January 22, 2009

Erwin Wurm: The trap of the truth

As the Art of Participation exhibition winds down — or ramps up to wind down and close (Feb. 8) — we’ll be posting up a series of text & video of various kinds of interaction, examination, and reflection on the participatory experience at SFMOMA. Following on from last week’s investigation of How Do You Participate with an Ant Farm Media Van, we also did a set of test-cases with Erwin Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures. These sculptures present a series of objects on a platform, with text instructions and picture diagrams indicating what you’re to do in order to enact the sculpture: for one minute. A very nice line from Kathrin Herzog at ArtFacts.net: “Contrary to Duchamp, Wurm designs not readymades, sculptures fixed into an unchanging form, but works that are constantly ready-to-be-made.

We’ll have more of these in days to come. In the meanwhile, as it turns out, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are Wurm fans too. Here’s their take on his deal:

[update! less than 24hrs later, video pulled from YouTube for copyright claim. Bummer. Here’s the Wikipedia entry on the song & the video, and here‘s a “Pretty Cool People” interview with Wurm.

Comments (4)

  • Tammy, nice catch. I appreciate your concern for museum liability!

  • My experience of the art of participation: Made for everyone but me. Being in a wheelchair means you cant see the video in the van. Cant participate when participatory sculptures are intentionally places on a five inch high platform.

    Even the curtain of hanging beads. Which I am not sure was connected to this exhibit, can not be gone through in a chair on your own. Need two hands to go forward oh and i need two hands to split this curtain thing. That’s math is not adding up. Which of course means that there were several galleries I couldn’t go in to without begging someone to help me. How patronizing! Is there even someone who works here in a chair? Cause if not you need someone to tell you how your shows are discriminatory. Thoughtlessness is not an excuse.

  • I just wanted to say that I’m still a bit traumatized by my recent visit. In the PARTICIPATION hall, there are apparently some things that you are NOT supposed to touch.

    In one of the small alcoves there was a bookshelf with a cabinet of art books that had supposedly been shipped to a gallery in Japan and were subsequently censored by Japanese customs. I slid open the glass thinking, clearly, I can peruse the books with the altered images. We noticed later that at one point, there had been a balsa wood jam in the sliding door track, but someone else had broken it, the door was off track, and I was able to easily slide it open.

    A small elderly guard tried to detain me, by yelling, “YOU STAY HERE!” while I had no clue what happened, (At first I thought it was a joke- part of the exhibit, labeled appropriately enough, “Challenging Authority” or something similar. He then called his supervisor to communicate with me. I explained to the supervisor what had happened. He told me that it was very confusing, they should have a sign there, and bid me to enjoy the rest of the gallery. I apologized for having “altered” the items.

    I’m not a crazy and know in all other cases that you just don’t touch the art! I think, in this instance, it was either short sighted of the artist to put his open example on top of the shelf, where you had to get right up to it to view, and to make the cabinet seem accessible, or it was an error for the gallery to put this particular work in the participatory exhibit.


  • john frusciante is hot.

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