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Post-xerox: the Tantamounter 24/7
Nov 21, 03:22 PM by

The Viennese collective Gelatin (Ali Janka, Wolfgang Gantner, Tobias Urban, and Florian Reither) met in summer camp almost 30 years ago, and have sustained the boyish antics that summer camps spur. Well-known for their outrageous public projects (elevator shaft made of greased naked people, frozen urine sculpture) and clever juvenalia, their latest endeavor is “Tantamounter 24/7” running for seven days and seven nights (until November 23rd) at Leo Koenig Gallery. Gelatin took over the gallery by building a huge plywood box without windows or doors. Their sealed box is outfitted with a bathroom, chocolate, and what must be a mountain of art supplies. Supervised by a bankrupt psychiatrist, Gelatin has been living in the box for the duration of the show and working as a duplicator machine—visitors are invited to put an object, idea or smell into the machine and the artists will create a facsimile.
Near the gallery’s entrance, a yellow lightbulb turns on when they are ready to receive the next object, and a white lightbulb flashes when the duplicate is ready. Instructions scrawled on the wood instructed me to wait about 1/2 an hour for a turnaround. The gallery was crowded with people waiting their turn in line, or waiting for their object to be returned. When a duplicate was returned, everyone excitedly crowded around to see what those mysterious boys in the box came up with. Samples of their duplicates were on display along the gallery desk- odd object using candles, feathers, glue, paper scraps, collage, tin foil and fruit, to name just a few materials. While I waited my turn, a mother revealed that she put her daughter into the machine to be duplicated. The daughter, about 4 years old, was having so much fun hanging out and making things that she stayed inside for hours, periodically sending out paintings to her mother, along with notes from the artists assuring her that the girl was safe and enjoying herself immensely. A little while later, the white lightbulb lit and the little girl was crouching in the dumbwaiter, aglow from her adventure and exclaiming, “They gave me buttons!”

One man put in a box of hair-removal wax for men and received a copy of the box with the text hand-written and strips of masking tape inside. Someone else put in a mini disco ball and received a round object made from a halved pineapple and a halved orange.
My friends and I dug through our bags, seeing what we had that could be a true duplicator challenge. Unfortunately, it’s best to plan ahead, as all we had were a book, a pack of pepto bismol and a yellow glove. We dropped our objects into the entry port and pushed the buzzer. The glove came back paired with a latex glove painted yellow, the book came back with another book made from cut-up magazines, and the pepto bismol came back with a clever package of pink buttons sealed in plastic wrap, with the brand name scrawled in red ink. One woman put in a homemade doll and got back another homemade doll, sewn while she waited.
Tantamounting around the clock, the artists must have gotten delirious at some point, or at least taken naps. The artists also wrote notes to some people, and are gratefully accepting donations of “food and love.” Some visitors were obviously returning, intent on bringing more challenging objects. As I was leaving, someone wheeled in a small tree in a red wagon.
Gelatin revels in creating participatory events that create intense feelings, like anxiety, hilarity, embarrassment, transgression, or lust. “Tantamounter 24/7” encourages an exchange between audience and artist, but Gelatin’s usual feral boisterousness is cloistered in the mysterious box. We are left to excitedly anticipate what the next offering will be Gelatinized into. Putty? Porn? Cigarette butts? Art? Go see for yourself.
-Lyra Kilston