The More That Is Taken Away

Google Earth view. Act I, Year Three, May

You must praise the mutilated world - Adam Zagajewski


The More That Is Taken Away meditates on inheriting histories of mass violence. It is a performance in three Acts, an attempt to negotiate with the past and with its echoes in the present. 

Beginning in late 2011, I made an earthwork behind my house in rural upstate New York, an excavation that is both a construct and a site. The work is done unassisted and with hand tools. The dimensions of the excavation are 60 x 10 x 4.5 feet. The site includes the digging area, the mound of excavated dirt, and the small field that surrounds them.

In Act 1 the excavation evolved by subtraction. Sculptural shapes were successively created, damaged by natural forces, re-shaped, and removed. In Act 2, I shaved off my long hair. At twenty stations along the site I filmed myself undressing, then photographed myself lying in the pit. For Act 3, these “body” photographs were printed life-size on cotton fabric and exhibited in a work-in-progress gallery installation. Afterwards I buried them in the pit in the positions of the original poses. The site has been leveled and seeded with grasses and wildflowers, in which the “body” images are reappearing as semi-legible forms.

Physical work is essentially complete, with post-production in 2019/2020. The traces of that work are a complete video record and a set of large-format black-and-white photographs. These materials are exhibited in a variety of combinations and media: a mid-length movie; large installations with the photographs, projections, and multi-channel video; a published book; and an artist book.

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The More That Is Taken Away is made possible in part with funds from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts (Individual Artist and Electronic Media and Film Finishing Funds grants), the former administered by NYFA Fiscal Sponsorship, a program of the New York Foundation for the Arts and the latter by the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes (,,,