Category:documenta, et al

We'll talk about this in the morning.

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Chris Burden, Modified Moon Piece, 2010 image: manpodcast

MORNING UPDATE A WEEK LATER, BECAUSE APPARENTLY IT TAKES LONGER THAN ONE NIGHT TO PROCESS THIS

November 2011: This was sitting right there in the first episode of Modern Art Notes Podcast, waiting. And even though he wouldn't tell me who the guest was, Tyler had been goading me before the launch, that I better listen, there is a surprise. Because he knew about the satelloons.

And I did not know about Chris Burden's unrealized 1986 proposal for The Moon Piece, which is basically to launch the biggest possible spherical inflatable mylar balloon satellite into orbit.

Which was basically the same idea I'd had four years earlier. Or nineteen years later, depending on who's counting.

Or was it? Maybe it's fine? Maybe it's different? Relationship status: it's complicated. Green teed the question about Burden wanting to build something like the Eiffel Tower. And in discussing The Moon Piece Burden said it could be a giant spherical balloon or an even more "giant parabolic mirror you could control." Which, if you made it about "the size of Lake Havasu," [78 km2, btw. -ed.], you could use to "light [all of] New York from above."

So maybe it's not a satelloon at all, then. And he's talking about something permanent, and big enough to light cities from space. This sounds like the Russian thing. Except it can't be, at least not originally. Green cited a 1988 interview with Paul Schimmel as the source for this proposal. And solar mirrors didn't really show up until the 90s. Russia ran a proof-of-concept solar mirror program called Znamya from 1992-99 which, it was hoped, would boost solar power production and bring light to darkest Siberia. But it only had one success: a 20-meter-diameter mirror launched in 1992 which produced a 5km-wide beam as bright as the full moon. Later, scientists at Livermore Lab proposed massive solar mirrors as one extreme technological approach to geo-engineering humanity's way out of the climate change crisis. So this solar mirror aspect is different, maybe an adaptation, an addition, and it shows the artist was keeping tabs on things. But Burden's original The Moon Piece idea is/was a satelloon.

It turns out Burden first pitched The Moon Piece in a letter to Edward Fry, who was co-curating Documenta 8 (1987) The letter was [first?] published in the appendix of the amazing 2005 monograph, Chris Burden. [Which I bought in 2008, but didn't read all the way, even after getting more into his work in 2009.]:

[The satellite's] "only function and purpose would be to reflect light back to earth. This special satellite would function much in the same manner that our present moon reflects sunlight. I foresee that this huge satellite could be manufactured out of fairly inexpensive, highly reflective Mylar film and be carried into outer space in a deflated state (like an uninflated balloon).

...

The Moon Piece will be highly visible to the naked eye and appear, in relation to the pin points of starlight, as a bright automobile headlamp moving rapidly across the night sky, one-fifth to one-tenth the size of the moon. The most sophisticated and the most primitive of cultures will be aware that something has changed in the heavens.

...

This is not simply a conceptual project. This project is technically feasible and to function as a work of art it must be actualized.

...

Obviously more research and information needs to be done on the specifics of the Mylar balloon such as size, thickness of Mylar, weight, etc., but I believe that The Moon Piece is physically and financially feasible given enough energy. If this idea, of putting into orbit a highly reflective satellite that would light up the heavens, could come to fruition I believe it would well be worth the effort.

On the one hand, it's nice to feel like you're on the same wavelength with someone whose work and career you admire. On the other hand, damn.

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But some things stood out. Like Burden "foreseeing" the possibility of the satellite's existence, and not knowing any of "the specifics." Is it possible that Burden really did not know that these exact objects had already been created and deployed in the 1960s, when he was a teenager? I can't believe it. Was it not important to his concept, or his pitch, to reference their historical sources, or their current non-art uses? Apparently.

And he adapted The Moon Piece, which began with the assumption that after 20 years, an inflatable satellite could be bigger, and after 30 years it could be bigger still. Or it could use future-state-of-the-art technology and be a mirror as big as a lake. Burden's constants were big, reflective, and in space. But other than that, the 2010-11 version didn't sound any further along than 1986's.

