"One Indulgence," currency collage flyer by Mark Wagner for "Santa Confessional"

"One Indulgence," currency collage flyer by Mark Wagner for "Santa Confessional"

(under construction)


Public Art Fund Spring Gala
New York, New York
• In hopes of raising over-the-top  jargon-tastic  critical-theory texts to an even greater level of absurdity than their published form, I culled several of the most treacherously obscure passages from Derrida, Baudrillard, Buchloh et al and formatted them in the time-honored format of "Mad Libs," the 1950s-era jack-in-the-blank word game that has been a part of long-haul family car trips for five decades. Participants were asked by one of four expert questioners (Mike Albo, Amanda Duarte, Risa Mickenberg and myself) for a random series of words -- nouns, adjectives, name of celebrities — to fill in the blanks. The results spoke for themselves, elevating the grotesqueness of critical theory excess up to a surreal, sublime realm of absurdity not seen since the Marx Brothers.  This piece therefore performed an invaluable and long-overdue social service. 


"Santa Confessional"
Art Production Fund
The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, NV
 — see 2013


Creative Time Fall Gala
Neue Haus, New York, NY
• I was reading about a performance piece that claimed to address the criminal eavesdropping of the NSA, but from the description, I saw no link between the two at all. So, I thought, well, what would I do about the NSA? The interesting thing about the situation is that so many people think, "Well, I have nothing to hide, and it's too much work to fight it, so I might as well just let it happen." So I wanted to bring that process to life and make it more real and threatening. So I had a man and a woman dress up in paramilitary uniforms and we conducted a strip-search operation of party guests. The trick of it was that if you didn't like it, you had to demand that they stop. To my astonishment, the piece worked too well. Even armed with the power to call off this very physical invasion of privacy, well over 50 percent of the guests were curious and pliable enough to be stripped completely naked. Interestingly, it was the ones who stopped the process that felt guilty, as though they had done something wrong — a disturbing illustration of the price of exercising your rights. 

Public Art Fund Spring Gala
New York, NY

"Santa Confessional"
Social Animals, Public Sector
Art Basel Miami Beach 
Miami FL
• This hugely popular piece was originally done at Art Basel Miami Beach for the Public Sector show, curated by the Public Art Fund's excellent curator Nicholas Baume.  People waited in line to come into the booth, set up just like a classic confessional booth with the exception of being completely open to the audience; they come in, sit down and confess their sins — or so the thinking went. In fact, people were so nervous at the prospect of judgment from a mystery figure, clergyman or artist, that I ended up doing most of the talking myself. (As one person said, "Oh, it's Santa's confession!") And instead of placating the participants with today's usual homilies about living in the present, not judging your circumstances and accepting the world as it is, I dismantled these pop pieties by applying the great rationalism of the brilliant 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza.  In other words, it is impossible to actually live in the present; you would get killed crossing the street if you didn't judge everything every second; and, accepting life's downturns only ensures that you remain resentful of them. So, one way to experience freedom from self-criticism is by celebrating, not just accepting, who and what and how we are — by celebrating how judgmental or not present or unaccepting we are.  

Collaboration with Ryan McNamara
Public Art Fund Spring Gala 
New York, NY