Paul Thek: Diver, A Retrospective
Audio Guide Playlist

Exhibition co-curators Elisabeth Sussman and Lynn Zelevansky discuss a selection of works by the legendary American artist, Paul Thek. The audio guide includes commentary by artist Neil Jenney and literary scholar Ed Burns, who also reads excerpts from the artist’s extensive writings.


NARRATOR: These small objects formed part of a whimsical project called, The Personal Effects of the Pied Piper. Thek wanted to create his vision of the Pied Piper’s secret campsite in the woods, with a fire and tiny mice frolicking among the piper’s personal belongings.

His interest in the Pied Piper may have evolved out of his fascination with processions. Lynn Zelevansky:

LYNN ZELEVANSKY: I think Thek saw himself as a kind of charismatic figure and he wanted to have that kind of charismatic ability that the pied piper had.

NARRATOR: In the original fairy tale, the piper first leads the rats out of Hamelin to stop the spread of bubonic plague. When the townspeople refuse to pay him, he leads a second procession—stealing their children away.

Elisabeth Sussman discusses Thek’s interest in folk characters like the Pied Piper:

ELISABETH SUSSMAN: When you see him looking for these surrogate myths it’s because he wants to sort of attach, to attach to the world. He wants to attach himself to stories that people know. So that they will look at his art and somehow feel like they already know it, they’re familiar with it.

NARRATOR: You may recall that these desires⎯to suffuse his work with humanity and connect with his audience⎯were present in Thek’s earlier work, the meat pieces and the installations.


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