AS IS: Michael Reinsch at PLACE: Art by the minute/art by the dollar

AS IS. Michael Reinsch. Installation view. 2012.


What’s it worth to you? For three hours last night at PLACE, Michael Reinsch invited audience members to commission him to make art or performance on the spot. A menu of sorts let the viewer know she could pay $5 for one minute; $50 for 10 minutes; $100 for 20 minutes; or up to $6,000 for a one-month project. Viewers paid their money and took their chances. The menu clearly stated “no requests.”

One-minute art. From the performance, AS IS, by Michael Reinsch at PLACE. from Lisa Radon on Vimeo.

Throughout the three-hour performance, Reinsch set the timer and made fast art: objects and works on paper with a devil-may-care profligacy with materials…readymade objects were secured with quantities of packing tape and doused in white glue, housepaint, and fluorescent pink acrylic. He also carved a styrofoam ball with his teeth, inscribed a poem on a white board at lightning speed, and delivered a 10-minute poetry reading of poems that seemed to be sourced from letters of complaint to fast food restaurants.

Threaded throughout, like bits of black pepper on an already flavorful dish, were these references to eating. And if we take eating as one of many forms of consumption and the purchase of art as another, how appropriate that this performance took place in a gallery in the top floor of a shopping mall where any number of accidental viewers who stumbled up the ’80s glass ‘n brass escalators after visits to the food court and the Apple store to discover Reinsch hurriedly artmaking and sometimes, just standing there. “I feel awkward here,” one teen told another and exited.

Reinsch has found a devastatingly smart way to think about the nature of performance, object, and value but more importantly, the nature of consumption and exchange. At the same time, there was an interesting tension between a certain slapdashedness necessitated by a one-minute artwork and absolute, if time-limited commitment on the part of the artist. Apparently Reinsch cut his gums when chewing at the styrofoam ball…as if to say I Am Giving It My All For You…I’m giving you blood.

For one commissioned two-minute performance, Reinsch moved through the audience handing out small sculptures, like colorful, q-tip porcupines. As he handed one to each of us, he whispered in our ears, “You owe me one.”



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