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Richard Nonas, Because Everything

A reading by the artist Richard Nonas that took place on site during the Spring 2014 exhibit Cross-Cuts, curated by Clocktower Productions at Knockdown Center in Queens and featuring sculpture by Nonas and Joel Shapiro. The text, written by Nonas, is displayed below.

Richard Nonas' work is on view September 10-Oct. 25, 2014 at Fergus McCaffrey, New York.

"Richard Nonas turned to sculpture at the age of thirty, after abandoning a budding career in anthropology. Fieldwork in Mexico, Canada, and the American Southwest had left him deeply troubled about some of the methodologies used in ethnographic studies, and he also found it difficult to engage in “activity structured to end in conclusion.” But his anthropological work was a crucial early influence on his sculptural practice, fostering a deep curiosity about how experience shapes perception of space. Nonas turned to art in the mid-1960s and soon began making work that referenced the then-current sculptural idioms of Earth Art, which focused on alteration of the landscape, and Minimalism, whose formal concerns included geometry and repetition." (excerpted from a Walker Art Center catalog)

Why art needs strong architecture to push against.

Because everything starts from the outside. Because everything starts from mystery. Because everything starts from confusion; from unknowing. Because everything starts from absence. From forgetting. Because everything is unmade until it is finished; unknowable until its done. —Because everything is never done. Because each addition, each change, changes everything. Because memory changes everything. And expectation changes it again. Because worlds continually shift. —Because everything shifts with each look, with each thought, with each feeling, with each word. Because eyes slip, and minds slide. Because worlds melt and harden. Because worlds fade. Because moments collide and minds jump. Because we jump with them. Because everything moves, everything rubs up against everything else. Because everything shakes everything else and prods the rest. Because we see what we see; feel what we feel; think what we can at each moment think. —Because everything jumps if we reach for it, jumps because we reach for it; slips sideways faster than we can follow. Because everything slides out of sight, transforms itself to something else. Because everything re-positions itself in relation to everything else —in relation to me, to you, to us. Because everything backs away. Because everything crowds in. —Because we grab at it as it goes by. Because we catch what we can; hold what we can and ignore the rest. —Or try to. Because we forget the rest. —Or try to. Because we catch what we can catch. Because we hold what we can hold. —Or try to. Because we rebuild the world. —Or try to. Because we rebuild it again. And even again. —Or try to.

- Richard Nonas, 2014


Clocktower Exhibits & Events


Clocktower Exhibits & Events is home to an archive of interviews with artists, curators, musicians, organizers, and more who have participated in Clocktower exhibitions and events throughout our organization’s history.

Many of the below recordings were documented while Clocktower was in the midst of a transformation. The original name, The Clocktower Gallery, was given to the exhibition, residency, and performance space in TriBeCa, founded by alternative spaces movement pioneer Alanna Heiss in 1972. After 2001, the Clocktower Gallery re-inaugurated its exhibition programming in 2005 as part of MoMA/PS1 and, after 2008, under the auspices of Art International Radio. In 2013, we moved on from our downtown Manhattan location, and have since renamed the organization Clocktower Productions, a title which encompasses our radio, exhibition, and event programming.

For more Clocktower history, listen to The Clocktower Oral History Project, in which such figures as Vito Acconci, Bill Beirne, Colette, Jeffrey Deitch, Mary Heilmann, Jene Highstein, Ann Magnuson, Richard Nonas and Joel Shapiro reflect upon their experiences with this unique New York space. Organized by artist Nancy Hwang for the Fall 2009 AVANT-GUIDE TO NYC: Discovering Absence exhibition at apexart.

NB: Clocktower Radio was launched by MoMA/PS1 in 2004 as the Web's first art radio station. It has been independent since 2009 and is licensed to host content created under PS1 management. Programs produced prior to 2011 may refer to our earlier URLs and station IDs, including,, and Art International Radio. For the complete history of Clocktower Radio, read our Mission & History section.