You’re Joking Right?

As social provocateurs, artists are (and always have been) the movers and shakers of society. For centuries they have gained a reputation as “odd,””outrageous,” “wacky,” and maybe just a little “off their block.” However mysterious and strange the creative mind might be to those not so creative; to say the least the result of artist’s actions, whether rational or not, is a less boring world. So in light of artists maniacal behavior and April Fools Day here is You’re Joking Right?…a round up of 10 intriguing, strange, bizarre, and possibly laughable recent events in the art world.

1. Welcome to the Creep Show

Spiders, birds and rats oh my! These creepy crawly creatures among others such as flies, ants, and potentially cockroaches are, instead of pests, the featured guests in an extremely unorthodox installation/performance/ menagerie by French artist Pierre Huyghe at The Artist’s Institute. The exhibition itself is a four-part series in which gallery-made-laboratory serves as a new “home” for these creatures where we, the spectator, are to observe how they “change, grow, and adapt over time.” In a way it’s like a mini ecosystem; a fly electrocutor zaps flies out of the air, providing food for the spiders; and for the rats a hole dug through the institute’s floor allows them to come and go freely. All in all the exhibition has quite the potential to produce a significant reaction from its audience; even if it just sends twinges down one’s spine from a case of the heebie jeebies instead of inspiring awe and wonder. Well they always say any press is good press, so any reaction positive or negative would also be good right? You have until August 17th to visit the vermin, and though reports say that the critters are fleeing the clean white space, for a more natural, dark and dingy environment (such as the gallery basement…) maybe you will be lucky enough to interact with a wayward rat on his way in or out or get snared in a spider’s web. To read more about the exhibition click here.

2. Ode to a Grecian, no Han Dynasty Urn

In a bold and reckless act of protest local Miami artist Maximo Caminero deliberately smashed one of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s colored vases, part of an installation at the newly opened Pérez Art Museum Miami. Mr. Caminero stated that he chose to destroy the urn over his distaste in the museum’s preference for international artists’ over local stating that he did it, “for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here.” Now I do sympathize with Mr. Caminero, being an artist is hard and getting shows (especially in museums) is even harder, but I don’t think walking into a museum and destroying another artist’s work would help him or anyone else’s artistic career in a positive way…Ironically, according to an article in the New York Times Mr. Caminero “admires” Mr. Ai’s work and smashed the urn in ode to one of Mr. Ai’s most famous works, Dropping the Han Dynasty Urn. The photographic tryptic (shown below) depicts the artist dropping a 206 BCE – 200 CE urn to the floor. The reason behind Mr. Ai’s dropping of the urn was (not dissimilar to Mr. Caminero’s motives) “to express the notion that new ideas and values can be produced through iconoclasm.” Unfortunately Mr. Ai was not flattered by Mr. Caminero’s rebellious actions, seeing the incident as an act of vandalism, not performative protest.

3. Bodacious Botticelli

Continuing with museum antics and venturesome visitors, a Spanish museum goer, visiting Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, stripped naked in front of  Sandro Bottecelli’s infamous painting The Birth of Venus. According to sources he “struck the same pose as the goddess depicted in the 15th-century work, then scattered rose petals around him and took a knee in front of the famous artwork.” Possibly performance art or just a pure expression of admiration for the great painting, who knows. Either way the other visitors in the gallery got quite a show before the young man was escorted by police officials off the premises, shouting “freedom, freedom!” as he went.

4. Made in Manhattan

From now until April 13th you can take part in Polish artist Pawel Althamer’s DIY installation Draftmen’s Congress at the New Museum. Part of Althamer’s exhibition entitled The Neighbors, Draftmen’s Congresss certainly upholds the “neighborly” aspect, in the communal sense of the word. The final result is slightly reminiscent of  collaborative sidewalk chalk drawings made by neighborhood kids or perhaps heavily graffitied warehouses, billboards, and bridges. With the purpose to solicit togetherness through participation, Althamer invites you (artist or not) to his metaphorical “block party” and contribute to this every changing installation.

 5. Mew, Mew –  Pew, Pew

Perhaps the most ridiculous thing I have seen recently…Meet Laser Cat the Hungry Hungry Hippo of the art world. The giant inflatable golden cat, Laser Cat, created by Dave Glass and Kill Cooper, is hungry for one thing – your art! So the deal is that you can submit works of art online for Laser Cat to “eat” and then “shoot” out of his eyeballs during a public performance in Miami, where then the artworks are projected onto a wall or building. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Glass stated about the project “There are 3 things everyone loves, Lasers, cats and arts and crafts. Laser cat is a giant cat that projects art. He’s gonna be the first cat [will there be more??] to project people’s art on Miami Beach. We’ve received 10,000 artworks from people all over the world so far, including sculptures, videos, paintings, cat photos and more.” Some big name artists include Stefan Sagmeister, Milton Glaser, Banksy and David Lynch. The performance itself will not just be hilarious and entertaining for spectators, but will also be interactive with individuals pushing a button to project/shoot each artwork out of Laser Cat’s eyes.

