July 19, 2003


In line with the theme of LTTR's third issue, "Practice More Failure", ELUSIVE QUALITY champions the realities of failure in relation to fantasies of athletic, sexual, and political achievement and mastery. Your works together make for a powerful aesthetic of the undone. Consciously inglorious and imperfect, they reset the goalposts for success and then win at their own games. Nice jobs to all! Named after the stud Elusive Quality, sire to our unwitting national hero Smarty Jones, the program proposes: What may be sweeter than success are the thresholds crossed while making of all sorts of socio-personal mistakes. Includes work and premieres by Lynne Chan, Valie Export, Mariam Ghani, Caroline Koebel, Tara Mateik, Math Bass and James Tsiang of Marriage, Seth Price, Chadwick Rantanen, Thorvaldur Thorsteinsson and Toyshop Collective.

Curated by Astria Suparak and Lauren Cornell

Images and artist bios at:

Description of Works

1. The Most Real Death
(by three bullets)
Thorvaldur Thorsteinsson
approx. 2 min. (excerpts)

Documentation of 37 Swedes being shot by imaginary bullets while left alone in a room.

2. Mud Wrestle in The Earth Room
Toyshop Collective
approx. 2 min.

Toyshop crashes the untouchable art party, acting on their synesthetic feelings and keeping the line thin between earth and mud.

3. Demolition Derby
Lynne Chan
10 min

Skowhegan, Maine, Summer 2003. After a summer spent spattering himself with pink paint and combing body shops and thrift stores for suitably flashy automotive accessories, self-declared superstar JJ Chinois enters Demolition Derby combat two times. The first is a spectacular failure as his car stalls at the start line; the second is a success of gradual obliteration. A detour on his cosmopolitan-hopping world tour, Chinois dip into this local ritual of virility effects both a full-force embrace of the sport of demolition and a back-handed riff on its status quo.

4. Universal Games
Mariam Ghani
2:20 min.

“Universal Games isolates, freezes, pairs, manipulates, and sequences images appropriated from one week of New York network TV news footage aired in October of 2000, when the two top stories were the Subway Series (The Yankees-Mets World Series of baseball) and the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (the Al-Aqsa Intifada), in order to expose the strange similarity in the way our media outlets report stories of wildly varying gravity.” - MG

5. Everyone Must Tighten Their Belts
Rohesia Hamilton Metcalfe

"A whimsical piece in which a late-night television interviewer attempts to get an unusually wordy guest (a labor relations expert of sorts) to explain the relationship between unemployment and inflation. The language is repetitive to the point of becoming almost abstract in its rhythms setting up an interplay between the ideas and the aural pleasures of the text."; - RHM

6. I want to have your baby
Caroline Koebel
6:10 (excerpt)

"BABY is global peace actionism subverting rightwing USA’s stranglehold on the concept of 'family' and its appropriation of such to justify the aggression machine. Participants become 'moms' who give birth to hypothetical babies, thereby repopulating the world with humane beings and crafting autonomous histories and radical futures. Each moms' videotaped performance appears on the web and on a video compilation. BABY asks the international resistance to come together and digitally reproduce, generating the power of the many to overwhelm the ruling few." – CK

7. PYT
Tara Mateik
approx. 4 min

"In Never Never Land identities collide and adult imperatives of binary gender have not yet taken hold. We suspend our disbelief and salute a constant state of preadolescent gender. In the tradition of the pantomime, the lead roll of Peter (the principal boy) is played by a woman. Michael Jackson plays the modern day Peter Pan in a state of arrested development. PYT throws social codes of masculinity into crisis and suggest MJ, Peter Pan, and (me) are theoretical and cultural transvestites. Imitation is the highest form of flattery." - TM

8. Touch Cinema
Valie Export
1:08 min.

"Touch Cinema is a document of Valie Export's famous street performance, in which the public was invited to touch her inside a curtained box attached to the artist's upper torso. The work is a witty and confrontational comment on the objectification of women's bodies." - Electronic Arts Intermix

9. The Claw
Chadwick Rantanen
approx. 4 min. (excerpt)

Rigged to crush the excitable and materialistic desires of youngsters, and to ease them into gambling with their milk money, crane machines almost became illegal in California. Rantanen is also from California. And he's created a sunny alternative to chronic losing.

10. Fortunate Living Trilogy Part I: Soccer
6 min.

"Soccer invites us to participate in the trans effeminate interception of hegemonic practices, a rupture of principle discipline and athletic display. To build a set, the utilitarian body fits itself into a new form. We are champions of this changing prosthesis.” – Marriage

11. Rejected or Unused Clips arranged in order of importance
Seth Price
11 min.

A collection of tossed clips from Prices studio are tightly edited into a work that distills the artists continuing fascination with the ways authorial voice, masculinity and violence are insinuated into spiritual and material realms.

12. Inside the Pavillion of Virginia Puff-Paint
Will Munro and Jeremy Laing
8:35 min.

"Peer through the glory hole into The Pavilion of Virginia Puff-Paint, porn superstar of the glittery craft underworld. Watch as this insatiably versatile vision of hand-stitched poly-sexuality tickles multiple lacy orifices with detachable foam-stuffed spandex cocks in a heavily embellished and much anticipated triple crossed-stitch debut release. Freshly plowed by a rhinestoned stiletto and dripping pearled entrails from padded stomach cavities, Virginia, having exhausted the possibilities for penetration, collapses in a shower of sequins.” - VP

Participant Inc.
95 Rivington Street
(between Orchard + Ludlow in the Lower East Side)