Artcodex is a loose conglomerate of artists who engage in collaborative practices that combine an absurd sense of humor with political content. Issues that we are interested in dealing with include war, migration, and the human habitat.
IM/MIGRATION of THE SPECIES: A War of Native vs. Non-Native Plants.
For the Emergence show, artcodex developed a project that responded to the unique history of governor's island, while addressing the loaded topic of nativeness and migration.
Originally, Governor's Island was roughly half it's present size, with it's southern half being created in 1912 from the earth taken from the digging of the lexington avenue subway line.
We were inspired by this native/non-native aspect to the island, and decided to create a war that would reflect this unique history. The combatants we chose were plants, specifically vines. Native vs. Non-Native.
The stage for this war was a planter box made in the shape of Governor's Island, with the native plants placed in the original area, and the non-native in the post 1912 landfill. These two areas were separated by a miniature barbed wire fence, and throughout the planter box, strings on which the vines could grow led up from the soil.
The first half of this plant war was dominated by aggressive growth of the non-native plants, which grew much faster and more vigorously than their native counterparts. The second half reflected the true tragedy of war when a fungus infected the entire planter box, leaving nothing alive but the odd mushroom.
Our intention in doing a project of this nature was to contrast the ecological definition of "native" with the political definition. We wanted to question what "native" means in a world that is constantly evolving, both biologically and socially.
The War Show is collaborative art event/exhibition that brings together two groups of artists in the guise of a war. The shows begin when one group of artists, declares war on another group in another city. The two groups then decide upon the rules of engagement, and a long distance propaganda war begins. When the set date arrives, the invading force travels to the target city, and the physical War Show is created. The host artists provide a space to conduct the war, as well as provide housing and support for the visitors.
Artcodex has waged three war-shows since 2006:
The first was called "Tactics", and took place in Manilla, The Philippines, in April of
2006. Tactics was a show in which two artists (one from the Philippines, and one from the US),
would "fight" each other through art. This included a polaroid
shoot-off, a drawing war where the artists drew and then switched
places, attacking the other's previous drawing, and a piece in which a
performance artist stared for hours at an arrangement of collages.
These duels were arranged beforehand, and the artists communicated via
email in order to plan.
The second Warshow was called "Invasion", and was based around a group
from New York City invading Minneapolis. The big difference between Invasion and Tactics was a change from one on one artistic battles to more group oriented work. This allowed for a fictional aspect
of the show to develop which was very interesting. This time, before the actual trip to Minneapolis, we used email to wage a war of propaganda. This practice inevitably led to overt references to the propaganda which was used to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Upon arriving in Minneapolis, the New York artists started collecting information of the Minneapolis artists, using the web to figure out where they lived, collecting photos, and photographing their
homes and workplaces. T-shirts were obtained from thrift stores and screenprinted with the New Yorker' slogan : YOU WILL HEART NY. These were distributed for free to any takers.
For the actual, physical show, each team worked on building a wall down the center of the gallery, dividing the space into two narrow corridors in which each force hung artwork representing their hometown’s aesthetic. The wall was made out of scavenged junk, and was pierced at only one point by a homemade ping-pong table where War Show participants and viewers alike could battle face to
face. TV’s were thrust through the wall blasting demoralizing propaganda onto the other side; A
live interview was projected onto the wall in the “neutral area” and beer indigenous to each region
(Brooklyn, or Minneapolis) was sold to the gallery goers. A safe area was also provided for those
who needed respite, containing a first aid kit, earplugs, sleeping masks, blankets and a bed.
The most recent War Show took place at ABC No Rio in New York, and was an intentionally conflicting history of the war show. On display were object of fictitious relevance, videos which fabricated the history, and a series of autographed photos of dictators, praising our efforts.