(UPDATE: make sure you read the update at the end of this post)
Saturday I told you about my latest Provincetown rejection - but I probably wasn't clear enough that I am really into rejection letters now. Carolyn Zick found a quote from Style Weekly a while back, but that isn't the half of it!
Almost two years ago I made a BIG wall installation of about 150 of my art-related rejection letters dating back to 1991. They were hung in a large grid pretty much randomly, except for some interesting juxtapositions like a Whitney rejection from Lisa Phillips next to a later rejection from Phillips after she had moved to the New Museum. A number of them are from people better known now and at different institutions.
Some of them are quite funny, like the one from Adrian Joffe, husband/partner of Commes des Garcon's Rei Kawakubo informing "we are not an art gallery" - I wrote them after visiting the Tokyo shop and seeing some nice art on the walls. That one was hung next to a rejection from the Seafood Leader catalogue which had put out a request for fish imagery. I think I must have submitted to the New Museum too many times because one of their letters starts off "I am writing, again, to thank you for the chance ..".
A few are now sad, like the one from the wonderful Ella King Torrey - someone who was very good to Philadelphia artists for many years - and who took her own life a decade after moving to San Francisco to become president of the San Francisco Art Institute.
All of these letters were installed in the gallery as a huge Wall of Rejection which I then solicited visitors to pose in front of making the "thumbs-up" sign. I charged them each two dollars and gave them the signed photo in return. People were paying me to take their photos in front of my rejection letters*!
I also photocopied 25 complete sets of all the rejection letters and mailed them out as signed and limited-edition Packets of Rejection. I mailed these Packets to some of the people who had sent the original rejection letters, along with the following note -
Thank you for your previous consideration of my work, but I have decided not to accept your rejection. Enclosed please find a photocopy of your rejection letter, sent along with photocopies of some other unsuitable rejections. Your letter is on top.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have reviewed your rejection, but as you may know, I receive many many valid rejections and cannot accept all. Please do not feel that this rejection in any way reflects badly on the quality of your judgement, and I wish you the greatest success in your future endeavors.
Some of the people these Packets of Rejection were sent to are -
Aaah, that felt good. Try it!
* i have the negatives and these photos have since become a whole new piece!
UPDATE: I was contacted by one of the curators listed above, Jessica Hough, and invited to include that wall of rejection piece in a 2006 show she curated in Dumbo.
We got a review in Time Out and a New Yorker blurb!