Donelle Woolford

Realizes as the summer comes to a close that Richard Prince is still a dick. To be continued.

With performance reenactment being all the rage in the art world, begins to wonder why no one has ever reenacted the performances of Chris Burden. Something very lame about that fact, but also something great. It's as if Chris Burden is sacred ground and no one "dares" touch his work. Or it could be that the whole reenactment trend is a risk-averse cop out, both in terms of avoiding the pressure of coming up with new work and avoiding the most problematic/harmful/life-threatening examples of performance art.

Ditto for the blanket avoidance of the performances of Bas Jan Ader, Adrian Piper, Santiago Sierra, and Francis Alÿs.

Amazed that when Richard Prince's Instagram paintings blow up at Frieze New York, and everyone is calling him a class A dick, no one steps forward to acknowlege that she had been saying the exact same thing in her work over the past three years. And was roundly criticize for it.

Lays low.


Experience the pleasurable, extracorporeal sensation of living multiple lives simultaneously, as my character is picked up by others and exploited for their own uses

Generate an extraordinary amount of discussion over the fact that I am a fictional character participating in the Whitney Biennial, a fictional character created by a white man and performed by professional actors who are black women. All three persons, and more, contribute to the writing of my story

Over the next four months, perform Dick’s Last Stand at Mandrake, Los Angeles; Wattis Institute, San Francisco; Solespace, Oakland; MOCAD, Detroit; Dorchester Projects, Chicago; JACK, Brooklyn; The Kitchen, New York; Midway Contemporary, Minneapolis; Duffy’s Tavern, Lincoln; and White Flag Projects, St. Louis

Kick off the 2014 Whitney Biennial with a performance of Dick’s Last Stand on opening night of the Los Angeles Art Book Fair

Second dress rehearsal for Dick’s Last Stand at Claremont Graduate University, California

Mount Dick Jokes exhibition at Wallspace

Mount Complexe Artisanal in Marrakech as part of the 5th Marrakech Biennale

First dress rehearsal for Dick’s Last Stand at the GPSCY, New Haven, Connecticut

Stage a new Performer / Performer / Audience / Mirror at Tanzquartier in Vienna, as part of an exhibition and conference titled I Am Another World organized by the Bildende Kunst Akademie, Vienna

Begin to experience the disorienting but oddly pleasurable sensation of being embodied in three different time zones on three different continents at three different stages of life—all at the same time


Submit a proposal to mount a national tour of Dick’s Last Stand as contribution to the Whitney Biennial, slated at a diverse venues across the entire United States. The Whitney Museum accepts, but only agrees to pay for half. The remainder of the expenses are funded by selling props and merchandise related to the performance: paintings, t-shirts, a joke book

Agree to participate in the 2014 Whitney Biennial

Become an independent entity. Although I remain a fictional character, my achievements and body of work have established me as a fully realized, circulating subject with publicly acknowledged traits


Publish Dick Jokes at McNally Jackson, New York

After a year and a half of trial and error you finally figure out the dick joke paintings, how they should look and be made. With two and sometimes three assistants, you go into serious studio production

Perform Dan Graham Withdrawal Syndrome at Carlos/Ishikawa, London, as part of a group show A Trusted Friend

Perform Dick’s Jokes at the Guggenheim Museum as part of Last Call, a performance marathon commemorating Maurizio Cattelan’s retirement from the art world


Perform Dick’s Jokes at the Yale University Art Museum as part of a conference on Marcel Duchamp and authenticity

Perform Dick’s Jokes, a re-enactment of a standup routine by Richard Pryor, as part of an evening of extreme appropriation programmed in conjunction with the PRELUDE theatre festival, CUNY Grad Center

See Glenn Ligon’s mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum. Generally impressive. Of particular interest is a gallery displaying Ligon’s short-lived foray into a series of penis joke paintings in the mid-1990s. Delighted that, for whatever reason, Ligon abandoned the idea

Begin to wonder why no one has ever challenged the authority of Richard Prince in the same way Sherrie Levine challenged the authority of Walker Evans. Make your first “dick joke” painting. Like that “dick” can be interpreted as “penis,” “Richard,” or a metonym for anyone who behaves like a jerk. Struggle with whether all the phallic baggage of painting, particular the paint brush and the brushstroke, should be dealt with or ignored


Mount a solo show titled Wite Trash on the lower level at Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna

Perform your rendition of Dan Graham’s Performer/Audience/Mirror at Princeton University

Mount a one-person show and a performance of Dan Graham Withdrawal Syndrome at The Suburban

Mount your second show, Return, at Wallspace and stage your first public performance, Dan Graham Withdrawal Syndrome

See the Dan Graham retrospective at the Whitney Museum

Begin research into “dick jokes,” i.e. Vernacular American comedy about the penis, and make sketches for how they might be transformed into images

You move out of your cramped basement studio in Manhattan into a more spacious studio with two north windows in the Bronx


See the Richard Prince retrospective at the Guggenheim

Stage first one-person show in The Netherlands at Galerie de Expeditie, Amsterdam

Travel to The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, to set up another working studio for Double Agent

Travel to Mead Art Gallery of Warwick University, Coventry, to host a Friday night salon and portfolio review as part of Double Agent

Change place of birth from Conyers, Georgia, to Detroit, Michigan. Decide family moved to Conyers when twelve years old. Wonder whether should continue to live Harlem. Contemplate moving to Astoria, or Yonkers, or some other less-conspicuous neighborhood. Maybe Gramercy Park. Maybe Williamsburg

Discover in frieze magazine that this biography is “overdetermined.” Not sure what that means exactly, since many people share part if not all of the story basics: Black, raised in the south, Ivy-league educated, living in New York. Decide the critic, Melissa Gronfund, is right. The fact that something actually happened, whether it happened once or a thousand times, is no justification for its inclusion in a work of fiction.

