Parkcycle, September, 2007, San Francisco
A human-powered, open space distribution system
The Parkcycle is a human-powered open space distribution system designed for agile movement within the existing auto-centric urban infrastructure.
While its physical dimensions synchronize with the automotive “softscape” of lane stripes and metered stalls, the Parkcycle effectively re-programs the urban hardscape by delivering massive quantities of green open space—up to 4,320 square-foot-minutes of park per stop—thus temporarily reframing the right-of-way as green space, not just a car space.
Using a plug-and-play approach, the Parkcycle provides open space benefits to neighborhoods that need it, when they need it, as soon as it is parked.
Built in collaboration with the kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin at his studio in Emeryville, California, the Parkcycle made its debut on Park(ing) Day 2007 in San Francisco.
PARK(ing) Day 2007 and the Parkcycle were both made possible by a generous grant from the Black Rock Arts Foundation.
an object in its natural environment, 2007
The Place Between, 2005
Rirkrit Tiravanija interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist
The first part of this interview took place in Paris in December 1993 and the second part in Mexico City in July 2002.
 Paris, December l993
Hans Ulrich Obrist: You said, “Basically I started to make things so that people would have to use them, which means if you want to buy something then you have to use it… It’s not meant to be put out with other sculpture or like another relic and looked at, but you have to use it. I found that was the best solution to my contradiction in terms of making things and not making things. Or trying to make less things, but more useful things or more useful relationships.” In terms of your idea that “it is not what you see that is important but what takes place between people,” when was the first time you set up a temporary kitchen and cooked curry in a museum or gallery setting?
Rirkrit Tiravanija: It was called [Untitled 1989] (…). The first food piece was displayed in a group exhibition at the Scott Hanson Gallery, which no longer exists (“Outside the Clock: Beyond Good & Elvis,” Scott Hanson Gallery, New York, 1989). Four pedestals were blocking the passage between the entry way and the exhibition space. On these pedestals were displayed various processes of a curry being cooked, i.e., a pedestal for ingredients, a pedestal with curry cooking on a burner, a pedestal with waste products. The visitors could smell the cooking curry as they entered the space; the smell permeated through the gallery. A new pot of curry was cooked once a week. But the curry was not to be eaten.
HUO: And when was the first time that you invited the “viewers” to share and taste the curry?
RT: It was for [Untitled 1992 (Free)] in my one-person exhibition at 303 Gallery, New York. All of the contents of the gallery were emptied out into the main exhibition space, including the office. All doors (to office, storage rooms, cabinets, toilet, etc.) were removed from their frames to open and empty out hidden spaces. The office emptied out is then timed into a social/meeting space with two pots of curry (one red curry, one green) and a pot of rice to offer the visitor on their lunch. (The windows in an office play a significant role as external/internal can be viewed). On display in the office are the ingredients of the meal plus the remains from the cooking and eating process (which later becomes documentation of the situation at hand). The cooking and food for the first time (there were other projects previous to this, which occurred for only one evening or just for the opening of exhibition) is made continuously through the duration of the exhibition. The gallery office space became a central meeting point and rest stop for many regular visitors to SoHo. “(Free)” in this particular situation could signify the emptying of context/content. From exhibition to non-exhibit of place/non-place. “(Free)” could also be read as open—-or as plain and simple as no charge for the situation (free food).
HUO: Very quickly, you also developed more and more complex environments for these encounters. Could you tell me, for instance, about your tearoom at Exit Art in New York in 1993?
RT: It was [Untitled 1993 (The Cure)] and it was in a group show called “Fever.” In response to the context of “Fever,” I built a tea tent using a material with the color of Thai Buddhist monks’ robes: golden orange. The dimensions of the tent were made to the specifications of a Japanese tearoom—-measuring ten-by-ten-by-ten-feet. The measurement the Japanese got is derived from a Buddhist scripture—-which is the measurement of a room in which the Lord Buddha gave sermon to 40,000 monks (mind over matter). Tea plus water plus kettle plus teapots with a table and chair were set into the tent. The door of the tent faces a window—-inside the space the exhibition is blocked out of view. Tea, being a drink of medicinal quality (and for me with cultural significance) was to become an antidote to the “Fever” and a space for rest, contemplation, etc.
HUO: Another type of environment like this one is the one that took place this summer at the Biennale di Venezia (“Aperto 93,” La Biennale di Venezia, 45th International Art Exhibition, 1993).
RT: It was [Untitled 1993 (twelve seventy one)]. “Twelve seventy one” because it was the year Marco Polo had set off to the Far East from Venice. The centerpiece to this project is an aluminum canoe—-the canoe being an image of Native America—-and inside the canoe are two pots filled with water, which are being boiled-so there is water also in the canoe itself. The image of boats with food being cooked in them are drawn from Thailand. And accompanying the canoe are local cafe tables—-and fold out stools put out to be used by the visitors to the Aperto. There are also Cup ‘O Noodles in boxes that were shipped in from the U.S. and that were made by a Japanese company in California, and these cups of noodles were left for the visitors to help themselves as they are instantly cooked. This situation lasted as long as there were noodles for the viewers to consume (this did not take too long). The remains were left as evidence of the event. I had used Venice as a focus for the piece-which was a collage of place, mythologies (Marco Polo and the pasta from the Orient), hybrids of culture, tourism. And this also provided a possible place for rest and passage in the context of the exhibition.
2] Mexico City, ten years later…
HUO: Your exhibition at the Secession (Vienna, 2002) is based on Rudolf Schindler’s house in Los Angels, his house on Kings Road in Los Angeles, built in 1921-1922; your idea was to install a reconstruction of the studio of the Schindler House in the main room of the Secession and use this as a stage for various activities, as a venue for a multimedia program including film screenings, concerts, presentations and lectures. Your idea is to antimate Schindler’s world of ideas, his concept of inside and outside in relation to the conditions of private and public spaces, but not in a nostalgic way in the sense that you are taking it as a frame for your own ideas on relationships and communities, and your characteristic conception of art as an investigation and implementation of “living well.” Do you see it as a station?
RT: I see the idea of the station in the sense of a platform where people have to come together at one point before going off to different divergent positions again. The station is a place where, while you’re waiting, there could be an insertion of a program into the station that the people passing through interact with.
HUO: And it’s a contemporary form of relay, like in old times when on a journey, the horses got water and travelers got food.
RT: Exactly. It is a place where you rest, but at the same time you pick up more information. But of course, it’s a different kind of absorption when you’re resting and getting information than when you’re focusing just for the sake of getting information. But I think what’s interesting about this demonstration is a culmination of different modes of presentation of both art and non-art.
HUO: You spoke about another project of yours designed like a station in Japan.
RT: The show is at the Asahi beer space [Untitled, 2002 (demo station No.3), Sumida Riverside Hall Gallery—-Asahi Beer Arts Foundation, 2002]. It’s a space, which is programmed; there is a list of people who come and use the space. It’s the same as I did in Portikus when we had a big unscheduled program that people knew about and they came to [Untitled, 2001 (Demo Station No 1), Portikus, Frankfurt]. I think there are also possibilities for things to happen when there is nothing happening, so that other people can come in and actually take it over and use it.
HUO.. A bit like in your Whitney installation when there was nothing; you just set up musical instruments, inviting museumgoers to make impromptu jam sessions (1995 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of America Art, New York).
RT: Exactly, people who know that it’s there can come and use it because they know that it is there. But I think that is a way to have both possibilities of presentation, so that it is static at the same time as being active.
HUO: And an acceleration and a slowness, a new slowness.
RT: “A new slowness,” that’s a good idea. There has always been a discussion about speed, but there’s a speed at which you can think and a speed at which you cannot. I like the idea of always moving and thinking, not always just moving. It could just be in one place.
HUO: I heard rumors that you’re going to do a big summer academy in Frankfurt. Will this also be a station?
RT: Well, it is definitely developing out of the station idea. It’s more of an academy, but having been through that situation in Portikus, I think that it would be an amazing thing to do. You could make a station where all the young students could come to. It would be like a jamboree.
HUO: A jamboree?
RT: It’s a term that they use for the scouts, when all the scouts come together from all around the world. But that was like the Utopia of the ’70s. I always wanted to go to a jamboree.
HUO: And you were a scout?
RT: For a short time. I think as a young boy, the image of scouting was very important.
HUO: You said that there is a sense of “no future” in New York, which is perhaps a global climate also. I think it is important that, for our venice project (“Utopia Staion,” La Biennale di Venezia, 50th International Exhibition, 2003) we can provide a platform in a non-nostalgic and non-naive way, a platform of hope and of change. It is very important that there is a generosity and that we do not prescribe Utopia.
RT: Absolutely not. I think it’s impossible. What interested me in this funny discussion yesterday was that there was one paper, which was presented which was about the idea of difference and otherness, and the person actually used a description of the idea as strangeness: “the others are strange,” which was a way to make a low structure towards the sophistication of difference. I thought that was quite interesting, and my explanation of my anti-globalistic idea is that globalism doesn’t really work because it’s just a skin, a skin which gives you the excuse of not understanding the other even more. And through that conversation, it struck me that the idea of Utopia is really the idea of understanding difference. And the failures—-I think these previously modeled utopian conditions have always been in a kind of conformity of ideas, which is to say that somehow everyone should become one cohesive structure, one cohesive consciousness, and that would bring with it a sense of freedom. But I think that this is impossible, and the reason why it will fail. I think that the possibility should be about understanding difference, which is something I think would be difficult for the western hegemony and the Eurocentric structures to open up to, even though they talk about globalization. I think it is very interesting in relation to the idea of hunger, because I think that is part of the economy that…
HUO: Here is an article I read in this morning paper: “La lutte contre la faim dans le monde est en echec (the fight against hunger in the world is about to fail). Starvation again threatens Austral-Africa. 800 million human beings are hungry everyday, and half of humans suffer from lack of food. In 1996, the rules of the world made an engagement to reduce this figure by six million per year, the number of people who are undernourished. The agriculture of thesouthern countries is unable to nourish the population. The reason for this are a lack of water, wars, and lack of organization of these countries’ resources. The United Nations organization for alimentation and agriculture says that many more clear that if this situation continues, the world economic system which already witnesses a strong disequilibrium between the North and the South would have a big role for the destruction of the South. The disequilibrium comes from unequal exchange. The North asks the South to abolish the frontiers for industrial products, bank products, and agricultural products… “
RT: … which is globalization.
