Law Office and Pedro Vélez Protest the Exploitation of Ann Lee by dirty pimps Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno.
Fountain of Youth: The invitation to the exhibition
Ann Lee Lives!
C-print and ink.
Pedro Velez and Law Office
We donated this work to Puerto Rican collector John T. Belk. The donation has a strict set of rules regarding its exhibition and management. It can never be resold.
The Controversy with Rosa de la Cruz
Rosa had us on the phone for about one hour. We were really nice to her and tried to explain the concept of the exhibition. By the end her monologue she started screaming in Spanglish, telling us that she was on her way to Paris to buy the whole Ann Lee Project from Pierre and that she would never visit our show. She also threatened we would never work again in the art world.
Miami Herald Review:
ENFANT TERRIBLE COLLECTIVE MAKES ART OUT OF OUR SCANDALOUS PAST
BY DAMARYS OCAÑa
BY DAMARYS OCAÑa
Fri, Jan. 24, 2003
There are alternative art spaces, risk-taking curators and middle-finger artists -- and then there's Law Office, Chicago's role-hopping collaborative, which once commissioned an artist to streak naked through an art fair with the crew's name written across his butt cheeks.
Other subversive hits by Law Office, whose members -- artists Rob Davis, Vincent Dermody, Michael Langlois and Rebekah Levine -- conceptualize and mount shows that they and other artists star in: A retrospective of a barely known emerging artist; a take on corporate sponsorship that combined art, Wu Wear and buckets of beer; and the genre-blurring, crossover Sex Party, for which four invited artists built a porn set and produced their own films. The set was then the icky site for a party in which ''trashy attire'' was required.
At its best, Law Office manages to make its enfant terrible, pop-culture driven art into relevant commentary on the art world, its slick connection with commerce, and the role of artists, curators, museum directors and the audience. One of a growing number of young artist collectives springing up nationwide and in Canada, it seeks to turn expectation and art-world hierarchy upside down, or at least blow it up to level the playing field -- and have a really good time doing it. At the very least, it's entertaining.
By comparison with its earlier projects, Law Office's show at Locust Projects, Fountain of Youth, is much more tame. Odd, yes, but no one is swinging naked from the rafters. The show, a Law Office collaboration with Chicago artist/curator/critic Pedro Velez that also includes pieces by Steve Davis, Travis Lanning and Scott Wolniak, comprising a painting, sculptures, drawings, an installation and a video.
The closest the group came to controversy was including Miami collector Rosa de la Cruz's name in a stream-of-consciousness list of phrases like ''a dead pony'' on a poster in the show, which doubled as the show's invitation flyer. De La Cruz, according to Velez, was upset enough to call him and complain. Alas, one show visitor lamented, the conversation was not taped for posterity.
The theme for Fountain of Youth, named after the mythical spring that supposedly brought Ponce De Leon to Florida, is Miami itself. Don't expect extraordinary insight -- no artist has yet properly mined our historical wealth of weirdness and penchant for playing some role in seemingly every major scandal and national tragedy for its art potential.
Law Office, parachuting in, is no exception. But that's the point. Law Office's vision of Miami and, by a case of reluctant osmosis, South Florida, is -- purposely -- CNN's vision, and thus the world's: The breakaway banana republic and playground for the fabulous at the tip of the nation. Catapulting from the phrase ''fountain of youth,'' Law Office free-associated its way through Miami's image. Not terribly original, but fun nonetheless. Note the made-up flag of Miami above the door at Locust Projects.
The most obvious link to South Florida, aside from De La Cruz's name, is Anthrax Painting, a giant black-and-white painting of West Palm Beach's American Media building, where the first post-Sept. 11 case of anthrax poisoning was reported. In the painting, which looks like a postcard from a bygone era, the building is as luridly pristine and tranquil as a hospital, belying its history.
Pedro Velez's Marta Traba VF, a wall drawing/installation, is perhaps an oblique way of referencing Miami's history as a Latin American art hub. A framed, melancholy newspaper picture of Traba, an Argentine art critic, social activist and novelist of the '60s and '70s whose writings put Latin American art on an international stage, commands attention at the center of a wall. Reaching out from the picture's borders, a wall drawing of cryptic text reminiscent of Van Halen font completes the piece's feel of a devoted teenager's private shrine.
Marta Traba VF is juxtaposed with Ann Lee Picture, a photograph of a young woman tacked to an adjacent wall, that makes reference to Art Basel, the newest chapter in Miami's art history. The photograph is a spoof, covered as it is with a sardonic scrawled message to French artists Pierre Huyghe and Phillippe Parreno, the duo who bought the rights to a Japanese anime character, named her AnnLee and used her as the focal point of a series of works by themselves and other artists, then retired her with a fireworks display during Basel. ''Phillippe, Pierre: You cannot kill Ann Lee!'' reads the statement against the tyranny of French artists. ``She is alive and well in Puerto Rico. Go fuck yourselves. L.O. & P.V.''
A video that combines footage of Friday the 13th horror character Jason jumping through a window and attacking a woman with audio of a drunken redneck version of ''Amazing Grace'' has a distinctly trailer-trash vibe. Most engaging in the show is perhaps Adult Crib, a giant, crudely constructed wooden cube with a ramp, the participatory part of the show. Visitors can climb into the work and indulge in a feast of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (probably a reference to the good-time booty-bass fad song ''Peanut Butter and Jelly Time,'' and to the role of art as entertainment). Outfitted with mustard shag carpet and other low-grade accoutrements, Adult Crib is the glib-ironic heart of the exhibition.