Mary Walling Blackburn

tsipaR a xeH ot woH (afternoon rehearsal), sermon chart by Mary Walling Blackburn; interpretation & sound by Alexandra Buschman & Shanti Lalita, Beta-Local, San Juan, 2017.
Mary Walling Blackburn, Picture as Wound (detail), found paint, pastel, castoff bed sheet, 2016.
Mary Walling Blackburn, installation view of E% at Swimming Pool, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2017.
Mary Walling Blackburn, installation view of E% at Swimming Pool, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2017.


Jul 14, 2017–Sep 3, 2017
Mary Walling Blackburn
New Commissions

Mary Walling Blackburn

An Art in General New Commission, Mary Walling Blackburn

Opening Reception Saturday, July 15
6pm doors open
7pm introduction
8:30pm talk by Mary Walling Blackburn

July 15–September 3, 2017

10 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd, 5th floor, Sofia, Bulgaria
Hours: Fri–Sun, 4–7pm, and by appointment

Art in General presents a newly commissioned work by artist Mary Walling Blackburn in Sofia, Bulgaria in partnership with SWIMMING POOL.

For a hundred years, the sermon chart—an American folk form—served as a preacher’s graphic aid and was hand-drawn by the preacher on bed sheets; the charts were pinned to altars or tied with rope to trees.

In an alternate universe, a reader walks through a small canyon and these charts hang from ledges, secured by rocks for a quarter of a mile. The charts diagram the seam where a reader’s psyche has bonded with book:

I, Little Asylum by Emmanuelle Guattari; Bhanu Kapil’s Schizophrene; Cristina Perri Rossi’s State of Exile; Yoko Tawada’s The Bridegroom Was a Dog; Silvia Federici’s Caliban the Witch; Guy Hoquengham’s The Screwball Asses; A Lesson in Dead Language by Adrienne Kennedy; Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black by Cookie Mueller; The Little Black Book of Griselidis Real: Days and Nights of an Anarchist Whore, The Spotted Hyena: A Study of Predation and Social Behavior; Hilda Hilst (various novella); Thoreau’s Shipwrecks essay…and so on.

Mary Walling Blackburn has researched and explored the sermon chart as visual and performative object since 2012, generating her own charts that draw from experience and texts onto her family’s beds sheets; diagrams that are anti-patriarchal, anarchist and non-functional. In an era characterized by extreme polarization of positions and echo chambers in many contexts, Walling Blackburn invites us to examine what it means to seek to convert another to a belief system and on what terms?

For her new commission, the artist creates a collaboratively-made work together with Sofia-based artist Ina Valentinova specifically for the context of SWIMMING POOL. A video and number of previous sermon charts made by Walling Blackburn are also on view.

Mary Walling Blackburn works in New York City. In 2017, the work handles and is handled by optics (the lazy eye), contaminated logics (diagrams), and politics (the Miscreant Class). All is amputated/shaped by the Capitalocene. Her work and writing have been featured in publications including Afterall, BOMB, Cabinet, e-flux journal, Pastelegram, Grafter’s Quarterly and Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj. Her projects have been shown in solo exhibitions across the United States and three of her sermon charts have recently been performed by a series of musicians at Beta-Local, San Juan; St. Mark’s Poetry Project, New York City and Triangle, Brooklyn. Previously, Walling Blackburn performed the charts in collaboration with her audience at CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco and at Cuchifritos, New York City. The new commission at SWIMMING POOL is Walling Blackburn’s first international solo exhibition.

SWIMMING POOL is a project space in Sofia, Bulgaria. Its program is dedicated to artistic, curatorial and philosophical research. Its activity encompasses exhibitions, performances, screenings, public programs, and collaborative projects. The premises are located on a rooftop in the very city center of Sofia. Built in 1939, they consist of several rooms and terraces with an empty pool. SWIMMING POOL was founded in 2014 by Viktoria Draganova who organizes its artistic program.

This project is generously supported by the Trust for Mutual Understanding and the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation as part of Art in General’s International Collaborations program.

General Support of Art in General is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Toby D. Lewis Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland; and by individuals. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

The New Commissions Program is made possible by the Trust for Mutual Understanding; National Endowment for the Arts; Jerome Foundation; Ruth Ivor Foundation; and the Milton and Sally Avery Foundation. Support has also been provided by: Commissioners’ Circle leaders Elaine Goldman, Richard Massey, Jeffery Larsen and Joseph Bolduc; Commissioners’ Circle supporters John and Andrea Nylund and David Solo; and Commissioners’ Circle members Nader Ansary, Rob Colangelo, Don Erenberg, Taymour Grahne, Roya Khadjavi-Heidari, Mary Lapides, Eric Nylund, Leslie Ruff, Steve Shane, and Diana Wege.