and architect. The fifth of these gifts was a set of eight cubes mass produced by a burgeoning 19th centurt kindergarten industry. I enlarged the box to one cubic meter. The eight cubes in fact contain a ninth cube in keeping with both Carroll and Lewitt's structure but making its grammatical usefulness almost impossible.

Finally, a set of drawing produced by poking holes in paper - the method of the 11th 'gift' -- reproduce in a large scale the illustrations that accompanied Fröbel's instructions on how the blocks were to be used. As in the game, the painstaking method implicates the artist in production-as-exercise and blur the position as producing and learning/learned subject.