Schwarzkogler: not the dumbass who cut off his penis, but the dumbass who may have fell out a window.

 
"I'll see you guys in about six months, if I don't die tragically," says Bas Jan Ader as he sets sail for Europe.
 
Christo's Umbrellas decide whether to electrocute or crush their next unsuspecting victim
 
 
Part I: Nothing Is New, Get Over It.
By Steven Goss

So you've decided to become an artist, now what? It sounds simple enough doesn't it? It's not as if you need much to be an artist. There's no test, and lucky for you, the idea of the talented artist went out the window several decades ago. Nowadays any Joe Palette can make a few bucks pedaling his artistic urges, no matter how lame they are. Don't believe me? Two words: Whitney Biennial.

First choose a material. You can't be an artist until you have one. It may also be beneficial to pick up a drinking habit, but it isn't required. Once you have a material, all you need is an idea. Now this is where it gets sticky. There are no new ideas in art. If you think you have a new idea, you don't. The only reason you think you have a new idea is because you're a new artist so you don't spend your time reading about art, you make it. As a result, most artists have a hard time accepting the fact that there are no new ideas. (Why else would there still be so many artists?)

At this point, you may be thinking, "Huh? But I just bought all of this Cadmium Yellow!" Now what? End it all in the name of art? Sorry Van Gogh, it's been done.

ARTIST KILLS HIMSELF/HERSELF AS ART:

While it is rumored that Rudolf Schwarzkogler bled to death during a performance where he sliced off strips of skin from his penis until there was nothing left, it's a rumor and nothing else. In actuality, he died when he either fell or jumped out of his bedroom window in 1969. But don't get too excited. Because on July 9, 1975, Jan Bas Ader began a performance piece entitled In Search of The Miraculous. The piece entailed Ader sailing across the Atlantic from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Cornwall, England in a 13-foot sailboat. Needless to say, he didn't make it. As Barbara McKenna explained, "[Ader had] every expectation of success, [he] had arranged for a show documenting the feat at the Groeninger Museum in Amsterdam, and planned to exploit the success of the 60-day crossing with further exhibitions of material -- diaries, film, photography -- generated by the piece. Ader never reached his destination; six months later his boat was found half-submerged off the coast of Ireland."

Oh well, Ader beat you to the punch. Maybe you think you could put a spin on the artist killing himself or herself tactic and have the artist kill the viewer. Would this be a new idea? Nope, it's been done too.

ARTIST KILLS THE VIEWER AS ART:

OK, so it wasn't in the name of art, but its happened. And if it's happened, then it's been done. In 1983, Susan Edmondson was killed when a 500-pound iron sculpture by Beverly Pepper fell on top of her. Ouch! However, not be outdone, environmental artist Christo killed two people on completely different days in separate time zones with a work of art. On October 26, 1991, Lori Rae Keevil-Matthews was visiting Christo's umbrella project in Tejon Pass, California. The piece was an environmental project consisting of 1,760, 485-pound yellow umbrellas planted throughout the pass. As part of the project, Christo had also installed 1,340, 485-pound blue umbrellas in Ibaraki, Japan. Keevil-Matthews was killed by the piece after a 40 M.P.H. wind pulled up an umbrella and smashed her against a boulder. "Out of respect to her memory" Christo had both pieces taken down. On October 31, during the de-installation of the project in Japan, Masaaki Nakamura was electrocuted to death when the crane he was operating, which was in the process of removing a sculpture, touched a 65,000 volt high-tension line.

ARTIST TAKES LIVE CHICKEN, CUTS ITS HEAD OFF, STUFFS HEAD DOWN PANTS AND THEN USES ITS CARCASS TO PLAY PIANO:

In 1968 during the "Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS)" at Judson Church, New York City, Ralph Ortiz performs The Life of Henny Penny. As Art in America described it, during this piece "Ortiz emerges [from a checkered blanket] with a live white chicken. The bird, tied by its feet to a rope suspended from the ceiling, is swung back and forth. After several swipes at it with a pair of hedge clippers, Ortiz snips off its head. Amid the spattering blood, the feathers and the whirring wings, Ortiz unzips his fly, placing the severed chicken head inside. Untying the carcass, he grabs its legs and, using it like a hammer, belabors the insides of a piano."

Isn't that a bummer? Well at least you won't try to repeat it now. "What does this mean?" you ask. Does it mean you'll stop trying to come up with original art ideas? I'm guessing no. In fact, I'm guessing you'll continue to believe that if you devote years to developing a personal art style, you will come up with a new art idea. Therefore, I will continue to present different already done ideas until the message is clear: "Nothing is new, get over it!"



 
 


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