The Blazing World
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All intellectual and artistic endeavors, even jokes, ironies, and parodies, fare better in the mind of the crowd when the crowd knows that somewhere behind the great work or the great spoof it can locate a cock and a pair of balls.” In 2003, I ran across this provocative sentence in a letter to the editor that was published in an issue of The Open Eye, an interdisciplinary journal I had been reading faithfully for several years. The letter’s author, Richard Brickman, did not write the sentence. He was quoting an artist whose name I had never seen in print before: Harriet Burden. Brickman claimed that Burden had written him a long letter about a project she wanted him to make public. Although Burden had exhibited her work in New York City in the 1970s and ’80s, she had been disappointed by its reception and had withdrawn from the art world altogether. Sometime in the late nineties, she began an experiment that took her five years to complete. According to Brickman, Burden engaged three
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