HUO: “… and at the same time it closes its doors to exports from the South, eroding its landscape by subventions which are higher and higher. So it basically makes a lobby of its own agriculture. This way, foods or cereals from the south are prevented from entering this market but the beef from the northern markets gets to African markets, doubling prices and leading to the ruin of the local producers and hence destroying the local economy. The recent decision of President George W. Bush to augment $190 billion for ten years would mean 80% of the subsidies sent from Washington to American agriculture are, in this context, catastrophic. Contrary to all the promises made by all the American authorities themselves on the occasion of the OMC summit in Goa last year, it will reinforce even more than ever the disequilibrium of the markets. But above all, it will break the small amount of hope, of consciousness which could be borne out of the capital of the North on the misdeeds of the global agricultural system. The message of cold egoism which risks serving as a justification for other countries in the North to reinforce even more their own agricultural aids. The U.S. is a bad example. It could be in Europe, in france. Jacques Chirac blocks all kinds of reform. Poverty and starvation forewarns them of this fake free exchange. Fake free exchange is a bigger reason for poverty and starvation than the decline in development aid. Now the drama is that the subsidies in the North are not enough in order to avoid the situation where more and more peasants abandon their wares in the United States as in Europe. So at the end, the producers of the South and the North are ruined.”
RT: So it’s like the subsidies are actually to keep farmers from farming. The idea is to give money to people so that they don’t do anything on their farms because there’s too much produce. I’ve read similar things in which money is not given to the South but rather their products are bought. But I think this is a funny humanistic idea of global economy, and it’s always going one way and never the other. You can look at the movements of people and you can see who is going where.
HUO.. A new kinetic elite —- being able to travel.
RT: People say to me, “Why don’t you just get an American passport?”
HUO: What is your passport?
RT: Thai. And I would say it would be a lot easier for me to travel but it would also mean that I would no longer recognize the fact that I have to struggle to move around. I would rather struggle to move around, to a point where I also don’t feel I need to be anywhere. If there is a wall there, obviously there will always be people behind that wall who want me to go. But those people are going to have to recognize the fact that there is a wall and they’re going to have to deal with that.
HUO: So you have a lot of trouble at customs?
RT: Yes, generally. Every two years I have to get a new visa to be in Germany, which gives me some freedom around Europe. But I can’t go to England today-I have to go and get a visa. I can’t go to Tokyo instantly or to America. It’s collapsing. Places that used to be free are now demanding more. It’s like Scandinavia, which used to be a much more open and free place, but now you have to have a visa to go there…
HUO: Obviously, there is a link between this “geo-political” situation and the way you are developing projects of stations. Where did this idea of the station come from? —- because you haven’t used the term until recently…
RT: No, it is recent, and it came from the magazine (oVER Magazine). The idea of the magazine was that it was a publishing station (Namdee Publishing Station, Bangkok). I was very interested in the idea of publishing as an activity. I think publishing is a future activity, which can connect this kind of thinking to a bigger field and other structures. Publishing can be many things; it can be an object, a text, sound…
HUO: … broadcasting, like you do through the “oVER Channel”…
RT: Yes, so I wanted to move my idea of activity to publishing, and not just as an individual but as a collective.
HUO: And where did the name Namdee come from?
RT: I think there was a Surrealist or Dadaist magazine called Spleen, and Namdee is Thai for spleen. But it also plays on itself because it means “clean water.” Clean water is a calming thing for Thai people, and of course, it is a place that gathers and then disperses.
HUO: And the station still exists in Bangkok?
RT: Yes, so the office is there for the station. Then I was trying to use that idea of the station to move it around in relation to the magazine. The other side of that coin that I’m working on is the idea of demonstration. Even though there’s this sense of “no future,” there is a great deal of activism going on.
HUO: Not in the art world.
RT: Not in the art world, but elsewhere. And I think I’m trying to recognize that. I’ve been collecting images of lots of demonstrations.
HUO: You have constituted an archive?
RT: Yes, it’s in Bangkok. Then a young artist is making drawings of them. It’s like the way he survives-it’s like a job for him. And that’s also part of the Station, to connect people from outside to people there, to create an economic exchange structure. And it’s particular interesting to do so in Thailand, because there are of course lots of people going into art school trying to become artists but there is absolutely no structure for artists.
HUO: But there is the project of having a private museum there.
RT: Well, I’ve been talking with this man literally for four years.
HUO: He came to my office in Paris last week.
RT: This man was hoping to work with Rem Koolhaas because he wants a building that will be famous. I said the most interesting thing would be to get an artist to design his museum for him. I suggested he talk with Jorge Pardo about it, but he wasn’t sure about that. Then I asked Philippe [Parreno] and Fransois [Roche] to come over to look at “The Land” because they were going to work together on this structure for “Utopia.” So they came and had a look, and had some ideas. Then the night before they were leaving town we went to a party at a club. This man was there with some other friends. He came over and started talking to me about the museum some more. I suggested he speak to a couple of friends. It was a coincidence really. I had already thought it would be interesting for Fransois to come to Thailand because I think his ideas are really interesting. Also, to understand this idea of the periphery—- there are a lot more possibilities of doing things that you could never do in the center. It should be a lab. So this man talked to Francois and Philippe and went and checked out the web site of Francois. The next morning they ere and looked at “The Land,” they talked more. And then Francois made a design and they were very happy about it.
HUO: And now he wants to build it?
RT: Yes, he would like to build it. I’m sure he would build it tomorrow if he could.
HUO: When they came to my office, I asked when the museum would open. Francois said that it would perhaps be 2003 or 2004.
RT: These things take time.
HUO: Can you tell me about your large-scale collaborative and transdisciplinary project “The Land”?
RT: First, I would say that it’s not my land. It’s just “The Land” itself.
HUO: When was the project initiated and who owns “The Land”?
RT: It was in 1998. “The Land” was the merging of ideas by different artists to cultivate a place of and for social engagement. It’s been acquired in the name of artists who live in Chiang Mai. We purchased this plot of land, in the village of Sanpatong, near Chiang Mai, and we’ve been trying to find a way to turn it into a collective and to have the property owned by no one in particular. But really, that’s one of the hardest things to do in Thailand. We cannot be a foundation. “The Land” is not a property.
HUO: But to what extent would you define it as a project?
RT: We don’t want to have to deal with it as a presentation to the art structures, because I think it should be neutral; and, it’s also one of the reasons why it’s not about property. It was started without the concept of ownership and is cultivated using traditional Thai farming techniques. In the middle of “The Land” are two working rice fields, monitored by a group of students from the University of Chiang Mai and a local village. The harvest is shared by all of the participants involved and some local families suffering from the AIDS epidemic.
HUO: Though initiated not solely as structures to be designed, built, and used by artists, most of the architectural projects on “The Land” to date are being developed by such, no?
RT: A gardener house was build by Kamin [Lerdchaiprasert], and the collaborative Superflex developed a system for the production of biogas. There is no electricity or water, as it would be problematic in terms of land development in the area. Superflex have made experimentations to use natural renewable resources as alternative sources for electricity and gas.
RT: Exactly. Superflex is using “The Land” as a lab for the development of a biogas system. The gas produced will be used for the stoves in the kitchen, as well as lamps for light.
HUO: And what is your own architectural contribution to “The Land”?
RT: I designed a house based on “the three spheres of needs”: the lower floor is a communal space with a fireplace; it’s the place of accommodation, gathering, and exchanges; the second floor is for reading and meditation and reflection on the exchanges; the top floor for sleep.
HUO: “The Land” is something of a “massive-scale artist-run space” in which artists of all kinds are offered the chance to exceed the boundaries of their discipline, to construct works they may not have otherwise imagined, and to allow these works to be developed and experienced in an atypical way. Who are the other artists involved in the project? RT: Tobias [Rehberger], Alicia [Framis], and Karl [Holmqvist] have worked on housing structures, Philippe and Fransois are making plans for a central activity hall that will function as a biotechnology-driven hyper-plug. Their [Plug in Station] uses nature to produce the interface: it will make use of a satellite downlink and a live elephant will generate the necessary power. And then [Peter] Fischli and [David] Weiss’s project is a small office building for Chiang Mai, and Atelier van Lieshout developed a toilet system, Arthur Meyer constructed a system for harnessing solar power, Prachya Phintong put in place a program for fish farming and a water library, Mit Jai In develops tree plants to be later turned into baskets.
HUO.. Are there people already coming to visit “The Land” for reasons other than because they have been invited to participate in the project?
RT: A lot of people are visiting it and have been staying there even though it’s not quite ready.
HUO: So it’s already functioning as a station…
RT: Yes, as a self-sustaining station. All structures are for open use.
HUO: What is the time span?
