Schnabel’s Surfboard / Hawthorne’s Palette: further thoughts on the proposal for an art exhibition


So I’m walking through the supermarket by my house. It’s late and I’m looking for something to eat. I’m cruising down ailes I don’t know very well, frozen foods, maybe this will be quicker… As I said I never go down this aisle, I’m someone who likes to cook from scratch when I can, so I’m used to seeing raw ingredients in front of me, the real thing, stuff I can smell. On the frozen food aisle, looking at all these boxes, I have to strain to see what is different about each package. The food looks so far away. There is the glass case: the thick door with the recessed shelves; then there is the package, sitting just forward of some kind of cold darkness, lest we forget this is the frozen section. Like the bodies of martyred saints they lie in the crystal coffined darkness, something worse than out of view all together.

I was thinking about art, like I always am, and how The Great Piece* would be the artist who gains access to a supermarket, and buys or rents a shelf- like a whole door’s length top to bottom with frozen food packages of their art. How it would be quite a feat to get a market to agree to it; that getting that kind of access would show quite a bit of power / money / connections which is, like it or not, impressive in art; that perhaps this is what art already does. Wait- that idea snuck in there.

Perhaps this is what art already does, the supermarket of art already does something similar to this. Well, to be fair, let’s take an honest look from my perspective to judge how it holds up. Art is usually presented in institutions, in effect, a form of market. (while this statement is tenuous at best, and I realize that, permit me to go on) Institutions are market places of intellectual thought and ideas, or meeting places of buyers and sellers at least. (not so bad for now).

Certainly the cases represent an established institution, something you have to negotiate. You open the door, you’re responsible in some way. Even though they have sold their product to the back of your eyeballs before you were even aware that you were looking at it… That glass case… The vitrine of the museum…IMG_1370

Then the object is kept in there in such a careful way that the whole given is that it will not degrade, it will never change. But that temperature control takes its toll, has its price.   Do you realize that the frozen food section of the market NEVER gets turned off? Do you realize how much electricity that is?   I have no idea but I know enough to be a kind of outraged about it. Do you realize the lengths institutions go to to make sure the objects in their galleries don’t change?

So the art institution dangles this picture in front of you, and it’s almost right there but it really isn’t. If you look very very closely, you may be able to see that you are looking through a glass case, that you are already in the supermarket. And that you have come here too late and you are quite hungry. This isn’t good.


So I’m trying to put something together that is different to that. And this is a really awkward transition, so please understand.

For the exhibition I am proposing, I am asking artists for the raw vegetable rather than the frozen tv dinner. I’m looking for objects that have power, that still have vitamins of some sort, art vitamins. There are different ways of being nourished. What I am actually asking for are the objects that they use or have used in their performances. Some of these are intended to be kept in a pristine condition, though even these show signs of wear, or at least, of having been worn. Others were intended to be expended, burnt, sacrificed. These are the off-hand items. The things made to be used as props. Tools that were not aestheticized-over too much.

As performance artists, we’re usually too preoccupied with what we think is our work to actually see the objects we have drawn to us, lying all around us.

This is how the exercise of the spiritual can change our place without moving our feet. When we perform, we alter our consciousness. Almost always it’s heightened. Sometimes we are distracted from this world by the world we are invoking, the one we can see dancing in front of us, like the reflections in a restaurant window against the dark nighttime sky .Either way, I want to bring together the objects that artists have used in their performance, to examine these tools and costumes like a kind of anthropological sculpture garden. I really want to know if they give off an aura or not. I saw in Mexico one time, a sort of shop / museum of old folk masks, helmets and costumes, all pinned to the wall like giant ghosts of butterflies, powerful dangerous butterflies. They exuded spirit. I want to see if a collection of these objects will exude spirit or not. If they don’t- man, this show will suck. I’ll feel like a failure somewhat, but the beautiful and powerful ghost of a risk. That may be enough for me anyway.