Results May Vary

A contribution to HOLO Magazine, issue 2. Musings on the role of circumstance, chance and serendipity in art. Two examples follow:

Yoko Ono: Cut Piece (1964, 1965, 1966, 1971, 2003)

Members of an audience step up, in turn, to Yoko Ono knelt on a shallow stage, and snip away a portion of her clothes. The expression on her face subtly shifts as deft and awkward cuts alike are made to dance around her. Originally written as a Fluxus style ‘event score’ Ono described Cut Piece as a seed that germinated an idea into experiences. In a revised 1971 version of the score the line “the performer, however, does not have to be a woman” signals strongly that Cut Piece not be read as a feminist work on the basis of the performer being female. The question of what is expected of artists and audiences has rarely been asked so succinctly.

Walead Besthy: FedEx Boxes (2005)

Unimposing cracked glass cubes sit in the centre of the gallery atop the cardboard FedEx packaging they were delivered in. The glass boxes are artworks not through the physical craft of Walead Beshty, but because of the sheer, brute forces enacted on them during their many inter-Continental journeys. The boxes also echo earlier chance events, including the accidental shattering of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass in 1926. In the dark recess of transit Beshty’s FedEx Boxes enjoy a secret, rich, life away from human eyes. Like Schröedinger’s cat they are superpositions: neither object nor artwork until their isolation is interrupted. Duchamp referred to his Large Glass as ‘a delay in glass’, a propensity extended to Beshty’s battered cardboard shells.

Accompanied with illustrations by Fanqiao Wang