RT: The thing I would say is that there is no time span, there is no beginning, there is no end. It’s a constant, like time itself. And because we’re not faced with problems of property or ownership, we don’t ever have to feel obliged to finish or have any success in a way.
HUO: This is a logic that you’ve been trying to bring into the exhibition realm as well like with your installation at the Secession in Vienna, and already a few years before with the Cologne show, where you reproduced your New York apartment including the kitchen and bathroom at the Kunstverein in Cologne and required these rooms to be open 24-hours a day [Untitled 1996 (tomorrow is another day)].
RT: For the one in Vienna now, we’re basically going to build it through the “opening” so that there is no opening. There has never really been an opening for me. And I never feel the need to fix a moment where everything is complete.
HUO: You’re also been doing this project using models of [Ludwig] Mies van der Rohe’s [Seagram Building] (New York, 1954 - 1958) and his [Neue National Galerie] (Berlin, 1956 - 1968)…
RT: Actually I’ve been making this half-scale structure, a half-scale pavilion, but it’s kind of like those Russian dolls, so there’s the pavilion, and then inside that there’s the [Neue National Galerie], and then inside that there’s the [Seagram tower].
HUO: So it’s a building within a building within a building.
RT: Yes, but the biggest building he made…
HUO: … is the smallest.
RT: And also I wanted to make a progression from private to corporate, which is what happened to Mies in a way; he went from a very ideological structure to a corporate American structure. I wanted to have a Barcelona chair inside which would act as Mies, so he’s sitting in this pavilion, looking at all these things, and there’s a radio on playing “The Life of Mies,” which is a radio play.
HUO: Read by whom?
HUO: And this is an existing radio play?
RT: No, I’d make it up.
HUO: And that’s a whole show then?
HUO: And where will that be?
RT: I haven’t got a place for it, just an idea. I’m fascinated by Mies and I’m also fascinated by the contradictions of the movement.
HUO: But for Vienna, you’re focusing on Shindler?
RT: Yes, it’s something I’d been planning for a long time, even before the MoCA retrospective (“The Architecture of R.M. Schindler,” Museum of Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles, 2001).
HUO: And why are you interested in Shindler?
RT: Because I think that he’s an underground architect.
HUO: More than [Richard] Neutra.
RT: Much more than Neutra. He’s the opposite. Neutra really worked with Schindler. Schindler was in LA and Neutra came and stayed with him and they were starting on a Partnership and then they broke up. Then Neutra became successful because he was very ambitious too. Schindler for me is very interesting.
HUO: About your Secession exhibition, you also made references to the market and to the dance floor, which are also kinds of stations.
RT: Well, I was thinking about all the markets I have been to, such as in the Light Market in Thailand where people come and socialize. And the idea of the dance floor is a place of socialization through music and dancing. Then there’s this market in Brazil where people arrive from the countryside and it’s a huge open space where people from the countryside and can bring their food. I think that is an interesting way to think about the relationship between art and hunger. The people who work at the market have to get up at around two or three o’clock in the morning. People also go there at that time of the night to eat and somehow to participate in the entertainment that these people provide for themselves at the markets. There is a stall where people are sleeping after they have set up their meat. And then there are people who sit together and drink.
HUO: Where is this market?
RT: In Rio. But it’s the same in many places. It’s about the farmer’s market really, about people coming in from the countryside. Some people have to drive all through the night to get there. The kiosks also make me think about the idea of the station. Before you go, you need to pick up some things. So, we’re talking about some kind of space that is accommodating to the passage. At the Secession, it’s more a semi-station in fact.
HUO: A semi-station?
RT: Yes, it’s a semi-station in the sense that I would like to think of it more as a kind of park or a garden. That’s something that I’ve been quite interested in, its interiority and exteriority, and ideas of nature and living, inside and outside. It’s more like living outside, closer to camping, so really it’s a kind of semi-station because it’s about the “outside space” rather than the “passage space” which is the station. I would say that semi-stations are more a place to rest than a lot of other spaces.
HUO: And so for the moment it’s a platform, and a platform of interaction that is also a platform on which a house will be built.
RT: Yes, it’s the foundation of a house, but the house itself is based on the idea of the “exterior.” There is very little “interior” in a sense, presenting you with the interior so that you can experience it outside. And of course, in this case, one night of the week the space will be open all night so that people can come and spend the night there.
HUO: For the show at the Secession, the idea is that it’s the foundations for a house but at the same time there are the plants, the palms, which bring the outside inside and vice-versa.
RT: Yes, of course. All things together in life! Which is interesting, and particularly interesting in relation to [Marcel] Broodthaers, although I’m not entirely sure why. And again, maybe it’s the same sensibility that I also think about Schindler. There’s an interesting relationship there. Schindler’s garden plan is very symmetrical, and I don’t remember thinking about it, but it struck me that I don’t think Broodthaers would have made such a symmetrical plan.
HUO: And how do you feel about Philippe Parreno’s interests in evoking the collectivity? One of the ideas for the “Venice Station” is bringing in people, whether alive or dead. Here you are talking of bringing in Schindler and indirectly broodthaers, but at the same time there are videos of people who are working now: so there is also this dimension to consider.
RT: Yes. Well, I think that’s interesting because of the idea of working with the vernacular.
HUO: And because nothing is new anymore.
RT: I think it’s not so much a matter of nothing being new anymore, but that there are important ideas that have already been made. And rather than trying to represent it, to present the things that already exist. So that’s why I have been personally interested in collectivity; there are a lot of ideas already out there. We need to realize that it is part of our consciousness of reality. It’s a presentation of the author, perhaps in a different kind of condition because times have often changed, but I think it’s always important to look back at those ideas.
HUO: In terms of collaboration and bilateral exchange rather than appropriation, Kurt Schwitters talked about the Merzbau (1923-1943) as a sort of shrine of friendship.
RT: I think it’s a good word and a good starting point. That’s also something that was interesting in the interview that you did with [Peter] Smithson when you were talking about shows and how they’re about collective friendships that come about and go away, oscillating.
HUO: What would you say are the best group shows that you have been in?
RT: I’ve been thinking about that and I think that they were all early on. “Backstage” was a formative group show for me (“Backstage,” Hamburger Kunstverein, Hamburg, 1993). And as you say, it’s the kind of situation where we all had the energy and we all had the sense. That was a show that we really enjoyed together. The group shows I enjoy are generally not so big. Firstly they weren’t such big group shows, and then secondly there were always relations amongst the people who were in the exhibition. Always creating relations, people meeting people.
This interview is available on “Interviews Volume 1” by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
The Reverse Ark was a project developed by Futurefarmers as artists in Residence at Pasadena City College. Futurefarmers spent 4 days in residence in the gallery working with students to create the Reverse Ark.
An inventory of limited resources inhabit the gallery– in preparation for the flood. These recycled materials were used during a four day residency to build “the Reverse Ark”. The gallery became a living laboratory for learning, inquiry and improvisation including mini-workshops, lectures, video screenings and frameworks for reflection. Invited guests included an environmental scientist, Los Angeles Mayors Office, Department of Water, a priest, and a computer scientist.
• Recycled Plastic waterbottles ..Amount: Enough to hold the ..collective body water of ..Amy, Michael and Stijn.
• 25 wooden-shipping pallates ..Amount: Enough to float the ..collective weight of ..Amy, Michael and Stijn.
• Recycled Cardboard ..Amount: Combined height of ..Amy, Michael and Stijn.
• Newspapers 40 days and 40 ..nights of San Francisco ..Chronicle/Los Angeles . Times/New York Times
• Projection Screen ..(10’ x 12’ made from.. ..lamenated newspapers and .. white guache) • Blackboard • Buckminster Fuller Quote ..(Pencil on Wall)
Water (40 gallons = the combined amount of water in the bodies of the three Futurefarmers collaborators. This is based on the
average percentage of the human body that is composed of water.
Related Quote: “Should we also flood the sistine chapel so tourists can get nearer the ceiling?” -Excerpt from a full-page newspaper advertisement paid for by the Sierra Club in 1966 to provoke the public to fight the US Bureau of Reclamation’s proposal of building a series of small dams in the basin of the Grand Canyon.
_”…If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem…” -R. Buckminster Fuller, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth
Art Workers’ Coalition (via Primary Information)
The Art Worker’s Coalition (AWC) was a loose group of artists, writers, and members of the creative community formed in January 1969 after the artist Takis protested the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) by removing his sculpture from their exhibition, “The Museum as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age.” In the case with Takis, the artist was concerned with his ability to control the exhibition of his work after it had been sold (the Museum had exhibited his work against his wishes because they owned it and felt that their right of ownership superseded his rights as an artist to control its exhibition).
This initial protest was a spark that ignited the coalition—which gathered members and concerns exponentially throughout the early months of 1969. At the time, the Art Workers’ Coalition was concerned with the responsibility of museums to artists and aimed their efforts at building a dialogue between themselves and MoMA. Another early issue was better representation of Black and Puerto Rican artists in MoMA as well as the other local museums.
As the coalition grew in membership, so did its concerns, which the Art Workers’ Coalition sought to publicly discuss at MoMA. When these efforts proved unsuccessful, the coalition held an Open Hearing at the School of the Visual Arts on April 10, 1969, in which hundreds of people attended. Written statements were collected (some of which were read and some of which were not) and the proceedings were later transcribed. The statements were published in book form by the AWC under the name Open Hearing. At the same time, the AWC also published Documents 1 a collection of letters, press, and ephemera documenting the formation of the Coalition and its dialogue with MoMA. Both Open Hearing and Documents 1 can be downloaded below.
