Tim Youd: Retyping Willa Cather

Opera House

National Willa Cather Center
413 N. Webster Street
Red Cloud, NE 68970
United States

The National Willa Cather Center will be host to a unique exhibit by performance artist Tim Youd while he is in residence in Red Cloud for three weeks in April. Represented by the Cristin Tierney Gallery in New York, Youd will also be performing at Joslyn Art Museum and Willa Cather Archive during the months of April and May.

During that time, Youd will retype three Cather novels in their entirety: O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark and My Ántonia. These will be the 72nd, 73rd and 74th performances from the artist’s 100 Novels Project and are considered among the foremost literary representations of the American Great Plains. Youd will retype the significantly longer novel, The Song of the Lark, during his residency in Red Cloud between April 10-29.

In addition, from April 1-8, Youd will retype O Pioneers!, hosted by the Willa Cather Archive at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, from May 1-10, Youd will retype My Ántonia, in Omaha in partnership with Joslyn Art Museum.

Like Youd’s previous 100 Novels Project performances, all three books will be retyped on the same make/model typewriter used by the author, and in a location related to the novel and/or author. When retyping, Youd types all the words of the novel onto one page (which is backed by a second sheet) by running it repeatedly through the typewriter. The words become illegible, and the accumulated text becomes a rectangle of black ink inside the larger rectangle of the white page. Upon completion, Youd separates the two highly distressed pages and mounts them side by-side in diptych form. This performance relic thus becomes a formal drawing, a representation of two pages of a book. The novel is present in its entirety, yet the words are completely obscured.

While Youd is in Red Cloud, visitors will have a chance to witness his typing at various historic sites and landscapes related to Willa Cather. This performative exhibit will be an intriguing opportunity to experience an artist at work, while envisioning Cather's own toil in her artistic process and its execution.

Retyping The Song of the Lark at Cather-Related Sites

  • April 11 — Miner House porch: "Friends of Childhood," pp. 1-50
  • April 12 — Childhood Home attic bedroom: "Friends of Childhood," pp. 51-71
  • April 13 — Childhood Home porch or Miner House: "Friends of Childhood," pp. 72-98
  • April 14 — Pavelka Farmstead or Miner House porches: "Friends of Childhood," pp. 99-121
  • April 15 — Burlington Depot portico or Miner House: "Friends of Childhood," pp. 122-156
  • April 16 — Burlington Depot portico or Miner House: "Friends of Childhood," pp. 157-236
  • April 17-18 — As above [NOTE: National Willa Cather Center is closed Sunday & Monday]
  • April 19 — Burlington Depot waiting room: "The Song of the Lark," pp. 237-261
  • April 20 — Childhood Home parlor or attic: "The Song of the Lark" & "Stupid Faces," pp. 262-288
  • April 21 — Miner House: "Stupid Faces," pp. 289-314
  • April 22 — Willa Cather Memorial Prairie (Miner House if inclement): "Stupid Faces," pp. 315-339
  • April 23 — Willa Cather Memorial Prairie (Miner House if inclement): "The Ancient Faces," pp. 340-377
  • April 24 & 25 — Miner House: "Dr. Archie's Venture," pp. 378-429 [NOTE: National Willa Cather Center is closed Sunday & Monday]
  • April 26 — Red Cloud Opera House: “Kronborg," pp. 430 – 458
  • April 27 — Red Cloud Opera House: “Kronborg," pp. 459-488
  • April 28 — Red Cloud Opera House: “Kronborg," pp. 489-516
  • April 29 — Cather Second Home: “Kronborg" & "Epilogue," pp. 517-539

Tim Youd (b. 1967, Worcester, MA) is a performance and visual artist working in painting, sculpture, and video. To date, he has retyped 71 novels at various locations in the United States and Europe. Residencies at historic writer’s homes have included William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak with the University of Mississippi Art Museum (Oxford, MS), Flannery O’Connor’s Andalusia with SCAD (Milledgeville and Savannah, GA), and Virginia Woolf’s Monk’s House (Rodmell, Sussex). His work has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions at CAMSTL, The Frances Lehman  Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, Hanes Art Gallery at Wake Forest University, The New Orleans  Museum of Art, Monterey Museum of Art, Hemingway-Pfeffer Museum, Museum of Contemporary  Art San Diego, University of Mississippi Art Museum at Rowan Oak and the Lancaster Museum of  Art and History. He has presented and performed his 100 Novels project at the Ackland Art Museum, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Art Omi, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) and  LAXART, and retyped Joe Orton’s Collected Plays at The Queen’s Theatre with MOCA London. His studio is based in Los Angeles.  

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