Lecture at a conference titled La Copia, Lo Falso (y El Original) [The Copy, the Counterfeit (and the Original), sponsored by XV Jornadas de Estudio de La Imagen, Madrid. The backbone of the lecture is an archive of headshots of all the actors who auditioned to be Donelle Woolford. The audience is stunned. So many personality types! How to choose? Admit often ponder the same question

Give a public lecture as part of Double Agent. In the course of the subsequent question and answer session with Sladen and co-curator Claire Bishop, it is revealed that “Donelle Woolford” is a fictional character therefore not real the conventional sense of an artist who makes work. But “Donelle Woolford” does in fact exist. The audience is confused. A questioner asks Abigail Ramsay, the actor portraying Donelle Woolford at the time, if she has met the real Donelle. Abigail says she has. Another question wonders if the American artist Joe Scanlan, who has been credited as the primary person responsible for Donelle Woolford, is real, and if so, is he in the audience? Yes, he is real but no, he is not in the audience. Still another questioner asks, in reference to some images included in Donelle’s lecture, if Sharjah is a real place and the Sheik of Sharjah a real person. Yes and yes again. Still another audience member persists in asking again – this time to Claire Bishop -- if Donelle Woolford exists. Ms. Bishop assures them that she does.

With Mark Sladen, director of the ICA, attend a reception for Mario Garcia Torres at White Cube

Set up a working studio at the ICA, London, as part of the group exhibition Double Agent. Delighted to be in the same room where Marcel Broodthaers installed Décor in 1975. For seven weeks work on paintings, read, and interact with the viewing public

Move to Harlem. It’s cheaper than Brooklyn and closer to work. Rent a cramped but cheap basement studio in a brownstone in Sugar Hill. The transition from spacious, sunlit New Haven to damp, windowless dungeon is shocking. Try to adjust but am losing enthusiasm for the wooden paintings and more and more interested in found images, found fabrics, the internet. Can see the end of the wooden collages not too far off, in the bottom of the last bin of scraps salvaged from the reclamation factory. Several self-reflexive images coalesce out of them: a head of a woman, a foreshortened mirror, a shattered portrait of Elizabeth Montgomery

Stage first one-person show in the United States at Wallspace, New York


Participate in first international biennial in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Stage first one-person show in Europe at Galerie Chez Valentin, Paris


Participation in Data Mining influences Triple Candie to create a a show and biography for Lester Hayes, a fictional African American artist who also works with derelict materials and who is also named after an accomplished NFL cornerback

Decide it’s good to have a stable income and learn some new skills. Decide on advertising. The process of creating images for the public to devour is intriguing: cutting and pasting reality to make reality. Or is it to alter it? Feel ambivalent about how much to invest in the job, and gladly decide heart is not in it. Continue in the same spirit as the actors who get cast in the advertisements her firm produces. Greatest performance to date. Continue making art.

Participate in her first exhibition in New York, a group show titled Data Mining at Wallspace


Move to Brooklyn, but for practical reasons keep studio in New Haven, seventy-five miles away

Move to Brooklyn, but for practical reasons keep studio in New Haven, seventy-five miles away

Participate in first group show, BUY AMERICAN, at Galerie Chez Valentin, Paris

Publish first article, “I Have A Dream,” in Ante no. 3 (spring)


Stay in New Haven after graduation, set up shop as a freelance graphic designer, and rent first studio in the corner of a lumber reclamation factory

Earns a BA in Fine Art, with a concentration in Graphic Design, from Yale

Help take-over the presidents office in response to the administration’s insufficient response to attacks on students of color at Yale


Edit 4166 Sea View Lane: A Reader, an anthology dedicated to Jorge Pardo's infamous house built as a sculpture under the auspices of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Make the first “cubist” painting from wood scraps salvaged off the floor of Mr. Scanlan’s studio

Deduce that there’s a fine line between originality, influence, appropriation and outright theft, and decides that things can flow both ways.

Concentrate on Art History, Studio Art and African-American and Afro-Caribbean courses. Begins to sense there is more to art than pure thought and expression, and realize there are issues of colonialism and politics underlying the art historical canon. Become very interested in how and why art history courses focus on European and American Art, and even then, people of color are rarely represented. The rest of the world—Asia, Africa, the Arab world, the Americas—falls into the déclassé category of "ethnic art”


Begin working as Joe Scanlan's studio assistant, helping fabricate works and manage his fledgling publishing enterprise, Commerce Books

Begin undergraduate study at Yale University and is formally introduced to Western art history and thought


Develop a strong interest in the arts. Take classes in woodworking, metal smithing, glass blowing, and ceramics


Family moves to Conyers, Georgia, near Atlanta


Family travels to Europe, visiting Paris and Italy


Begin private schooling. A bit of a loner, the silent type, but loves reading and making things


Born in Detroit, the second of three children to professional parents. Her mother is a natural healer and her father a lawyer


Born in Detroit, the second of three children to professional parents. Her mother is a natural healer and her father a corporate lawyer


Born in Conyers, Georgia, the first of three children to professional parents. Her mother is a housewife and her father an entertainment lawyer


Born in Detroit, the first of three children to working class parents. Her mother is a housewife and her father is a union pipefitter