Following the Open Hearing, AWC’s emphasis broadened to address the political and social events and concerns of its time: racism, sexism, abortion rights, Vietnam, and Kent State, among others. With so many issues, AWC eventually splintered, with groups like Women Artists in Revolution, Guerilla Art Action Group, and Art Strike addressing specific concerns while remaining affiliated with AWC.
Art Workers Coalition remained active through Spring of 1971, with its last protest at the Guggenheim, which had cancelled a solo exhibition by Hans Haacke, on May 1, 1971. Many of its splinter groups continued throughout the 70s and 80s and were fundamental to addressing the unequal representation of the minority and women artists in the art world—a battle that is still being fought today.
Primary Information’s exhibition at PS1 will trace the history of the AWC through archival documents and photographs obtained through private as well institutional sources (including MoMA).
PS1 22-25 Jackson Avenue at 46th Avenue Long Island City, NY June 22 - September 22 2008
For more information on the Art Workers’ Coalition, please see:
Ault, Julie. Alternative Art New York, 1965 – 1985 (The Drawing Center/University of Minnesota), 2002.
Some Thoughts on Art and Education
I was doing a weeklong workshop at an art academy in Odensen, Denmark. All of the students there said that the town was not interesting so I asked them to each go out and find someone from the town who was willing to talk for ten minutes about something they knew and cared about. We then had all of those people come over to the academy and do their presentations one after another. It lasted about four hours. The students had to host and introduce the people they selected. The topics included health care, bus routes, skateboarding, scuba diving, furniture polishing, invisible social networks, playing music on the streets, etc. We were all blown away by the variety of knowledge that existed in one little town. Almost all of the presentations were truly interesting too. Since then I’ve used the same strategy for similar events in London; NYC; Austin, TX, etc. and have done a separate series as part of the American War traveling exhibition which focused specifically on local people talking about war related experiences.
I teach at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, and I have a class currently where we started by having all of the students tell their life stories to everyone else. It took three classes to get through them all, but they revealed many interesting things that wouldn’t come out in more cursory introductions. Based on connections the students had we organized a series of field trips to places like a Veterans hospital, an alternative kindergarten, a campus fraternity, a high school geometry class, a Native American community center, a radio station, etc. From those experiences the students broke off into groups to develop projects like a radio show about grandmothers, and a lecture series in the frat house living room. Some of the field trips didn’t develop into projects, but were still valued as experiences. I like to think of this method as a way to lessen my role as the authority in the classroom and instead we share that role and all become collective learners.
The way that I work is that I’m often asked to go somewhere to do a project, an art center or a university gallery or something like that. Generally it’s a place that I would never have gone to had it not been for the offer to do something there. Examples include Eastern Kentucky; Croatia; Vietnam; Hartford, Connecticut; Houston, Texas, etc. I use these travel opportunities to learn about the place that I go to. This happens in a few different ways. I might read some books and or watch some documentary films about that place and try to figure out a project from that information. Or I might just go there and wander around and talk to some people that I run across. Sometimes I wind up working with the people I meet on a project and am taken deep into their lives. I think of that as primary learning experiences, or first hand learning experiences. The book and film research is secondary learning. I like both forms. The part that is really interesting to me is that on my own I wouldn’t have learned about the things I learn about at all-I allow the direction of my research to be out of my hands at the start. I still determine specifically what I’m drawn to and want to spend more time working with and only choose things that seem interesting to me. Once I’ve done the raw research I sometimes turn aspects of it into projects for the public to experience. I want to share what I find interesting. It’s sort of like referring people to a restaurant that you like or a movie, but in my case it might wind up being a video made at a gas station based on James Joyce’s Ulysses or an exhibition about the Vietnam War based on a war museum in Vietnam.
Photography and not photography
My dad has always liked pointing things out. He literally points to things with his finger—a tree, a building, a cloud, and then he will tell you what he knows about the thing he is pointing to. When I was about ten years old my parents bought me a used 35mm camera and I started walking about taking pictures with it. I realized that it was a way for me to point like my dad at things that I found interesting and then capture them to talk about later on. When I had the camera in my hands the world became a more visually interesting place, or I guess the world didn’t change but I became more sensitive to what was interesting to me. I continued to take pictures and look at the world in terms of possible photographs for the next couple of decades. Then I decided I didn’t need a camera anymore, I could just walk around and see interesting things with out the camera device, some of these things that I see turn into projects in one way or another. Largely I think of what I do as an artist as just pointing to things that I think are interesting so that other people will notice and appreciate them too.
When I was in college as an undergraduate at Humboldt State University, which is in a very small hippy town in northern California, I took a class from a teacher named Bill Duvall, he had co-written an important environmental book called Deep Ecology. The class I took was called Experiential Education. On the first day of class Bill Duval asked each of the students to pick an outdoor physical activity to do during class periods for the rest of the semester. Some people chose surfing, some bike riding, and some kayaking. I decided to walk on railroad tracks. I got really good at it, by the end I could walk on the tracks for miles at a time without falling off, I could also run on them, jump from one track to the other, spin around on them, and walk on them with my eyes closed. The class didn’t meet for the rest of the semester until the last weekend when we all meet up on a camping trip to talk about our personal experiences of doing our activities. Somehow I think about that class often, where as most of the other classes I took in college and all of the tests and papers and discussions that were a part of them are long forgotten.
Two years after I got my MFA I went back to school to attend an organic farming apprenticeship at UC Santa Cruz. There were forty students all living in tents together on a twenty-acre farm on the university campus. Most of the time we just did a lot of hard labor, but it was so much better than any other educational program I’d ever participated in before. Most of what I do as an art professor now is based not my art education but instead on my farming education.
Open Source Approaches
In the art world there is so much emphasis on originality. Artists buy right into that, and even though they are always influenced by other people they try pretending that they are not. The galleries promote this idea and encourage “signature styles”, rarification and the star/celebrity system. I can see why the galleries would like that way of doing business because it allows them to inflate prices and make demand, but for artists there is no real benefit. It just suppresses the true way that people develop their work through adapting and hybridizing and creates an environment where artists feel like they have to protect and make secret their process rather than sharing it freely and feeling good about doing that, which I think would be much more healthy both for individuals and as a system.
Social Practice as Opposed to Studio Practice
Let me define “art” as anything that anyone calls “art”. That can be a maker or viewer. By calling something “art” it doesn’t make it art forever just during the time that it is being appreciated as art. Similarly, I don’t think, as Beuys said, that everyone is an artist, I just think that everyone has the potential to be an artist. If anyone wants to be an artist they can be one as far as I’m concerned and that is regardless of their credentials. You definitely don’t need an academic degree to be an artist. Most of my favorite artists don’t have academic degrees.
I think an artist is someone who gets to do whatever they want (within whatever limits might be containing them-financial, legal, ethical, psychological.) Other professions or practices don’t have this level of freedom, dentists need to do dental work, dog trainers train dogs, etc. Those could be fun or not so fun professions to have, but regardless that is what those people need to do until they decide that they want to do something else. Artists can do a project about dentistry or dogs or anything else they are interested in at any time and then can do something else right after or even during, and still remain an artist.
Social Practice in regards to art can be looked at as anything that isn’t studio practice. By studio practice I mean the dominate way of making art-spending time in a studio working out personal interests into the form of paintings, or objects, or photos, or videos, or some other pretty easily commodifiable form. The often unspoken intention for this studio work is that it will go off to a desirable commercial gallery, be reproduced in art magazines, and eventually wind up in museum collections, while making the artist into a celebrity of sorts, and paying all of the bills. That is the carrot on the stick that keeps this dominate approach alive and kicking, even though very few of these studio practice artists ever get their work shown at all, and most just give up and find some other way to pay off their student loans.
I’ve just started up a Social Practice MFA program at Portland State University. There are currently eight students enrolled. They don’t get studios like the other MFA students and instead have a shared office and a shared classroom space. Currently we are looking for a more public version of these spaces possibly in the form of an off-grid alternative energy portable building that might locate itself in different parts of the city in vacant lots and at grade schools, etc. The students take some classes with the other studio MFA students but they also spend time on projects in various collaborative groups working with the city of Portland, various non-profits, and applying for public art projects in other places, as well as doing their own individual social practice work. I’m trying to show that artists can actually have sustained and supported careers within the public in ways that aren’t possible when the commercial gallery is the primary system that artists are trying to respond to. So far it is going very well.
I like to read about alternative education for kids from the 60’s and 70’s. There is one writer I’m particularly fond of named John Holt. He wrote a great book called How Children Learn, and then about twenty years later he revised the book by adding comments on his own writing in the margins of the book. He thought that a lot of the text he’d written twenty years earlier didn’t make any sense. One of the things he did agree with is that traditional classrooms are not set up as learning environments because the kids are divided up in terms of age, and because they are forced to sit in desks and not move or talk unless they raise their hand and are called on and then only to regurgitate what the teacher has already told them. He says that instead a learning environment would be one that has a mix of ages and experiences in one place so that people can learn from each other, and that learning happens through doing activities and talking with other people, so those things shouldn’t be suppressed. In later books he suggests that typical schools are really more like prisons for kids rather than places of learning. I tend to agree.
