To Whom it May Concern

Event Details

A site-specific installation by Catherine Lord

Reception: Saturday, October 22, 2012, 5-8pm

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives is pleased to present To Whom It May Concern, a site-specific installation by Catherine LordThe installation borrows its title from the dedication of John Cage’s book Silence, published in 1961. To Whom It May Concern explores a network of generosity. Photographs of several hundred book dedications, considerably enlarged, will encircle the mezzanine, above the closed stacks of the library from which they were culled. Some are made to the famous, others to the unknown. Some are made to parents, others to hopes, to tricks and to initials.

Just as saying the words, “I do thee wed,” causes a marriage to come into being, putting into print, inside a book, the words, “I make you a gift of the words I have written,” causes that statement to be true. It tenders to another, in advance, the very object that the reader holds in her hands. It makes the gift upon the material that makes writing, and the gift itself, possible. Book dedications are gifts of labor and love. To dedicate a book is to hide the private in plain view, to splay intimacy upon a sheet of paper for any and all to see. This status, somewhere between public and private, is perfectly suited to the creation and transmission of “queer” culture. Coded, sly, witty, and polemical, these gifts turn queer into a verb. They queer “culture.”

No database indexes the dedications in the library of ONE Archive. The dedications used in To Whom It May Concern were found by a manual search. The books that contain the dedications have been returned to their shelves without recording bibliographic details. Information about authors, book titles and dates can be retrieved only by chance, or by another laborious search.

To Whom It May Concern is presented by the University of Southern California Libraries in conjunction with Cruising the Archive: Queer Art and Culture in Los Angeles, 1945-1980.


Catherine Lord is Professor of Studio Art at the University of California, Irvine. She is a writer, artist, and curator whose work addresses issues of feminism, cultural politics, and colonialism. She is the author of two text/image experimental narratives, The Summer of Her Baldness: A Cancer Improvisation (University of Texas Press, 2004), recently translated into French as L’Ete de Sa Calvitie, and Son Colibri, Sa Calvitie, Miss Translation (L’une bevue, Paris). Her critical essays and her fiction have been published in Afterimage, Art & TextArtcoastNew Art ExaminerWhitewallsFrameworkDocumentsArt JournalGLQX-tra and Art Paper, as well as the collections The Contest of MeaningReframings: New American Feminisms in PhotographyThe Passionate CameraHers 3 SpaceSite and Intervention: Issues in Installation and Site-Specific ArtDecomposingThe Art of Queering in ArtWACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, and En Todas Partes: Politicas de la Diversidad en El Arte. Her work as a visual artist was included in the 1995 inaugural of Site Santa Fe, and has been shown at the New York Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Post Gallery and the Thomas Jancar Gallery (Los Angeles), the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, among other venues. She is currently collaborating with Richard Meyer on a book titled Art and Queer Culture, 1885–2005 (Phaidon Press) and a text/image project titled, The Effect of Tropical Light on White Men.


ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles , CA 90007
United States