Posts Tagged ‘Michael Asher’

Entropy Cacophony

Saturday, May 29th, 2010
The Whitney Museum generously stayed open for three days in a row last week, though only at the expense of trimming down Michael Asher’s plan to keep it open for a week.  Supposedly, the Museum didn’t have the resources to support such a marathon, though it also announced last week that it would relocate downtown.  Curiously, that spotlight-swimping announcement came just days after MoMA PS1 opened Greater New York 2010.
Another artist, Zefrey Throwell, shared Asher’s ambition to use the entire Museum.  And though the Biennial curators didn’t invite Zafrey for this year’s edition, someone more permanent at the Museum did.
Zefrey summoned, then directed 75 friends and acquaintances through a multi-tiered blitzkrieg of 25 simultaneous actions scattered throughout the entire Museum premises.  The men’s bathroom in the basement, down the hall from the Museum Shop and Sandwiched, was a rockin’ with two people having “real” animal, noisy sex in a stall.
The elevator was vacated by the overwhelming odor, which began to smell sulfurous, resulting in a very temporary bomb scare.
A nude woman walked down the stairwell, a live-action Duchamp; while a nude man walked through the galleries accompanied by a fully-clothed friend.
On the third floor, a young woman on crutches tripped over her friend’s foot, leading to shouting, pushing and shoving, wrestling, and then heroic guards: “Break it up, ladies!”  Meanwhile, an earnest lover’s quarrel escalated until the girl began chasing the boy past the Pae White tapestry and around the Thomas Houseago colossus.
Outside, a giant paper airplane battle sent folded Folded Fighting Falcons into the sculpture garden.  And on the fifth floor, two lovers spooned on the floor in front of the Mike Kelley.
In the most confrontational performance, a clumsy visitor spilled his hot coffee on another visitor, who was clutching a newborn baby in her arms.  The woman began to scream that her baby was burned and permanently disfigured.  The man panicked and spilled the rest of the cup down his white shirt and khakis pants.  The guards swarmed, cried, “What are you doing, bringing coffee into the museum?”  The man pleaded, “What is she doing, bringing a baby into the museum?”
In the most physical performance, Zefrey himself snuck in a counterfeit Charles Ray painting – a “floppy flower,” as he calls it – and stuck it to the wall.  Then he yanked it down and bolted.  A woman alterted the guards: “He’s stealing the artwork!”  The guards chased, but at their slow pace, Zefrey found himself alone when he made it downstairs.  Still, the commotion caught the attention of a vigilant tourist, who sprang into action, and tackled Zefrey.  The guards pounced after that – and ripped up the artwork, limb from limb.
Gary Carrion-Murayari was in the galleries giving a personal curator’s tour to a wealthy couple when the quarreling lovers raced by.  Spotting him, and not yet “in the know,” I asked if this was a performance.  “Not one that’s authorized,” he sighed.
And after five minutes, it was over.
The burned baby was really a doll.  The sulfurous smell, just fart spray.  The stop-thief woman: Zefrey’s mother.  The nudity was real, and so was the bathroom sex.  Those f*ckers were forcibly ejected (and photographed).
Epilogue: Afterward, the performers met at Central Park and “had some beers.”  Zefrey got his hair and beard cut, and then returned to the Museum, undetected, and struck up conversation with a guard who, an hour earlier, had pinned Zefrey to the floor.  “It’s been a hell of a day,” he sighed.
Coincidence: a recent mission by Improv Everywhere sent performers dressed as Ghostbusters into the NY Public Library.  Ghostbusters footage – and vehicle – feature prominently in the Bruce High Quality Foundation’s “I Like America, America Likes Me.”

Lisa Kirk, "Whitney Cake," 2004

The Whitney Museum generously stayed open for three days in a row last week, though only at the expense of trimming down Michael Asher’s plan to keep it open for a week.  Understandably, the Museum didn’t have the resources to support such a marathon, though it did announce last week its imminent, multimillion-dollar migration.  Curiously, that spotlight-swiping announcement surfaced just two days after MoMA PS1 opened Greater New York 2010.

Sharing Asher’s ambition to use the entire Museum is Zefrey Throwell, a NYC-based artist “investigating honest communication, in all its varied plumage.”  And though curators Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari didn’t invite Zefrey for this Biennial, someone “higher up” at the Museum did.  The Whitney insider from on high “thought I should be in the Biennial,” says Zefrey.

