Variable Piece #101, West Germany, March 1973


Douglas Huebler (EUA, 1924-1997)
Variable Piece #101, West Germany, March 1973
New York, Hassla, 2015
28 p.
17.8 x 22.2 cm
500 ex.
ISBN 978-1-940881-06-5


On December 17, 1972, Douglas Huebler took ten photographic portraits of the German photographer Bernd Becher. These portraits, together with a written statement, constitute Huebler’s Variable Piece # 101. The statement explains how the work was made: Becher was asked to pose, in the following order, as: “a priest, a criminal, a lover, an old man, a policeman, an artist, Bernd Becher, a philosopher, a spy, and a nice guy.” After two months Huebler reordered the original sequence of photographs and sent them to Becher, asking him to “make the ‘correct’ associations with the given verbal terms.” Becher’s reordered list of character types is listed on the statement as: “1. Bernd Becher; 2. Nice Guy; 3. Spy; 4. Old man; 5. Artist; 6. Policeman; 7. Priest; 8 Philosopher; 9. Criminal; 10. Lover.” The written statement explains all this. But more than a simple explanation, the statement is also constitutive of the work: “Ten photographs and this statement join together to constitute the final form of this piece.” Word and image combine, one playing off the other, to form Variable Piece #101.