An exhibition opening today in New York honouring the life and work of Andy Kaufman, highlights the influential Performance Art aspect of his work. Maccarone presents, “On Creating Reality, by Andy Kaufman,” a project presented by artist Jonathan Berger, in collaboration with the Estate of Andy Kaufman, Lynne Margulies, Bob Zmuda, and Tony Clifton, on view from January 12- February 16th, 2013.
The show presents an extensive collection of ephemera and artifacts from Andy Kaufman’s personal and professional life: photographs, correspondence, performance notation, scripts, props and costumes including the original Tony Clifton jacket, record collections, transcendental meditation materials, hand written drafts of his novel “The Huey Williams Story,” hundreds of pieces of hate mail he received from women challenging him to wrestle, in addition to numerous personal effects. The exhibition will act as a portrait of an unclassifiable figure in American cultural history whose work has been seminal in the evolution of performance art, new media and relational aesthetics.
In lieu of explanatory text labels accompanying these materials, a rotating series of Kaufman’s friends, family, and collaborators will be physically present in the exhibition at all times, for all 25 days that the exhibition is on view, representing the diverse range of relationships, which span Kaufman’s life, work, and interests. A central table and chairs within the gallery space will allow these guests to interact and talk with visitors, offering the opportunity for intimate and unscripted conversations about Kaufman with those that knew him, a rare opportunity to engage with primary sources of this particular history.
Guests for the exhibition include Gina Acre, Bill Boggs, Tony Clifton, Prudence Farrow Bruns, Joe Franklin, Dennis Hof, Carol Kane, Michael Kaufman, Carol Kaufman-Kerman, Johnny Legend, Lynne Margulies, Carolyn Marks Blackwood, Al Parinello, Laurie Simmons, Gregg Sutton, Joe Troiani, Little Wendy, and Bob Zmuda amongst others.
Berger’s treatment of the exhibition is largely inspired by the variety show format in which much of Kaufman’s work was presented. Moreover, the accumulation of the special guest testimonies serves to both activate the material on display and reflect upon the often elusive and even contradictory way that Kaufman lived. Similarly, Berger’s relationship to the exhibition exists in a gray area that both incorporates and rejects the standard conventions attached to the role of artist, curator, producer, journalist, director, archivist, biographer, historian, and documentarian. He has chosen to present evidence of Kaufman’s life and work, and not the work itself. The positioning of these materials, coupled with the interactive and unpredictable nature of the circumstances, further underscores how the fluid nature information shapes our understanding of reality and truth, an exploration at the core of Kaufman’s artistic practice, a practice which continues to defy definition.
Accompanying “On Creating Reality, by Andy Kaufman” will be a selection of both classic and obscure audio and video performance documentation from the Comic Relief archive, presented at Maccarone’s new adjacent gallery space on the corner of Morton and Washington Streets.
Michael Kaufman, Andy’s brother and Chairman of the Andy Kaufman Award, an annual event that works to preserve the legacy of Andy’s art, states: “The Andy Kaufman Award assures the world that Andy’s legacy will continue through those who imbibe his spirit, his aliveness and his amazing capacity to seemingly do the impossible. The Kaufman family is happy to know that Andy’s body of work continues to impact the art world as is recognized with the Maccarone project, one I know Andy would strongly embrace.”
In conjunction with Maccarone’s presentation, “Andy Kaufman’s 99cent Tour,” a series of screenings and events at Participant Inc., will take place from February 12th- 24th ( www.participantinc.org.).
Additionally, MOMA/PS1 will host a Sunday Session devoted to the work of Andy Kaufman on February 17th, 2013 featuring the New York premiere of “Tony Clifton Plays the Sunset Strip” (www.momaps1.org/calendar/sundaysessions).
For information on Tony Clifton visit: www.tonyclifton.net For more information on the Andy Kaufman Award: (www.TheAndyKaufmanAward.com)
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