1961 Piero Manzoni: The Artist’s Shit: the artist sells, essentially, his “shit” in limited edition cans. We all have our favorites: this one’s a favorite of mine.
Of the many things I love about this piece, the most important is that it is the baldest, most hideously obscene insult that has ever been delivered by a piece of art. It falls within a great tradition of biting the hand that feeds, and the subset of that, insulting the audience.
1971 Chris Burden Shoot: A documented performance wherein the artist has his friend shoot him in the arm. You know you love it.
1972 Vito Acconci: Seedbed: A performance / installation wherein Mr. Acconci whispers not-so-sweet somethings while jerking off under the floorboards at the Sonnabend Gallery. How do we know he was really pulling it? Well, there are some pix…
1974 Chris Burden, again: Transfixed: a documented performance which involves the artist being crucified on the hood of a car on Speedway Avenue, Venice, California.
1974 Joseph Beuys: Coyote: I Like America and America Likes Me: a documented performance / installation in which the artist spent 3 days and nights caged with a wild coyote in René Block’s New York Gallery. This falls into the category Boring the Philistines: the artist does something arduous that’s really very dull to watch, and even duller to see pictures of, and you are supposed to be high-minded enough to care.
1980–1981 Tehching Hsieh: Time Clock Piece: a one year documented performance which had poor Hsieh punching a time clock every hour on the hour for one year. Each time he punched the clock, he took a single picture of himself, which together yield a 6 minute movie.
1990 – 93 Orlan: Images, New Images and The Reincarnation of Saint-ORLAN, are filmed and broadcast in the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Sandra Gering Gallery in New York, the Centre MacLuhan in Toronto showing the artist’s detailed staged plastic surgeries. Let me put it another way: Single-monikered ex-beauty queen cuts herself up in a denial of “traditional beauty” — can you say “clinical?”
1999 Maurizio Cattelan: A Perfect Day: Definitely another favorite of mine: a living sculpture is produced when the trickster/artist duct-tapes his dealer, Massimo de Carlo to the wall. The sculpture fractures a rib, stops breathing and is rushed to the hospital. Another HAPPY DAy!
2000 Wim Delvoye: Cloaca Original is a poop Machine that was first developed and exhibited at the MuHKA (Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp) The feces produced by the Cloaca machines are labeled with logos that mock contemporary popular products such as Coca Cola, Ford, and Mr. Clean, and are sold vacuum-packed in translucent boxes.
2007 Urs Fischer: You: jackhammers Gavin Brown’s Enterprise into a gaping hole.