Ben Patterson Instruction No. 2 (Please Wash Your Face)
New York City, USA: Fluxus, 1964
10 x 12 x 1.5 cm.
Edition size unknown
"Contained in a small plastic box was a paper towel, a small bar of soap, and the instruction 'Please wash your face,'" Patterson explained in the lead up to a 2011 performance of the work at New York's Third Streaming project space. "As far as I know, this will be the first performance of the piece with total audience participation. People will come to the stage — or optionally, to the bathroom — and wash their face. Afterward, there will be a moderated discussion on the subject: 'How is washing your face in public a work of art?'"
Fluxus advertised Instruction No. 2 as early as the fourth issue of the Fluxus newspaper (cc. fiVe ThReE), in 1964. It was made available both as an individual work (selling for $3.00) or as part of various Fluxkits. All consisted of a plastic box (typically white but sometimes clear) with the same George Maciunas designed label. The paper towels were rubber stamped with the instructions/subtitle.
Instruction No. 1 - a series of dance instructions - was intended for publication through Fluxus, but never produced.
Ben Patterson The Black and White File
Wiesbaden-Erbenheim, Germany: Self-published, 1999
[unpaginated], 32 x 29 x 5 cm., black binder
Edition of 20 signed and numbered copies
Subtitled "A Primary Collection of Scores and Instructions for His Music, Events, Operas, Performances, and Other Projects, 1958 - 1998", this binder contains a chronological collection of scores from the Fluxus artist and composer who died last Saturday (June 19th) at his home in Wiesbaden, Germany. He was 82. Read the Artnews obituary here.
- "Paper Piece", 1961
- "Ants", 1960
- "Duo for Voice and a String Instrument", 1960
- "Lemons", 1961
- "Ouverture II and III", 1961 / 1964
- "Septet from Lemons", 1961
- "Pavane for Flutes", 1961
- "Variations for Double Bass", 1961
- "Pond", 1962
- "Portrait of an Egg", 1962
- "Sneak Peek", 1962
- "Solo for Dancer", 1962
- "A Very Lawful Dance for Ennis", 1962
- "A Biting Peace for Pyla", 1963
- "Examination", 1963
- "First Symphony", 1964
- "How the Average Person Thinks About Art", 1987
- "I Visited the U.S.A.", 1987
- "Artist's Greeting", 1988
- "Critical Encounters", 1988
- "Signature No. 1", 1990
- "Signature No. 2", 1991
- "Bolero", 1994
- "Das Bahnhof Requiem", 1995
- "On the Road with Al...
a Gedächtnisperformance für Al Hansen", 1996
- "A Simple Opera", 1996
- "The Future Makes Progress", 1997
- "Some "Found Objects" - Quotations -
Recently Discovered by Benjamin Patterson", 1997
- "The Three Operas", 1997 ("Carmen", 1990;
"Madame Butterfly", 1993;
"Tristan und Isolde", 1961-1963)
- "World Weather", 1997
- "The Creation of the World", 1998
- "How to Make Art: Benjamin Patterson's Foolproof Methods", 1998
Richard Prince The Catcher in the Rye
New York City, USA: American Place, 2011
[unpaginated], 5.5 x 8", hardcover with dust jacket
Edition of 500
In the fall of 2011, Richard Prince went to the corner of Fifth Avenue, between 78th and 79th Street, just outside of Central Park, to sell some books. He sat on a park bench next to a blanket with a dozen copies of The Catcher in the Rye.
They were all brand new, just back from the printers in Iceland (apparently it was tricky to find someone willing to undertake the project), still shrink-wrapped. The book is a facsimile of JD Salinger's classic 1951 novel, with only two changes: Prince's name has been substituted for Salinger’s, and the author's photograph was removed from the back cover.
The only other difference was the price: it was sixty-two dollars - double the cost of the reissue of the original that was then-available at bookstores. If a buyer asked for the book to be initialed, Prince would happily oblige. But if one wanted it signed by the artist, the price was seventy-five thousand dollars. Inscribed copies would be available only for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
"I know… crazy", Prince noted in a blog post a couple of years later, "But these “premium” prices weren’t arbitrary. They were in line with what you would normally pay for a real Catcher In The Rye if the Catcher was a first edition and it was signed or inscribed. As far as anybody knows there’s never been an inscribed Catcher with a dust jacket. Ever. Not a single one has been recorded or sold. The Library of Congress doesn’t have one. The Morgan. The Rare Book Division of the New York Public Library. Never, no one, anywhere. In forty years of collecting rare books I’ve never come across a Cather that’s has the whole package. Signature, inscription, unrestored dust jacket. I’m still looking. Waiting. Hoping. Holy grail."
