SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

Museum of Conceptual Art (MOCA), 75 3rd Street, now redeveloped

David Ireland, The Restoration of a Portion of the Black Wall, Ceiling, and Floor of the Main Gallery of the Museum of Conceptual Art (10th February 1976)



In 1975 I did a show called “Second Generation” with artists who had been students of the artists of my generation. One of the artists [Daryl Sapien] painted a large section of the back wall, ceiling, and floor white to set up a space for his performance. After the show I could see that this white section interfered with the character of the space, which had been a printing company for fifty years before I moved in. Being concerned with traditional museum functions like preservation, collection, and restoration, I thought of the space as a relic of the mechanical age.

I got the idea to restore the back wall area of MOCA when I read about the restoration of The Night Watch, a painting by Rembrandt that had been slashed in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. They built a special room in the museum with windows around it so the public could watch the restoration like sidewalk spectators.

Up until that time, 1976, there had never been a painting show in MOCA. I asked a painter friend of mine, David Ireland, if he wanted to collaborate with me to fix the space. Working every day for a month, he scraped the white paint off the floor and rubbed it with printer’s ink to stain in back to the original colour. He worked from photographs to match the colours and restore painted shapes that had been on the wall when the printing company had painted around equipment. He replaced the moldings that had been cut away. Each day I would videotape the progress, a kind of time-lapse photography. We were making a Photorealist painting, and when the work was done there was a completely invisible artwork. (Marioni 2003: 113-14)