Off Hours: Logan Larsen

15 June 2021

In honor of Pride month, we sat down with Logan Larsen, Landmarks’ Digital Content Coordinator and artist whose works utilize his identity to expand on and reconsider queer narratives. Logan received a BA in Art History and BFA in Studio Art from UT and is a recipient of the 2021 Clare Hart DeGolyer Memorial Fund Award from the Dallas Museum of Art. In this latest installment of our blog, Logan told us about his artistic practice, his recent residency with the International Print Center New York, and his path to Landmarks.

Tell us about your history with Landmarks and your new role as Digital Content Coordinator.

The first time I learned about Landmarks was during an “accepted students” tour of UT when I was a high school senior. I was timid about coming to UT at first, because it didn’t match what I thought I wanted from an “art school.” Going on the Landmarks tour and seeing works by Sol LeWitt, Nancy Rubins, and Tony Smith reassured me that I had made the right decision.

As a freshman, I volunteered as a docent for the collection and later joined the Landmarks Preservation Guild. I also worked as a James Turrell Skyspace attendant and served as the communications intern in spring 2019. Now, as Digital Content Coordinator, I oversee the communications intern, manage Landmarks’ social media and website, create content for the blog and newsletter, and generally handle all things digital for Landmarks.

Can you share a bit about your work as an artist, including the role of books and bookmaking in your practice?

Books take up a large part of my practice and are an essential part of my creative research. I’ve always been a “collector” of art books. When I was younger, I would go to Half Price Books and try to find any art books I could afford that I found interesting. Now my research interests have gotten a little more specific; I read a lot of queer texts and collect monographs of contemporary artists that I respect and that influence me.

One of my early projects was a series of works I did that utilized J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. I had been collecting used copies of the novel that were often annotated by others. Over the course of a few years, I began thinking about how information can be gained or accessed through the annotations written by others in the margins of a text. Eventually, I set about reproducing these annotations, devoid of Salinger’s original narrative. That project became The Catcher in the Rye (2018), and I created a follow up edition of the work in 2020. I like the places where the annotated text alludes to what is happening, but only just so. To engage with the work, viewers have to either pull from their own knowledge of The Catcher in the Rye, or, if they haven’t read the novel, they create a whole new understanding of the narrative that is only alongside or parallel to the actual story.

Did you use this same process for your work on James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room?

Basically. The project you’re referring to is very similar, but I actually integrated my own voice into this work and did not rely as heavily on the words of anonymous others. Giovanni’s Room (2019) is a paired edition of books I created using my annotations of Baldwin’s text as the source. I wanted to create the same experience of reading someone else’s annotations but center it within my own reading of the novel. I created two versions of the book: one with both my annotations and Baldwin’s words, and one with only my annotations devoid of Baldwin’s text. I liked the way they functioned as a pair, relying on each other for context or support.

Logan Larsen, Giovanni's Room (2019), Two Hand Bound Hardcover Books with printed interiors, Two editions of 21 Books

I’m currently trying to complete a new edition of this project. I’m using the annotated copy I originally produced but am reapproaching it, adding new annotations along with a series of images to the book. I haven’t quite figured out how I want to create the text with my personal spin, so it’s sitting in my studio waiting to be completed. I am considering sharing the book with someone else and letting them annotate it to create some sort of exchange within the pages – almost like a love letter between readers - but this attempt is still in the works.

What was your residency like at the International Print Center New York?

The residency came at a really weird moment. I had just graduated from UT the month prior and was going through that slump of trying to make work and being kind of discouraged. I was tired from four and a half years of undergrad. I had applied to a number of shows as I was leaving UT and was excited to be accepted into the International Print Center’s spring 2021 exhibition, Mapping Narratives. As part of the exhibition, I was allowed to apply to the Print Center’s Artist Development Program which provides funding to pursue classes, make studio visits, or a residency at the Center. I applied to create an artist book which revolved around a number of themes I had been working through at the time, but which centered on a myth found at the end of the The Iliad in which Patroclus dawns the armor of Achilles. Depending on which version of the myth you read and who translated the narrative and when, Patroclus is seen as Achilles’ lover, cousin, or compatriot. Personally, I lean towards the queered reading of the text, where they are defined as lovers.

My book is a series of cut pages and risographed prints rivet bound together. I’m trying to develop a series of variations that explore sight, contact, and connection. I’m really interested in allowing the viewer to experience moments within the book that can only come from really attentive and prolonged looking.  

Patroclus in the armor of Achilles will be on view this fall as part of New Prints in Focus at the International Print Center New York.