Making Work That is Accessible to Both Art and Non-Art Publics
When I was younger it seemed like it was good to make art that was very obscure, so obscure that even I had no idea what it was about. If anyone asked I would just say that I wanted the viewer to have their own interpretation of what the work was about, but really I now think that was just a way of avoiding having to know what I was doing or why I was doing it. Then it occurred to me that it might be nice if not only I understood what I was doing, but that even non-art trained publics would be able to find the work accessible. Even though I’d never been taught to think in that way it turned out to not be very hard to do. One of my favorite approaches is to do work with a local person or group of people that I met around the place where I am going to have a show. That way they feel invested in the show and invite their friends and family to see it. Working with these people made me avoid doing anything obscure and instead I found ways of making engaging projects in pretty straightforward ways. The work is interesting and complex not because I made it that way, but because the people I work with are interesting and complex (as it turns out everyone is). I’m just able to put it all into an art context, which makes people consider it in ways they might not otherwise.
Multiple Ways to View the Same Experience
I like art that can be viewed in a number of ways. I think of it like going for a walk in a forest by myself and liking it in a certain sort of direct but abstract and emotional way, and then going on the same forest walk with a botanist friend of mine who tells me the names of all of the plants and where they come from, etc. I like both experiences very much, neither is better or worse for me, they are just different. That’s how good art can be too.
I spent two years out of school between undergrad and graduate school. For one of the years I drove around the country and into Mexico living out of my truck, periodically crashing on the couches of friends and family. The other year I lived in Los Gatos, California and worked in the after school program of a small grade school in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I did art projects with all of the kids there from kindergarten to 5th grade. Right away I noticed that the kindergarteners were all interdisciplinary artists, and that they were very fearless and motivated. There was a slow regression that took place as the kids got older and by the time they were in 5th grade there was usually only one kid in each class that was considered an artist and that was because he or she could draw realistically. The rest of the kids were convinced that they had no artistic abilities at all.
One of the kindergarteners I worked with was named Walter, he was the smallest kid in the whole school but he was clearly very intelligent too. Somehow he had learned to multiply and divide in his head and the other older kids loved to throw complicated equations his way and wait for him to come up with the answers, which were almost always correct. I’d had bad experiences with math as a kid, and like the 5th graders who had lost their artistic sense of themselves, I’d lost any concept of myself being able to do anything but rudimentary math. But Walter wanted more math to tackle and it wasn’t being supplied in his kindergarten class. So I asked my mathematician friend Cleveland to explain some simple algebra to me. Cleveland is a thoughtful and patient instructor and soon I actually found myself learning and being excited about math with the primary motivation of being able to pass on what I was learning to Walter.
When it came to the art projects for the kids I tried to keep it simple, I liked making books and so I showed them how to make books too. Walter was particularly excited about this activity. Every day he made a new set of drawings on a specific subject of interest like insects, dinosaurs, ghosts, monsters, animals found in Africa, etc. He would then dictate to me the text and title and staple the whole thing together. Then he would run around the little campus and make everyone look at his book. Kids would stop basketball games and gather around to flip through Walter’s latest creation. After he had shown everyone, Walter would discard the book, with total disinterest (I rescued several from the trash) and started speculating on the next day’s book topic.
It occurred to me that Walter was fulfilling a whole little system of parts which are crucial to the artistic process. He determined a subject that was of interest to him, insects, etc. expressed his feelings on the subject through his drawings and text, and then went out to share his product with an audience. There were no other factors or motivations, no hope of using the work to get into grad school, or to get a gallery show, and no desire to make something that looked like something else he saw in Art Forum. It occurred to me that I had started similarly to Walter when I first was interested in making art, but that somewhere along the way that system had been corrupted. I decided to stop making art for a while and then as projects slowly started occurring to me again I tried to compare them with Walter’s process to determine if I should pursue them or not. It has been difficult to maintain Walter’s level of simplicity and integrity, but it is always a goal of mine.
Learning To Love You More
In 2002 I started a participatory web project called Learning To Love You More with filmmaker Miranda July. Miranda and I come up with what we call assignments like Write Your Life Story in Less Than A Day, and Take A Picture Under Your Bed, and Describe Your Ideal Government, etc. and then people all over the world respond by doing what we call Reports, which are the results of following an assignment. These reports are archived on the site so that people can see and compare everyone’s contributions. At this point we have over sixty assignments (which we continue to add to) and over 5000 people have participated by doing reports. The idea is that sometimes it’s nice to not have to worry about coming up with an idea and instead to concentration on the experience. We think of the assignments sort of like recipes that people might want to follow at first and then later after feeling more confident from the results they might be more comfortable cooking their own thing. Or for those who have no desire to come up with their own ideas they can do many of the assignments and it can be more like a yoga class where you follow along with an instructor who directs the students into a variety of different poses, but while everyone is doing for instance Downward Dog, they are still each doing their own version of Downward Dog. I personally really like taking yoga classes because for some reason I can’t get myself to do yoga on my own, but following the prescriptive exercises always makes me feel better about life in general.
In my first year of grad school I made a Xerox book of a long transcribed interview that I’d done with my Great Aunt Grace when I visited her in a nursing home in a small town in Okalahoma just before she died at the age of ninety-eight. One of the people I gave a copy of the Aunt Grace book to told me that she took it home with her over winter break and showed it to her mother. She said her mother read it and loved it. That gave me pause. Did I want mothers to love my work? For a second that seemed somehow uncool. But then after thinking about it a little longer I realized that yes I did want mothers to love my work, I wanted all sorts of people to love my work and have all sort of other emotions in regards to it also.
Contemporary Art History Dilemma and Solution
For the last two years I’ve been trying to get Portland State University to offer a contemporary art history class that just focuses on work made during the 21st century. Somehow this seems like an impossible task for the people who teach art history. Last year the teacher was a very nice woman but she was unable to even reach the 1990’s in her class. This year we tried a new teacher. I met with her and explained that I didn’t want her to even mention anything about the seventies, eighties or nineties except in reference to something made in the 2000’s. I told her not to use a textbook, and not to try to put the art into themes. Instead I asked her to just show a variety of artists and work made since 2000 and then to discuss it with the class. This proved to be too difficult somehow, and so she started with the seventies, had the students all buy textbooks that were published before 2000 and organized the term into a set of themes. About ten of the grad students dropped out of the class with my approval and instead set up their own class. They created a blog with links to contemporary art sites, they assign each other readings and writings and have their own class discussions. I’m going to periodically check in with them, but it looks like they are doing just fine.
I taught a class last year in which I had all of the students find a department on campus that wasn’t the art department and then to find someone there, a professor, student, or staff person, and ask them if they could become an artist in residence for that department. So the students became artists in residence in the black studies dept, the science dept, the music dept, the psychology dept, the systems analysis dept etc. they spent the term learning about and doing projects with that dept. Periodically the whole class would go on a tour of all of the depts. and see what everyone was up to.
I had another class that as a group went on the same walk together one day each week. We walked for an hour and then turned around and went back to the university. The students were asked to make projects with people and about things they encountered on the walk and to install the work along our walk route. By the end of the term we all had a very different understanding of the neighborhoods we had been walking through then when we started. There was another class that was made up entirely of field trips. The students were in charge of organizing and conducting the field trip. They were graded on the quality of the field trips they organized. I’m not much for grades, but I’d rather grade the organization and execution of a class field trip than an object of art. We went to visit dams, and mansions, and parks, and corn mazes, and suburban developments, and recycling centers. It was very educational and fun and interesting too.
Crow Bio-diesel project
My wife Wendy Red Star is half Crow Indian and grew up on the Crow reservation in South/Central Montana. When she took me there to meet her family it occurred to me that there was an interesting dynamic at work on the reservation. It is very common to deep fry food there in cooking oil, and people tend to drive in big diesel trucks. After talking about it Wendy and I came up with an idea that would combine these two aspects of reservation life into a project. The plan is to create a bio-diesel station on the reservation that collects and processes used cooking oil and converts it into bio-diesel that can be used as a cleaner fuel for the diesel trucks that people often drive there. Our hope is that the free or inexpensive fuel would be a draw for people to come to the station that would also serve as a community center that includes educational and cultural experiences designed specifically to address issues and concerns on the reservation, and could possible function as a kids daycare center too. The vehicle that would go and collect the used cooking oil would also operate as a mobile learning center/book mobile, going out into the community and providing services like teaching traditional Crow language and cultural practices, along with providing information about contemporary health and environmental issues, etc. Right now we are in a research and development stage.
Leading an Interesting Life
I had a professor in grad school who told me that he was addicted to the art world, and that he was never satisfied. Once he got into one show he just wanted to get into another that he perceived as more important, he also scanned Art Forum every month to make sure his name was mentioned somewhere in it and if it wasn’t he felt depressed. I think he told me this as a warning.
Mostly what I’m trying to do as an artist is to live an interesting life. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. It can be a struggle at times, but I think that is pretty much what I am doing.
Simple Rational Approximations
May- October 2011
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
May 30 Artissima invites Triple Candie to curate an exhibition for a special non-commercial section of Artissima 18 (November 4 – 6, 2011) titled Simple Rational Approximations. The section is to be co-organized by Francesco Manacorda, Artissima’s director, and Lara Favoretto, an artist.
June 23 Triple Candie presents first proposal – a U.S.I.A.-style export group show of work by 4-6 over-hyped contemporary artists working in the U.S.A.
June 29 Artissima requests other ideas, noting: “After a long discussion about radicality and the market, we got to the conclusion that, given the context of the fair, a show about artists who have been receiving undo attention may be slightly problematic, considering that most of the artists you mention are represented by galleries at the fair… . We hope you understand we would rather not be so extremely critical towards the galleries and the artists that make up the fair.”
