Allan McCollum and Matt Mullican
March 6 - April 24, 2004
The Christine Burgin Gallery is pleased to announce the premier exhibition
of "Your Fate," a collaborative project by Allan McCollum and Matt Mullican.
"Your Fate" is a system for answering unanswerable questions, or perhaps
divining your future. In the exhibition, a unique collection of symbols is
presented in a number of different forms, including a set of twenty-five
specially imprinted dice. The dice are accompanied by a manual, which aids
in the interpretation of the symbols, and game tables that may be used on
site for casting individual readings. Also included in the exhibition is a
catalogue of framed drawings of the symbols and a large-scale model for a
future die that would incorporate all the symbols into one object.
McCollum writes about this collaboration:
"Most of us have our interior pictures of the world mapped in a sketchy,
slapdash way, and we allow the gaps in our understanding to be ignored,
glossed over, or filled in by others whom we imagine to have greater
expertise. As conditions can change, our worldviews can change, often from
day to day: faith is broken, dreams are shattered, luck rewards, experience
teaches. If this haphazard process could be made visible, what might it look
like? One way to picture it would be to survey Matt's work from the last
"For Matt, the process itself of constantly reordering the sense of one's
world is crucial -- even more important to him, I sometimes feel, than the
production of art objects. When he suggested we collaborate on a project, it
occurred to me that we might utilize my more materialist inclination to
invent some sort of "finished product" that could help one repeatedly rework
one's worldview as a matter of course: an oracle, or a divination tool.
After all, isn't every good artwork an amalgamation of signs pointing to
both the past and the future, and capable of reconfiguring it's meaning with
each successive engagement?
"Matt has always depicted his cosmology in diagrammatic schemes and
pictograms, so the vocabulary was already there for us; all we needed to do
was create a system that worked. First, we pooled our resources and
assembled a temporary pastiche of existing divination techniques: rune
stones, tarot cards, the I Ching: we considered everything from using
computers to using a rock in a tin can with yes on one side and no on the
other. Matt then reworked these bits and pieces using the generic signs and
logos we see everywhere in contemporary life, in the way he always does in
his work, and expanded their meanings into universal categories."
Mullican adds to this:
"Allan thought it would be interesting if we invented a divination device,
something to tell the future with. This is not something I would have done
on my own due to the heebie-jeebies element of fortune-telling and its
relationship to my own cosmology and my work with hypnosis. But since it
came from Allan it gave me permission to make such a thing. Allan and I have
been interested in psychic phenomena for as long as we have known each
other, and considering how it plays into peoples' knowledge of the world is
important to us both. I also liked the game aspect. My work has referred to
games for over twenty years but this is the first game that I have helped to
The twenty key "Your Fate" dice are imprinted with symbols on one face only,
making the odds of a symbol landing face up one in six; four "variable" dice
have symbols on two sides. Included in the installation is a set of three
dice tables created by Mullican and McCollum for this exhibition. Based on
traditional tables for the throwing of dice, each of these three tables is
configured with a different arrangement of panels covered with colored felt.
In Mullican's cosmology, colors represent specific interpretive spaces, and
in the context of "Your Fate," the colors allow an additional layer to a
reading of the dice.
Mullican explains the interpretation of the colors as follows:
"The First table is yellow. Yellow represents the framed world, the
context, the here and now, the immediate context, your consciousness.
"The second table is yellow in the center surrounded by blue. Blue is the
world unframed, all that you are not aware of, the street.
"The third table is yellow in the center surrounded by red, green, blue and
black. Red represents the subject or subjectivity, the sign in your mind.
Black is language, it exists primarily only as a sign. Green is materiality, the elements.
Both McCollum and Mullican have exhibited their work extensively since the
early 70s. McCollum's work is included in the current exhibition Singular
Forms (Sometimes Repeated) at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Mullican
is completing a commission for the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and has recently
performed utilizing hypnosis at The Museum of the Moving Image in Geneva and
the Kunsthalle, Zurich.
Allan McCollum and Matt Mullican
YOUR FATE, 2004
Installation views, Christine Burgin Gallery, New York
For further information, please visit the Project Website.