Audio guide stop for Adam McEwen, Untitled (Jeff), 2004
NARRATOR: Adam McEwen made a series of obituaries for people who were unmistakably alive—including Bill Clinton, Kate Moss, and Jeff Koons.
ADAM MCEWEN: My name is Adam McEwen and I live in New York. I used to have a job, a part-time job in London, writing obituaries for a big British newspaper and these are written in a style of that paper. So the only lie is in the first line where it says so-and-so who has died, age 47 or whatever. Everything else in these pieces is written from press clippings, from books, from the internet, everything else has been published, so it’s up for grabs as fact, as history.
Obviously I really don’t know anything about any of these people, the only thing I know about them for sure is that they’re going to die and I don’t mean that in a morbid sense. I just mean it’s the only reliable fact, its a parameter, so for me its useful, it’s like a tool…First of all it allows me to hook the viewer in with the fact that this person isn’t dead. Secondly it allows me to make this art piece, that when this person dies, this art piece is going to become redundant because an obituary very like this is going to be published.
It’s very hard to find people who I find interesting and admire in a sort of strange way, and at the same time have their flaws visible.
They are narratives of people making decisions throughout their lives. Generally you’re making decisions you are hoping to make the right decision, so for me these are about the idea that you can make a decision.
Adam McEwen, Untitled (Bill), 2004, from a suite of seven. Chromogenic print, 52 3/4 × 37 in. (134 × 94 cm). 1/2 Artist Proof, edition of 3. Published by the artist. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Print Committee 2006.94.1