New York

Joseph Grigely

Cohan and Leslie

A typical work by Joseph Grigely comprises bits of paper pinned to a wall, each one scribbled with a snatch of conversation. These scraps—napkins, envelopes, notebook pages—are presented in formal, snowflake-like arrangements, but their motley shapes and finishes suggest that they are incidental as objects; they simply came to hand while Grigely, who lost his hearing as a child, was scrawl-chatting with a friend. What counts is the sense of just-missed implication: the casual “tone” expressed by loopy or cramped handwriting; the cryptic phrases whose in-jokey resonance is kept though their sense is lost. Grigely’s deafness thus becomes a lens through which to observe conversation unfolding not as talk but as text. Archived and displayed, the snippets of self-recorded speech index intimacy and mark its absence; the more we feel that we have captured the knowing glance or telling inflection,

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