Answer Tell Pray Answer Look Tell Answer Answer Tell 
April 1 - June 20, 2021
Elena Ailes
Nolan Oswald Dennis
Laurel Schwulst
Kevin Zhu

Answer Tell Pray Answer Look Tell Answer Answer Tell considers the use of franchising techniques—namely, licensed reproduction—as a generative method for artistic production. Adopting codes from dressing, sporting, gaming, building, and teaching, the participating authors each point to industrial supply chains and the potential for outsourced expansion. But just as codes implicate specific decoders, they are also bound to corruption. Where the franchise privileges efficiency and uniformity across space, minimizing margins of error, the exhibited works encourage open modes of negotiating distance. Standardized tools relied upon to maintain likeness here serve to enhance subtle variations in form and reception.

Kevin Zhu’s sculptural contribution, What Killed Harry Houdini?, offers a hint to the source of the exhibition title. Husband and wife, Harry and Beatrice “Bess” Houdini (née Rahner), devised the coded sequence of nine words as a way to test the possibility of communication from the afterlife.1 Although Harry’s message never reached Bess through proper channels following the escape artist’s death, the code itself remains as proof of connection.2

[link to supplement]

Installation views:


1. Following a code developed to aid communication during acts, each word in the sequence corresponds to the number of the position of a letter in the Latin alphabet: Answer = 2 (B) / Tell = 5 (E) / Pray = 1 Answer = 2  [combined to form “12”] (L) / Look = 9 (I) / Tell = 5 (E) / Answer = 2 Answer = 2 [combined to form “22”] (V) / Tell = 5 (E). (Christopher, Milbourne. Mediums, Mystics & the Occult: New Revelations About Psychics And Their Secrets. Crowell, 1975, pp. 128–129.)

2. "Mrs. Houdini Loses Faith in a Hereafter." New York Times, 5 Feb. 1943, p. 23. 
Answer Tell Pray Answer Look Tell Answer Answer Tell was organized by Kiyoto Koseki with Diana Mangaser.

Exhibition Support
Alba Borchert, Tammy Evans, Anna Falat, Cindy Gould, Spider Graham, Young Kim, Nancy Layne, Jonette O’Kelley Miller, Luis Santiago, Jackie Skrzynski, Yoshihiro Sergel.