Another Misspent Portrait of Etienne de Silhouette comprises a Vogue Hommes magazine completely erased by hand, affiliated works and a series of interrelated, often site-specific programs that use the core project pieces as the basis of an exploration into understandings of value, exchange, expenditure, picturing and effacement.
The work was produced over a five-year period between 1999 and 2004 by more than 260 volunteers who participated by erasing and then inscribing a page with the time it took them and how much they then earned for their time. Since 2004, and with each new presentation of the magazine, various material works are produced and contributions enacted ‘in its shadow’.
The title of the work references the eighteenth-century French finance minister Étienne de Silhouette, who was famous for his severe budget-cutting during the Seven Years’ War of 1759. At the time, featureless portraits cut from black card were the cheapest method available of recording a person’s appearance before the advent of photography. Given his harsh budgets, de Silhouette’s name quickly became synonymous with this cheap form of commemoration – the silhouette.
Erased magazine work on display at Taking it all away: MCA Collection, 2014.