Liz Magor, talking about the work Production
I’m sure my feelings about identity have changed, but probably not in any remarkable way. Perhaps they are simply typical of a person maturing into an understanding that as individuals we are not that unique or special. In fact, I was testing my tolerance for repetition and sameness before the lead works. Four Boys and a Girl consists of five slabs of pressed material alongside the machine that pushed them out. Production followed that with a machine that pressed out four bricks at a time until there was an inventory of thousands. I wanted to set up a tension between the producer and its product, to transfer importance from the single thing to the many.
Newspaper, wood, steel, approx. 2,500 paper bricks
Machine: 134.6 × 81.3 × 61 cm
Each brick: 5.1 × 10.2 × 20.3 cm
Photo #1: Richard-Max Tremblay
Collection of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Purchased in 1984
Production is a work from 1980. Probably started in 1979. By that time I had been making art for about eight or nine years. And it was becoming clear to me that art was a very difficult and profound thing to undertake, and I was worried that I didn’t have the proper qualities to be a good artist. So I thought I would just slow down and stop trying to generate new ideas and be the most current-thinking person and be on top of it. The way you feel that you should be when you’re in your thirties or twenties. You should be at the front of everything. So I thought I’m just going to slow down and just relax and do the same thing every day. So I set myself a task of making these bricks out of newspaper. And I just produced four bricks at a time, for eight hours a day, for four or five days a week, for several months. And I think in the end I produced about three thousand bricks. The number of bricks, it ended when… maybe the meditative quality of that activity became less strong. And also I had enough bricks to surround the machine as though the product of the maker had eclipsed the maker. Which was something I was interested in. In my early eight years I thought my life is going to be devoted to making objects that will gradually have a more enduring and maybe even a more interesting life than I’m going to have. I felt sort of slave-like or servant-like to this activity that I’d chosen. So the bricks do, have become monumental and the machine becomes less important even though it’s the producer.