Tom Sachs turns 56 today.
Saturday, July 23, 2022
New York City, USA: Fluxus, ca. 1966
10 × 12 × 2.5 cm.
Edition size unknown
One of only two editions produced by the artist for Fluxus (the other being Flux Napkins, here), Flux Medicine falls into a few categories of the boxed object Fluxkit. These include 'nothing' (Nam June Paik's blank leader as Zen For Film, Ben Vautier's Flux Holes), futility (George Brecht's Closed on Mondays) and the non-functional (Ken Friedman's Flux Corsage).
The work also reflects the biography of George Maciunas, who served as the publisher and the designer. In 1965 Maciunas produced a work called Flux Mystery Medicine, which consisted of bottled pills, possibly in water. Only a photograph of this work is known to exist. It likely stems from Maciunas' fascination with medicine and the fact that he would buy food with the labels torn off at a discount price. Consuming unidentified canned food is one thing, but random pills is altogether a lot more sinister.
Discarding his empty pill containers via Fluxkits likely appealed to his sense of humour, also (see the less known variation on John Chick's Flux Food, here, and his own work One Year).
The better version (a square white box, included in copies of Flux Yearbox 2) is entirely made up of empty pill capsules. Less to unpack, but somehow more elegant.
The label features one of Maciunas' more simple and effective designs. Unlike the usual vintage graphics and unusual typefaces he employed, this cover label features a carved plaster disk approximately 6.3 × 6.3 cm in diameter, photographed to look pill size. The original, and the mechanical design below, are housed at the Museum of Modern Art, as part of the Silverman Collection.
Kubota died on this day in 2015, at the age of 77.
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
New York City, USA: IC Editions & David Platzker, 1994
17.78 x 17.78 x 1.27 cm.
“The N.Y.C. Pretzel was developed in response to the request for a special unlimited multiple edition for sale during the exhibition of a historical survey of multiples organized by the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg.
Outside our studio window in New York City each day a vendor rolls out his wagon to offer toasted pretzels, one of many providing quick lunches along Varick Street in the center of the New York printing industry. The wagons display oversize color reproductions, and sometimes three-dimensional versions of the bread.
The pretzel seemed a perfect multiple of the city, as characteristic of a particular place as the Fireplug had been of Chicago. Furthermore, it had a precedent in the development of the Knackebrod.
The request for the multiple coincided with my resolution to dispose of numerous large sheets of three-ply cardboard which had accumulated from past projects in my garage. These had been mainly used for laser-cutting scripts and figures in the model From the Entropic Library (1980-1990). The idea arose to laser-cut the Pretzels from the three-ply cardboard and silk-screen on the shape, a procedure linking the subject further to the paper and reproduction concerns of the neighborhood. Besides, as I knew from previous experience, the laser-cutting would leave a burnt odor, recalling bakery production, but also the odor of toasted chestnuts sold on the street next to the pretzels, which pervaded the air of afternoons near the Holland Tunnel.
I asked David Platzker, my assistant, to go out and buy a representative pretzel on the corner, and used this to develop a pattern for the multiple, which was faxed to the laser-cutting factory in Connecticut. They also received the cardboard residue of the garage, which turned out with economical distribution to yield more than 1000 pretzels.
Since a N.Y.C. Pretzel is nothing without its “salt” - large white crystals stuck to the surface - a drawing of these in six variations was developed and silk-screened on one side over a mat brown color in a nearby studio. A rubber stamp signature completed the piece, and the first group of the multiples was hand-carried by Platzker with instructions to show them threaded on dowel sticks in the New York Style of presentation.”
—Claes Oldenburg, N.Y.C., 1996