If Andy Warhol Was Blind...
How we see the world and interact with it is primarily a visual experience. Checking the news, walking down the street or shopping, we rely on our eyes.
Being a visual artist, this is my world. Whether I am researching materials, costs, techniques, data, or history, I am on the constant lookout for visual clues and information. These are my reference points, vocabulary and building blocks.
But what if I am blind? Walking into the grocery store, how would I distinguish between a can of corn or peaches? Now let's take that thought and invert it.
What if, when walking into a grocery store everything on the shelves had white packaging and all the information on the labels was written in Braille? How would the sighted distinguish between a can of corn or peaches?
If Andy Warhol Was Blind... is an installation by artist Anna Gustafson and is comprised of four elements.
1) White Grocery Store. Real products are on the shelves, however the goods in the cans and boxes have their original labels removed and replaced with white ones written in braille*.
2) Towers of Products. On the floor are stacks of cartons which are topped with pyramids of cans.
3) If Andy Warhol Was Blind... is a reconfiguration of Andy Warhol's 32 Varieties (of Campbell's Soup). The drawings of the cans are screened on paper, and the white labels are also in braille*.
4) Try for Yourself. Braille translators printed on paper, Braille writers and paper are available for viewers to translate pieces in the installation and to try writing Braille.
With his images of Campbell soup cans, Andy Warhol showed us a new way to see the world. If Andy Warhol Was Blind... conveys a new way to perceive seeing.
* Please note, Braille is not Braille unless it is Braille. That is, unlike visual systems of writing, Braille has very specific requirements in order to be readable by the blind.
For this project braille* has been recreated as a visual element. The artist has manipulated scale to be read visually and the artist recognizes that though braille* looks like Braille to the sighted, because it is not actually readable to the blind, the very people for whom Braille was developed, it is not Braille.
Photographs by Jacquelyn Bortolussi