Dead Center

Lawrence Weiner


Ashdown House,
inner courtyard walkway

This work, three texts carved in granite and set into the Ashdown courtyard walkway, was developed over the course of the design of the building as a collaboration among the artist, resident graduate students, the housemasters, and the design team.

After visiting MIT and meeting with Ashdown students, Lawrence Weiner proposed this work: & A RELATIVE CALM, POISED AT A TANGENT TO DEAD CENTER & AN UNKNOWN VECTOR POISED AT A TANGENT TO DEAD CENTER & A MEANS POISED AT A TANGENT TO DEAD CENTER The work addresses the future from a position of repose, stasis, that of dead center. Three different possibilities for moving off dead center are reflected in the dynamism of the arrows that contain them. When the artist asked the students and architects what form this work should take and where it should be in the new residence (for Weiner, the work is always in the text, while the material realization of it is optional and variable), they felt that the courtyard, which is visible from everywhere in the building and intended to support activities and gatherings of residents, was the most appropriate location. The artist then developed the design of the carved granite elements and determined their locations in the sidewalk. Weiner also made an extraordinarily generous gesture by inviting Ashdown residents to realize the work in other new ways of their devising. Accordingly, Lawrence has re-imagined the work for coasters for the Thirsty Ear Pub at Ashdown. The work will live on in this way, changing and becoming a living part of Ashdown history.

Read More About Lawrence Weiner





Lawrence Weiner






Gray, red, and black granite (3 pieces)


3 in. x 366.75 in. x 72 in. (7.62 cm x 931.55 cm x 182.88 cm)


Commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art Funds