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A few months later (in 2012) I was working on making and showing a satelloon at apexart in New York, and I uncovered aspects of satelloons and their history that mattered. The concept had originated with none other than Wernher von Braun, who proposed, not a new moon, but a new, "American Star" which would awe the lesser nations into supporting the US in the Korean War. Von Braun wrote that in a widely published Time | Life book on space travel. Burden's language about "primitive cultures" knowing "something has changed in the heavens is straight from von Braun's pitch. The NASA engineer who had claimed the most credit for Project Echo came up with the idea at von Braun's V-2 rocket conference. It was OK'd after Sputnik because US military leaders wanted a visible satellite would normalize people to the presence of spy satellites and surveillance.

This is context I only pieced together after five years of researching. Burden missed or omitted not just this, but the very existence of Project Echo, when he proposed Moon Piece for Documenta1. Would it have turned up in Kassel? How would that've gone over? I can't even imagine.

Except that I did, and I still do. My apexart experience has made me very wary of satelloons, which are seductive, but also politically problematic. Their beauty and surface make them impossible to ignore, which makes it worse. I've also found that where I once felt daunted and insecure about having the same idea as a major artist I admired, I am OK with it. Partly because I realized my project is better.

And that, plus a $25,000 Marquis Jet card, can get you to Basel. Burden nailed it the first time: this is not a conceptual project, destined merely for Hans Ulrich's files. It must be actualized. And so it's especially unfortunate that Burden, whose genius was superlative physicality, can't see The Moon Piece in the sky himself.

After hearing about The Moon Piece, Green's follow-up question was whether Burden would be OK with people "mining his files" to produce his unrealized projects "after you're no longer with us." It's a conversation that obviously sounds very different now than it did in 2011, which is just one reason it's taken me more than a week to write this blog post. "if somebody wanted to do that after I'm not around, that'd be fantastic," Burden said. "I think that's why people become artists, you know. To have a life beyond them. I mean, it's a way to become immortal."

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The Project Echo satellites stayed in orbit for five and eight years before gravity pulled them into the earth's atmosphere. It's not quite immortality, but it's a start.

Related, devastatingly: Chris Burden dies at 69 [latimes]
2007: If I were a sculptor, but then again
2013: Exhibition Space [apexart.org]
Listen to the entire discussion between Chris Burden and Tyler Green on Episode 1 of MANPodcast [manpodcast]
Or listen to the 3:00 MANPodcast excerpt where Burden & Green talk about The Moon Piece [dropbox greg.org, 4.6Mb mp3]

[1] What did Burden end up showing in Documenta 8, anyway? I have found him listed in the participating artists on Documenta's own site, as showing "audio". Of Burden's four pre-1987 audio works, only The Atomic Alphabet and Send Me Your Money, both 1979, seem likely. For his part, the artist's official CV only mentions Documenta 6, in 1977. Fry was the American co-curator on both.

I'm really stoked to contribute a top ten list to UbuWeb this month.

When Kenny Goldsmith invited me to submit a list, I first tried to come up with some new, revealing, conceptual strategy for generating it. I thought of the top ten most viewed items, and then the ten least viewed. But then I learned that Ubu doesn't keep logs. I thought of the ten largest files, but then figured it'd just be the longest movies, and big whoop. I thought of a top ten list of top ten lists. And when I worried that I would just be mirroring some taste or trend, I thought of identifying the ten items most frequently included in other peoples' lists. Several more ideas were patiently disabused out of me, and I began running through my chance operations options.

Then I realized I'd already begun making my list, starting back in 2002, when I linked to ubu.com from my blog for the first time. Ubu at that point was still quite mysterious, and much smaller--mostly ancient and arcane concrete poetry reprints I frankly hadn't heard of. But I kept coming back. A huge collection of video and audio appeared, Kenneth Goldsmith came out from behind the curtain, seeming much older and august in my mind than he turned out to be--I imagined he was a survivor of this lost underground scene, not an explorer.

Anyway, I assembled my list from twelve years links here at greg.org, highlights from my life with UbuWeb. They're roughly chronological which has become an indispensable collaborator, not just a source of discovery and inspiration.

March 10, 2014

Rem Casafresca

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The Venice Architecture Biennale, which opens in June, held a press conference today with curator Rem Koolhaas and Paolo Baratta. The event was streamed live online. As @kieranlong pointed out on Twitter:

Intrigued, I quickly tuned in to the event, already in progress. The average age of the large crowd of press/reporters looked to be well over 60yo, and their questions were often longer than Koolhaas's answers, which were simultaneously translated by a rotating cast of female voices. It really was a mess.

