A list is most often an organizational tool that allows us to prioritize, remember things we need to do, verbalize dreams and goals we want to accomplish, and pick up those items we keep forgetting at the grocery store. Lists occupy a broad range of importance. We usually throw away our grocery lists with the bags our groceries came in. Late night television host David Letterman used the format of a “top-ten list” as a tool to make us laugh. The list Americans call the Bill of Rights is often cited as worthy of suffering or even dying to defend.
Lists often are physical objects that make abstract ideas into concrete declarations. Object 48.1806 at the Walters Art Museum, for instance, is a list –a physical receipt carved into stone by a Sumerian almost 4,000 years ago. It is deemed a high enough expression of culture that it is now enshrined in the museum’s galleries for perpetuity. The lists we often make today take a decidedly different format, as they are dictated to our phones, or generated for us without input by our appliances and virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.
Natural Order asks a diverse group of Baltimore artists and cultural producers to create lists that will be viewed by a public audience. During the opening reception, each list-maker will convert their personal thoughts or list into a unique object, specifically a typewritten statement on a legal-sized piece of paper, which will go on view immediately following its creation. Like the lists we run into in our daily lives, the lists presented in the gallery will vacillate between humor, commentary, and personal reflection. But they will also provoke thoughts about our current culture as well as the very function of making lists.