Curtains, Nasher XChange, Entry Nine of Ten

Previously in the Nasher XChange series:

  1. Flock in Space, Nasher XChange, Entry One of Ten
  2. X , Nasher XChange, Entry Two of Ten
  3. Fountainhead , Nasher XChange, Entry Three of Ten
  4. Moore to the Point, Nasher XChange, Entry Four of Ten
  5. Buried House, Nasher XChange, Entry Five of Ten
  6. dear sunset, Nasher XChange, Entry Six of Ten
  7. Music (Everything I know I learned the day my son was born), Nasher XChange, Entry Seven of Ten
  8. Black & Blue: A Cultural Oasis in the Hills, Nasher XChange, Entry Eight of Ten

Insomnia is an exquisite torture. Life must be boring for those who sleep well.

There is a different world in the wee hours of the morning – a world of offbeat television. I grew up with only three television channels – plus maybe a PBS station if you lived near a big city. Then I discovered those channels that you had to use a funny circle of wire antenna screwdrivered into little posts labeled UHF. The kind that you had to tune in by hand – no clicking channel selector. One UHF channel featured old monster movies. All night long. I’d watch them in the pitch black kitchen on a tiny portable television.

Now there are a thousand digital channels – and after a certain time, the channel matrix guide simply says “Paid Program.” Everything is for sale….

Once I saw an infomercial for a product that appeared to be a pointed delta-shaped piece of metal with a large plastic handle attached. You would plug in in, add water through a tiny port, and then rub it over a wrinkled garment. The wrinkles would disappear.

“It’s a miracle,” the pitchman would exclaim.

“It’s an iron,” I’d shout at the television. “They’ve been around for centuries.”

The next exhibition in the series of Nasher XChange works was the one that required me to go the least distance. I basically had to roll over and look at the television.

Denton’s Good/ Bad Art Collective filmed a 28 minute infomercial in a downtown office building. They had a call for volunteers, but I wasn’t paying enough attention and missed the casting call. That was the first part of the exhibition. The next was a static display of the studio they had built on an empty floor of the skyscraper. I had ridden my bike past this many times, but decided (for no real reason) not to stop and look. I wanted to see the infomercial blind, in its native habitat, so to speak, the bedroom television.

My DVR wasn’t working, so I set my alarm for the middle of the night, on a worknight, but it wasn’t needed. Like Gregor Samsa, after a night of uneasy dreams, I awoke, reached over, groggy, but conscious, and pawed the button before the buzzer was able to do its duty.

I clicked the remote and then waited for the Good/Bad Art Collective’s promised subversive infomercial to start. Instead, there was Deborah Norville and Inside Edition. What was this? I watched while Deborah talked about the freaky, the hopeless, and the lurid – a parade of freaks moving between strange eccentricity, and eccentric strangeness. It left me wanting to rinse my eyeballs and afraid of falling asleep – what dreams would this stuff bring?

Maybe I was too early, so I watched the next half-hour. Here, suddenly, was Larry King, selling Omega XL – a miracle material made from green mussel lips (instead of fish) or something like that. The claims were so outrageous and odd – this is truly another world, where truth is lies and money is king.

And that was all I could take – I reset the alarms, mashed the remote and before I knew it, was on to work the next day.

Checking the Good/Bad page the next day I learned there was a mistake, a lack of communication and the mock infomercial was delayed for 24 hours.

So I woke again and watched the real thing. There was the sleazy announcer in front of a bank of multicolored draperies. Every now and then there was an interlude with the volunteer actors and a phone number (What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening) – I should have called the number, I’m sure it was something Good/Bad subversive – but I didn’t.

Something was wrong with the pitchman – he would stumble and clutch his head. Finally, he collapsed, apparently deceased. His feet protruded from the curtains.

The funny thing is, I have no idea what the man said. I was paying attention, I heard him clearly. It seemed to make some sort of sense at the time, but that is another world, that time of night, and the ideas don’t make the transition to the light of day.

Insomnia is an exquisite torture. Life must be boring for those who sleep well.

Photo by Good/Bad Art Collective

Photo by Good/Bad Art Collective

From the Nasher Website:

Good/Bad Art Collective is a Denton, Texas based group of artists that created well over 250 events in Texas and New York from 1993-2001. For the Nasher XChange exhibition, the Good/Bad Art Collective is creating a project entitled CURTAINS that will be part one-night event, part exhibition and part television broadcast exploring notions of viewership and interaction. The Collective’s XChange project will be their first major project in more than 10 years, and coincides with the 20th anniversary of the group.

In the months leading up to the opening of XChange, the Collective will produce a 28-minute infomercial, which will be filmed in a newly created television studio on an empty floor of Bryan Tower, a downtown Dallas highrise managed by Spire Realty. At the one-night opening event on Saturday, October 19, 2013, attendees will be given the opportunity to participate in the filming of the infomercial. Visitors throughout the run of XChange will be able to walk the space in which the infomercial was filmed and see sculptural elements used as props during the opening and in the finished infomercial, as well as select edits of video documenting the one-night event. The finished infomercial will be broadcast on late night and early morning television timeslots in local, regional, and national markets.

Throughout its ten year history over 110 artists and creatives were members of the Good/Bad Art Collective, developing unique one-night events of art, music, and film programming at a break-neck pace, resulting in what The Village Voice described as “Fluxus with ADD.” Partly inspired by conceptual art programs at the University of North Texas offered by artist Vernon Fisher, the group created installations and events that were often interactive, humorous, and thought-provoking.

Past large-scale projects include Very Fake, But Real (1997), a one-night-only event at DiverseWorks Art Space, Houston, in which they built an exact replica of their Denton studio inside the gallery and used the surrounding interior space as a roller skating rink and concert hall; and We’re On Our Way to Dinner, But We Have to Pick Up Something First (1999) for a photography exhibition at the Arlington Museum of Art in which they transformed the mezzanine of the museum into a 1970s-style garden apartment building and used one of the spaces to throw impromptu surprise parties for each of the guests at the opening, installing the polaroid photographs on the apartment refrigerator for the duration of the exhibition