Laurie Parsons’s “A Body of Work 1987”
              Amelia Groom
              Not long before visiting Laurie Parsons’s exhibition at Mönchengladbach’s Museum Abteiberg, I had learned that the word “scrutiny” means “sorting garbage.” I was pretty pleased with the etymological alignment of the idea of critical examination with the condition of trashiness. To scrutinize is to look closely at that which otherwise goes unnoticed—but if trash can hold treasures, the reverse is also true; anything that has been sorted out can be turned back over to the generalized condition of the discarded. Parsons, whose art career began with sorted garbage, is part of a lineage of artists whose work was once mistaken for worthless trash and thrown away: apparently, a well-meaning worker at a storage facility binned the rubble that the artist had collected for her work Field of Rubble (1988). She is also one of a number of artists remembered for having ghosted the art world. She started exhibiting in the mid 1980s, and less than a decade later (in what can be read as another act of scrutiny) she withdrew to do social work instead. Today, she mostly works as a service provider and advocate for people without homes and people with mental illnesses in and around New York City. “A Body …

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