Tim Youd is bringing his 100 Novel Project to Nebraska in April and May.
Youd, visual artist and performer, will retype three novels by Willa Cather, American author and graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. These novels — “O Pioneers! “The Song of the Lark” and “My Ántonia” – are among the major literary landmarks of the American Great Plains. Youd’s performances are in partnership with the Joslyn Art Museum, the National Willa Cather Center and the Willa Cather Archive at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Youd, who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, also works in painting, sculpture and video. To date, he has retyped 71 novels at various locations in the United States and Europe.
Youd’s first performance is scheduled for April 1-8 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he will tap “O Pioneers!” on the site of [a famous photo of Cather](https://mediacommons.unl.edu/luna/servlet/detail/UNL~98~98~551~1278043:B…) taken while a student at the University of Nebraska in 1893. He will perform every day from 10 a.m. to around 3:30 p.m. in front of the Hall of Architecture. In case of bad weather, Youd will move his table and typewriter to the Adele Hall Learning Commons. Her performance is hosted by the Willa Cather Archives.
The novel will be retyped on the same model of typewriter used by Cather. In retyping, Yod types all the words of a novel onto a single page (which is backed by a second sheet) by repeatedly running it through the typewriter. The words become illegible and the accumulated text becomes a rectangle of black ink inside the larger rectangle of the white page. At the end, Yod separates the two very distressed pages and mounts them side by side as a diptych. The relic of the performance thus becomes a formal drawing, a representation of two pages of a book. The novel is present in its entirety, but the words are completely obscured.
Youd’s visit to the university will include programming in collaboration with the School of Art, Art History and Design, the Department of English, and university libraries. A formal presentation is scheduled for April 5 at 5:30 p.m. in Richards Hall, room 15.
From April 10-28, Youd will be at the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska re-enacting “The Song of the Lark.” From May 1 to 10, Youd will retype “My Ántonia” in Omaha, in partnership with the Joslyn Art Museum.
Youd’s other performance residencies at historic writers’ homes have included William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak with the University of Mississippi Museum of Art, Flannery O’Connor’s Andalucia with the SCAD Museum of Art, and the house of the monks of Virginia Woolf. His work has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, the Hanes Art Gallery at Wake Forest University, and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
He has presented and performed his 100 Novels project at the Ackland Art Museum, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Art Omi, the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions and LAXART, and retyped Joe Orton’s Collected Plays at Queen’s Theater with the Museum of Contemporary Art. from London. His studio is based in Los Angeles.