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titok (secret)

titok (secret), 1996/8 / Edition of 5 / Mixed media on Dobbin Mill papers, found materials, CD /

Size: 12” x 12” x 12”

20 artists, writers, and one musician, were asked via letter to send, inform or instruct me about a secret. As the secretist, I used their responses to create this artwork.


titok is not a linear narrative, since secrets, a priori, cannot be known or they cease to exist. titok consists of twenty-seven 4” blocks that form a 12” larger cube consisting of three layers of nine cubes each. The exterior and interior faces of these blocks are covered with over two-hundred images and texts, produced by photography, photocopy and drawing (and other techniques). The imaging on the blocks functions like a maze through which the viewer/participant proceeds, exploring ideas and feelings suggestive of these secrets. Some of the boxes are fully closed, some have peepholes and others can open with additional boxes within. Each block also has hidden material within that makes noise and/or scent; and, a 27-part violin and voice piece, Music for Boxes, was composed and recorded for the viewing of titok.

The book was created for In The Flow: Alternative Authoring Strategies, which was the final exhibition held at Franklin Furnace Gallery in NYC.


Contributing secrets from: Beattie and Davidson, Sylvia Benitez, Yvette Biró, András Böröcz, Ágnes Eperjesi, Dan Georges, Frank Gillette, Martin Kubaczek, Endre Kukorelly, Louise Lawler, Jean Louis LeBreux, Jennifer Lytton, Gabriel Martinez, Warren Niedich, Laura Parnes, Géza Perneczky, Simcha Shirman, Wolfgang Staehle, Robbin Ami Silverberg, Paul Stang, and the X-Art Foundation.


Additional Thoughts:

From Michael Joseph’s essay in the exhibition catalog for Read Me. Like A Book:

“Not every artists' books reflect upon its own nature as productively or poetically, but many of Robbin's do. Titok … is an amalgam of withheld revelations, a planet of private confessions whispered to Robbin alone. While sharing them with us, Robbin is also withholding them from us. Paradox is metaphor, and suggests a truth hovering beyond the book that we intuit but cannot know, or to bring in one of Robbin's influences, what Wallace Stevens calls, in "Of Mere Being," "the palm at the end of the mind / Beyond the last thought." Robbin's books tend to say that art can be as full and mysterious and embracing as a book…” 

titokDobbin Books
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