Unsigned or initialled copies of Prince's appropriation now sell for upwards of two-thousand dollars, only a few years later.
In the photograph below, Prince is joined by his friend James Frey, who reportedly began hawking copies of the book with the passion of a bible salesman, selling five in ten minutes. A couple of years prior Prince designed a cover for a limited edition version of Frey's novel Bright Shiny Morning. In 2013, Frey contributed a text to Prince's Cowboys catalogue.
He is best known for his 2003 memoir A Million Little Pieces. In 2005, the title was chosen as an Oprah's Book Club selection, after which it topped the New York Times Best Seller list for fifteen straight weeks.
Following the Oprah appearance, The Smoking Gun began looking for a mug shot of the author to publish on their website. After a six-week long investigation, the site published an article in January of 2006, titled "A Million Little Lies". The article described fabrications in Frey's account of his drug abuse experiences, life, and criminal record.
On January 26, 2006, Frey re-appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where the host ambushed the author and his publisher, announcing that she felt "really duped", and "more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers."
It would have been quite a performance to stumble across in the park: a brazen act of copyright infringement (coming just after Prince lost a court case over his use of a Patrick Cariou photograph for his Canal Zone work) accompanied by the author of one of the most famous recent acts of literary forgery.
Anna Banana [ed] Vile: Vol. 1, No. 1
San Francisco, CA: Self-published, 1974
56 pp., 8.5 x 11", velo binding
Edition of 200
The February 14th, 1985 issue of VILE magazine was released eleven years earlier, in January of 1974. It was the debut issue of the large format artists' magazine project by mail artists (and romantic partners) Anna Banana and Bill Gaglione.
Visually, the periodical is a parody of General Idea's influential FILE megazine, which itself parodied the format of Life magazine (at least initially - eventually Life's lawyers cried trademark infringement and demanded a different logo). Other responses to FILE include BILE by Chicago artist Bradley Lastname, which published 25 issues between 1978 and 1984, and SMILE, an open-concept magazine started by Stewart Home in 1984.
The content of VILE was also a response to FILE, and it's "growing disdain for mail art". FILE had began publishing two years earlier, and - with it's close ties to Image Bank - was extremely important to the mail art community in Canada. The inclusion of an Artist Directory in the magazine was responsible for growing the 'network' of mail artists across the country.
But by the time of the September 1973 issue, General Idea were beginning to disengage from the 'network' and growing skeptical of its growth. The issue included a mock obituary announcing the "death" of Ray Johnson's New York Correspondence School and a few scathing comments about the over-proliferation of the genre. For example, Robert Cummings wrote:
“I get stuff every day that makes it barely out of the envelope and into the trash it’s so terrible. Its not the terribleness of the art that worries me, but the enormous waste of paper. I can no longer answer a bad piece of mail with a letter or photo. I used to answer everything I got, but now find myself ignoring 3/4 of it out of principle and lack of energy. There’s too much of it.”
"Maybe those guys were just pushing buttons, trying to get a rise, but whatever their intent, their comments inspired me to create VILE," said Anna Banana, later. "I believe it was the influence of FILE that grew the network at an exponential rate, perhaps part of the “too much” problem. From Vol. 3 No. 3, Spring 1977 on, FILE moved into covering the more mainstream art and music scenes with their New York issue. By then, most of us had our own mailing lists well established, and with the ongoing publication of both the Banana Rag and VILE magazine, the problem was more how to keep up with it all, than how to make more contacts.
VILE began at Speedprint, a small instant print shop in San Francisco where it became apparent to Banana "that anyone could be a publisher." The first issue featured an image of the bare-chested Monty Cazazza tearing out his own heart.
The contents featured examples of international mail art, texts & manifestoes, letters, performance documentation, articles on individual artists & their projects, and faux-advertisements. Each issue featured an introduction by Banana. VILE continued for nine years, until 1983, producing seven issues.
Copies are available from the artist, here, though Vol 1, No. 1 is only available as part of the complete set of seven for $1,750.00. The above copy is from the Banff Centre Library.