The first words I heard set the tone:

So I decided to livetweet it.

With a couple of brief exceptions the text comes only from Koolhaas. I don't type very fast, and I can't figure out the keyboard shortcuts for accents, but otherwise I think this transcript captures the experience of watching quite well:

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So like you, I'm sure, I was baffled and amused listening to avant-garde cellist and frequent Nam June Paik collaborator Charlotte Moorman's answering machine recording on Ubu.

It takes a minute to get your bearings, and then you realize it really is John Lennon complaining about a review in the Village Voice by "a couple of bastards, whoever they are," and also mentioning an ad Yoko placed in the same issue.

And then there's a spitting mad John Cage demanding Charlotte or Howard Wise write a letter to the Village Voice "protesting Fred McDarrah's censorship of my name from that article, or I'm never doing anything for you or anybody else ever again," which, hello, what?

What had Cage been so ignominiously ignored in? It wasn't even clear what year the tape was from, though Moorman's callers mention Thanksgiving [and the recording title says Nov. 24 - Dec. 6]. If Howard Wise was mentioned, perhaps it was Moorman's performance of a Cage composition at the gallery.

Well, stop worrying, because Lennon's reference to Ono's ad means it's 1971, when Ono advertised her own One Woman Show at The Museum of Modern Art, and its accompanying catalogue, even though the museum was not on board with it.

Ono hired a guy with a sandwich board to walk around in front of the Modern for two weeks, Dec. 1-15, advertising a show that was technically not inside. [Though it confused enough people, apparently, that the membership desk put a little sign up, with Ono's ad, saying "This is not here," which was, by so doing, no longer true.] Anyway, the citation given for Ono's Voice ad is usually Dec. 2, 1971. And the ad does run in that issue.

But the version Lennon was calling Moorman about, "on page 31," was actually from the week prior, Nov. 25. It's up top, reproduced, I believe, for the first time online, not counting Google's still unindexed archive of the Village Voice. NBD.

Which is where Fred McDurrah's article is found, too. It was a report from Moorman's 8th Annual Avant Garde Festival, a roving project that infuriated and entertained the small New York art world with impressive regularity. 1971's version was held in the 69th Regiment Armory, and was backed by Barbara & Howard Wise. McDarrah's ostentatiously jaded account was meant to disparage the multi-media, performative, absurdist circus, but he actually makes it sound kind of interesting. Or maybe reading about it now, during Frieze Week, it just seems normal.

McDarrah writes that Moorman secured the Armory by promising "the Colonel in charge" that there would be "no nudes, no sex, no politics, no dope, no nothing." Not all of her artist invitees seem to have gotten the message.

I looked at my watch and decided it was time to ask the soldiers the standard "what-do-you-think-of-this-stuff question...A veteran of all the wars who was covered with stars, badges, ribbons, buttons, and braid summarized his feelings: "It's ridiculous, stupid, the whole damn thing. All those people smoking marijuana back there. I saw them. And using a federal building too. A bunch of kooks. I could bow them bastards to hell. I'd go up in the balcony with a machine gun. I even saw some naked. I'm glad I'm being transferred out."
Yow, OK then. Did New York's know how close it came to starring in an art world-meets-Kent State-themed prequel of Inglourious Basterds?

Anyway, sure enough, Cage isn't mentioned anywhere. Though he's probably glad to have missed the near massacre. In another, later message on Moorman's machine, a calmer, more sheepish Cage apologies for not attending a big event, so I'm going to guess that it was Cage's composition, not his presence, that was snubbed. Unless it was Cage who McDarrah called Moorman about; he left his own message when he heard he'd misidentified someone sitting "cross-legged in the corner and mix[ing] his 'ohms' into the abysmal hum and drone of 1000 sounds" as Steve Reich.

And it turns out all I had to do was look a little further. Because computer artist Fred Stern, who did get namechecked in the Voice article, turned Moorman's recording into a slideshow, synced with clippings and snapshots. Very helpful.

