The title of Analia Saban’s artwork View Count describes quite succinctly the concept behind the work: a count of individuals who have viewed the artwork. Composed of chalkboard paint and chalk on canvas, with the words “View Count” and an ever-changing numerical tally written in chalk, the painting becomes a record of its own viewing.
Many of Saban’s artworks play linguistically and materially with our expectations of artistic media. In a series of pigmented ink prints showing an image of linen canvas printed on a substrate of dried acrylic paint, for example, the artist inverts the medium line “paint on canvas” to make a work which is instead “canvas on paint.” Similarly, in her artworks woven on a loom which incorporate strips of dried acrylic paint, Saban upends the notion of paint on canvas, to make work that is paint in canvas—quite literally canvases of paint.
With View Count, Saban borrows an engagement metric of the digital age: view counts are numbers we expect to see attached to YouTube videos, social media posts, and other automatically tracked virtual interactions. Taking this automated digital concept and translating it to the analog environment of an art gallery or art museum, the tally on View Count only takes note of individuals who have encountered it in person. The physical and material conditions of View Count as a painting on canvas also slows down its relationship to the information it presents; in contrast to the real-time metrics of online interactions, the count is manually updated only once a day.
As an artwork whose very conceptual logic is premised on making a record of those who have interacted with it, View Count is particularly resonant in the context of a museum collection, where questions of provenance are increasingly scrutinized as a means of researching, documenting, and acknowledging the individuals through whose ownership an art object has passed. Ultimately, View Count makes the simple but powerful point that an artwork’s history is also a history of those who have viewed it.
During our 37th annual Collectors Committee Weekend (April 21–22, 2023), members of LACMA's Collectors Committee generously helped the museum acquire 10 works of art spanning a breadth of eras and cultures. Read more about all the acquisitions.