PRINT May 1994


To discover a conspiracy—

Is almost a creation.

It’s a novel whose dénouement I determine.

The Empire’s at my disposal.

One alternative: hesitation.

Why save the Empire?

Why destroy it?

Therefore, heads or tails.

—Charles Baudelaire

FUSING THE POLITICAL WIT of the Situationists with a conceptual acuity reminiscent of Hans Haacke, Cop Sculpture, 1993, an installation by Ted Byfield and Lincoln Tobier, investigated large themes: conspiracy, exchange value, and the political subject. At the center of the project were the police, or rather a genre of photographs—Cops with Contraband—familiar to us from the press. A barely audible, paranoid snicker echoed in the installation, and also a dark philosophical humor, much of it stemming from a shrewd fidelity to one principal device: a simple, Duchampian “pointing” to the object, an inspired attentiveness. But Byfield and Tobier also framed and

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