From 1971 to 1973, the conceptual and performance artist Eleanor Antin traveled with one hundred pairs of black rubber rain boots from California to New York. Along the way, Antin carefully posed her footwear collection in rigid rows, capturing the army surplus boots across sandy beaches and interstate highways as if they were marching. Antin formatted the black-and-white photographs into postcards, which she mailed to hundreds of creative peers across the country during her trek. When she arrived in New York, “100 Boots,” encompassing the fifty-one postcards and several installations, was exhibited at MoMA. “100 Boots: The Lost Picture Show” at Alden Projects presents photo panels and gelatin silver prints from the series largely unseen since 1973. “Somehow the images that didn't make it into the final piece were too dramatic, too overtly political, too suggestive of other meanings,” Antin writes in a statement accompanying the current show. Often set in unpeopled landscapes, the boots are the undisputed, somewhat silly protagonists of the work. But with their lack of human inhabitants, they serve as an eery stand in for soldiers serving in the Vietnam War, or anyone who walks the unknown. —Julia Wolkoff
Pictured: Eleanor Antin: 100 BOOTS Under the Brooklyn Bridge, 1973, gelatin silver print, 11 by 14 inches. Courtesy Alden Projects, New York.