July 14 Triple Candie submits 3 new proposals, all with arte povera as their subject. Proposal #2 reads: “In the second, we would try to make a case that arte povera never existed. Dan Cameron made this claim in a bold article in Flash Art in 1992. We will build on this, with an earnest tone and mischievous spirit. The subject could be dealt with the way skeptics try to disprove the existence of stories in the Bible – with material evidence (the Shroud of Turin, the Ark, etc.). Documentation of artworks, exhibitions … . [the] installation … will evoke that of a small-town history or anthropology museum.”
July 21 Artissima writes, “Now, looking at your proposals, we believe that n.2 may be the strongest, wittiest and most interesting viewpoint on the matter: at the same time, though, building on the statement that Arte Povera never existed may very well be seen by both art professionals and Turin citizens and officials as a somewhat aggressive response to Germano Celant’s exhibition. Also, talking of Art Povera in Turin, as you already know, is always kind of risky: everyone is an expert in Turin, but at the same time the real experts on Arte Povera will surely be in Turin for the show.”
July 24 Triple Candie writes lengthy response. Excerpts: “People have, at times, used the word irreverent when talking about Triple Candie. For us, this word is problematic. On the surface, our shows may appear to be irreverent – they are done without permission, don’t use art, often have provocative titles – but the narrative substance of the shows is never irreverent. Our wall texts always evidence a certain admiration for our subjects. When choosing our subjects, we select those for which we have an enthusiastic ambivalence and which have had a complicated influence on our own curatorial practices. The process of putting together the show is an attempt to work through these issues. We didn’t select arte povera simply b/c of its relationship to Turin; equally important, we selected it as a topic b/c of its relationship to our work… . As for the show being seen as a somewhat aggressive response to Celant’s show, we want to say a few things about context, which we think will mitigate against that. These are issues that you are all too aware of, but we think they warrant mutual acknowledgment. The first is that the show will be publicly accessible for less than a week, making it but a fleeting performance… . Second, the fact that it will be placed in a provisional faux-“institutional” context will, we imagine, enhance the absurdity of claim (that arte povera never existed). Moreover, it will be but one of many projects within the spectacle of the fair.”
July 25 Manacorda responds directly, “I have to say that your email convinced me and Lara that we should really take the risk and embrace your project. We have invited you precisely because of the shows that you used as examples of situations in which people could have been offended (Hammons above all) with the great results we all know.”
And then, “I totally believe that your approach will generate a great show and a very valuable contribution to the rest of the project. I only suggest, since the difficult character of the artists here in Turin, that we touch base every now and then on how the idea is developing so that we can give you some feedback, which eventually you can decide to ignore: I think it is important for all of us that we are aware of the possible risks that we would be running, without censoring you. Perhaps our reaction certifies that, again, in this project you have selected a subject with the ‘productive tensions’ you mentioned, which means that the results will be those you are looking for. In short, we trust you and like your idea a lot.”
July 29 Triple Candie begins production.
Aug. 6 Artissima sends Triple Candie agreement, which it signs. The agreement does not include a cancelation clause.
Sept. 2 Manacorda invites Triple Candie to participate in another project, separate from the exhibition – a special-issue magazine to be edited by Turin-based collector and dealer Georgia Maffei on the subject of arte povera. In writing about Maffei and his publishing partner, Manacorda notes, “They really liked the idea to have a section of their book on arte povera attempting to argue that arte povera does not exist…!”
Sept. 4 Triple Candie sends Artissima floor plan for build-out.
Sept. 12 Triple Candie submits statement and images for Artissima catalogue with sample images (these include reproductions of arte povera works that have been altered by Triple Candie, was well as portraits of arte povera artists that have been similiarly altered).
Manacorda responds via email, “I just read the text, I like it a lot! it is tough on celant but very relevant and balanced.”
Manacorda makes a final selection of the images for the Artissima catalogue.
Sept. 15 Triple Candie and Artissima talk via Skype; Triple Candie updates Artissima in detail about progress, answering all the fair organizers’ questions about progress and intent. Artissima asks Triple Candie if it would agree to a joint statement, reviewed by a lawyer, that clarifies joint intent. Triple Candie agrees. Artissima says it will draft a preliminary statement. (This statement is never sent to Triple Candie for review.)
Sept. 16 Artissima wires Triple Candie production funds in the amount of 3,000 euros.
Sept. 25 Triple Candie sends Artissima detailed description of installation, including sample images.
Sept. 26 Artissima responds, “Thank you for sending the description of your installation. As I mentioned at the beginning of our collaboration, I think we are walking on eggshells with this project and I would like to make sure to avoid misunderstanding of your intentions. I have worked and still now work with many of the protagonists of the movement and I would like them to look at your project not just as parody.” And, “From this side of the atlantic, I am preparing a bit the terrain here by talking to the directors at Rivoli (where the celant show is about to open) and with the press to put forward the reasons to make your project happen. How does this sound to you? Would it be possible to send some more detailed plans of install? It is not my intention to intrude into your authorship obviously so do let me know if I am pushing it too much.”
Later in the day, Artissima write, “I have spoken to Beatrice Merz who is the co-director of Rivoli and co-curator with Celant of the exhibition and she expressed worries as recently a prominent right-wing art critic published an article on a national newspaper to demonstrate that arte povera was a bad movement made by communists who prevented the art scene to flourish in the country. I would really be gutted if your show were to be associated to this anti-intellectual campaign that is trying to destroy the contemporary art system in italy…”
Triple Candie sends Artissima an extensive update on the show, including photographs of the gallery model, of two-dimensional work produced, and a list of the vinyl quotes to be installed. The three-dimensional objects (surrogates, props) cannot be shown as they are to be built entirely on-site.
Manacorda writes, “Sorry for not having acknowledged the email i am about to meet Lara to discuss this issue and will get back to you shortly.” Triple Candie responds, “what issue?” to which Manacorda answers, “I mean the risk that the institution and Lara and I would take.”
A later email from Manacorda explains concerns about presenting the show within the context of Italy’s political and economic upheaval. Particular concern is for the impact the show could have on Castello di Rivoli, a repository of arte povera works that has been under severe attack from critics and right-wing politicians. Triple Candie responds, “What has changed vis-a-vis your perception of the risk? As we’re several months down the road and you have been enthusiastic and supportive of the project all along — from original proposal through updates and the catalogue contribution… . From where we sit, the risk is dialogue. What’s risky about that? This is not an offensive subject, like pornography, blasphemy, anti-Semitism, racism, etc. — the subject is the construction and definition of an art movement.”
Manacorda posits a series of questions about the show. Triple Candie responds that day, before answering the questions:
“More soon, but from where you sit do you really think that our exhibition could negatively impact government funding of the arts in Italy, and potentially threaten the viability of Artissima? Is the risk truly that great?”
Manacorda writes, “I would not put it down in writing otherwise. It is not the show that will generate the funding cut but the situation in which we are can be precipitated by an event such as this one.”
Triple Candie responds to Manacorda’s questions, though all had been answered previously. At this point, Triple Candie begins feeling resentful about the sudden scrutiny, so its answers are curt but true. The questions and answers follow:
Q: What are the reasons behind altering the images of the works? Is it parody or is there a more complex narrative behind? What role do they play in the development of your argument about the non-existence of Arte Povera? A: The evidence is unreliable and contradictory.
Q: Why are the portraits altered? Has this got to do with individual vs group or is it a visualization of the author’s identity blurring with the work? A: The evidence is unreliable and contradictory.
Q: Do the alterations enter within the core of the arte povera’s themes (e.g. energy, materials, process) and how? A: Yes and no.
Q: What is the rationale behind the altered surrogates as a group? Given that people can see the originals in the museum (which wasn’t the case in many of your previous projects) is the alteration the key to the remaking? I am asking you this as the pieces could be understood by the general public as real sculptures rather than surrogates. In case this is part of your plan how do you handle this potential misunderstanding? Do you think that the public will be able to understand the reasons for the alterations? A: Yes. We tell them in wall texts (this will be a problem for the illiterate). Yes.
Q: What is the art historical conclusion that you presume the viewers would gain from experiencing your show? A: History is the province of doubt. Experience (a la Dewey) is all we can trust. (E.G. You had to be there.) Everything else is built from shards of misrepresentation.
Q: Celant himself declared that Arte Povera does not exist in 1972, and encouraged individual artists to pursue their own ‘solo’ career; how is your argument different from this position? A: He said it was finished; he didn’t say it did not exist. Celant’s argumentation is unreliable and contradictory.
Q: How is your thesis that Arte Povera never existed demonstrated through the four elements (disorientation galleries, gallery of altered surrogates, portrait walls and Celant Museum)? A: The evidence is unreliable and contradictory.
Artissima writes that, “the visual material in question [is] potentially very offensive to artists and gallerists who participate in the fair… . Here in Italy eight exhibitions have just opened about the subject in all the most important museums. Due to the potential offense, we need to make sure that your project is able to have the critical weight to stand up to them otherwise we will all look foolish. And I mean all of us: it has not only to do with my situation. The altered portraits and representations of their works that you sent me could make the project be judged here as a superficial joke on them. This is because in New York the context is characterised by a sophisticated art world able to understand and accustomed to art-world parody, in Italy the public barely knows what arte povera is and they are likely to think that your project is in bad taste, ridiculing the work and to bill Triple Candie’s work as one-liner.”
Artissima updates website with list of curatorial projects. Triple Candie’s show is not included; another project appears in its place. Triple Candie emails Artissima for an explanation.
Manacorda emails Triple Candie that the show is canceled.
David Hammons: The Unauthorised Retrospective, 2006; installation view, Triple Candie, New York. Courtesy of Triple Candie.
