BC: www.Wendy DesChene .com
1: INHERITANCE Subversive significance and secondary histories all combat the unique message in an object and create a dynamism that can be entertaining, fresh and usually more consequential than its original intent. At times the growth on the object can entirely defeat the original eating away at it until it disappears as itself. But what responsibility does an object have to its own meaning and why shouldn’t the artist exploit this weakness of reality to their more intentional ends. If actuality cannot contain itself than its the honor of the artist to recapture and feed it until its a super version of its former self. Couple that with the fact that entropy of material and meaning in art occurred before my generation, I have no choice but to employ the cooling bodies of my entire historical lineage. This tradition represents Life Art, Abstract Expressionism etc. Luckily this is a wide but almost schizophrenic array to pool my reactions into. However, these ideas once so formidable and radical now lay barely alive on the life support of a museum wall. I say wake art form its coma, or as Oldenburg says gets it off its ass. Not just one particular idea but all art all movements simultaneously let them walk free. Frankenstein then into something that they never imagined they could be. Hence art in this realm is hard to categorize: Is it a happening, installation, painting, conceptual, documentary, public, graffiti, academic, photographic or sculpture? Is it historical reactionism like Modernism or free styling hip-hop happening Postmodernism? Is it mother, sister, virgin or whore? What matters, is that art should roar again. What ties the work together into a cohesive whole is the historical art entity meaning. By combining the many historical moments and meanings together, understanding becomes the cannibal that eats away at itself, until we are full of the hallucinogenic expediency of the objects Wendy DesChene www.wendydeschene.com
3: Above: Ballentines Beer Coozies – For Bob and Jasper, Bronze A piece made to toast artist’s friendships. Why should they have to drink warm beer? Right: Sleeping in Bob’s Bed – Digital Photograph After an unsuccessful attempt trying to “steal” Bob and create documentation of me running down the street while pushing him in his wheel chair through the streets of Miami during Art Basel, I looked at other ways I could update the thinking behind his work “Erased de Kooning”. This historic collaborative work claimed both Bob’s and de Kooning’s places in history, as people who represent different generations of greatness. A portrait of me sleeping in Bob’s bed was the result.
5: America Likes Me Too - Bootleg Video, Stolen from an Exhibition at the Walker Art Museum, 56 minutes Joseph Beuys saw the debasement of the coyote as a symbol for the destruction of American native cultures by the Europeans. His actions were an attempt to heal the wounds created by the settlers, ‘You could say that a reckoning has to be made with the coyote, and only then can this trauma be lifted’. There is also a history of Europeans arriving in America to resolve these past transgressions. I am puzzled by the strange and naive attempts by Europeans to fix the mess they created of Native American culture. My grandmother was a Cree Indian and in this culture, the coyote is seen as the spirit of disorder, an enemy of boundaries, and a trickster of sorts. With this in mind, I stole the Beuys video, "I Like America and America Likes Me", from the museum by creating a bootleg copy and ignoring copyright law while breaking the boundaries of distribution and ownership. My own awkward act of stealing the iconic video are observed in the bootlegged copy emphasizing my own “action”. Although this was an attempt to steal back Native American culture with my poor copy, Native American culture was forever lost and can never return. In conjunction with this action I was also able to take back an important piece of art history that is hardly ever released for view. Most artists only know of this important piece of artwork through the one or two video stills commonly distributed. Now that I can control my own version of it, I can make the original artwork more accessible, allowing for a more responsible appreciation of it.
7: Graffiti Label Project – 60 Photos of “Met” Information Labels Placed Without Permission in Paris Sketching in front of master works is the right of an artist, and a protection for historic ideas continuing into our current conversations. In the fall of 2007 I went to the Met to see the Muriel Steinberg Newman Collection. At this exhibit, sketching was not allowed. I sought out something that I could steal from the show as a form of opposition, so I copied the text from each of the information labels. Collecting only written information, allowed for me to not break any of the perverse regulations. These edited labels, were then re-created onto stickers mimicking the real ones. The MET has a notorious reputation of importing artifacts and art with questionable legal provenance. Following a spirit of resistance, I exported my new labels of stolen intellectual property to Paris. The stickers humorously placed as the labels for the graffiti turn the entire city of Paris into the gallery and give the street works the look of historic importance. Because the stickers are also unauthorized graffiti the balance of the project into the realm of unrestrained exchange of idea, something the museum could not provide. .
9: Caged - 24 Photos Taken at the Sam Hsieh Exhibition at the MOMA Sam Hsieh voluntarily confines himself to isolation in a cell for a year as a way to struggle with the confines of both space and time. Like myself at the time he made this piece he was an outsider to America, in the constant battle of immigration. His piece was a way of overriding the system by physically becoming the process of not officially fitting in, and the absurdity of time and space in the governments view of sanctioned humanity. When I walked in to experience it at the MOMA, I was struck by how little genuine authority the piece maintained in its new time and place. Instead something new was happening. The audience interacted with the piece was not isolated, the space was public, and the event happened in the mind. The audience imagines itself in the cell in the place of the artist. In this the piece succeeds, even in its new manifestation as documentation. The viewer is confronted with the problem of how humanity can be measured how space can affect them through their own imagined judgment of themselves in the same situation. By taking photographs of the MOMA's visitors experiencing the piece I am capturing this exchange. The reflections which capture both “caged” participants of today and the past, one physical and one mental, show that time is not a measured linear thing. My piece complements his, and has the new effect of visually showing the humanity of the different times and places, while distinguishing the lack of isolation we all have in our similarities of experience. Ultimately it is these similarities, which make the process of immigration questionable.
