Magazine article Artforum International

Gelitin: Leo Koenig, Inc

Magazine article Artforum International

Gelitin: Leo Koenig, Inc

Article excerpt

At 10 PM on Wednesday, November 16, 2005, Leo Koenig confined four members of the Viennese art collective Gelitin (Ali Janka, Florian Reither, Tobias Urban, and Wolfgang Gantner), American artist Naomi Fisher, and psychiatrist Gabriel Loebell inside a large, double-insulated plywood box constructed in his Chelsea gallery. Tantamounter 24/7 was outfitted with a kitchen, shower, toilet, and beds fabricated by the artists, as well as three truckloads of art supplies: fabric, stuffed animals, modeling clay, paint, a sewing machine, and magazines (including lots of pornography). Cut off from all time-telling aids, the group remained inside until they were "liberated" exactly one week later.

But what might sound like a good old-fashioned endurance performance was actually something quite different. During the show, the gallery was open twenty-four hours a day and the artists turned themselves into a giant duplication machine. Visitors were instructed to insert an object of their choosing into a plywood chute, and after a wait of unpredictable duration, the original reemerged, along with an idiosyncratic facsimile. Over the course of seven days, objects ranging from CDs to food to clothing to other people's artwork--even a three-year-old child--were bundled into this unique contraption. The resulting "copies" were as diverse as their models. Some were painstaking--albeit craftsy--reproductions. Others hewed more to the spirit than the letter, or relied on the readymade (for instance, a box of Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea was represented by a box of Celestial Seasonings Wellness tea).

Tantamounter 24/7 delighted everyone from critics to club kids because it engaged the imagination without requiring specialist knowledge. But the project also addressed, in sublimely irreverent ways, serious art issues, including originality, reproduction, mimesis, and the revolutionary potential of the copy machine a la Hans Magnus Enzensberger. …

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