DAN COLEN COME OUT, COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE! DEDICATED TO DASH SNOW
London / May 19 —July 19, 2011
Dash left a copy of Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book (1971) in Dan’s studio, leaving Dan to wonder why. This spring, Dan’s studio bought every available copy of the book in the USA. Now he brings them all to England so that you will take them and spread them around even more. Dan offers Steal This Book like a Krishna at the airport or a Mormon teenager in Times Square. Take this book. Take it with you. Its absence from the rest of the show holds the same weight as its presence in your back pocket.
Kids Stuff (Death Stuff)
In Walt Disney’s version of Uncle Remus’ “De Tar Baby” (1947), Brer Fox builds the Tar Baby as a trap to ensnare Brer Rabbit and turn him into a stew. Sure enough, Brer Rabbit meets the Tar Baby and tries to talk to him. But tar doesn’t talk, so Brer Rabbit feels ignored, gets all worked up and starts punching and kicking the tar baby like a fitful child until he is utterly stuck and, apparently, vulnerable. Brer Fox is pretty proud of himself, until Brer Rabbit convinces Brer Fox that what would be far, far worse than stewing him alive would be throwing him into the prickly briar patch. Unable to resist what he thinks is the worst possible fate for his nemesis, Brer Fox does toss Brer Rabbit into the menacing bramble. But wait! Brer Rabbit was BORN AND BRED in the briar patch and knows ALL the secrets of that briar, so he escapes death LIPPITY CLIP using his special cunning and secret know-how.
Idols and Assholes
At the time of Steal This Book’s release, Abbie Hoffman was criticized for divulging the real trade hustles of the poor and fed-up, thereby, in effect, publishing a survival guide for charlatans instead of subversives. Years later, he grew to resent the soft and organized rebellion of the hippies, missing the feeling of being a real 1950s Massachusetts low-life. Describing the road to Hoffman’s 1981 felony cocaine bust, biographer Marty Jezer writes of “a sense of existential fatalism that, oddly enough, complemented [his] feeling of invincibility.” It sounds like the story of losing youth.
Harry “The Handcuff King” Houdini revealed the secrets of his escapes in writings throughout his life. Despite this, it was always said that Houdini could “dematerialize” at will. People wish to choose magic.
In his later life, Houdini used his mastery of tricks to expose false spiritualists and mediums. Despite this, even some closest to him explained this debunking as proof of Houdini’s supreme
supernatural powers. Every year since his death, to this day, séances are held to contact and return Houdini’s spirit to the earth. He has never rematerialized.
Death Stuff (Kids Stuff)
Get a room, rip open down feather-filled pillows, tear up tons of phonebooks to make confetti, get fucked up and screw around for as long as you can stay awake. Dan and Dash invented the hamster nest for their own indulgence. Then it became photos, a video, and eventually NEST happened inside Deitch Projects art gallery. The second the community was brought in, NEST burst afire in celebration and, just as quickly, smothered out. Dash’s daughter, Secret Snow, was even born a month early to create the perfect occasion.
The magic escape button. Houdini did not use this but might have cited it as empirical proof of our susceptibility to fraud.
Erstwhile Boners and/or a Nostalgic Fisting
Sex is the greatest – especially when you are the one having it – and Dash maximized its potential. In 2006, he photographed Dan with a Jewish prayer shawl draped over his erection to create the banner image for Dan’s “No Me” exhibition in Berlin. I saw the whole roll of film, trying to help Dan select the one he should use. The pictures make it obvious that there was a lot of giddiness and laughter in the air between the photographer and his subjects – a ridiculous love triangle between two friends and a shrouded penis. Dash’s artwork didn’t shy away from the hardcore, the violent, or the filthy – that’s in there. But the way he paired humor with the romance of sex is special. Humor and romance spontaneously react in his artwork, eliciting nostalgia in us instead of fantasy. It’s an expert trick to draw us in.
Spritualists may have been hustlers in Houdini’s view, but there seems no denying the spirit itself, however messy and contradictory it may be. Whatever spirit energy escaped the building with Dash, an equal measure has poured straight back into our midst, swirling around us, keeping us from getting stuck. (M.B.T. 2011)
This show is dedicated to Dash Snow.