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Gordon, David
Don’t Carp London 1975 Don’t Carp London 1975
1975 1975

This early work by Dave Gordon is an emblematic record of the London, Ontario art scene in the early 1970s. It is a handwritten list of names, imploring to each, “don’t carp”. The final work, for which this is a sketch, was exhibited at Forest City Gallery in 1975 on long banners alongside large cut-out images of carp fish. As in other Dave Gordon work, signs undergo playful inversions and to take on multiple meanings. The carp evokes a momentary flash of wildness; at the same time, being a fish native to the London region, it reflects Gordon’s ongoing interest in localism. One can imagine that if all the named people on the list stopped “carping” and recognized their commonalities, something greater might be possible. The list of names begins with his then wife, Jamelie, Hassan, herself an important Canadian artist, and continues to reflect the local scene with names like Greg Curnoe, Jack Chambers; then “Don’t Carp Jackson Pollock, Don’t Carp Jackson Five”. Playful diversions ensue as the list progresses.

Listing is a ubiquitous technique for conceptual artists wherein a specific logic is announced and then unfolds. One wonders about proximities of listed names in Gordon’s piece, and then about the list’s priorities as one nears the end. This list isn’t alphabetical; instead it seems, within the rationality of the list, to be completely subjective, even personal, and whimsical.

 
Gordon, David
London ON 1944 London ON 1944
Don’t Carp London 1975 Don’t Carp London 1975
1975 1975
11 pages, framed, india ink on Mead sketchbook paper 11 pages, framed, india ink on Mead sketchbook paper
45.7 x 30.4 cm (unframed), each
Purchase, J. Stuart Fleming Fund, 2015 Purchase, J. Stuart Fleming Fund, 2015
58-012a-k

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