Charlotte Moorman's Answering Machine Message Tape [youtube]

The idea that 10 years from now--10 months from now--people will keep talking about an artist from Switzerland who landed in the middle of Forest Houses and for 77 days brought a different image of reality, that's the real monument. It may not trigger a vocation, but it might trigger new ways of seeing reality and thinking that might not have been imaginable before. And maybe it'll give us all, residents and non-residents of Forest Houses, the confidence that we can have an idea, have a project of our own, have a mission in life.
From Paul Schmelzer's great q&a with Dia's Philippe Vergne about Thomas Hirschhorn's Gramsci Monument.

Vergne has interesting things to say about Dia, too, and how a seemingly temporary project like Gramsci fits into its core tradition of commissioning and exhibiting ambitious artist projects.

The Momentary Monument | Philippe Vergne on Thomas Hirschhorn's Ode to Gramsci [walkerart.org]

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How is Tadashi Kawamata's Art Basel Favela like a real favela? It's built on public land, gets inhabited by people who don't have legal permission to be there, who are tolerated or ignored for a while, and who then get attacked and dispersed by riot police when someone with power decides it's time for them to go.

The details are still not clear to me, but Tages Woche reports that on Friday night, Basel police raided an outlaw party that had occupied Kawamata's Favela cafe, firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the small crowd.

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It appears that an event organizer had erected a favela DJ booth of their own, and were presumably protesting Kawamata's use of favelas to serve luxury falafel [at "reassuringly exclusive prices"] to visitors at Art Basel last week.

The event, or happening, or protest, seems to have been low-key. According to Tages Woche, Kawamata's collaborating architect Christophe Scheidegger met with the protestors, and they were allowed to stay for a while. Police and Art Basel officials decided to clear them out at 10pm, declaring the noise levels illegal, and that continued occupation of the favela--in the public platz, which had been rented by Art Basel--would be considered trespassing.

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And that's when, holy shit, it looks like they sent an assault force straight to the DJ favela to end the music and scatter the crowds with pepper spray and rubber bullets. Police established a perimeter, ended the party, kicked a few people on the ground, and then retreated back into the new Herzog & deMeuron Messe [above].

Tages Woche has a video of the attack shot from the parking garage [The embed above is from LiveLeak, but it's on Vimeo, which won't embed, and on YouTube, which, honestly, someone put an age-related content warning on? Is this an anti-viral video tactic?], though it's edited in a way that does not make it so clear what exactly preceded, and may have precipitated, the use of violent crowd control tactics. [The editors and reporters wrote a followup post addressing the circumstances of shooting the video.]

But this unedited YouTube video posted by Gab Kae tracks around the entire platz, and captures the police raid from within Kawamata's own favela. [It comes at around 2:20.] If there's anything at all that justifies such an attack, I can't see it. For these people hanging out in front of Art Basel, abuse of power came as a baffling surprise.

UPDATE greg.org reader Arthur points to another Tages Woche video, uploaded yesterday, which was taken on the ground, right next to the police, and which shows preparations for their assault on the party/protest.

In addition to the donkey, which had been part of the initial protest, the video features this nice, white-haired lady drinking a tallboy who, upon consultation with the officers, decides it best to move her chair out of the way.

After literally receiving their marching orders the Basel police head straight for their target. Which, this video makes clear, is the thumping sound system. Just watch that amp skittering out across the platz at 1:40. Obviously, the music demanded a forceful response, and any human casualties, injuries, or abuses, must be considered collateral damage and entirely unintentional. You know how it can be when techno dirtbags crash your party and won't leave.

Video: Gewaltsame Polizeiräumung am Messeplatz [tageswoche.ch]
Basel Favela Occupation [artreview]

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The new Frieze begins its series of artists talking about curating and being curated [sub req] with Daniel Buren's classic 1972/1992 statement in Harald Szeeman's Documenta 5, "Exhibitions of an Exhibition."

I never registered it before, but Buren uses the term "organizer" for curator. Which is ironic, because at apexart several years ago, at the thin wedge of the emerging trend/abuse, they moved away from using the term "curator"--in favor of "organizer." And the sense I've gotten while working on Exhibition Space is that they were seeking to get away from exactly the curator-as-artist/exhibition-as-art pretensions or associations that Buren was kvetching about in 1972.

