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FIVE BEST/WORST UNINTENDED ART WORKS
Vitamin Water: SYNC
Has the influence of net artist Kevin Bewersdorf reached the good people at Vitamin Water? It sure looks like it. Known for producing such absurd objects as a towel printed with a low resolution image of a father carrying his son, and a compilation of free music titled BABES, Bewersdorf’s unique sensibility finds sympathetic response in Vitamin Water’s newest product SYNC. The berry-flavored drink offers a “download of vitamins and antioxidants,” as well as a mystery mpfree available on myspace with the purchase of the drink. Bit torrent sites beware — you’ve got vitamin water competition? The company’s actions speak to long artistic tradition of knowingly creating redundant or useless material as a means of subverting viewer expectations.
Help’s “I Can’t Sleep” Marketing Campaign at Ricky’s
Following the lineage of appropriation artist Sherri Levine, the hair salon and sex toy peddlers at Ricky’s remake Chu Yun’s This Is XX by paying a woman to sleep in their storefront. While Yun asked performers to do the same in the original work, most recently on view at the Younger Than Jesus show at the New Museum, today the window display is part of Help’s “I Can’t Sleep” marketing campaign. Notably, people seem to find the latter work much more successful, probably on account of the fact that it doesn’t have word “art” attached to it. Clearly cleverness has much lower standards in the world of marketing.
Motorbikes Wrapped in Canvas Tarps
Exchanging the bureaucratic aspect of Christo and Jean-Claude’s public wrapping projects for a repair bill, motorbike shops all over the city similarly cover their vehicles with object-specific canvas bags. This year, we mourn the loss of Williamsburg’s greatest bike installation service S&B, which regularly thwarted convention and left its motorcycles uncovered.
Greg Wyatt’s Peace Fountain at St. John the Divine
Greg Wyatt’s 1985 Peace Fountain at St. John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Ave) was originally conceived as art, but makes our list regardless because it succeeds on terms the artist surely hadn’t intended: awfulness. After all, this is a work that brings together crab claws, a kissy moon face, a double-jointed giraffe, a centaur and various human limbs. It’s so Postmodern.
Liberty Tax Service
Who wants to see a little freedom in their tax forms? We know we do. Every April, Liberty Tax Service executes a city-wide performance in which sad-sack Statue of Liberties stand on street corners soliciting business. This work attempts to underscore the human tendency to forget a gift’s history. The French gave us the Statue of Liberty in 1886 as a symbol of friendship and a celebration of independence, but today, accountants remind us that it is a symbol of our freedom to pay taxes.
Homeless People Installation in Front of the New Museum
This isn’t unintended art — it’s just fucked up. For all the talk about museums as a positive economic force, this so-called “bridge” between the poor and the rich still leaves the homeless, well, homeless. The only real change the museum has brought to the poor is that their street corner is now a little better lit. We can thank the New Museum’s front foyer for that.