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Buzz Spector

Cold Fashioned Room


This play is a reflection on the (im)possibility of accepting diversity and the other. The fragmented body of the neoplasm—the fruit of unstable conditions—overcomes barriers, loves and denies itself and others, wanders around, forgetting its profession. It frequently and with pleasure divides, goes through dangerous palpation, questions the possibility of contact with the experience of the other. Poorly brought up but very successful, it invites us to a trans-species transition.

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Spector furnishes a beautiful parlor, with typically Victorian trappings. The temperature is set to 28 degrees. In this environment, the water in the vase of roses is frozen solid, and the glass has broken – the only visual clue to the disparity between the visual and physical presence of the room. Books chosen for the room are pertinent to the subject. Some relate to the Victorian history of Pittsburgh -- its history and its steel industry. Some relate to the cold, such as the history of North Pole exploration.

Of his work, Spector notes: "The central ideas behind my art remain the same: the anxieties of time and distance; the dialectic of history and memory; and the morbidity within profusion."

Artist Statement

This room was assembled during August and September of 1991, although it is set within a space constructed almost a century earlier. The building has been rehabilitated and converted into an exhibition space for contemporary art. This room has been restored and decorated so as to simulate its original incarnation. The look of the room is a fiction. It represents an idealized—hence nostalgic—moment of its history as a space. What is impossible to see in photographic reproductions is the coldness of the room. Hidden machines have lowered the temperature below freezing. This effect is physical but invisible. It is the “real” experience here. Frozen, the room becomes another order of representation of itself. Coldness is its inscription.


Buzz Spector: October 5, 1991 – March 22, 1992
About The Artist

Buzz Spector is an artist and critical writer whose artwork has been the subject of solo exhibitions in such museums and galleries as the Art Institute of Chicago; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Grunwald Gallery of Art, Indiana University, Bloomington; Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV; and the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA. Spector’s work makes frequent use of the book, both as subject and object, and is concerned with relationships between public history, individual memory, and perception.

Spector earned his BA in Art from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1972, and his MFA with the Committee on Art and Design at the University of Chicago in 1978. Spector received the Distinguished Teaching of Art Award from the College Art Association in 2013. Among his other recognitions are a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship in 1991 and National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowships in 1982, 1985, and 1991. Spector is a Professor of Art at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.

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