On Valentine's Day, I sold authentic Torres Candy, personalized love poems, flags and plastic flowers the entire afternoon.
Felix, Flowers, Flags & Poems is about how we determine value on an object; monetary, sacred, artistic and what, if any, makes it authentic. “The Adenoid,” an Idish saleman character, was the official salesmen for these items. I set up a makeshift stand of knick-knacks, including American flags and plastic flowers for $.25. The Adenoid recited Rumi love poems to passersby for $1.00 and to art world aficionados, I sold authentic Felix Gonzales Torres candies for $1.25. Every trinket had nominal material value, but potentially lucrative symbolic worth. Torres was a famous conceptual artist whose late 80s work touched on themes of generosity, otherness, and AIDS. Being a visionary and dying way too young of the disease, he attained nearly divine artistic status. One of his seminal pieces, Untitled (placebo), was a minimalist mound of shiny candies that visitors were free to partake. If you were a collector who purchased a version of the piece, it was considered a solid investment. Essentially, the collector had purchased a license to own the idea and had the exclusive right to re-produce. Untitled (placebo) had just been exhibited in a major gallery in Chelsea, so I approached the gallery assistant and nonchalantly asked if I could take some candies. Luck was on my side. The gallery attendant didn’t want to lug them to the trash or find a suitable home to donate them. To my delight, I was able to acquire the entire piece from the show. It filled up an entire construction-size garbage bag. A couple days later, I set up my table a safe distance from my video camera and filmed the entire performance. Towards the end of the day, the director of the blue-chip gallery strolled by and got into a semantics tiff with The Adenoid over whether the Torres sweets were still genuine now that The Adenoid possessed them. Concerned less about the esthetic conundrum and more about preserving the integrity of the Torres market, she tried to take them back. This was all documented. Thanks to her fateful visit, the video was now complete.
charley friedman, copyright