Thursday, July 21, 2005

...All of these pieces seemed to be at home at the event, nicely straddling the Scope Hamptons directive to expose viewers to something resembling a new experience and the need for nifty collectable objects. But it was outside, on the sweaty, sunlit lawn, that two special projects most directly thematized the spirit of the day.

The first was Charles Truett’s CBTSA (an acronym for "Charles Badgett Truett Space Administration"), a tent in which a data collection station offered you the chance to put an item from your pocket into a plastic bag along with a description of its significance -- all for the good of pseudo-anthropology! A table displayed items that had been previously collected in small plastic boxes, including pen caps, lost teeth, lucky silver dollars and the inevitable empty condom wrapper. In a commercial art fair centered around flattering the high-class visitor’s sense of himself as smart, this piece cut out the middle man and put the public’s self-love on direct display.

And finally, there was Lifeboat, a project presented by Mary Mattingly and Paul Middendorf "providing education, training, and security for the Hamptons and other Micronations." Walking the fine line between cutting edge institutional critique and New Yorker cartoon, the artists presented a miniature Hamptons in the form of a fully stocked pool complete with a tower of Evian water, American flag and martinis at the ready -- leaving it nicely ambiguous whether this weekend the artists had taken over the Hamptons, or the Hamptons had taken over the artists.

BEN DAVIS is associate editor of Artnet Magazine.


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