Columbus College of Art & Design

Tyler Coburn: Richard Roe

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 | 6:30 p.m.

A reading and the unveiling of an orchid.
A reading of a memoir and the unveiling of an orchid named Richard Roe.
The memoir is of Richard Roe, the orchid in question.

Richard Roe is a multi-part work, comprising an orchid hybrid named by New York-based artist Tyler Coburn and a “memoir” of a legal person. The project builds on a convention particular to Singapore, wherein orchid hybrids are named after politicians and celebrities — in effect, as a means of cultural diplomacy.

During a 2017 residency at NTU CCA Singapore, Coburn developed a relationship with Toh Garden, which cultivates many of the city-state’s famous orchids. Coburn has legally named one of its hybrids “Richard Roe”: a name used in American and British case law when the actual name of a person cannot, for whatever reason, be given. “Richard Roe” is, in essence, a legal fiction.

Accompanying the flower is a “memoir” of Roe (to be published in 2019 by Sternberg Press) which describes a world populated by legal fictions that creep around the margins of selfhood — and that increasingly dictate the terms of economic and political process. At Beeler Gallery, Coburn will read an excerpt of the text, and unveil one of his orchids in a custom-made pot, which will be permanently on display at the gallery’s reception desk.

Richard Roe is commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna and produced with the support of Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design and NTU CCA Singapore. The orchid hybrid is courtesy of Toh Garden, Singapore, and the glass pots are fabricated by Verreum, Czech Republic.