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Alan Sonfist

(American, born 1946)

Gene Bank of New York City

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Object Details

Artist

Alan Sonfist

Date

1974

Medium

Mixed media: thirty-five unique black-and-white photographs and thirty-four glass jars containing “genetic element sections that represent the entire forest for future generations to re-create the forest”

Dimensions

Each photograph, a through ii: 16 × 20 inches (40.6 × 50.8 cm)
Each jar (including two spares), jj through sss: 7 × 3 inches (17.8 × 7.6 cm)
As installed (approx): 97 × 146 3/4 × 9 inches (246.4 × 372.7 × 22.9 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the generosity of Ronni Lacroute, Class of 1966; George M. Garfunkel, Class of 1960, and Sandra Garfunkel; Margot Zimmerman, Class of 1956, and Paul Zimmerman; Deborah Simon Troner, Class of 1964, and Dr. Michael B. Troner, Class of 1964; Richard Wiles; and Mark Mayrsohn, Class of 1977, and Kathy Mayrsohn; with additional support from the Solomon Family Foundation; the Frank and Margaret Robinson Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Endowment; and the Donors to the Contemporary Art Fund

Object
Number

2017.020 a-ttt

Alan Sonfist’s intended Gene Bank of New York City to operate as an actual gene bank. Collected in(…)

Alan Sonfist’s intended Gene Bank of New York City to operate as an actual gene bank. Collected in vials at the bottom of the piece are bits of twigs and dirt, branches and brush. In Sonfist’s words, this collected detritus is meant to serve as the “genetic element selections that represent the entire forest for future generations to re-create.” Considering these “genetic selections” along with the subtly disjointed arrangement of images above them, Gene Bank begs the question: What difference is there between the landscape which Sonfist has photographed and its future, genetically identical reproductions suggested by the vial-bound refuse?-Troy Sherman (“Shifting Ground,” curated by undergraduate members of Cornell’s History of Art Majors’ Society, with oversight by Leah Sweet and Brittany R. R. Rubin, and presented at the Johnson Museum April 21-August 12, 2018)

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