Ana’s Work

David Horvitz

Horvitz is an American artist born in 1981 who’s work is inspired by Fluxus art and it’s focus on movement. He often critiques the commercialization of art and shares many of his works through physically passing on or mailing small-scale pieces, known as mail art. The way in which Horvitz explores movement in his work is particularly interesting, he makes his pieces very widely accessible through sending physical copies around the world or through digitally sharing them. By using the virtual sphere, Horvitz is able to make easily accessible editions of a single piece, or can even build off of an original concept by having the work navigate and interact with online spaces.

Mood Disorder – 2015, Stock Image and Artist Book

One example of virtual movement is his piece “Mood Disorder”, from 2015, where Horvitz took a staged picture of himself in a helpless pose, commonly seen in stock imagery representing depression or other mood disorders. The work was then posted on the Wikipedia page for “Mood disorder”, and since it was free and licensed for reuse, his photograph started to show up on other websites and articles discussing mood. So, the work became an artist book as the series grew and the image propagated across the internet. In this work, Horvitz plays with the stereotypical images used for depression in an almost satirical comment on mental health, and the fact that so many other sites were using it just highlights the modern need for a commodified “look” that can represent serious, intangible topics.

After several sites had picked up his original image and repurposed it, Horvitz collected screenshots of them and included them in the final piece. He says that the piece itself is “the image propagating over the internet”, while so many others add a new context to the original picture through the use of text. It’s an interesting take on authorship as a way of defining an artwork as yours, but one that you enter into the public sphere and can be reinterpreted and reproduced by everyone who views it.

Mental health and the depiction of depression in online imagery are common forms of inspiration in Horvitz’s work, which can be seen in a more recent piece called “20th Century Alienation”. In the piece, Horvitz has 27 pieces of paper pinned up with groups of words on each one that begin with the same letter. Each page is dedicated to one letter of the alphabet, and the there is one page that is dedicated to numbers. It’s an alphabetical poem consisting purely of words used to describe online images depicting sadness, loneliness, or depression. These words are “tags” that are used in photo databases to represent the content of the images, so once again Horvitz is using online tools as a foundation for his work. There are no images in the work, so it shows how photography is circulated through indexation online. Although the debossed editions are no longer in production, you are still able to get a PDF version of the text and print out the 27 pages yourself, in whatever way you’d like.

So, in both these works, Horvitz explores the circulation of digital imagery and how it is used to depict complex emotional subjects. He also invites collaboration in his work, starting with a strong foundation but allowing the viewer or wider, online audiences to interact with the art and further develop it.