July 10, 2018

Tim Youd: Retyping Ironweed By William Kennedy

Artist Tim Youd will be at the Albany Institute of History & Art July 15 and July 17-21, 2018

Tim Youd retyping William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury; 326 pages typed on an Underwood Universal typewriter; Faulkner’s home “Rowan Oak,” Oxford, MS, June 2014. Photo credit: Robert Jordan, University of Mississippi

Tim Youd: Retyping Ironweed by William Kennedy, a special performance by Los Angeles-based artist Tim Youd, will run Sunday, July 15 and Tuesday, July 17 through Saturday, July 21 at the Albany Institute of History & Art. The performance is part of the artist’s ongoing project 100 Novels in which he retypes novels from beginning to end in locations that are charged with literary significance in the author’s biography.

At the Albany Institute, Youd will retype Ironweed by Pulitzer Prize winning author, journalist, and screen writer William Kennedy. Performances will be:

  • Sunday, July 15 from 12-4:45PM
  • Tuesday, July 17 from 10:30AM-1PM and 2PM-4:45PM
  • Wednesday, July 18 from 10:30AM-1PM and 2PM-4:45PM
  • Thursday, July 19 from 10:30AM-1PM and 2PM-7:45PM with a special tasting of Albany Distilling Company’s Ironweed line from 6-7:45PM (ages 21+).
  • Friday, July 20 from 10:30AM-1PM and 2PM-4:45PM
  • Saturday, July 21 from 12PM-4:45PM

About the Project Employing the same make and model typewriter used by the author, Youd types each novel on a single sheet of paper, which is backed by an additional support sheet. The artist loads the two-ply paper through the typewriter repeatedly, until the entire novel has been retyped. As the typing progresses, the top sheet becomes saturated with ink and perforated from overuse, while the sheet underneath becomes embossed from indentation. Upon completion, the two pages are separated and mounted side by side as a framed diptych, recalling two pages of an open book with the words obscured. The diptych remains as a relic of the performance that embodies the novel, even though it is completely illegible.

According to the artist, “The genesis of the project came from my recognition that on a formal level, when you are looking at two pages of a book, you are looking at two rectangles of black text inside two larger rectangles of the white pages. I had the palpable desire to crush the words of the entire book into this formal language.” It also becomes an investigation of memory, attention, and the act of reading. The artist explains, “We don’t remember every word no matter how prodigious our memory—rather, we are left with some kind of layered impression.”

This event is free and open to the public. During the week of the performance, Youd will be located in different spaces of the museum. He will be stationed in the museum’s atrium and (weather permitting) on the museum lawn near Washington Avenue. Daily announcements of his location will be posted on the museum’s website and on social media for students and visitors to follow. Visitors and pedestrians might come across the performance by chance, following the sound of the typewriter keys, which can often be heard before the artist comes into view. Youd is open to visitors approaching him to talk about the project throughout the performance.

Programming support is provided by the New York State Writer’s Institute and Albany Distilling Company.

This performance is the 61st novel to be typed in the series and is one of several that Youd will undertake in the Hudson Valley during spring and summer 2018. The resulting diptychs from the Hudson Valley cycle will be presented in an exhibition in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center’s Focus Gallery at Vassar in fall 2018. Learn more here.

About the Artist To date, Youd (b. 1967, Worcester, MA) has retyped over 50 novels at various locations in the United States and Europe. His work is the subject of a current exhibition and performance cycle at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Youd has been in residence at various historic writer’s homes, including William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak with the University of Mississippi Art Museum (Oxford, MS), Flannery O’Connor’s Andalusia with SCAD (Milledgeville and Savannah, GA), and Virginia Woolf’s Monk’s House (Rodmell, Sussex). His work has appeared in numerous museum exhibitions, including the New Orleans Museum of Art, Monterey Museum of Art, Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, University of Mississippi Art Museum at Rowan Oak, Hanes Gallery at Wake Forest, and the Lancaster Museum of Art and History. He has presented and performed his 100 Novels project at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), LAXART, and the Museo dell’Ara Pacis in Rome, and has retyped Joe Orton’s Collected Plays at The Queen’s Theatre with MOCA London. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

About Ironweed Initially rejected by 13 publishers, Ironweed was published by Viking in 1983 and took the literary world by storm by winning the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It won critical acclaim internationally and was published in numerous foreign editions. It was included in the Modern Library’s List of the 100 Best Novels written in English in the 20th Century.

The Washington Post praised Kennedy’s novel as “beautifully sorrowful” as it follows Francis Phelan, a Depression-era alcoholic bum, as he returns to his hometown of Albany, haunted by his past, and in search of meaning, forgiveness and redemption. Critics praised its soaring lyricism and Kirkus Reviews said that Kennedy’s prose “curlicues in extravagant declamations, levitates into hellfire profanations, and celebrates the bonding of an underculture’s fine, boozy chivalry.” The novel was later made into an acclaimed feature film starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep.

Related events:

Thursday, July 19, 2018 | 6-7:45PM

Ironweed Tasting with Albany Distilling Company

Join us during Tim Youd’s Thursday evening performance as we toast to an iconic novel with a special tasting of a line of spirits named in its honor. Ages 21+

Tim Youd 100 Novels Hudson Valley Cycle

Performances April – July 2018

DATES: April 19 – May 10 (days off on April 28 and May 5)

NOVEL: The Group by Mary McCarthy

LOCATIONS: Vassar College, Poughkeepsie

NOTE: Late Night at the Lehman Loeb performances on April 19 and April 26 from 5 – 9 pm

DATES: June 3 – June 11

NOVEL: The Falconer by John Cheever


Sing Sing Correctional Facility decommissioned guard tower near prison gate, Ossining

John Cheever’s home, Ossining

DATES: June 13 – June 18

NOVEL: Jack by A.M. Homes

LOCATION: Bronxville

Campus of Sarah Lawrence College

DATES: June 20 – June 29:

NOVEL: The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

LOCATION: Carson McCullers House, Nyack

DATES: July 2 – July 13

NOVEL: Light Years by James Salter

LOCATION: Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Catskill

DATES: July 15, July 17-21

SCREENPLAY: Ironweed by William Kennedy, first half

LOCATIONS: Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany

DATES: July 23 – 26

NOVEL: Ironweed by William Kennedy, second half

LOCATIONS: Art Omi Fields Sculpture Park, Ghent

Tim Youd: The Hudson Valley Retyped

August 30 – October 14, 2018

An exhibition of diptychs and drawings by Youd related to the Hudson Valley Cycle

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Focus Gallery

Opening reception: September 13, 2018, 6pm – 8pm