11: Dog – Bronze Dog began when an artist friend of mine accidentally broke my “Red Porcelain Balloon Dog” by Jeff Koon’s. Art intercepted by life is an important thing to consider, and I wanted to turn this now broken art into healthy art again. I decided that this moment in time was something significant and to bring attention to the importance of artist, object, and life intersecting I decided to bronze it in its new broken state. This brought about another complementary statement about value in art as well. As Jeff hires professionals to make his objects, he has no craftsmanship. I also had no craftsmanship or experience in making a bronze. By learning to make a mold and the subsequent bronze, I could echo the lack of craftsmanship in Jeff’s work, by recreating his piece with my lack of experience. The resulting bronze is a document of my struggle to learn this craft and its imperfections record this tactile process. In this way, Dog brings the hand of the artist’s life back to an object that was created in a large edition in a factory.
12: The Carolee Project – 10 Digital Photos in Collaboration with Young Southern Women According to the census statistics, more women are married in Alabama between the ages of twenty and twenty four than any other age. The national average is from age twenty-six to thirty. Women in this region are raised with marriage as a goal at a younger age. Hence, they view their identity slightly different from the rest of the nation. This complexity leads some to misunderstand feminism as a concept that doesn't stand for all of their chosen ideals. Four southern women from this demographic dressed in the classic hoop skirt of this regions past and used their bodies to find a pose that would integrate their image, into Carolee Schneemann’s iconic feminist pieces. The new images were digitally altered into the older ones. The hooped costume melds with a recent past, constructing a question of feminine identity, which is unique to these altered photos. By adverting one distinct view of what a women is, a more realistic and complicated ideal is created.
15: The Butt Project – A Video of Classical Butts Projected Without Permission on the Facades of Famous Art Museums. If ancient artists skimped or cut corners the butt was the most obvious place to do it because the figure would often be placed with its backside to the wall. Contemporary anthropologists judge the quality of the butt to make quick value judgments about the quality of classical statuary. Using asses to find value prompted me to collect the photos of well over 100 butts from the Greek period through 19th century copies. I then created a video from these photos. Using a deep cycle off grid power source, to power a projector and DVD player from my car, I drive to famous museums that can use a value judgment. Without permission I project the “Butt” video on the side of the building in question and ponder the quality inside.
17: RayGun Theater - 5 000 Re-contextualized Video Stills, Stolen from a Whitney Installation, Video 25 minutes Oldenburg wanted his studio to function as a field of action by including active participants, which he called Happenings. These events now only exist as film documentation, which the Whitney displayed recently for the first time in years. Although they wanted to evoke the experience of his Happenings, I was shocked to see all 7 video screens playing films simultaneously in a tight space, one on top of each other, sounds intermingling with the next one. Instead of presenting these films as the artifacts that they are, the museum tried to present them as new moments of action. There is no direct give and take between the artist and audience and the contextual moment of their time is not at play. I wanted to experience Oldenburg’s original intentions so I got involved like the original participants would have been asked to do. Undeterred by the Whitney’s no photography policy, I took out my camera and clandestinely took over 5 thousand still images from his film Ray Gun Theater which I then edited into a new 25 minute abstract film which I now have control of. This new film can be presented anywhere or anytime, to any audience I want. I can project it on the side of a Walmart or in my own living room with my friends. By creating a version following Oldenburg's own parameters, I am closer to experiencing the integrity of the original piece.
18: War – Guerrilla Toy Attack in Brother Joseph’s Grotto, 24 Documentary Photos Benedictine Monk-Brother Joseph Zoettl, built this grotto of a miniature world, in which each building depicted a different place of spiritual importance from around the globe. “Little Jerusalem” as its nicknamed, is a folk art wonder of a world imagined. In these photos this world is attacked from toy soldiers, tanks and other tiny machines of destruction. This miniature army was placed quickly and without permission, in secrecy and stealth, the same orders of any army mission, until the moment of attack. The subsequent photos made during the ambush, evoke fantastical visions and the realities of what we are so accustomed to seeing in the media. However, as these images are obviously different from the main stream media ones, we can actually see the actions we are normally so desensitized to.
20: In the Shadow of MOMA, Slide Show Installation, 2009 Artist and viewers are constantly interacting with the shadows of what has transpired before. Although the pieces do not change often their meaning does, as the culture that carries the history forward looks at it with its specific contemporary understanding. As a culture then we are constantly interacting and subtly changing our own history. I gathered a collection of shadows, taken form historically famous art works from the MOMA in New York. I learned art history lessons through slide shows, so I used that technology when showing the 80 photographs collected for this installation. The audiences shadow had direct interaction with the slides of shadows allowing that the piece to be unique to each viewer. The motion sensors allow the piece to live, only when someone in actively present.
22: The Mona Lisa Project – A Series of Directional Stickers Placed Without Permission and Photographic Documentation In June 2007 (the start date of the project), when “Mona Lisa” was Googled, 283 000 images were found. These links are evidence of her presence as a cultural phenomenon. Despite her age and relevance to our specific culture, more people pilgrimage to see her today than any other single painting. In this she is powerful, and she has become a mass culture destination, like Paris itself. The Louvre actively promotes this cause and provides signs when you are there which help you find this mythic square as quickly as possible. Once there, you will not have the artist’s intended audience experience but something that could never have been foreseen. The sticker project aids the Louvre; in letting art pilgrims know what direction they should go to find her, even when they are not in the museum. As the sign also confronts her audience in unexpected locations, it reminds us that she is in our lives with or without the pilgrimage. Running into a directional sticker of her and contemplating her image in a strange environment or in the context of another museum gives the viewer a more sincere art experience than the carnival ride the museum offers. The general public is also invited to download a sticker and place it in their own ideal locations, enhancing their experience even more.