Tuesday, April 21, 2009

fun in the fundreds

Kriston Capps wrote a nice little piece on Mel Chin's Fundred Dollar Bill Project at the Arlington Arts Center for the Onion. (No, not in the funny part--in THE DECIDER.)

Read it here--and read Kriston's take on why Mel's current project is a "significant contemporary artwork" (can't disagree with that) here.


Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I love the idea here, and I think it's great political theater, and as marvelous a way of getting the word out as anything else I've heard of.

But what makes it art?

11:51 PM  
Blogger jhcudlin said...

I'm assuming you don't want the textbook answer...because, of course, any action, object, scenario, list of instructions, etc. can be regarded as art given the appropriate intent or series of reasons, right?

I will admit, though, there can be a fine line between collaborative public art and, say, political theater.

I guess I would point to the irrational obsessive parts of the project--Mel's giant vault constructed in the St. Roch neighborhood; the grease-powered, retro-fitted armored car, driving all over the country to pick up 7,000 pounds of childrens' art; the belief that somehow this amount will be exchanged for actual cash--without drafting legislation for an earmark, doing traditional lobbying, fundraising, etc.

All of these indelible images to my mind fall more on the side of a sort of poetry than simple (or even complicated) grassroots activism...in the same way that, say, Andrea Zittel's creation of a floating concrete island is not simply an exercise in houseboat design.

If that makes any sense. It's late, so it might not.

12:42 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

When I posted my comment I thought I wanted to have this conversation. Then I thought about it for a while, considering possible answers and rebuttals and so on, and I realized I don't actually want to have this conversation. Because we're not going to convince each other. I'm not sure we should want to, either.

But you answered. I have to say I like it. I'm not sure why, and I don't entirely agree (I think you suspected as much), but I like it. It's pretty much the same as the answer I've gotten from lots of other people, but something about the way you said it, I don't know. There's something affable about it that made me drop my guard.

Maybe it's just that the project is so crazy and endearing I don't care what anyone calls it.

10:22 AM  
Blogger jhcudlin said...

I'm glad to hear you say that. I don't really care what anyone calls it either--I just think Mel is great, and I can't imagine anyone else who's having as much fun doing as many different things--animated films, props for TV shows, video games, environmental science...whatever tag you want to give it, just sign me up.

2:08 PM  

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