Catherine Taft: It seems very clear that the catalog’s language adopts the language of its own production. Surprisingly, some reviews of the first installment of “The Production Line of Happiness” alluded to a spirit of obfuscation in the show—for example, the wall labels being dislocated from their work—which prompts me to ask if there is a degree of illegibility operating in your work, either intentionally or not?
Christoper Williams: Illegibility? No, I am actually not interested in that idea at all, although the idea of disarticulation and methodologies of separation are of great interest to me. With regard to the book, I can’t imagine one that is clearer about its economic and material realities.
The history of photography as art in the 20th century is the history of the illustrated press or the photo book, and no one stands as a better example of this than Walker Evans, who embraced the roles of photographer, editor, graphic designer, typographer, and copy writer. In his books, but especially his magazine work, no one element took dominance over the others. In fact, he used each element as a device to open up rather than reduce the possibilities of the entire network. Evans possessed an acute sense of context and many times used his position within a publication to criticize the ideology of its support structure. Making the jump to the context of exhibition and gallery display, it’s of course easy to think of the photographic practitioner extending their role to that of the curator, exhibition designer, etc.
Two things should be noted: Evans was criticized for the physical distance between his photographs and his texts, and it is well known that he locked himself in the Museum of Modern Art to arrange his own pictures, sometimes wheat pasting them to the walls so that they could not be moved.