TO DO LIST, 2017
On January 1, 2017, Morgan Bassichis began a year-long project of writing to do lists as part of Recess's online residency, Analog.
Bassichis started the practice of making to do lists in 2015 as a means of both establishing an in-studio routine and developing new material for comedic performances. Some of the phrases that appear on the lists filter directly into works in the form of jokes, while others never appear outside of the original context. Within the framework of Analog, these documents capture the typically unseen, iterative labor of brainstorming and drafting that goes into the creation of a live performance.
From another angle, Bassichis’s to do lists can be seen to frame artistic labor as sets of discrete tasks. Each week, the artist adds one dated list, but this hint of a time frame raises questions: is the intention to check off items within the week, the year, or simply in the indeterminate future? And while the list format is commonly used to track errands and administrative chores, Bassichis expands the form to house lofty intellectual goals, humorous acts of self-improvement, and long-term research projects alongside the more mundane aspects of life upkeep. This combination of readily achievable and dauntingly ambitious directives further complicates the possibility of completing any given set and points toward the mixing that characterizes artistic labor: an artist must constantly balance the creative with the businesslike, the fantastic with the quotidian, and the immediate with the open-ended.
To Do 2017 unfolds throughout the first year of a new, explicitly right wing American political administration and alongside the growth of mass resistance movements. Though not all of the content will be political in nature, the list format proposes a potent approach to anticipating “impossible” goals and unfinished business.
Over the twelve months of To Do 2017, viewers will be able to watch a multi-dimensional portrait of the artist take shape as the lists accrue. It is possible that threads might emerge within Bassichis’s goals, or alternately, that a resolute diversity of ideas and intentions might surface. But inevitably, the entanglements of creative labor, personal care, and societal dynamics will become manifest within and across the 52 documents.