Allan McCollum: “Over Ten Thousand Individual Works”

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Episode #129: Filmed in his Brooklyn studio, Allan McCollum reveals the process and logic behind the project Over Ten Thousand Individual Works (begun in 1982). Cast in plaster, hand-painted, and displayed in vast quantities, each Individual Work is a unique combination of shapes adapted from commercially-produced objects.

Applying strategies of mass production to hand-made objects, Allan McCollum’s labor-intensive practice questions the intrinsic value of the unique work of art. McCollum’s installations—fields of vast numbers of small-scale works, systematically arranged—are the product of many tiny gestures, built up over time. Viewing his work often produces a sublime effect as one slowly realizes that the dizzying array of thousands of identical-looking shapes is, in fact, comprised of subtly different, distinct things. Engaging assistants, scientists, and local craftspeople in his process, McCollum embraces a collaborative and democratic form of creativity.

Allan McCollum. Over Ten Thousand Individual Works, 1987–88. Enamel on cast Hydrocal, 2 inches in diameter each, with variable lengths, each unique. Photo by Fred Scruton. © Allan McCollum. Courtesy the artist.

Allan McCollum is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Systems of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Watch full episodes online for free via PBS Video or Hulu, as a paid download via iTunes (link opens application), or as part of a Netflix streaming subscription.

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Wesley Miller. Camera: Joel Shapiro. Sound: Tom Bergin. Editor: Lizzie Donahue & Joaquin Perez. Artwork Courtesy: Allan McCollum & Friedrich Petzel Gallery. Special Thanks: Celina Paiz, Marcie Paper & Adele Röder.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Contributor
Jonathan Munar is the Director of Digital Media and Strategy at Art21, overseeing the organization's overall digital, Web, and social media presences. He edits and contributes to Art21's "Art 2.1" column.
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  2. cris ronk says:

    Although I admit it is a momentous task to create 10,000 individual and unique pieces, I can’t help but to be reminded of my brother who suffered from an addiction to methamphetamine.

    Reply

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