The Pen is Mightier than the… Hammer?
Christie’s auction house is hosting a sale this winter to benefit the PEN American Center, an organisation of writers and editors that fights against censorship. Organised in conjunction with the art dealer Sean Kelly, the sale “First Editions/Second Thoughts” (FEST), features work by 14 artists including Glenn Ligon, Richard Serra and Marina Abramović, each of whom has donated a work, as well as 61 works of literature annotated by their authors.
All of the artists are working with books, and in many cases are altering catalogues from their own past exhibitions. Ligon, for example, has blacked-out images of his neon sculptures from a catalogue that accompanied a show at Luhring Augustine in 2012. “I was thinking about how fragile neon is,” Ligon says. “And, by extension, how fragile words are, how they can be made to disappear, which is a central tension or metaphor in my work.” He adds that “the PEN auction is about celebrating the resilience of words in the face of attempts to erase them”.
An overall sale estimate has not yet been released, but all proceeds will be going to the PEN American Center. The sale is due to take place on 2 December at Christie’s New York saleroom.