August 17th, 2008


White Trash and the Munchausen Docent

Although my ArtFacts ranking shows the beginning of a slow but sure slide towards obloquy and obscurity, I'm still -- I'll have you know! -- within the top five thousand most important contemporary artists (4055, in fact, down from 3268 last November) in the world. I'm still doing kooky performances, possibly somewhere near you.

One problem -- one change, anyway -- may be that I've taken to performing my trademark "unreliable tours" outside officially-recognised art venues. And so we get the weird situation that when I sing Momus pop songs at the Vienna Secession or MUDAM in Luxembourg, the art venue pop concerts bump my ArtFacts ranking up a few notches, but when I do performance art like the London-as-Tokyo Tour or Hieronymous Proctor's Ghost Library Tour, the non-art venues (London's South Bank esplanade and Richmond Library, respectively) ensure it's not considered an art world action.

I'm not complaining -- art is defined as what happens within recognised art world areas, and if we started calling other things art there'd be a big mess. Meanwhile, I want to outline my next two performances, which happen on the monied margins of respectable art world status, at commercial art fairs.

Between the 30th of October and the 2nd of November I'll be occupying an apartment in Mitte for four days as part of Bridge Berlin, which runs alongside ArtForum Berlin. My piece for Bridge is called White Trash, and is based on a Click Opera entry from three years ago, Ask the Rice, which explored Hisae's "Shinto" belief that rice spoken to nicely takes longer to decay than rice roundly and profoundly insulted.

I'll spend four days in an open Mitte apartment -- next door to legendary Berlin pseudo-Chinese yuppie food joint White Trash Fast Food -- conducting an experiment to see whether this is, in fact, the case, by shouting obscenities at one tub of rice ("white trash!") while flattering another. I'll also be praising to the skies the art world folk who come into the apartment (located amongst gallery apartments) in order to set off a rising spiral of benign energy -- or just boost the art world's already-high levels of self-esteem and exacerbate the current nice criticism crisis.

There's tons more to explore in the White Trash performance -- I'll make the apartment over into the kind of "didactic environment" I enjoy so much (school science posters will show rice going through alternative life cycles of enhanced self-worth and crushing, semi-suicidal self-hatred), and I'll be able to contrast Eastern and Western approaches, not just to criticism (orthodoxy versus orthopraxy) but to the idea of the soul contained in matter (animism) and the location of the ego (in the West self-worth is supposed to come from the self, in the East it's the opinions of others that matter). I'll transform myself into a "plant praise shaman" surrounded by "plant spirit technicians" in white lab coats. A white trash green giant exploring the world outlined in my song Lord of the Fields.

My second performance happens in Vienna on the 19th and 20th of November. During Vienna Art Week the galleries of the city's first district synchronize their openings, and I'll be moving from one to the next giving an unreliable tour guide performance in the guise of The Munchausen Docent. A docent is an art museum guide, and Munchausen Syndrome is the compulsion to tell lies in a medical context.