A series of tickets for Fluxtours conceived by John Lennon and designed and printed by George Maciunas. Other tickets produced or announced in Fluxus newsletters include "Roundtrip ticket by air to Fort Chimo, Huson Strait", "Roudtrip ticket by air to Goose Bay, Labrador", "Tickets to a Chinese Theatre", "Tickets to Abandoned Buildings", "Tickets to Desolate Places", "Tickets to Miserable Shows", "Tickets to Narrow Streets", "Tickets to Street Corners", "Tickets to Unknown Places" and "20 Hour Bicycle Trip to New York City".
Angela Marzullo Homeschooling
Rome, Italy: NERO, 2016
232 pp., 12 x 20 cm., hardcover
Edition of 700
From March to June of 1975 (a few months before his brutal and still-unsolved murder), filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini published a number of articles under the umbrella title Gennariello. Written as a series of pedagogical letters from an old man to a young boy, the essays served as a criticism of contemporary Italy and of Italian youth. "The new generation is infinitely weaker, uglier, sadder, paler, more ill than all the preceding generations," wrote the director of Salo, who also aimed his vitriol at Christian Democrats ("corrupt, lazy incompetents") and the Communists, for their wholehearted acceptance of consumerism.
Concettina is a 2010 video workbased on these letters, shot by Angela Marzullo in the parking lot of the Villa Borghese in Rome, starring her two daughters. Lucie and Stella are also the protagonists of Proletarian Theatre for Children (2006), where they skateboard around the Vieusseux estate in Geneva, and read texts by Walter Benjamin.
In other performative video works the young girls read from Valerie Solanas' SCUM Manifesto and The Crisis of Culture by Hannah Arendt. Marzullo also directs her daughters in recreations of classic video works by other artists, such as Martha Rosler's seminal Semiotics of the Kitchen.
Released in late January of this year, Homeschooling looks at a decade of works by Marzullo, all involving her daughters and appropriation. Part monograph, part artist book, the volume repurposes text and dialogue from the films and also includes essays by Anna Cestelli Guidi and Francesco Ventrella.
Available from the publishers, for 15 Euros, here.
VSVSVS Kettle Bells
Toronto, Canada: Nothing Else Press, 2016
Weathered construction materials, metal handle
Sizes and weights vary
Ongoing edition, each unique, signed
Water eroded rubble from the Leslie Street Spit - a dumping ground for sand, broken bricks, cinder blocks and earth dredged from construction projects across the city - is scavenged and converted into equipment for ballistic exercises. In between weight-lifting sessions they serve as attractive floor sculptures.
Available for one hundred dollars CDN each, here, or this weekend at the Toronto Art Book Fair. Each are accompanied by a signed postcard.
VSVSVS (pronounced versus versus versus), are a collective of seven artists who live together in a warehouse space that also serves as studio, gallery and sometimes residence for visiting artists.
The members' (Wallis Cheung, Ryan Clayton, Anthony Cooper, James Gardner, Stephen McLeod, Laura Simon, and Miles Stemp) cohabitation is part of their practice, and the venue itself is one of my favourite artworks in the city. The group also consistently deliver smart and funny large scale projects for venues like the Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Metropole, Mercer Union and Nuit Blanche, as well as an increasing national and international schedule of activities.
(see images of their Steam Roller performance for an event I curated in Edmonton last year, in the tags below).
Joy Walker A Circle in Four Parts
Toronto, Canada: Nothing Else Press, 2016
2 x 2 cm.
Edition of 100
Joy Walker A Circle in Four Parts [Special Edition]
Toronto, Canada: Nothing Else Press, 2016
4 Soft enamel pins, plexi box
5.5 cm x 5.1 cm x 5.5cm
Edition of 50 initialed and numbered copies
The Nothing Else Press is very pleased to announce the launch of a new work by Joy Walker. Walker is a Montreal born, Toronto-based artist whose work takes the form of sculpture, video, drawing and printmaking. Her approach is guided by intuition and is marked by a strong interest in process, materiality and play. She has exhibited across the country and internationally. Her work is held in numerous private collections and in the corporate collections of BMO-Bank of Montreal, Grant Thornton, and TD Bank. She is also the programmer of *QueenSpecific, a window gallery on Queen St West in Toronto and is represented by MKG127 in Toronto.
A circle is divided and rearranged into four quadrants to create this black and white graphic lapel pin. The work is available as a single pin or as a special edition that houses an arrangement of four pins in a plexi box. The original design is rotated, reflected and reshuffled, to create 6 different patterns.
Both works will be available at the Nothing Else Press table at the Toronto Art Book Fair tomorrow, and on the website, here. The pin sells for $8.00 CDN and the special edition is $40.00 CDN.