This article is part of the Visiting Artist Profile series, which highlights some of the artists, curators, and scholars that intersect with the Bay Area visual arts community through the various lecture programs produced by local institutions. California College of the Arts will present Triple Candie as part of their Graduate Studies Lecture Series on Thursday, December 8, at Timken Hall on their campus in San Francisco.
Triple Candie, formerly of Harlem, now in Philadelphia, is what one might call a meta-gallery, as its subject matter, whether explicit or implicit, often appears to be curating itself. Spearheaded by directors and founders Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett since 2001, the gallery is known for exhibitions that are often devoid of art, or at least of artists’ originals. Lacking art, that seemingly necessary element of a gallery, the work shown at Triple Candie is often described as “conceptual.” Bancroft and Nesbett insist that they are art historians and curators, not artists, but their intentions seem to negate their position. Their practice blurs the boundary between artist and impresario. Triple Candie shows viewers that exhibition production can result in experiences that look, feel, and act like art, but just might not be art.
By 2006 Triple Candie had already been trying to produce an exhibition of David Hammons’ work for some time. Hammons and his collectors showed little interest in the project, however, and Triple Candie could not procure a single work from the artist. Undeterred by circumstances or intellectual property law, they continued to plan the show.1 That year the resulting exhibition, David Hammons: The Unauthorized Retrospective, displayed photocopies of Hammons’ work from books and magazines, as well as images downloaded and printed from the Internet. Claiming to be the first retrospective of the artist’s work in fifteen years, the exhibition was a retrospective without art—or so it might seem. As Julia Bryan-Wilson states in a frieze review of the exhibition, a disparity between the size and quality of the photocopies created a unique visual experience.2 The photocopies were neither resized proportionally to one another nor fit to the letter-size sheets of paper they were mounted on. Instead, the exhibition presented a house-of-mirrors retrospective of Hammons’ portfolio, with some large-scale works shrunk almost to invisibility, and other smaller pieces occupying the full eight-and-a-half-by-eleven inches available to them. The exhibition catered to an audience familiar with Hammons’ work, and for them, this was not an unadulterated display of art but a unique aesthetic experience.
As a result, David Hammons resembled a conceptual art project. The retrospective’s reliance on appropriation paralleled Hammons’ practice and that of scores of artists who use preexisting cultural artifacts in creating new aesthetic entities. Triple Candie’s retrospective was divergent enough from the traditional typology to highlight the generative nature of their exhibition. By truly stripping the photocopies on display of pre-established significance or the artist’s touch, Triple Candie guaranteed that any affect a viewer experienced was in large part due to their creative engineering. This tactic of appropriation begs questions for viewers accustomed to more traditional exhibition forms, including: To what extent is an art-viewing experience the work of the artist or of the curator? Can one even untangle aesthetic experiences as if they’re mere algebraic equations?
Later that same year Triple Candie produced another apocryphal retrospective of the work of Cady Noland. Cady Noland Approximately: Sculptures & Editions, 1984-1999 featured what Triple Candie calls “surrogates” of actual Noland works. Like the Hammons photocopies, these surrogates aren’t quite reproductions and they aren’t quite documentations. Triple Candie and four artists made the surrogates based on images of the actual works. The gallery claimed to intentionally “fall short” on these surrogates in order to “incite the public’s desire and curiosity to experience the real thing.” Not Titled (1989/2006) included a large
installation of Budweiser cans, metal pipes, and scaffolding. Likely no one noticed the installation’s imperfections except its constructors, Noland, and the staunchest of Noland aficionados. It resembles a work of art in every way, save for its premise that it is not.
Jerry Saltz of the Village Voice accused the exhibition of “identity theft” and of being a “slap in the face” to Noland.3 This sentiment is neither surprising nor completely unfounded. After all, Triple Candie profited off the work of another. Though none of the works were for sale, Triple Candie used Noland’s intellectual efforts without her permission to the advancement of their brand and programming. But central to Cady Noland Approximately was hyperawareness of Triple Candie’s falsification of Noland’s oeuvre. There was no intention to intentionally deceive viewers about the provenance of these works. Saltz even documented extensive checklists in the exhibition that detailed the differences between the surrogates and the originals.
Ken Johnson of the New York Times was similarly unimpressed by the exhibition. While acquiescing that the show might pose interesting questions, Johnson ended his short review by asserting that Triple Candie’s lack of clarity about whether they were running a gallery or producing their own conceptual art impeded such inquiry.4 Johnson failed to address whether this is a false dichotomy. Without batting an eyelash, he inadvertently suggests that there is a natural divorce between curating and conceptual practices. It seems, however, that the difficulty critics (and the gallery itself) have in delineating Triple Candie’s research-based and appropriation strategies as curatorial or artistic arise from a taxonomic deficiency.
In May 2011, Triple Candie was invited to participate in the November Artissima art fair in Turin. The gallery agreed to curate an exhibition in Simple Rational Approximations, the non-commercial portion of the fair. Bancroft and Nesbett proposed an exhibition that would call into question the very existence of Arte Povera, an art movement that is central to the Turin art landscape. In October 2011, however, Artissima director Francesco Manacorda canceled Triple Candie’s participation, saying, “I feel that I could not defend the show as it stands, given its simplistic and insubstantial content, and slight research grounding.”5 According to the New York Observer, Manacorda argued more to the point in an email to Triple Candie, saying that the exhibition could be “potentially very offensive to artists and gallerists who participate in the fair” and could “negatively impact government funding of the arts in Italy.”6
Triple Candie didn’t originate the idea that Arte Povera was not a real, identifiable movement; Dan Cameron put it forth in 1992.7 Bancroft and Nesbett intended to use his thesis a starting point, proving the case by displaying documentation of artwork and exhibitions in what they said would “evoke that of small-town history or anthropology museum.” Triple Candie eventually persuaded Manacorda with a passionate email in which they referred to the exhibit as a “fleeting performance.” A long exchange of subsequent emails details how this optimism turned into a fear of association with right-wing anti-intellectualism, leading to the cancellation.
Though this performance as exhibition was never realized, its ability to animate the Italian art scene was not an unreasoned concern. Historical accuracy aside, Triple Candie offered an emotional, historical, and political intervention in the form of an aesthetic experience. What this defeated exhibition—and Triple Candie’s others—really demonstrate is that curatorial and even historiographical practices can result in the same psychological and intellectual experiences as those called art. Triple Candie offers a control in any study of exhibition-making; they show what is behind and beyond what is hanging on the walls.
The Visiting Artist Profile series is supported by the San Francisco branch of the Kadist Art Foundation. Kadist participates in the development of society through contemporary art by collecting and producing the work of artists and conducting various programs to promote their role as cultural agents. The foundation also supports the work of curators, academics, and magazines internationally through its residency program and by hosting public events on Wednesdays and a Saturday Reading Room at its space at 3295 20th Street in the Mission.
Holland Cotter, “A Street Seer’s Vision, or Photocopies of It at Least,” the New York Times, January 31, 2006. [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/31/arts/design/31cott.html]
Julia Bryan-Wilson, “David Hammons: The Unauthorized Retrospective,” Frieze 98 (April 2006). [http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/david_hammons_the_unauthorised_retrospective/]
Jerry Saltz, “Invasion of the Sculpture Snatchers,” the Village Voice, May 9, 2006. [http://www.villagevoice.com/2006-05-09/art/invasion-of-the-sculpture-snatchers/]
Ken Johnson, “Art in Review; ‘Cady Noland Approximately’,” the New York Times, May 12, 2006. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402EED6173EF931A25756C0A9609C8B63]
“Artissima Releases Statement on Cancelation of Triple Candie Project,” Artforum.com, October 13, 2011. [http://artforum.com/archive/id=29170]
Andrew Russeth, “Channeling Occupy Wall Street, Triple Candie Battles Artissima Over Canceled Show,” the New York Observer, October 17, 2011. [http://www.galleristny.com/2011/10/channelling-ocuppy-wall-street-triple-candie-battles-artissima/]
Rachel Withers, “Michelangelo Pistoletto - Brief Article,” Artforum (February 200). [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_6_38/ai_59923230/]
The Institute for Applied Aesthetics
A work grouptank about life and art.
Collectivity and Collaboration
Twelve notes on collectivism and dark matter
I. As a set of rules that define the events of discourse, the archive is situated between Langue, as the system of construction of possible sentences—that is, of possibilities of speaking—and the corpus that unites the set of what has been said, the things actually uttered or written. The archive is thus the mass of the non-semantic inscribed in every meaningful discourse as a function of enunciation; it is the dark margin encircling and limiting every concrete act of speech.
–Giorgio Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive
II. From every swipe of your plastic debit card to the surveillance of so-called public spaces, an administered collectivity hides everywhere in plain sight. Every “I” conceals an involuntary “belongingness,” every gesture a statistic about your purchasing power, education level and the market potential of your desire. Effectively, we are collectivized already. The only question now is should we accept this type of involuntarily, serialized collectivity, or actively seek another? This is not merely one strategy to ponder among others. It is a fundamental issue at every level of lived experience today within what Giles Deleuze aptly termed the society of control.
III. Meanwhile, vibrant popular images of collective resistance abound if we take the time to look for them. Think of filmmaker George Romero’s impromptu band of zombie killers in Dawn of the Dead, or the multiethnic multitude defending Zion in the Wachowski brothers’ Matrix films. Or perhaps the most accurate of all cinematic portrayals of collectivism, the 1999 comedy Mystery Men based on the Dark Horse comic book—“It doesn’t matter what we call ourselves. We know who we are.” It is the archetypical gang of oddball renegades, men and women thrown together by necessity who work collectively to defeat an overwhelming and typically unnatural enemy.
