This is not something I’ve written much about, but in my 20s I worked, lived, and traveled as a full-time street performer. It is a rewarding, but challenging line of work, and I was lucky to be shown the ropes in Seattle by a pair of jugglers (Matt Baker and Alex Zerbe) performing as The Brothers from Different Mothers, and a magician / underground legend named Tom Frank. The Brothers taught me how to build and work a large circle show, while Tom introduced me to some of the finer points of the artistry and philosophy of the busking lifestyle. This is kind of funny, since Tom denies caring about theory or philosophy.
Nevertheless, he lives it and radiates it. Tom was mentored by, perhaps, the most legendary of American street magicians, the great Jim Cellini. Among many of Cellini’s pieces of wisdom, which I still carry with me everyday almost 20 years later: “Just being there with your shit is half the battle.”
In New Orleans, I learned some additional pointers from the brilliant Jimmy Talksalot who introduced me to the writing of John Fante and taught me how to street perform in the French Quarter without winding up in jail. I spent part of that summer taking notes about street performing, magic, and all things strange, from the one and only Harry Anderson. When Harry found out I was living in a cheap hotel next to a guy that sounded like he was dying of tuberculosis, he let me come stay in his guest quarters for a while. Harry passed away last year, far too early, but his approach to comedy, magic, and life have helped me travel and perform around the globe. Harry said that when he was little: “I wanted to have everything, and I wanted to get it all by doing magic.” Well done, Harry. And I’m glad a little of that rubbed off on me.
“But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence… illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.”
— Ludwig Feuerbach
Plastic on Plastic is a conceptual artwork which situates a novelty “dog poop” in a plexi-glass box. This piece is an an ironic synthesis between the Russian Suprematism movement – typified by Kazimir Malevich’s 1918 White on White – and the exploration of human waste in conceptual art beginning with Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 “readymade” The Fountain.
This meta-pop-artwork transplants this curious readymade polyurethane sculpture from one absurd context to another, posing questions about the nature of sculpture and simulation, as well as physical and environmental waste. Simultaneously, the piece celebrates the playfulness of the human spirit, which for nearly a century, has found equal parts joy and disgust in this ersatz object.
“The society which rests on modern industry is not accidentally or superficially spectacular, it is fundamentally spectaclist. In the spectacle, which is the image of the ruling economy, the goal is nothing, development everything. The spectacle aims at nothing other than itself.”
— Guy Debord
Why Not Cheeze Balls? situates 10 pounds of hand-cut Corian in a one pound “family sized” plastic jar of Cheese Balls. Corian is a plastic form of artificial marble, and in this piece, 752 unique hand-cut shapes have replaced the 28 ounces of artificial cheese flavored “balls.” This artwork follows in the lineage of the “assisted ready-made” of Marcel Duchamp, Why Not Sneeze, Rose Sélavy? in which 152 cubes of marble pose as 152 sugar cubes in a birdcage. One piece at a time, this artwork excruciatingly juxtaposes an artificial home decorating material with an artificial food product, posing the ultimate question: Could Batman really beat Superman in a fight?
A post-postmodern critique on mindless consumerism and home internet shopping, #571 explores readymade object manipulation through the mediums of poetry and video, juxtaposing the style of modernist poetry with text found and inspired by fake/ironic reviews for the product on Amazon.com.
#571 depicts the ambiguity and irony with which video presents the processes of material and aesthetic, or almost erotic, consumption in reference to the iconosphere of popular culture in which consumption is often associated with erotic motifs. But when is irony an agent of change and when is it an empty celebration of the status quo?
#571 was, as well, an acknowledgment to the removal of the artwork Consumer Art by Natalia LL from the Modern Art wing of the National Museum of Poland due to the allegedly erotic and obscene implications of the work. #571 was developed as part of FakeArtist’s residency with IKONA – Instytut Kultury Ośrodek Nowej Awangardy in Warsaw, Poland.
Durational performance art and audio installation. 2019.
82 statements in 20 minutes along with 82 public transport tickets – each valid for 20 minutes – which emerging youth artist Kalina Klich collected on trips to and from school before switching to paperless tickets. The artist neither agrees, nor disagrees, with each unspoken statement, but proposes each as an example of statements which one might hear or consider during a daily commute. The mask suggests the anonymity of travelers, while the i-Phone and headphones represent the portable world which the artist never travels without. Even as we move throughout our world, do we carry our own worlds with us?
1. Education is the most important thing.
2. Do you know that the Amazon rainforest is still burning?
3. It takes a thousand years for plastic to degrade.
4. You must have an exact plan for your whole life.
5. All homosexuals are pedophiles.
6. You won’t be able to achieve what you desire.
7. Why don’t you ride a bike to work?
8. There is no left-wing party in our government.
9. Power plants are responsible for 75% of energy production in Poland.
10. Nuclear power plants are responsible for 0% of energy production in Poland.
11. You have to be better than the others.
12. Women are people, just as men are.
13. The 13th of October there will be another election in Poland.
14. Every moment without self-improvement is lost time.
15. The music you listen to does not define you.
16. Your life is in the hands of politicians.
17. Church is a divine institution.
18. The better car you have, the better person you are.
19. How often do you go to Starbucks?
20. Don’t take that plastic straw.
21. Entertaining cinema is cinema for idiots.
22. You must have a perfect body.
23. Why don’t you choose to take the bus?
24. The more you earn, the better.
25. In school, only priests should teach.
26. Women should always be well-presented.
27. Unrestricted access to guns is not a good idea.
28. All homosexuals are pedophiles.
29. The more followers you have on Instagram, the more valuable you are as a person.
30. Wearing make-up is lying to a man.
31. You are stupid if you read silly books.
32. How much plastic do you use during the year?
33. The teachers’ strike is a good idea.
34. You must own new things all the time.
35. Time is money.
36. Feminism is not a fascism.
37. Pre-marital sex is a sin.
38. Do you know what love is?
39. Poland is a non-religious country.
40. Smog is not a problem.
41. Love does not end after 40.
42. People with a different sexual orientation are a plague.
43. You have to do everything for yesterday.
44. Why can’t you just be nice to everybody?
45. Each year, 5.5 million children die from famine.
46. Did you buy that plastic bag?
47. Do what you love, but only after you come back from the job you hate.
48. Homosexuality is not a disease.
49. Stop spreading hatred.
50. Teaching is a very respected profession.
51. It is your choice whether you have kids.
52. You really need that new pair of boots.
53. A woman should earn less than a man.
54. Smoking kills.
55. A glass bottle degrades after 4,000 years.
56. Immigrants will steal your job and your wife.
57. Each second is precious.
58. The climactic catastrophe will happen in 2030
59. The countdown to annihilation is showing two minutes to midnight again.
60. A person who believes in a different religion is still a human.
61. Do not follow your dreams.
62. If your grades are not good you will never get anywhere in life.
63. It’s impossible to live without internet.
64. Money is the real power.
65. Modern art has no meaning.
66. Why do I have to read the mandatory literature?
67. You are not special; you have to work harder.
68. Every woman should have at least three children.
69. Sexual orientation is not a fashion.
70. Time passes too quickly.
71. Higher education is an indication of your intelligence.
72. You can’t sustain yourself from art.
73. Social media has huge power.
74. Kids have a voice.
75. Not every politician is only interesting in making money.
76. Vaccinations are not the devil’s invention.
77. Homosexuals deprave our children.
78. You can’t change the world.
79. The life of each human is equal.
80. You should look exactly like everyone else.
81. Don’t do it; you will fail.
82. Work harder all the time.