Artists' book published as Michael Asher's contribution to Kynaston McShine’s exhibition "Museum as Muse" held at The Museum of Modern Art, March 14-June 1, 1999. "Asher's contribution [to the the exhibition 'Museum as Muse,' Museum of Modern Art, New York] is a shiny red catalog entitled 'Painting and Sculpture from The Museum of Modern Art: Catalog of Deaccessions 1929 through 1998 by Michael Asher.' As its title indicates, Asher's catalog lists all the sold or exchanged works from MoMA's Department of Painting and Sculpture according to MoMA's records. Asher states in his introduction that the information was primarily compiled by a MoMA intern and circulated among MoMA's staff for fact-checking. Despite these institutional-sounding procedures, distinguishable conflicts of interest between the artist and the institution emerge. In a disclaimer printed in Asher's catalog, MoMA's Chief Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture, Kirk Varnedoe, cautions the museum visitor against attributing accuracy or comprehensiveness to the information therein. According to Varnedoe, Asher's listing should be considered unreliable since 'we have not been able to assure ourselves that the present list meets the criteria of completeness or accuracy we would require in a museum publication.'
By contrasting a museum publication with an artist's publication, even one produced with the museum's own resources, Varnedoe hastens to overdetermine the separation of the artist's interests from those of the institution. In addition to investigating MoMA's archival erasure (the files do not list the dates of deaccessions), Asher's project analyzes the distribution and contestation of institutional authority. Varnedoe's note expressing caution about the reliability of the project is the very element that enables Asher's work to speak to its audience from an invested, yet discernible point of view."
-- from "Scenes from a museum - various photographers, Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY" in Afterimage, July-August, 1999 by Kirsi Peltomaki.