24 Hour Incidental + Swiss Institute Swiss Contemporary Art
Nov 6, 11:30 PM by

The Swiss Institute??s long, austere space was a refuge from the awful Saturday Soho crowds. My friend Will and I entered the gallery expecting, well, something to be happening. After all, this was a twenty-four hour performance including the works of ten artists. Curated by artist Jordan Wolfson, 24-Hour Incidental presented a wide range of experiences ?? from object-based and participatory, to observational and imagined. What we first found was a few strapping young men hammering and sawing away at some lumber at one end of the gallery (which seemed to be a last-minute construction, until I noticed the video camera set-up in front of them documenting their every move), a hammock strung up in a corner, and two seated people rapt in meditation with their hands on their noses, while they slowly drew a small vibrator over their biceps.

We stood there and stared at them for a moment, until they got up and continued looking around the gallery. Taking their seats, we read the instructions printed on the white school desks. This was Carsten H?ller “The Pinocchio Effect” (1994/2000), and the diagram and text on the desks instructed us to close our eyes, put our hands on our noses, and pull the vibrator along our upper arm to feel the sensation of our noses growing longer, or shrinking into our faces. We undertook the directives earnestly, and I really did concentrate, trying to find a particular spot on my arm that might trigger some kind of odd sensation in my nose. But alas, my nose stayed exactly the same size and all we got, besides a few minutes of sitting and focusing, which is rare enough, was to mystify new arrivals to the gallery into thinking we were the show.

Over on another desk by the windows was a sign-up sheet and a list of the Magnetic Fields?? 69 Love Songs. If you wrote down your phone number and chose a song, Swedish artist Karl Holmquist would call you and read you the lyrics. We immediately signed up, and about ten minutes later, my friend got the call. In a heavily accented monotone, Karl read the lovesong to us. We blushed.

We then realized that we could sign up other people too, and wrote down several more numbers. Later that day, I called the friends I had signed up. They were scared or excited: one thought he had a stalker, and the other told me she had received the ???most bizarre voicemail she had ever gotten in her life!??? My friend’s sister was convinced that she had mistakenly received a sincere love song meant for someone else, and called back the number to alert the sender that his message had reached the wrong phone. She was rather confused to receive the Swiss Institute’s voicemail.

Piero Golia

I received my favorite song later that day and will save this faceless stranger??s message saying ???should pretty boys and discos distract you from your novel, remember I??m awful in love with you??? for quite a while.

The hammock in the corner that I had originally walked past suddenly made a sound and I went over to peer into it. Hammock isn??t exactly the right word ?? it was more like a zipped-up tent-cocoon suspended from several ropes. Inside was a person sleeping, the tattooed artist Piero Golia. This was his “Untitled (Time Traveling),” and he planned to sleep for the entire 24 hours. If he succeeds I will be very impressed, as the boys building the wooden structure were making a racket. When they were quieter, Peter Coffin “Untitled (Incidental Music)” was played through bull-horns attached to various corners in the gallery. Peter programmed the gallery??s computer keyboard to make sounds when staff typed on it. As a young man intently tapped out his hotmail missive, the tranquil sounds of plucked strings sporatically dropped into the gallery.

Yes Painting by Yoko Ono
For the gallery to stay open for twenty-four hours, with Karl calling number after number, professing love or disdain to strangers, Piero continuing to sleep, and the built structure in the back (Annika Erikson??s “The Construction,” where for 12 hours a projection screen and benches will be built, and then for the next 12 hours, the video will be screened) to develop into something recognizable, required a particular kind of patience from the audience. Or, if not patience, then perhaps a re-structuring of expectations.

No stage, no curtain call, no schedule.

This caused my friend and me to linger, to wait for things to unfold, and not to be disappointed if we missed something happening. Certain performances were impossible to detect, even if they were occurring while we were there. Jason Dodge “Kristin Larson has been to the South Pole,” simply involved an anonymous appearance of Kristin in the gallery at some point, so that unknown to anyone, someone who had been to the South Pole would enter and leave the space. John Armleder??s “Coffee Break” instructed that someone leave to get a coffee or tea, unannounced and undocumented.

At midnight I returned, and the gallery was crowded and rowdy. Annika??s hired help were still hammering away in front of the video camera and more people were testing if their noses seemed to elongate or shrink. The lack of scheduled ???events??? created a relaxed and un-expectant atmosphere, yet there was the sense that anything could happen. People drifted in and out, sat on the floor or greeted friends, while around them, as the hours passed, undetectable things continued to unfold.

-Lyra Kilston