In last Sunday’s New York Times, Whitney Museum curator Donna De Salvo describes the rigorous demands of Larry Weiner’s upcoming Whitty retro on the hapless museum goer. "All art requires something of you, but I think Lawrence makes that requirement a huge part of his art. You have to look and think in a way that demands more of you as a person and a viewer."
Don’t you just love humorless curators who make plopping down your $20 and looking at art sound like a tooth extraction or a final exam in differential calculus? Why not experience the Weinie words the way Larry the Wein actually makes them up? First, find a small amount of high grade pot. (Or, since drugs are bad for your health and still illegal, imagine that you have found some high grade pot the way you would imagine building the imaginary art delineated in Lawrence Weiner’s instructions). Next, roll up that pot in a joint and light it up and smoke it, or, as I am doing now, pretend to do it. Isn’t fairyland fun? Look at all your imaginary friends!
You are now ready to experience the words and world of Weiner. Take a piece, any piece, or to paraphrase the late Henny Youngman, "Take a piece. . . PLEASE!!" Let’s try this Weiner banner at Dia Beacon: "TWO SLABS PLACED AGAINST EACH OTHER TO FORM A FORM WITH ANOTHER SLAB PLACED ON THE GROUND." Now think of Lawrence Weiner and his old running buddy Joseph Kosuth, famous for getting Saudi Arabia to pay him $3 million for a billboard. What do you get? TWO SLOBS PLACED AGAINST EACH OTHER TO FORM A FORM WITH ANOTHER SLOB PLACED ON THE GROUND.
Wasn’t that fun, even though Dr. De Salvo just rapped you on the knuckles with her ruler for being a bad student and sent you after class, like Bart Simpson, to write on the blackboard.
But wait, standing in front of the blackboard, my chalk and eraser, I am becoming even more and more like Lawrence Weiner! What shall I write? How about another Weinerism: IN THE HEAT OF THE DAY IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. Hmmmm, I got it! IN THE HEAT OF THE DAY IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT I BEAT MY MEAT AND GIVE TEACHER A FRIGHT. Poor Donna De Salvo, but this is turning out to be more fun and participatory than Rudolf Stingel!
Now we are crazy trying to trip out with words like Lawrence Weiner. Maybe we can swipe some aerosol cans and go down to the train yards and do a little sniffing and tagging and be JUST LIKE LAWRENCE WEINER! CRAZY MAN CRAZY like Maynard Z. Krebs.
“Lawrence Weiner: As Far as the Eye Can See,” Nov. 15, 2007-Feb. 10, 2008, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 745 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10021
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).