“The Art of Pranks” (Thursday 9:30-Noon)
It was standing room only for this session and the crowd was as excited as I have seen so far at the conference. Beauvais Lyons chaired this panel that featured Sarah Archino, Albert J. Godycki, Hannah Higgins and Simon Anderson, Clark Stoeckley with Andy Bichlbaum as Discussant. Lyons began by showing examples of work that could be labeled as a “prank.” He started with Marcel Duchamp, an easy choice, right? Lyons included images of various artists, office pranks gone awry and performance artists of the 1960’s and 70’s. He also included an image of Damien Hirst. The image had barely appeared on the screen when boos and hisses emitted from the overflowing crowd. Man, do people hate Hirst. Almost, if not more, than Jeff Koons. I find it interesting that some would put Hirst in the same category with people that would cover a fellow co-workers office in aluminum foil or post-it notes. But, maybe, that is just me.
Besides the distaste for Hirst, the idea of “Prank Theory” is an intriguing topic I would like to research further. Some of the points discussed were prank in relation to parody, the ethics of deception and the relationship of art and humor. I think further examination of prank theory could work as a discussion topic in one of my seminar classes. It makes for interesting presentations, that is for sure. Higgins and Anderson had participants throughout the crowd stand and yell, interrupting the presentation. Higgins would take time from her talk to fill the water glass of someone in the crowd, while someone wearing a Joseph Beuys mask stood holding and petting a dead hare.
Clark Stoeckley, dressed as a NYPD Lieutenant, provided an overview of graffiti artists ruining cities and performance artists that are disrupting and manipulating the media. A few of the highlights of Stoeckley’s presentation were images of Improv Everywhere’s annual The No Pants Subway Ride in New York City and the work of Steve Lambert. Lambert is my favorite new artist.
There were many more highlights of this session and I look forward to thinking about them in more detail later. But, as I sat on the floor, I just couldn’t help but to wonder if the same Hirst hatred would continue tomorrow during the session “Prophet/Profit: The Famous Case of Damien Hirst.” I guess I know what I will be doing between 9:30 and Noon.