Lawrence Weiner 1942–2021
FEATURING HIS SELF MADE SAILOR’S HAT until his last days, Lawrence Weiner never tired of reminding us that WE ARE SHIPS AT SEA NOT DUCKS ON A POND, apparently sharing Otto Neurath’s moral imperative. The necessity of citing Weiner verbatim in the very first sentence (and in nearly every paragraph) of this homage already signals the extent to which his work contested—if not disqualified—the legitimacy of critical and historical ekphrasis. Every single one of his statements aimed at dismantling linguistic conventions (of plasticity, of poetry, of metaphor, of metaphysical thinking) and disputed the conciliatory potential of cultural practices. In a 1969 interview, Leo Castelli, an early admirer of Weiner who became his dealer after the artist parted ways with Seth Siegelaub, presciently identified the work—both literally and figuratively—as “the writing on the wall,” rightfully sensing the terminal radicality of its innate anti-aesthetic.