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2004-07-07

Ana Mendieta
B. 1948 Havana / D. 9.8.1985 New York City
Fall

So being a huge advocate of conceptual art, its ardent “booster” really, I am of course interested to read in Time Out magazine about the artist who is currently showing and selling a limited edition videotape of herself having sex with an anonymous male collector. Apparently he is the original buyer of the piece, and got it wholesale, so to speak. I can’t recall her name off hand, but would imagine that she will be known from now on as the “artist who had sex with a collector on tape,”
anyway.
By contrast, I want to see the Ana Mendieta retrospective at the Whitney. Talk about ringing a bell! The one who fell naked out the window but everyone thought her husband the sculptor Carl Andre had really pushed her because the doorman heard arguing and she’d just won the Prix de Rome; thirty-four floors into the roof of a deli,
you remember.
And then how all the women artists used to paste pictures of her and her work on top of Andre’s steel floor things whenever he showed, after he was acquitted. A vague bell,
perhaps.
But all this art talk inspires me to outline my latest conceptual art concepts in writing, here in fact, now. Let me start by explaining that I do not use my body, nor chickens, nor blood, nor earth in this particular series, this phase being to my mind about none of that,
sadly.
The first involves the continuous projection of a video tape in a dark room on four screens simultaneously, each wall being one screen. (Ideally, the entrance will be through the floor, as in an Aztec tomb.) The tape consists of one hour of channel-hopping with a remote control up and down across eight consecutive channels, five seconds per channel, during the last hour of Saturday night prime time devoted by the networks to the Reagan West Coast funeral obsequies. Five stations offer shots identical, shots subtly divergent, portentous screen labels, and everyone ends with the widow. “My” channels being Russian bootlegged quasi-cable and somewhat idiosyncratic as a consequence, the invariable sequence is also interspersed with one station of scramble, one station of Spanish pratfall comedy, and an episode of that Dick Van Dyke as the detecting doctor show,
very faded.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to record on channel 3 and keep the remote going at the same time, so I didn’t make this tape. It could, however, be reconstructed out of the separate tapes that disparate individuals were no doubt making at that very time—even the scrambled station must be out there, captured
by sad mistake.
My second idea is even more positive, dynamic, synergistic. Visualize gallery walls, three long sides, done in a very pale green, and a continuous dotted line formed by small black rectangular picture frames running all around, about five feet off the floor. Inside each frame, set off by nice cream-colored matte board, is a pale pink and yellow New York State Lotto ticket. Simple paper labels, stuck to the wall under each frame, give the “name” of each piece as the drawing date, SAT JUL03 04 and what have you. The tickets are presented in chronological sequence and about two-thirds of the way through the line, but labeled no differently, is a winning ticket for $34 million dollars. The price list, available as is customary on plastic-covered sheets at the gallery desk, gives this as its value; the others are offered at $100 each. A sprinkling of little red “sold” dots runs up and down the columns, and an anonymous male collector waits in the wings
for stardust.

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