Jim Dine – Viral Interest
Like most of us, Jim Dine went into self-isolation in March 2020 following the Covid-19 lockdown. Unlike most of us, he turned these three months into a crucible of creativity and has now recorded his experiences in book form. Dine quickly settled into a new daily rhythm: his studio in Montrouge became a living as well as a working space—“I spend my days in silence, painting and building”—which he would leave on his bike every afternoon for another space in Montparnasse, to write poems—“The intense silence of the street and my concentration sculpted the words in a direct way”—and to garden, tending to the plants that he arranges like a color palette, the roses and oleander, the succulents, tomatoes and corn…
Alongside Dine’s photos, from blurred self-portraits and cropped studio still lifes to foliage and clouds skimming the sky, are text fragments he took from the daily newspapers: “we are racing against trigger / once there was light / sick and dying African Americans / there is hope.” The idea that Dine document this time in photos and appropriated text came unexpectedly from a conversation with his printer and publisher Gerhard Steidl; »Viral Interest« is as much about their exchange as it is a document of confinement: haphazard and lyrical, compellingly contradictory.