HVAC: Remembering Michael Asher

Leslie Dick

Leslie Dick read this at the memorial for Michael Asher on February 17, 2013, in New York.

I wanted to say something about Michael as a colleague and teacher. But I decided instead to remind everyone of his work with heating and ventilation systems. He moved radiators, hit us with an invisible blast of air, and melted down obsolete heating boilers to turn them into paperweights with window-breaking potential. It is as if he understood the ways institutional structures both exceed and rely on their materiality; walls, floors, pipes, radiators and the movement of air within and through such structures mark out their limits. Our conversation is also material, airy, and works to produce a structure that may reinscribe hierarchies and other power relations, and/or work against them. In the struggle to undo such hierarchies and to question received ideas, we remember him.

Keith Rocka Knittel, "We’re All Haunted by Michael Asher’s Ghosts," 2010. Letterpress poster, 22 × 14 inches.

Keith Rocka Knittel, We’re All Haunted by Michael Asher’s Ghosts, 2010. Letterpress poster, 22 × 14 inches.


Leslie Dick’s most recent project is A List of Students Enrolled in Post Studio Art, with Michael Asher at CalArts, 1976–2008, a book produced in collaboration with Adriano Pedrosa and designed by Michael Ray-Von. It is available at x-traonline.org and www.golden-spike.com.