When I was in the Navy, I heard a story about a prankster who’d chalked a profane message on the lawn of the commanding officer’s residence. Knowing the huge white letters would inspire the C.O. to immediately wash away the offensive language, the prankster had added a layer of grass seed to the message so that every spring the insult would return.
It’s the kind of joke that Edouard Levé would have appreciated. In “Works,” translated by Jan Steyn, Levé presents 533 ideas for works of art across a wide range of media. Some are plans for photographs, others include detailed notes for installations, while others lay the groundwork for films and books, including the first in Levé’s series: “A book describes works that the author has conceived but not brought into being.”
This isn’t the only work that Levé would go on to create. He wrote, “In the United States a voyage is undertaken to photograph towns with names that are homonyms of towns in other countries” and then took such a trip and photographed places like a bingo parlor in Delhi, a garage in Stockholm, a church in Berlin. He later published the photos in a volume titled “Amérique.”