TH FI TO IN PH
Object, 5.6 x 0.2 cm.
Materials: wooden toothpick
Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. S0389_01).
The letters that James Lee Byars wrote in pencil on a toothpick stand for The First Totally Interrogative Philosophy. According to this American sculptor and performance artist, his work opens up a space for reflection, a place where it is more important to ask questions than to provide answers. Byars regards answers as ideological constructions, as solutions that make new questions disappear. In TH FI TO IN PH he answers unrelated questions with further questions. Byars strives to liberate conceptual images from their constraints, and so create an openness for the absolute.
This golden pin and toothpick can be seen as symbols of the absolute. Byars likes to work with everyday objects, but places them in a mystical sphere. In other words, he combines earthly matters and spirituality. Against the dark background, the pin and toothpick emerge as mysterious entities, and we can enjoy moments of unexpected perfection in their contemplation. This aspect is something that Byars often strived for: one of his uncompleted projects was for a nail, 333-meters long, which he wanted to place in Berlin. The gigantic work was intended to reach the clouds, but at the same time could be described as a light-ray from the heavens descending down upon us. James Lee Byars' motto "announce the perfect until it happens" can most certainly be applied to these objects as well. With Byars’ toothpick and pin – the latter of which is the smallest object in the M HKA collection – he attempts to make the impossible possible.
Events View all
EXTRA MUROS: Visite Borne...
03 May 2014 - 25 May 2014.
Under the umbrella term Visite, the M HKA – in collaboration with LOCUS, the hub for libraries, cultural and community centres and local cult
EXTRA MUROS: Tracés. Simi...
01 March 2012 - 31 March 2012.
TRACÉS. Similarities and dissonants was the upshot of a recycling project that started in 2010 in the recycling centre of Merksem. The centr
Urgent Conversations Athe...
31 October 2016 - 05 February 2017.
Urgent Conversations: Athens – Antwerp is the first temporary exhibition in the long overdue public unfolding of the Greek National Museum of
The collection XXX – The ...
29 June 2012 - 16 September 2012.
Maarten Vanden Eynde’s project Museum of Forgotten History housed the remains of a possible future past. The exhibition took the form of fict
Ensembles View all
JAMES LEE BYARS ENSEMBLE
The international renowned American artist James Lee Byars has a remarkable relationship with the M HKA. From the seventies onward he worked
SPIRITUAL FORM The idea of Spiritual Form emerged from discussing the work of Philippe Van Snick, Stephen Antonakos and Jame
Chapter 3: Question, 1969...
In the early 1970s, Byars’s overriding interest was the idea of the question. As he wrote in a letter to Isi Fiszman: ‘If the critical questi