WHILE DOING PRIMARY research for his most recent film, Empire, 2002, which took Clement Greenberg’s library as its thematic starting point, the Los Angeles–based artist Paul Sietsema started to collect scholarly books steeped in the milieu of midcentury modernism. As a result, he soon found himself amassing a vast bank of images from various disciplines, but what particularly piqued his interest were the numerous pictures of cultural artifacts he discovered. Indeed, seeking after a time to organize this trove of material—and establish his own relationship to it—he privately began comparing himself to those Western explorers centuries ago who visited island cultures hitherto isolated from the outside world (and who inevitably altered those societies, as they transformed, for instance, utilitarian tools into objects of study). With this comparison in mind, Sietsema decided to remake various
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