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The Importance of Play: 6 Playdates with Marcel Broodthaers (part 2 of 2)

Erasures Marcel Broodthaers MoMA

3D poetry

This is part 2 of a blog post on the importance of play, as experienced during a series of workshops at MoMa in the spring of 2016. You can read part 1 here.

During the second half of the Erasures workshops—see part 1 of this blog post for more information on the workshops—we were free to use several different materials: the printed texts, other printouts, glue, scissors, tape, markers, etc.

One of the first such pieces I made became a small booklet, the cover of which became "SENT IN."


Upon opening the booklet to the first page, we see a spread from an imaginary playbill starring Rowan Fox, with a portrait of Mr. Fox on the left, and the text of the playbill on the right:


Rowan Fox


Ain't It The Bare Hand

Rowan Fox

Catchy title, right? I'd see that play! And isn't Mr. Fox adorable?

On the following spread is a poem made up of three-letter words—some real words and some not.












On the following spread I have obscured some of the backwards text—again, this particular text is printed on vellum—revealing only "MA." The text on the right is untouched.


Using some of the same materials, I went in a different direction with these same texts. In the example below, I used a permanent marker to perform an erasure on everything apart from the white space of the letters, which I then transformed into the text "add dad," which could also be ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) dad.


When opened, the backside creates an interesting-looking texture as we see the permanent marker through the vellum.

ADD DAD open

Then, on an unprinted piece of vellum, I applied black tape horizontally to the outside surface, and used some narrower black tape to make the Roman numeral III, as it was the third week of workshops.


When opened, the black tape looks really interesting through the vellum. I added a black rectangle to the right-facing page.

III open

On the back there was a little bit of space left for a copyright symbol.

 III Back

A final piece using the text printed on vellum was made by cutting up the vellum, line by line.

Absent Painter

You can open this 'booklet' by turning "absent" and "painter" to reveal the rest of the text.

Absent Painter open

The next series of works were done using printed pages—on paper—from Stéphane Mallarmé's text Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance), which Marcel Broodthaers used in his work of the same name, where he replaced all of Mallarmé's text with black lines, leaving only the formalist layout of Mallarmé's original text.

On this piece—again using the black permanent marker—I left only a handful of words, to create a new poem:






la perdition


Glued to the back of this poem is a collage with only one word remaining from Mallarmé's text, "rien," and cutouts of other text and the thin black tape. This one reads:






In this last piece I went in a more sculptural direction. By cutting into the spine of the folded page (here with Mallarmé's text in English translation) and then folding the edges inward I created something akin to a children's pop-up book.


This one can be read in different ways: for example reading from one side.



               at the altitude




This discovery was quite important for me, and I have begun to further explore this technique with other materials in the time since the workshops.

Another important discovery that came out of this piece was using its shape to cast interesting shadows.

SilhouetteSilhouette detail

This entire experience—going to 6 weeks of Erasures workshops—was such a great experience for me, and I am so thankful to Elizabeth Zuba, Diane Bertolo, and everyone at MoMA for providing me this space and environment to play.

I'm sure the ideas I worked out during and as a result of these workshops will stay with me for some time.

As a final note, on the last day of the workshops, Diane Bertolo—one of the leaders of the workshops—gave me an "award of excellence," which I then performed an erasure on.

War of Excel

I can't wait to get it framed and hung next to my PhD!

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