Monday, December 15, 2008

The intervening moment

In some ways art museums ask for it. The white cube strangeness of it all, the temple-like hush, the don’t-touch, the guards, they all cry out for some sort of action. Doing-weird-things-in-art-galleries-before-the guards-catch-you has found favour with amateurs and professional artists alike. Dadaists, Viennese Actionists and more recently the UK Stuckists, among others, have built up a well documented history of getting on the nerves and up the noses of public institutions.

New Zealand’s leading art museum interventionists has to be Daniel Malone. In addition to the powder room work we’ve already mentioned, Malone also had a go at digging up the floor of the Auckland Art Gallery with a jack hammer. Dane Mitchell is another contender. He once placed twenty bucks in the Auckland Art Gallery donation box and then recorded his conversation with the Director as he asked for a partial refund. The goal of such interventions is always to get it done without asking permission. In the case of Jurbal Brown (who back in the late nineties threw up brightly-coloured food over paintings in public collections, including a Mondrian in MoMA, with the aim of “protesting against the stale, obedient, lifeless crusts hanging everywhere in museums”) permission clearly was never an option. Jurbal escaped the police but got a ticking-off from his art school. "We don't see it as artistic. We don't teach things like that." In the world of amateur interventions you can’t go past Jump For Joy the website that encourages people to jump in front of artworks and share their pics.

We bring this up only because a regular OTN-capped reader pointed us to NZ art educated Frank Fu intervening at the Pompidou in Paris. To watch Fu’s crew in white Spandex simulating sex in front of Francis Bacon’s Female Nude Standing In front of a Doorway 1972, go here, or jump for joy here.
Images: Top, left, Fu’s people having it off at the Pompidou, right, being shown off the premises. Bottom, Jumping the Beckman.