In any case, now that I'm an organizer, and apparently the worst of Buren's fears realized, here are some excerpts from his 1992 English translation of "Exhibitions of an Exhibition":

Exhibitions of an exhibition

More and more, the subject of an exhibition tends not be the display of artworks, but the exhibition of the exhibition as a work of art....

The works presented are carefully chosen touches of color in the tableau that composes each section (room) as a whole.

There is even an order to these colors, these being defined and arranged according to the drawn design of the section (selection) in which they are spread out/presented.

These sections (castrations), themselves carefully chosen "touches of color" in the tableau that makes up the exhibition as a whole and in its very principle, only appear by placing themselves under the wing of the organizer, who reunifies art by rendering it equivalent everywhere in the case/screen that he prepares for it.

The organizer assumes the contradictions; it is he who safeguards them.

It is true, then, that the exhibition establishes itself as its own subject, and its own subject as a work of art. The exhibition is the "valorizing receptacle" in which art is played out and founders, because even if the artwork was formerly revealed thanks to the museum, it now serves as nothing more than a decorative gimmick for the survival of the museum as tableau, a tableau whose author is none other than the exhibition organizer.

Which, in 2003, prefaced his response to the idea, proposed by e-flux and Jens Hoffman, that "The Next Documenta Should Be Curated By an Artist.":
Could a large-scale exhibition like Documenta be entrusted to an artist? If the tendency remarked upon here continues to hold, my response would undoubtedly be "yes." For the artist-organizer would erase the faults inherent in the organizer-artist. For example, it would be worth betting that the announcement of an artist-organizer, whoever he or she might be, would cause an immense outcry of lamentations from the choir of the majority of all the other panic-stricken and destabilized artists.

This will be a varied and serious song. Its reasons for being will be intelligent, stupid, and revealing at the same time. They will be founded on jealousy, on the one hand, and fear of the artist-organizer's positions, on the other. Artists, exacerbated individualists if ever they existed, would show that their corporatist spirit is not as remote as it may seem. One would notice, then, that the critiques suddenly raised by the announcement of the name of an artist-organizer had never been raised by the announcement of any organizer-artist. This a priori predictable reaction already bears within itself the fruits of extremely positive debates, for they reveal a state of fact that has been occulted for over thirty years.

I'm done waiting. This Europera 1 & 2 post is apparently not going to write itself.

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The Ruhr Triennial opened last weekend with what is only the third [production and fourth -ed.] staging of John Cage's grandest1composition, the 1987 Europeras 1 & 2. It's basically a chance operations tour de force that runs the entirety of the European opera canon--arias, stories, costumes, props, sets, lighting, libretti, staging, orchestra--through the I Ching wringer, which performance is conducted, so to speak, by the cues of a 2.75-hour clock. As Cage put it, "For 200 years the Europeans have sent us their operas. Now I'm returning all of them."

All six performances in the Triennial's home venue, the vast, repurposed industrial Centennial Hall Bochum sold out immediately. So far three have happened, directed by the director of the entire Triennial, avant-garde composer Heiner Goebbels.

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So I've been monitoring the reviews jealously, and with some indignance. The scale and ambition and significance of the work is being respected--the work has only ever been performed in Germany--but it seems that both critics and directors alike still struggle with the vocabulary and the very concept of Cage's chance-driven work.

In the only English-language review I've found so far, The Financial Times' Shirley Apthorp describes Europeras' "extravagant evening of associative nonsense" as both "chaos" and "minutely choreographed absurdity." Writing for FAZ Eleonore Buening criticized Goebbels for putting the "chaos Cage conceived a quarter century ago back in a Museumsvitrine." If I read my German correctly, "The director placed too little confidence," Buening writes, "in the expiration of the clock, the will of the participants, or even Comrade Chance." And did Cage ever have a better comrade?

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I have never seen Europera 1 & 2, but I've been studying up on them for the last year or so. The original staging, commissioned in 1985 by the Frankfurt Opera, was the dissertation subject of Laura Kuhn, who was involved in the production, and who has since become the director of the John Cage Trust.

Europera 1 & 2 strikes me as a simultaneous negation and celebration of opera as an art/theatrical form, but also as a cultural and historical institution. His chance-based composition removes narrative, character arcs, literary and stage conventions, and authorial intentions from the experience of a performance. Chance is not chaos or absurdity; it's a different syntax. How does any opera performance seem if you don't know the story or speak the language? Would you ever call it chaos or nonsense?

