Jackson Mac Low, Vocabulary for Eve Rosenthal, 1978, Silkscreen on cloth, 149 × 159 cm, Edition of 30 plus III AP
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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  • Silkscreen on cloth
  • 149 × 159 cm
    (58 ⅝ × 62 ⅝ inches)
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  • Jackson Mac Low was an American performance artist, composer, poet, and playwriter. After completing coursework at the University of Chicago, he moved to New York City, graduating in Ancient Greek at Brooklyn College. Working initially as a recognized etymologist and editor, he soon developed an interest in the possibilities offered by words as units of sound and meaning. Mac Low’s work explores the intersections of language, structure, and music by systematically blending and muting found and fragmented texts. In particular, the works produced between 1954 and 1980, such as 5 Biblical Poems (1954), followed what Mac Low himself described as a “nonintentional” method: Words and lines are arbitrarily rearranged, inspired by systematic chance operations, indeterminacy, and simultaneities. In 1960, Mac Low produced The Marrying Maiden at the Living Theater in New York, directed by Judith Malina, with John Cage composing the score. An early member of Fluxus, Mac Low was active in the events and performances organized by George Maciunas at his AG Gallery, as well as in Charlotte Moorman’s New York Avant Garde Festivals. Mac Low and his wife Anne Tardos worked together in several occasions, participating in festivals in Graz, Cologne, and Heidelberg. With La Monte Young, Mac Low co-edited the notorious Anthology of Chance Operations (1963). In total, Mac Low published more than two dozen volumes of poetry, including Twin Plays (Something Else Press, 1966) with Something Else Press, Asymmetries 1–260 (Printed Editions, 1980), and 20 Forties (Zasterle Press, 1999), beyond being featured in more than ninety anthologies. Mac Low was highly interested in sound poetry and computer technology, both of which he utilized in various performances and artworks. Exemplary in this regard are Twenties: 100 Poems (1991) and 154 Forties (1990–99), as well as Stein (1998–2004) a series of computer-automated poems drawing words and phrases from works by Gertrude Stein. Mac Low was a professor at Mannes College of Music in New York in 1966, the University of California San Diego in 1990, and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1996. His work has been read publicly, exhibited, performed, and broadcast internationally. Among the prestigious awards received are a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1985 and a New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship in 1988.

Artworks (9)