HPMEC Hosts Performance Artist

Thursday, February 13, 2014
Tim Youd at work retyping "A Farewell to Arms" in the HPMEC barn studio last week. The diptych was completed on a Corona #3 typewriter, the same as the one used by Hemingway to write the iconic novel.

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center of Piggott hosted a unique performance artist in the past week. Tim Youd set up shop at the local museum as part of his ongoing undertaking to retype 100 classic novels. The local appearance by Youd began Tuesday Feb. 4, and ran through Tuesday, Feb. 11 with a performance of Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell To Arms."

Over a five-year period, Youd is retyping 100 novels and for the current performance he spent much of the last week in Hemingway's barn studio in Piggott.

Youd performs the retyping of each entire novel on a single piece of paper, utilizing the same make and model typewriter used by the original author-in this case a Corona #3 portable he acquired on ebay and had refurbished.

The Corona #3 portable typewriter used by Youd, which is identical to the one used by Ernest Hemingway, and the partially completed diptych--which at this point was about halfway complete.

The process he uses produces a "diptych" as he covers the paper with a top sheet, so the underlying page receives the indentation from the keys but not the ink, except where the typewriter keys break through the top sheet. As a result the top sheet is densely covered in ink, mirrored against a heavily indented but mostly un-inked page.

The typing of "A Farewell to Arms" is the 20th novel he has completed, and the first of Hemingway's works.

"The first book I completed was Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" which was typed on an IBM Selectric II in Los Angeles in February of last year," he noted.

Youd has also completed works by Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Raymond Chandler, Philip K. Dick and Tom Wolfe. "But, I only do novels which were created on a typewriter, so that generally means most of them were written before 1985."

To complete his effort of Charles Bukowski's "Post Office" he spent 10 days in July of last year retyping the novel in the bed of a pickup outside the post office in downtown Los Angeles where Bukowski had worked sorting mail for 12 years.

Upcoming performances will include a trip to Lincoln, Neb. to retype Weldon Kees' "Fall Quarter" on a Remington in March. He'll also visit Paris later this spring to retype Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer" at the invitation of the Henry Miller Memorial Library, which is located in California.

Other upcoming efforts will include William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" in Oxford, Miss. on an Underwood; Raymond Chandler's "The Long Goodbye" and "Playback" on an Olivetti Studio 44 at the MCA Studios in La Jolla, Calif. and Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" on a Royal KMM at the Ray Bradbury Center for Studies at Indiana University as part of their annual Banned Books celebration.

"After I finish the diptych for "Fahrenheit 451" I plan to burn it as part of the observance," he added.

A native of Massachusetts, Youd has made his home in the Los Angeles area for most of his life. His work is based at the Coagula Curatorial gallery in Los Angeles, where he was featured in a solo show in May of 2012. His works are also displayed at Coagula Curatorial installations such as art fairs across the country.

"Hemingway was and remains one of the giants of 20th century literature," he said of the Piggott effort. "For his second novel, "A Farewell To Arms," he drew on his own experiences as an ambulance driver in World War I."

Published in 1929, the novel became Hemingway's first best seller and cemented his reputation as a leader of modern literature.

At the time of its writing, Hemingway was newly married to his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer. While she was expecting their first child, Pauline and Ernest settled in at her family's home in Piggott. It was during his time there that Hemingway wrote the majority of "A Farewell To Arms." Of course, the home is preserved today as the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum.

The severe winter weather which greeted Youd did hamper the effort somewhat, as he spent the first two days working in his room at the Inn of Piggott. The conditions also reduced the opportunity for local residents to watch the performance, as the museum was closed much of the week due to ice and snow.

"It varies on how long it takes to do a novel, based on how much time I spend talking with those who come by to watch," he explained. "But, I really enjoy the interaction."

"We are so pleased to be able to host Tim for his retyping of "A Farewell to Arms" noted museum director Adam Long. "He contacted us and offered us the opportunity and I presented it to the board and they gave their approval."

"I always try to do the retyping at a location which meant something to the author, either where they wrote or somewhere they spent a lot of time-such as Raymond Chandler's "Farewell My Lovely" on the Santa Monica pier in January," he explained. For the record that effort was typed on an Underwood noiseless typewriter.

"I get a lot of the typewriters off of ebay, and I have a shop in Los Angeles that refurbishes them for me," he added.

Youd also expresses his art in other forms, and has created a series of sculptures utilizing old typewriters.

More information about the typing series, the complete list of completed works and photos of the diptychs he has created may be found on his website at www.timyoud.com

Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center is an ASU Heritage Site, located at 1021 West Cherry Street, in Piggott. Tours are offered on the hour, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. The museum is located at 1021 West Cherry Street, in Piggott. Those wanting more information on other activities at the local museum may call HPMEC at 870 598-3487 or contact Long by email at adamlong@astate.edu

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