Set of three artist's books, "exhibition locations" sheet, and original hand-addressed mailing envelope.
"Three Untitled Projects [for 0 to 9]: Some Areas in the New York Area" (1969), is a set of three untitled books intended as independent works. The triptych publication expands on Adrian Piper’s inquiry into spatial relationships as fixed constructions defined by the limits of the human mind. The work was widely seen, thanks to Piper’s singular distribution of the books. The set of three volumes, packed in a manila envelope, was sent by mail—as an independent mail-art exhibition—to 162 artists, collectors, critics, curators, dealers, friends, writers, and others.
The names and addresses of those being sent the books were indexed in two columns on both sides of a loose sheet of paper that was included in the envelope, with a red dot placed next to the recipient’s name on the list in the packet that he or she received: each recipient's address was thus designated as a location of the exhibition.
Each of these four elements—the three books and the index of names—demonstrates a distinct means of documenting and naming locations. The first book records the locations found at the intersections of horizontal and vertical creases on a standard Hagstrom map of New York’s boroughs; the second book illustrates the area of a randomly chosen block of a map of Manhattan—the area between Second and Third Avenues bordered by East Forty-seventh and East Forty-eighth streets, identically marked in red ink in each copy—proportionally translated into increasingly smaller dimensions; the third book deconstructs four sheets of graph paper, using descending grid sizes and various measurements for the boxes on each of the four sheets (1/4 inch, 1 pica, 1/8 inch, and ten squares to 1 inch, plus an equation to show how the fixed gridded scales could theoretically be extended to larger dimensions); and the sheet of the recipients’ names and locations places the work in the here and now of the tangible world.
The effect of the second book is not unlike that of Kees Boeke’s classic publication "Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps," which in forty “jumps” take a reader from a woman sitting in a chair with a baby in her arms to outer space, 2 billion light years away.
By putting the project directly in the hands of her influential intended recipients, Piper utilized one of the significant strengths of artists’ books, which is to extend works of art to people—domestically and internationally—who might not otherwise see the work in a gallery setting.—Text adapted from "Adrian Piper: Unities," by David Platzker, in "Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions," The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018