For the past decade, Peter Liversidge’s practice has focused on the creation of conceptually based proposals that describe artworks that might—or might not—be realized. Typed on an Olivetti manual typewriter, these proposals—complete with typographical errors and hand annotations—describe ideas from the practical to the far-fetched. Liversidge wrote sixty proposals for The Aldrich (all of the typescripts are included in the exhibition), and twenty-three have been chosen for realization, guided by the concept of connecting the interior of The Aldrich Museum with both the surrounding landscape and the community. These include working with the employees of Ridgefield Hardware, the town’s hardware store, to write a song about the store that they will publically perform;* ring a cannonball into the Museum’s wall in reference to the action during the Revolutionary War that led to a British cannonball being embedded in the wall of the Keeler Tavern, Ridgefield’s Colonial-era historical site; and the fabrication of nine shallow, circular aluminum pans whose relative sizes correspond to the nine largest lakes in Connecticut, with the pans being subsequently filled with water from the specific lakes.
Liversidge’s way of working echoes some forms of conceptual art from the 1960s and 1970s in that the realization of his ideas is open to interpretation by others. He doesn’t confine his thought process to a limited range of media; rather, he allows his imagination free rein, believing that art can be made from almost any raw material or utilize almost any human activity. His physical works are usually created by simple, transitory actions; his performative works commonly utilize people who don’t think of themselves as performers.
The artist sees his proposals as gentle invitations, not explicit instructions—which is different from most art that is based on written directives—and the realization of a specific proposal is always open to negotiation, a fact that reveals his interest in expanding conventional notions of authorship. He is just as interested in the proposals that are not realized, as they are ready to be brought to life in the imagination of each reader. Liversidge’s work stands as a reminder that the execution of a simple idea can result in anything but a simple outcome.
Proposal No. 12, the installation of twelve groups of RGB (red, green, blue) lights in public locations in Ridgefield, is one of the artist’s proposals that has been realized. The Museum would like to thank the restaurants, shops, and other venues that have participated: The Ancient Mariner Restaurant, Books on the Common, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Dog and Pony Restaurant, Guilded Lynx, Hutton’s Fine Menswear, Luc’s Café, Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, Ridgefield Library, and Ridgefield Town Hall. Two of the groups have been installed at The Aldrich: one in the South Gallery and the other on the Museum’s porch.
- Richard Klein, exhibitions director
Peter Liversidge was born in 1973 in Lincoln, UK; he lives and works in London.
* The performance by the staff of Ridgefield Hardware will be part of a day of community activities at The Aldrich on July 9, which will also include the realization of Liversidge’s Proposal No. 17, the presentation of a free public meal that features sausages made to the artist’s grandfather’s recipe; and Proposal No. 51, the creation of a public sculpture by 100 Museum visitors out of 100 rolls of pennies.
Generous support for Peter Liversidge: Proposals for The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is provided by Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, and Francis H. Williams and Keris Salmon.