On an especially hot day near the end of July, I stopped by Marie’s Crisis, where artist Tim Youd was hard at work between two of the historic café’s red windows. The Los Angeles-based artist was in New York’s West Village to continue his retyping of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, in conjunction with his Ecstatic Reading solo show at Cristin Tierney Gallery in Chelsea. The typewriter on the folding table in front of him — an Olympia SM3 — was the same model Highsmith used, and the café was a beloved hang out for the author when she lived in the area. While the location and material were perfect, the single page on which Youd was typing the full novel had nearly ripped in two, shreds of letters falling off like confetti. But he was familiar with these challenges, as the book was the 51st he’s retyped since starting the 10-year 100 Novels project in 2012.
“The genesis of the project came from my recognition that on a formal level, when you are looking at two pages of a book, you are looking at two rectangles of black text inside the two larger rectangles of the white pages,” Youd told Hyperallergic. “I had a palpable desire to crush the words of the entire book into this formal image.”That completed compression of Highsmith’s words is now on view at Cristin Tierney, still wedged in the Olympia SM3. “In Ripley, the action starts in New York and moved to Italy,” Youd said. “I reversed course, began this cycle in Italy and finished in New York.”