After all of the wood had had at least one hole drilled in it, it was stacked in a pile in the adjacent window.
Dressed in a wood-patterned jacket and hat, the artist set to work on a pile of scrap boards. With an electric drill, he drilled holes in piece after piece. But some of the scraps are only simulated wood made from folded and painted paper. On these pieces, he instead drew simulated holes using paint and a brush.
Like the butcher’s cap and apron, or the miner’s lamp and company coveralls, the artist’s suit is also a uniform, which identifies him as an economic agent. Periodically, he recites a text which is a series of observations about life in Berlin presented as poetry:
- Haben Sie Arbeit? (Do you have work?)
- Nein, ich habe nicht Arbeit. Ich habe keine Arbeit für Sie. (No, I have no work. I have no work for you.)
- Rotten wood and broken glass
- Spilled paint on the road
- Spilled paint on the sidewalk
- Garbage container number 246, click
- Bricks up,
- Bricks down.
- How many stones in the sidewalk?
The performance examines three dualisms of the industrial process: real vs. simulated; processed vs. unprocessed; and work vs. no work. As well, it examines the artistic process: giving value to worthless materials. The artist’s work on the wood pieces clearly affects their value, but the difference in value between real and fake remains unclear.
When all the pieces have been “holed,” they are stacked in a teetering, squarish pile in the shop window, a tongue-in-cheek salute to industrial production. Farce and economics are woven together into a perilous unity.
text: Edwin Janzen