Jason Simon - 'The Red Books'
March 15, 2019 - April 14, 2019

King’s Leap is pleased to present an exhibition by Jason Simon, whose concerns and spheres of activity as artist,
curator, and founding member of the artist-run gallery Orchard, align—across generations—with those of King’s
Leap itself. The Red Books continues a sequence of his exhibitions which have taken as their subject encounters
within the broad corpus of moving image histories and practices of circulation. Two new works make physical the
scale and vibrancy of film culture during its first 100 years. In an installation that transforms the gallery into a reading
room, the fifteen printed volumes of the American Film Institute’s Catalog of Motion Pictures are made available for
visitors to look through, promising “complete cataloging of every feature, short, serial, and newsreel produced by
the American film community since 1893.” A silkscreen print of the final page in the final chronological volume,
1961-1970, invokes a decade-long cacophonous inflection point for American cinema.

In 1967, with the support of the recently-created National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the American
Film Institute set out to create an annotated catalog of all domestically exhibited motion pictures. Through ensuing
decades scouring archives, film libraries, VHS collections, the TV Guide for recordable late-night broadcasts,
copyright registrations, and viewing approximately 85% of the included films, AFI’s printed encyclopedia annotates
the qualities, conditions, format, cast, and plot synopsis of films between 1893 and 1970. Its goal was to “record in
sophisticated and accessible form the history and documentation of the moving image in the United States.” The
first books appeared in 1971 with separately bound indexes, and were dedicated to the cinema of the 1920s. 

In 1999, a few years after cinema’s centennial celebration, the final volumes—on the films of 1941 to 1950—were
published, while the planned books of short films, newsreels and the feature film catalog of the entire 1950s, never
reached publication. At this point, the catalog had achieved an unsustainable standard, defining the field while
performing the impossibility of that task, and in 2003, forced to confront the insupportability of its own grand
ambition, the AFI migrated the catalog to an online database, where it continues to this day.Amidst other fin-de-
siècle digitizations of research environments, Simon, whose work has often taken as its subject the synesthetic
potential in the recovery of stores of knowledge, collected all extant editions of the catalog. In his exchanges with
current and former staff members at the AFI, Simon wrote: “Context is analog, and the AFI Catalog straddles
contemporary reception platforms. Thus, an enormous shared knowledge base, one rooted in collective, formative
and affective experience, shifts before our eyes.”

All printed volumes of the catalog, known within the AFI as ‘the red books’, are arranged open for perusal on a
custom, ring-shaped table that allows a reader to walk to its center. The circular table sits within a column of light,
which is in turn flagged off from a distinct second set of lights: animated colored points dance off the darkened
walls, dreamily enacting the break between the fugitive volumes, and their digital afterlife.

The last page of the last book, spanning the years 1961-1970, is the subject of a silkscreen print also on display. In
homage to the AFI’s next-door neighbor, The Immaculate Heart Community, home to Sister Corita Kent’s archive of
serigraphs, the silkscreen of the final page of this final volume bears entries for The Zodiac Couples, an aquarian
porno; imported martial arts movies; Zorba the Greek;the British epic Zulu; William Castle’s Zotz!;and, with true
encyclopedic kismet, Zorns Lemma, Hollis Frampton’s avant garde abecedarian odyssey.

After several encounters with Simon’s past projects, King’s Leap initiated a dialog without a fixed goal or end result
in mind. Simon has conceived and designed The Red Booksfor King’s Leap based on shared interests, the modest
space of the gallery, fortuitous timing, and the sensuous effect of such a profound and imperiled store of
knowledge.

With thanks to Sarah Clothier, Patricia Hanson, and Mike Pepin of the AFI for their generous dialogue.

Jason Simon (b. 1961) is an artist who lives and works in New York and teaches at The College of Staten Island,
City University of New York. Solo exhibitions include Request Lines are Open, Callicoon Fine Arts, NY (2015); In and
Around the Ohio Pen
, Sismografo, Porto, Portugal (2015); and Changeover, Artexte, Montreal (2014). Recent group
exhibitions have taken place at Azkuna Zentroa, Bilbao; mumok, Vienna; The Kitchen, New York; Dazibao, Montreal;
Yale Union, Portland, Oregon; and Ibid, London. Simon’s videos are distributed by The Video Data Bank and Icarus
Films. His writing has appeared in ArtforumMay JournalParkettFriezeSpringerin, and Afterimage. Simon and
Moyra Davey’s “Ten Years of the One Minute Film Festival” was hosted by MASS MoCA in 2013. Simon was a
founding member of the cooperatively run gallery, Orchard (2005–08), and he established the Art & Tech filmmaking
residency facility at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. This past summer, his work appeared in The
Conditions of Being Art: Pat Hearn Gallery and American Fine Arts, Co (1983–2004), 
at the Hessel Museum, Bard
College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.


Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Last Movies on the Last Page of the Last Book, 2019, Screenprint on Rives BFK Paper, 30 x 22 inches, Edition of 30

Jason Simon, The Last Movies on the Last Page of the Last Book, 2019 [detail]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]

Jason Simon, The Red Books [installation view]