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An opera diehard may want to identify the source of every passing prop, aria, or orchestral passage in Europera--did the Stump The Operahead trivia quiz during the intermission of the Met's weekly radio broadcast ever tackle Cage? Just like a moviehound might try to flag the source of every clip in Christian Marclay's The Clock. But that risks missing Cage's point [which is not Marclay's] that the experience of the montage has quality and meaning and value in itself, apart from the original content and its juxtapositions, not because of them.

And maybe critics actually are better attuned to this now, and the problem [sic] is just/still the directors. In FAZ, discussing the "Children's Jury" who Goebbels convened to award unconventional prizes during the Triennial, Buening found a new twist on the classic MTV Crisis when she worried that the media-saturated, "Multi-tasken" Kids These Days might be bored by Cage's 1980s jump cut revolution. After watching a rehearsal of Europera Ruhr Nachtrichten writer Julia Gass said Cage foreshadowed the "TV Zapp Era"; actually, he was soaking in it. Cage's vision of the future was surfing the 400-operatic channels of the past.

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Europera may be Cage's most ambitious and explicit appropriationist work. According to Kuhn's firsthand account of the making of, Cage, relying on the collection of Lincoln Center's library, determined to include only operas that were in the public domain. For the flats and sets, he had researchers in Germany compile engravings and illustrations of composers, architecture, and animals from pre-20th century books. With these copyright-free source sets established, Cage used chance operations and a time log to generate the content of the opera.

And this, apparently, is where Goebbels' otherwise extraordinary production falls short. I'll try to account for the differences--or more precisely, the changes--between Goebbels' version and Cage's, the immediately apparent one is his replacement of simple, graphic flats with actual operatic sets. Buening sees this as too deterministic, too willfully absurdist [in the mold of Robert Wilson, who, inexplicably, is the Triennial's English talking head for Europera], and stuck to the cliches and oneliners of operatic theatricality. And too much of the director's own indulgences, which runs diametrically counter to Cage's purging intentions.

It's a perennial problem with Cage's interpreters, who take the indeterminacy of his compositions as license to do whatever they want. Not coincidentally, that sounds like exactly the criticism voiced in OMM by Sebastian Hanusa over the previous production of Europeras 1 & 2 at the Hannover State Opera. [It opened in October 2001, and I confess, I was not paying much attention to German opera gossip at the time.] According to Hanusa, Lowery kept the aria singers offstage, and instead of the chance-derived staging, he created various storytelling set pieces. It sounds almost as bad as Cage's sabotaged NY Phil debut in 1964.

But it's better than nothing? I don't know. Is it the kind of thing you can watch on DVD? Will Europeras ever be staged in the US? [YES, SEE BELOW.] Frankly, we may still not be ready for it. Or maybe we've superseded it; with the right code and a few browser tabs on YouTube, we can generate our own Europera anytime we want. Man Bartlett's #12hPoint, I'm looking at you.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Thanks to DJW for correcting me; Europeras 1 & 2 was staged in the US. Christopher Hunt brought the original Frankfurt production to Summerfare at SUNY Purchase in 1988. According to John Rockwell's bemused NY Times' review, the New York version, which took place on a grander stage, was actually closer to Cage's original vision, which the Frankfurt Opera had to rework after its main theater was damaged by arson just before the Europeras' premiere. Anyway, more to come on that.

1 OK, the 639-year-long organ performance of As Slow As Possible, also from 1987, at St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt is also pretty grand. But I'd argue its grandeur is more the performance, not necessarily the composition.

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I fell for the first one ever saw, which was CNN, but in 2002 Thomas Hirschhorn started a whole series of gigantic, bling-inspired sculptures out of his signature, cheap-ass materials: foil, cardboard, mylar, and packing tape.

CNN was an edition of 50, published by Schellmann for Okwui Enwezor's documenta 11, and it quickly sold out--and started getting flipped, as Pedro Velez' artnet photo from c.2003 Art Chicago shows.

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But the tricky thing is that though they were produced from the same crap as his mass edition, Hirschhorn's other chains were unique sculptures. And that might have hurt them in the market. Phillips couldn't sell Opel Chain (2002) for $60-80,000 in 2008, even though that was a bargain for a large-ish Hirschhorn at the time.