Performer with Pae White's "Smoke Knows," 2009 (image: Zefrey Throwell)

And so he was, at least for five minutes.  Zefrey summoned, then directed, 75 friends and fellows through a multi-tiered blitzkrieg of 25 simultaneous actions scattered throughout the entire Museum premises.  The super-scene was called Entropy Symphony.  No bystander saw it coming, but nearly all got a piece of it.

Band of Outsiders, 1964

The scene downstairs: Several party poopers, no pun intended, reported to guards that the men’s bathroom in the basement was a rockin’ with a heterosexual couple having noisy sex in a stall – within earshot of the Museum Shop and Sandwiched, the temporary cafe.

If this stall's a' rockin.... (IMAGE: Zefrey Throwell)

Meanwhile, the elevator belched malodorous fumes, which began to smell sulfurous, resulting in a very temporary bomb scare, quickly downgraded to “stink bomb” status.

In the stairwell – the only alternative to the elevator – a nude woman sauntered down, a live-action Duchamp; and a nude man strolled through the galleries accompanied by a fully-clothed friend.

Duchamp (l), Mel Ramos (r)

Spooners and Nude at Mike Kelley (image: Zefrey Throwell)

On the third floor, just outside the Kate Gilmore struggle, a young woman on crutches tripped and fell over her friend’s foot.  “You did it on purpose,” she shrieked!  Mutual blame escalated to shouting, shoving, wrestling, and then valorous guards: “Break it up, ladies!”

image: Zefrey Throwell

Meanwhile, an earnest lovers’ quarrel around the corner hit its zenith when the girl began chasing the boy past the Pae White tapestry and around Thomas Houseago’s colossal Baby. And downstairs, a gang fought over a frozen chicken found on the floor near the Robert Grosvenor sculpture.

"Fowl Play" (image: Zefrey Throwell)

Outside, a giant paper airplane battle sent folded Fighting Falcons into the sculpture garden.  And on the fifth floor, two sweethearts (a recent Columbia MFA and his girl) spooned on the floor, admiring Mike Kelley’s More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages of Sin.

In the most confrontational performance, a clumsy visitor spilled his hot coffee on a woman clutching a newborn baby in her arms.  The woman wailed that her baby was burned and permanently disfigured.  Catastrophe! The man panicked and dumped the rest of the cup down his white shirt and khakis pants.  Guards swarmed, crying, “What are you doing, bringing coffee into the museum?”

The man pleaded, “What is she doing, bringing a baby into the museum?”

Thomas Houseago, "Baby," 2009-10

And in the most athletic performance, Zefrey himself snuck in a counterfeit Charles Ray painting – a “floppy flower,” as he calls it – and stuck it to the wall.  Then he yanked it down and bolted.

Run LOL Run! (image: Zefrey Throwell)

-A woman alerted the guards: “He’s stealing the artwork!”  They chased, but at their slow pace, Zefrey easily escaped downstairs – until the commotion caught the attention of a vigilant witness, who sprang into action and tackled Zefrey.  The guards pounced after that – and ripped up the artwork, pistil from stamen.

image: Zefrey Throwell

Gary Carrion-Murayari was in the third-floor galleries giving an intimate Curator’s Tour to a wealthy couple when the quarreling lovers raced by.  Spotting him, and not yet in the know, I asked him if this was a performance.  “Not one that’s authorized,” he mumbled.

And after five minutes, it was over.

BUSTED! Zefrey Throwell, red-handed (image: the Artist)

The burned baby was really a doll.  The sulfurous smell? Just fart spray.  The Stop-Thief woman: Zefrey’s mother, visiting for the weekend.  All just props and actors.  -But the nudity was real, as was the bathroom sex: those f*ckers were forcibly ejected (and photographed).

Epilogue: Afterward, the performers met at Central Park and “had some beers.”  Zefrey got his hair and beard cut, and then returned to the Museum, undetected, and struck up conversation with a guard who, an hour earlier, had pinned Zefrey to the floor.  “It’s been a hell of a day,” the guard sighed.

"Don't You Recognize Me?" (image: the artist)