Stories For Grandchildren: Claims To Fame | 2000


First published May 2001, print edition of 400
Designed by Andrew Di Rosa / SMALL / Printed by Coach House Press

Stories for Grandchildren was originally conceived as an art installation in the form of engraved metal plaques tacked on a gallery wall in a large grid. The basis of the project was to ask people ranging from acquaintances to close friends to tell me their greatest "claim to fame". The claim had to be honest, however, just like stories told in everyday life, it is difficult to tell if someone has embellished their claim for greater effect. The structure of the claim is always the same, beginning with the person's name, followed by the event or accomplishment, then the date as accurately as they could remember.

In designing this book, it was decided that the most important part of each claim was the event itself, rather than the person telling the story. In keeping with this, each page has been laid out so the actual claim becomes the focus while the person's name and the date if known are at the bottom in smaller print. This book contains every claim to fame collected so far, reprinted in the approximate order they were received.

The Project examines our fascination with fame, popularity, and posterity: meeting someone famous on the street, telling and retelling favorite stories at cocktail parties, wanting to be known for something. However, since the reader is unlikely to the people telling these stories, the grandiose claims become somewhat diminished. What is more, many of the celebrities or events that are so often cherished are recognizable only to a particular region or country, causing readers elsewhere to question the importance of both the story-teller and the celebrity. Our timeless fascination with celebrities and personal feats is rapidly merging with a new fixation on everyday life. Ranging from "reality TV" and trashy talk shows to webcams and less media orientated accomplishments such as the 'employee of the month' award or the Guiness world records, we use associations and peculiarities to stand ourselves apart from the norm. This book contains over 200 stories told to me over the last two years. To the reader, these claims become second hand or even third hand accounts, bringing into question the idea that these events are in part what makes us unique as the details of any one story are at once blurred in numbers.

Stoiries for Grandchildren debuted in February 2000 in Auckland, New Zealand at Rm3 and has since been exhibited in Halifax at eyelevel gallery, The New Gallery in Calgary, the Art Gallery of Mississauga and Forest City Gallery in London, Ontario.