Loading Events

Life’s Work Tom Phillips and Johnny Carrera


  • Exhibition

  • May 26, 2013 - January 19, 2014
  • Galleries

This two-person exhibition starts with that idea of a life’s work, a project that an artist continually goes back to and that becomes both a trace of that work and a career. Both projects in this exhibition span decades and generations, and also function as re-inventions of existing texts. For the last 40 years British artist Tom Phillips has been working on A Humument, a series of collages based on A Human Document, the Victorian novel by W.H. Mallock. Phillips has altered the individual pages of the original book four times, each edition creating a new concrete text poem. For Life’s Work, MASS MoCA shows Mallock’s unaltered book along with Phillips’ first edition of A Humument completed in 1973 as well as his most recent 5th edition completed in 2012. This amounts to a total of over 1,000 individual book pages.


Maryland-based artist Johnny Carrera has taken on his own life’s work for the past twelve years. Carrera’s project, like Phillips’ starts with an existing book: in this case, the original engravings of the Webster’s Dictionary. Carrera’s The Pictorial Webster’s Dictionary transforms his source to create a new lexicon of words, texts, and meaning. Together these projects not only offer insights into the working process of two artists but also allow viewers to rethink books, images, and the nature of time. For Life’s Work Carrera’s exhibition book pages alongside reinterpretations of the etching projected at a large-scale, inviting viewers to feel as if they can walk straight into the world of The Pictorial Webster’s Dictionary.