Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees by Lawrence Weschler

In the months after that, Irwin continued to hang around Los Angeles for a while, almost like an afterimage of his otherwise disappeared self. At one point, in May 1980, he returned to Market Street in Venice, to the very block where he'd kept a studio until 1970, the year he abandoned studio work altogether. Malinda Wyatt was opening a gallery in the building next door to his former workspace and invited him to create an installation. He cleaned out the large rectangular room, adjusted the skylights, painted the walls and ceiling an even white, and then simply sledge-hammered out the brick wall facing the street, replacing it with a sheer, semitransparent white scrim. The room seemed to change its aspect with the passing day: people came and sat on the opposite curb, watching, sometimes for hours at a time. At night cars would pull up and park perpendicular to the sidewalk, shining their brights past the taut scrim into what suddenly seemed like a tightly encased luminous fogbank. The piece was up for two weeks in one of the more derelict beachfront neighborhoods of Los Angeles: no one so much as laid a hand on it.