Kristin Holder on William Anastasi

Janus

Untitled (Pocket Drawing) is a blind drawing made between the limbs of the arm and leg, next to the body instead of in front of it. These scratches and scrawls are recordings—ticks and twitches of the body, mind, and eye—that multiply as Anastasi folds and refolds the paper. The drawing’s intensity is evident twofold: first, in the glare of graphite, a sheen that is produced by pressing forcefully, and second, in the creation of a much fainter image—the transfer and mirror image of the primary marks. (I have to refrain from using the terms ‘original’ and ‘copy’ as the two drawings are made simultaneously.)

The double image places the drawing within the realm of chimera. Not the chimera of fantasy but the chimera of chemistry: a term that is used to define a pair of molecules that are the mirror image of each other, but that cannot be inverted or inserted into the other, even though they are generated by the same code. Chimerism is universal to our existence from a molecular to a physiological level. An example is the structure of our hands: the left and right mirror each other. They are the left and right articulations of a single and original design encoded in our genes. The double image in Untitled (Pocket Drawing) functions the same way. The darker and lighter drawings are mirror images but their orientation prevents them from aligning—the way a right hand would fail to dock within a left glove. Being so fundamental to our nature, the chimerism of Anastasi’s drawing resonates within the root our awareness.

The double image wipes out any element of surprise or chance that might come from a blind process. The idea that Anastasi could make the same drawing—simultaneously an original and a mirror image—twice and by chance, is impossible and inconceivable. However ‘dumb’1 his process, he draws in earnest. His work is a portal.

  1. “One, just one. And simple. As simple as simple. Even dumb.” From a conversation between William Anastasi and Thomas McEvilley, 1989, printed in “William Anastasi, A Word: words / Words: a word”, Drawing Papers 70, The Drawing Center, New York, 2007. []
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