“The Help, A Companion Guide”,
an eBook published by
July 11 2012
An art-handler friend in New York has some stories about installing in buyers’ ritzy apartments: a doorman’s insistence that he ride the service elevator up; having a maid point out where the de Kooning’s supposed to go.
One doesn’t really ‘flip’ through eBooks so much as enter their hybrid worlds, which can mix print conventions with the scattered way of reading we’ve picked up from the web. iBooks’ goofy page-turn effect works well with Rachel Harrison’s The Help, A Companion Guide, a hilarious and off-kilter edition released for iPad and iPhone by Badlands Unlimited, Paul Chan’s art book publishing outfit. The book was inspired by Harrison’s show, The Help (2012), at Greene Naftali in New York, but there are no finished gallery shots, nor any standard catalogue text. Instead we’re bombarded with snippets of Harrison’s reference materials and numerous shots from the installation of her exhibition.
The theme, of course, is the “help”: the research sources and people that surround the polished final exhibition: the denim-clad art-handlers wrapping up Harrison’s speckled foam sculptures beside buckets of cleaning fluid and stray packing tape. There, photos of colored-pencil drawings depicting Amy Winehouse singing to caricatures inspired by early Picasso paintings; Google image searches; newspaper clippings (from Malaysia, I think) about basketball teams and 90s rappers; scans of ceramics from old art catalogs. You’re offered a taste of the artist’s colorfully neurotic research process, sensing the stench of cigarette smoke in a Chelsea alleyway during an overworked gallery registrar’s lunch break. (Pablo Larios)