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And though I'll be forever grateful for introducing me to Hirschhorn's work in the 90s, I could never ask what Chantal Crousel Galerie wanted for Toyota Chain (2002), but it was still hanging around in 2009.

I love Alison Gingeras' quote from Parkett 57 (1999), for which Hirschhorn made an edition, Swiss Made, a giant, aluminum foil, cardboard, and packing tape watch:

Thomas Hirschhorn--an artist easily recognized for his persistent use of low-grade materials such as tinfoil, cardboard, plywood, plastic, and masking tape in his sculptural assemblages--perfectly illustrates cheapness in all of its senses. From the connotation of poor quality or shoddy standing to appearing easily made, despicable, or having little value, Hirschhorn has cultivated more than aesthetic consistency in his oeuvre. Underlying the objects that he fashions out of these meager materials is a sophisticated machine whose inner workings produce affects and interpretations that extend beyond mere formal statement. Cheap is no longer just an adjective; Hirschhorn makes it a procedure.

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Wood Chain VII, Great Wall of China image: stephenfriedman

By 2004, Hirschhorn was making his large chain pieces out slightly more durable, more upscale wood, but I was not feeling it. I'm still not. So mylar and foam and aluminum tape it will be, simultaneously filling the Hirschhornian gap while saluting the three M's: MOCA, Mercedes, and Mike D. Cheapness in all of its senses.

Mike D has traded up

OK, people, who has not been telling me about this? In Transmission LA, the very important exhibition Mike D just curated at MOCA, sponsored by Mercedes Benz?

Fortunately, Tyler Green used flickr user Eli Carrico's image, above, for a MOCAWTF roundup, or I might have missed it for even longer.]

Here are a couple of other views, from sadjeans, who reports that "this Mercedes emblem was six feet wide," which, really?

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And these from Nicolas Arias:

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Oops, sorry, that one's from inside the show.

Besides its own self-evident awesomeness, it reminds me of one of my favorite artworks from Documenta 11, by Thomas Hirschhorn. Hirschhorn installed his Bataille Monument in a Turkish housing complex out of Kassel's city center.

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To get to it, he'd come pick you up in a worked-over, old Mercedes, which I can't believe I can't find a photo of? Really, Internet? But that's not important now.

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Because the work I'm talking about his contribution to the Documenta Collection by Edition Schellmann, sold exclusively at the show. CNN is a 2.5meter-wide piece of gold chain bling with the once-relevant news network logo dangling from it. An edition of 50, the original price was just EUR1200. And when it's come up for sale it's been just $5,000. So it's an awesome--and inexpensive--way to fill a wall.

Obviously, if I can't track down this original--do we know who the artist is? Mike D? Or the edition size? Did it enter MOCA's collection?--I will be making my own edition in the Hirschhorn-ian style to celebrate MOCA's and Mercedes Benz's unwavering support and incisive relevance to contemporary art.

FIVE MINUTES LATER UPDATE:

OK, then, it's a go. Notcot has these hardhitting photos from the opening. The artist is indeed Mike D. His subversive appropriation of the Mercedes logo and his deployment of it as a readymade were not limited to the patio. He had at least two more, one leaning against a fence, and one inside, tucked into a corner.

notcot_mikemerc3.jpg

I assume they're from dealerships. No idea how he got a hold of them. But that does not look like six feet across; more like four. Okay, that one may be six feet. And the chains are gold[en].

moca_mercedes_notcot3.jpg

Also from Notcot: this gripping firsthand report:

So it's only natural that when curating this art festival (which they gave him carte blanche on!) he created a HUGE Mercedes emblem hanging on a large chain in the central pavillion of the exhibition... as well as a few huge emblems tucked around the space... and then around 25 special chain necklaces with authentic Mercedes-Benz emblems for the artists and key brand folks...
Which was enthusiastic enough ["Here's Anders-Sundt Jensen, Head Of Brand Communications, modeling one of the necklaces!"] for Anders-Sundt Jensen, Head of Brand Communications, to give said necklace to said blogger at the end of the night.

miked_mb_brand_necklace_notcot.jpg

Hmm, do we have a photo of Deitch wearing a Mercedes chain necklace?

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: documenta, et al

recent projects, &c.


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Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017


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Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

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Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

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Chop Shop
at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

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eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

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Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

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