[April 4 2011]
An American Prayer, it was title to Jim Morrison’s poetry book and today to Richard Prince’s first monographic exhibition in France, one which Prince chose to have at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Amongst a display of Prince’s art, it is his obsessive book collection that is showcased alongside his selection of the BnF’s archive. Prince proposes a rediscovery of marginalised countercultures, from the howling Beat Generation poets Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg to the free-spirited erotica of Suck Magazine, the first European underground sexpaper created in Amsterdam. It is the making of Prince’s ideal library, incorporating his extensive personal collection featuring a first edition of the notorious Lolita by Vladimir Naboskov annotated by the author, manuscripts and books whose meaning build a story in our minds, such as a copy of The Naked Lunch owned by Timothy Leary. These all fragments of what Prince calls ‘wild history’, a fiction spiraling between public myth and personal history. A series entitled Ephemera is an original creation for American Prayer: never before exhibited pulp and pornographic books, most shelf marked ‘EI’ (eliminable) have been appropriated by Prince, now serving these relics new value as art. It’s a story that Prince perpetuates, the continuation and consumption of our cultural dreams, one that never stops writing itself.
American Prayer by Richard Prince is on view until 26 June at the Bibliotheque nationale de France, Quai Francois-Mauriac, Paris. Photo and Text Sophie Pinchetti