“Opening” was an installation/performance that took place on May 5th 2011 at FICTILIS Seattle in Pioneer Square. It featured everything that goes along with an art opening – except for the ‘art’ – bookended by two large freestanding walls inscribed with the following quotations:
He who never realizes the difficulty of art never does anything worthwhile; he who realizes it too soon never does anything at all. – Chardin, 1765
At a certain level, we have yet to experience the death of the avant-garde, to imagine what it might be like if the avant-garde really did cease to exist. But if that compulsive repetition by means of which the avant-garde keeps reproducing itself under different names is, as we shall see, its primary form of death, even so, one might still imagine a second death, the death of this repetition itself. To speak of the afterlife of the avant-garde will not be to imagine the next style, manifesto, movement, or postmodern pretense of superceding avant-garde repetitions. The afterlife of the avant-garde will be the first confrontation with the silence of death and will produce precisely nothing. – Paul Mann, 1999
To achieve verisimilitude, we enlisted the help of local improv group Emerald City Improv. Some of their members came and played the typical gallery opening “roles” of Artist, Dealer, Photographer, Intelligentsia, Artwalkers, Thinker, Writer, Celebrity, New Yorkers, Scenesters, Couple, Glarer, Fashion Police, Older Bohemians, Circumambulator, and Wallflower.
Here is some of the text from the placards that hung on the walls next to the empty spaces where the art would have been:
oil on canvas
The Null Set
graphite on paper
(sold as complete set only)
Composition in Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet
latex on gypsum panel
still life with fetters
wood, glass shards, epoxy
Please do not touch.
xerographic print, wood transfer
4 feet 33 inches
esprit de l’escalier
Venetian plaster, maple syrup
space, time, help
not for sale
nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, other
Reactions to the exhibit varied: some people took a look around, said “I don’t get it” and left, others hugged us and thanked us profusely. And everything in between. Some people played along and had long, sophisticated discussions about the art that wasn’t there. One woman took a look in from the sidewalk and immediately turned away, muttering “It’s not worthy.”
And perhaps it wasn’t. No one purchased any of the nonexistant works, though they are all still officially for sale. If you’d like to know more, contact us.