Within the plastic arts, however, collectivism resembles the creative equivalent of dark matter—the 96% of unknown mass that makes up the visible universe and keeps it from flying apart. At once figuratively amorphous and pragmatically indispensable, collectivism appears abject when compared to properly framed and institutionally discernable forms of art. Yet its indispensability functions at several levels.
IV. Structurally, as a corpus or archive of all previously realized group practices, collectivism surrounds every individual articulation. Each new claim of authorial originality and every artistic gesture is dependent on the persistence of its shadowy trace. (In Agamben’s terms it is the dark margin that encircles all concrete acts of enunciation.)
V. At the level of narrative, whether calling for the radical elimination of individual authorship (as many early twentieth-century collectives asserted) or through the embodiment of diverse subject positions and multiple aesthetic vernacular (as in the case of many contemporary art collectives), self-organized collective practice forms a representational boundary as well as a specific horizon from within which conventional cultural narratives are constructed and beyond which they break apart.
VI. Finally, in pragmatic terms, collectivism—and, by extension, all species of dark creativity, including amateur and informal art that by definition or inclination remain invisible to institutional high culture—provides the unseen but necessary verification that specific artistic acts are more than merely idiosyncratic occurrences. This is so no matter how unique or autonomous the accomplishment appears to be. And in this sense the archive of creative dark matter evinces the necessary presence of an artistic Langue, but in the broadest possible sense: a preexisting set of visual-organizational rules that always threatens to radiate away from the narrow field of recognized artistry and dissipate into the uneven heterogeneity of the social sphere itself. This link between the corpus of collectivism and the generalized creativity of the multitude also explains why so many self-defined artistic collectives—from the Constructivists to Situationists, from Fluxus to Las Agencias—have called for the dissolution of art directly into everyday life.
VII. Lacking neither a distinct history nor an adequate explanatory theory, collective artistic activity nevertheless bears down on the familiar cannon of proper names, stylistic innovations and formal typologies that populate the institutional art world. As part of the art world’s structural shadow realm, collectivism invisibly transforms the culture industry, its discourse and even its fondness for categorical and ultimately collectible brands of discrete cultural products.
Yet because collective activity is in the first and last instance driven by social formations, economic circumstances and occasionally even organized political movements that are external to art-world interests, the occasional appearance of collectivism within art historical discourse typically falls within two broad representational modes: the curious anecdote or the vestigial stain. That is to say, either collective artmaking serves as a backdrop or way station for individual artists whose careers have permitted them to mature beyond participation in group activity. Or, far less decorously, collectivism is demonized, its reoccurring expression within artistic circles viewed as a remnant of the early twentieth-century avant-garde’s affiliation with European totalitarian politics.
Still, nothing so volatile as self-organized human associations—especially those populated by artists and intellectuals—could possibly remain fixed in time, nostalgically recapitulating past ideological dogma. Instead, collective artistic practice is as complex and unpredictable as the social and aesthetic forces upon which it is contingent. In recent years, the transformation within collective activity is so dramatic as to represent a virtual paradigm shift.
VIII. Contemporary artistic collectivism is typically characterized by its aesthetic informality, political anarchism and its performative approach to the expression of collective identity itself. In practice, its interdisciplinary approach is also frequently interventionist. Examples of this include the creation of works that tactically infiltrate high schools, flea markets, public squares, corporate websites, city streets, housing projects and local political machines in ways that do not set out to recover a specific meaning or use-value for art-world discourse or private interests.
Indeed, many of these activities operate using economies based on pleasure, generosity and the free dispersal of goods and services, rather than the construction of objects and product scarcity that are essential to art-world economics. But above all else, what the activist art collective makes tangible, and no doubt what is so anathema to the art market and its discourse, is the capacity for self-regulation over one’s production and distribution. Certainly this capacity is available and suppressed within all productive activity. Understandably, it is also viewed as a danger to system regulators, who recognize the promise collective self-determination has held out to each successive generation.
IX. What can be said of dark matter, in general, is that either by choice or circumstance it displays a degree of autonomy from the critical and economic structures of the art world and moves instead in between its meshes. But this independence is not risk free. Increasingly inexpensive technologies of communication, replication, display and transmission that allow informal and activist artists to network with each other have also made the denizens of this shadowy world ever more conspicuous to the very institutions that once sought to exclude them. In short, dark matter is no longer as dark as it once was. Yet neither the art world nor enterprise culture can do little more than immobilize specific instances of this shadow activity by converting it into a fixed consumable or lifestyle branding.
X. For example, groups such as Forcefield, Derraindrop, Paper Rad, gelitin, The Royal Art Lodge and hobbypopMUSEUM, whose names flicker impishly across the otherwise dull screen of the contemporary art world, invoke not so much the plastic arts as the loopy cheer of techno music and its nostalgia for a make-believe sixties epitomized by LSD, free love and day-glo instead of civil rights, feminism and SDS. As critic Alison M. Gingeras explains, this new collectivity is not at all solemn; it is “insouciant.” It eschews the “sociopolitical agenda associated with collective art making” and reflects “a juvenile disregard for historical veracity.” But why the sudden rush to revamp the political rebelliousness of group artistic practice, to repackage it as “tribal,” “exuberant,” “insouciant?” Because when compared to almost every previous collective and many new ones, the recent crop of gallery-sponsored art groupettes is unmistakably a product of enterprise culture.
As put forward by historian Chin-tao Wu, enterprise culture is the near total privatization of everything up to—and including—that which once stood outside or against the reach of capitalism, including avant-garde and radical art. If communal activity, collaboration and egalitarian cooperation run directly opposite individuated forms of individualistic greed enterprise, culture will not aim to overtly repress this tendency but instead seek a way of branding and packaging contradiction in order to sell it back to us. No surprise then that this new collectivity is organized around fashion, with its members sharing “nothing more than vacant facial expressions and good taste in casual clothes.” 1
XI. Cut the power and storm the museum. Barricade its entrance with a Richard Serra sculpture. Cover its windows with Gerhard Richter paintings. Transform the sculpture garden into an organic produce cooperative; refurbish the boardroom to serve as a daycare facility; place the cafeteria under the supervision of homeless people. Yet, in spite of this hypothetical uprising, it is apparent that institutional power persists. Like gravity issuing from a collapsed star, it draws us into the very orbit of what we once sought to escape, because despite our protestations, we continue to love it—or at least the unselfish image it projects—more than it could ever love itself. For no matter how imperfectly existing museums fulfill their social obligations, the symbolic position of the museum remains inseparable from notions of public space, democratic culture and citizenship itself.
Nevertheless, exploring what a liberated, postrevolutionary museum might look like, how it would function and what its revitalized role within the local community would be is an approach often taken up today by younger, socially committed artists who have grown apprehensive of the virtually conventional form of institutional critique. Collectives that operate within the contradictions of the bourgeois public sphere openly and playfully expose its imaginary fault lines dividing private from public, individual from collective and light from dark matter. But while such groups offer an important model for cultural resistance, it would be disingenuous to suggest such collectives and dark creativity can provide a totally satisfactory solution to the quest for freedom, now or in the future. Instead, these groups and practices are characterized by their discontinuous nature, by repetitions and instability, by tactics rather than long-range strategies. What is effective in the short run remains untested on an extended scale. And that is the point we appear to be approaching rapidly.
XII. To paraphrase the cosmologists: there is perhaps no current problem of greater importance to cultural radicals than that of “dark matter.”
This piece was first published in the Journal for Northeast Issues, Hamburg, 2003, and again in the catalogue Issue Fighters: Thought is made in the mouth, organized by Insa Art Space of the Arts Council Korea in 2006.
World Trade Center, New York, USA, 2000
“And then the surgical intervention in the World Trade Center in New York City. Everything top secret and illegal of course. In days of conspiratorial work, somewhere on the 148th floor and using building site refuse they had tediously smuggled into the building under their pullovers, they constructed a functioning load-bearing balcony. In a long complicated process they scratched putty from the tall heavy window, which couldn’t be opened. Then they extracted it using suction pads, shunted the balcony out, posed on it at 6 in the morning and had themselves photographed there from a helicopter for their nearest and dearest back home. They kept very mum about it all, because if word had crept out about their coup they could have been fined very heavily for sabotaging a national treasure. Even if it was built by the Japanese. Incidentally, as proof that they were there, there is now a piece of old chewing gum stuck to the outside of the building at a dizzy height.”, by Tex Rubinowitz, in “The B-Thing”
The Collective Consciousness
March 5, 2006
New York Times
“[The Center for Land Use Interpretation is] far less interested in producing art objects than in providing an experience of the world through a scientifically based aesthetic language of symmetries and disharmonies, tones and shades, concreteness and abstraction. Like the earth artist Robert Smithson, they locate the poetry of dissolution in geology. Unlike him, they don’t physically shape the land itself, but shape the way you think about it. Through their art-as-science, or science-as-art, you make the environment, natural and constructed, your own without owning it. If this collective model represents an alternative to the object-fixated market economy of art, other models are notable for turning conventional ideas of what an artist is inside out. For the singular artist-as-genius that is the foundation of the entire art industry, including sales exhibitions and criticism, they substitute multiplicity, anonymity, unpredictability.”
gelitin Leo Koenig Inc., New York, USA
The “Tantamounter 24/7” is like a huge xerox copy machine, only bigger, more complex and more clever. Inside there are some completely hardwired intense individuals operating day and night under close supervision of a bankrupt psychiatrist.