No Show

If Nick Waplington's current show of photographs and drawings at Holly Solomon looks noticeably sparser than his usual packed and sprawling installations, that's because more than half of it— 120 photos in all— was lost or damaged in shipping between London and New York. One wall of the show includes a letter from the gallery to Federal Express detailing the loss, including one box that arrived empty, two missing large parts of their contents, and another containing prints that had been vandalized en route— most marked with footprints and creased beyond repair. The empty box, a plastic bag of trashed prints, and a battered shipping carton have been lined up alongside the letter as mute evidence. Beneath them, Waplington has scrawled, "The artist stripped bare by the courier EVEN."

"It's been a horror story," veteran gallerist Solomon says with an exasperated sigh. "Three months' work in the prints— gone! We were all stupefied." But, she adds, Waplington handled it well. "Quite frankly, he impressed me. He accepted the fatality of the photographs and used it." Though he'd planned to hang some 200 images from his new book of on-the-road photos, The Indecisive Memento, he scaled back to less than half that amount.

Back in London working on a Memento-inspired film for the BBC, Waplington is not just surprisingly cool, he's found a bright side. "I'm quite happy about the whole thing. I sent over three times the amount of work I was going to use anyway, and this enabled me to reevaluate the show. Conceptually, it was quite a positive experience for me. Besides, I'm not a miserablist. I can't sit around and spend my life crying about this."

Solomon, however, continues to grapple with FedEx. The company has offered to pay its standard $100 liability for a single package but has still not determined where and when the problems occurred (a media rep there says it's "under investigation" by security). If Solomon needs further tracking details, she was advised to "subpoena our records."

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