Talisman is part-shaman and muppet. Performed on 14th St in Manhattan for 3-4 hours daily. Each passerby was offered a free talisman from “Old People’s Hair,” “Enchanted Bird Feather,” “Squirrel Head,” and “Nebraska Grass.” Responses ranged from needing confidence, health care, job, and romance.
Preparing to play Bitzalel Friedemann, I grew my beard. Besides a methodical tour, Bitzalel hung Mezuzahs, koshered the museum, and sang Shabbat Kiddush. The audience was informed that the world Jewry would be moving to Nebraska, where they would use the “Art Temple” as their new religious Temple. Jews would even have an “option to buy” the building in their leasing agreement. As the tour finished in the empty gallery, I turned back into Charley being surrounded by home furniture, my wife, and daughter. Effectively, the museum was de-sanitized from art to religious sanctuary to home and finally to a gathering where the audience danced through the modernist museum eating a freshly cooked chicken.
Ms. Geffen, wearing fake hips and a wig, presented two new art pieces she acquired for the museum. I invented two fictitious pieces: One by Tino Sehgal and the other by Italian Fluxes artist, Gino De Dominicis. Sehgal’s piece was called Paper Airplanes. Ms. Geffen explained to her audience how they would be integral to the production of the piece as “interpreters.” In essence, the audience was in charge of making the piece of art that the museum would then invoice to Marion Goodman Gallery. The end result would be to produce as many paper airplanes as possible and conclude by having them all thrown in unison off the museum balcony. Each plane cost $1,000.00, so Ms. Geffen’s commission was ostensibly 15% of the total amount produced. Daniel Veneciano, the director, was then handed an invoice from Marion Goodman gallery that he signed as a document.
In the final gallery, I presented Gino De Dominicis Giant Invisible Cube. For $3M, Ms. Geffen purchased this legendary sculpture for the Sheldon and together the audience moved and re-installed the piece. As the image shows, Ms Geffen and the audience gathered around the perimeter of the invisible sculpture, approximately a 10’ x 20’ square and slowly picked up the weightless behemoth as in a séance.
Performing as my alter ego "The Adenoid," I took the audience through a brief history of performance art, holding up images of artists and describing their aesthetic and role in art history. I chose artists based on different subcategories within the discipline of performance art. I then invited audience participation to recreate some of these key pieces.
On Valentine's Day, I sold authentic Torres Candy, personalized love poems, flags and plastic flowers the entire afternoon.
Felix, Flowers, Flags & Poems is about how we determine value on an object; monetary, sacred, artistic and what, if any, makes it authentic. “The Adenoid,” an Idish saleman character, was the official salesmen for these items. I set up a makeshift stand of knick-knacks, including American flags and plastic flowers for $.25. The Adenoid recited Rumi love poems to passersby for $1.00 and to art world aficionados, I sold authentic Felix Gonzales Torres candies for $1.25. Every trinket had nominal material value, but potentially lucrative symbolic worth. Torres was a famous conceptual artist whose late 80s work touched on themes of generosity, otherness, and AIDS. Being a visionary and dying way too young of the disease, he attained nearly divine artistic status. One of his seminal pieces, Untitled (placebo), was a minimalist mound of shiny candies that visitors were free to partake. If you were a collector who purchased a version of the piece, it was considered a solid investment. Essentially, the collector had purchased a license to own the idea and had the exclusive right to re-produce. Untitled (placebo) had just been exhibited in a major gallery in Chelsea, so I approached the gallery assistant and nonchalantly asked if I could take some candies. Luck was on my side. The gallery attendant didn’t want to lug them to the trash or find a suitable home to donate them. To my delight, I was able to acquire the entire piece from the show. It filled up an entire construction-size garbage bag. A couple days later, I set up my table a safe distance from my video camera and filmed the entire performance. Towards the end of the day, the director of the blue-chip gallery strolled by and got into a semantics tiff with The Adenoid over whether the Torres sweets were still genuine now that The Adenoid possessed them. Concerned less about the esthetic conundrum and more about preserving the integrity of the Torres market, she tried to take them back. This was all documented. Thanks to her fateful visit, the video was now complete.