 “Feed your art to laser cat and he will project it onto the world.”

6. Farewell Fido

A bit more macabre than Laser Cat, Turkish photographer Emir Özşahin has been creating elegant, yet morbid postmortem portraits of people’s beloved pets. Though it may to many seem a bit odd/disturbing at first, these carefully posed portraits clearly originate out of love, remorse, and memory. Not dissimilar from Victorian mourning portraits, but maybe even a little less creepy, Özşahin’s photographs appeal to our sentimental side as these little creatures lay amongst flowers or in their favorite chair sleeping a peaceful, endless slumber.

7. Turn(er) Back Time

Science and art collide as atmospheric physicists at the University of Patras in Greece turn to early 19th century paintings by J.M.W Turner for clues about global warming and atmospheric changes. Focusing on landscape paintings done between 1500 and 2000, a period which included more than 50 large volcanic eruptions around the globe, scientists are able to see atmospheric changes via the artist’s hand. For instance, in each painting, they looked at the red-to-green ratio along the horizon of each sunset to estimate the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere at the time. As a rather radical approach to scientific research, scientists working on the project are hopeful that these methods will catch on in the field, “The first meteorological measurements were not made until the 1850s, so paintings could be an important source of information.” stated physicist Andreas Kazantzidis. It makes me wonder what Turner would think today if he knew his paintings were not only providing aesthetic joy, but important scientific data.

The Lake, Petworth: Sunset, Fighting Bucks by J. M. W. Turner, 1829

The lake at Petworth House and Park today.

8. Avante-tarte?

Now usually I don’t venture into the culinary arts so much, but this my friend is the definition of culinary ARTS! DiverXO – part restaurant, part art gallery (due to it’s eccentric and rather unusual decor, butterflies on the walls, pig sculptures on the tables etc), part gastronomical experiment? Founded by chef David Muñoz, DiverXO has earned the highly coveted Michelin three-stars as well as put Madrid, Spain on the culinary map. His international fame, in the restaurant world seems well deserved; just look at these masterpieces below…I’m not sure if they should be eaten or grace the walls of a museum!? Muñoz’s ingenuity sets him apart even further, combining “odd” flavors such as strawberries, coffee grounds, whipped cream and baby squid would seem to upset one’s palate rather than please it. To say the least the young chef/culinary artist (he’s only 34) has it “all going on” undeniable talent, edginess, and raw passion that makes for a recipe for success. To read more about DiverXO here is NY Times restaurant review.

 

9. BYOD

BYOB no BYOD (Bring Your Own Dick)! Let’s get assertive ladies.  Some may call it feminism, others may say penis envy, but I say screw the critics, this is all  about standing up for yourself. Through a personal incident, which you can hear about in her video, artist Holly Wilson has devised this wonderfully empowering kickstarter project called Bring Your Dick to the Table, aimed to remind women that they are more powerful than they know. The little 1 1/2 inch dick comes in solid sterling sliver, solid white bronze, or solid 10k gold and comes in a robin’s egg blue velveteen pouch. Though it may seem as if Wilson is playing into the whole “gender inequality” thing, by providing “dicks” for women, her intention that is that the mini dick serves as more of a reminder, not something of use. Basically her point is that women are no less than men and if “all that separates us is a dick, then here is mine. Now lets get down to business.” So ladies in a time of  stress, confrontation, or fear “if holding a small bronze dick and laughing at those voices, those fears, helps you overcome them, then why not? Lets move the mountain, make changes and laugh wildly!”

10. Puking Pollock

At a recent Lady Gaga performance at the SXSW conference in Texas caused quite the controversy when performance vomit artist Millie Brown puked on Lady Gaga onstage. The act, perhaps vulgar, uncomfortable, and just plain disgusting has people feeling a bit queazy. Some felt it was a “glamorization of bulimia” and others were just offended by the act saying that this “isn’t art.” Brown and Lady Gaga would beg to differ with those critics though, both claiming that this is a “pure” form of art and is in fact a beautiful thing. “I wanted it to truly come from within, to create something beautiful that was raw and uncontrollable.” stated Brown about her work in an interview. Lady Gaga stands by her performance and her new album ARTPOP is about “bringing art and music together in the spirit of creative rebellion,” with that said this performance is particularly fitting.

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