Troy Richards

NY Arts Magazine by Nicholas Weist (text)

Welcome to Fantasy Island
November – December 2007 – Ars Ad Hominem
Nicholas Weist on Christopher Ho + Troy Richards

Christopher Ho and Troy Richards’ project &Leisure, which exists in object form as an artist book, is a series of proposals to contemporary artists that suggest vacation packages related to their work. The travel plans range from serious to snarky—everything from an all-American tour through Maine for Jules de Balincourt to a million-dollar shopping spree in Dubai for Barbara Kruger. The most successful grey areas between the two are like the tour of a no-speed-limits section of the Autobahn in a top-of-the-line BMW for John Chamberlain; one can picture him sitting on his hands to keep from tearing up the car, but at the same time finding valuable the experience of speed and power so necessary to the metatext of his work.

The rest of Chamberlain’s trip includes more typical vacation ideas like tours of castles, samplings of local cuisine, and “free days.” These sorts of activities are part of Ho and Richards’ investigation into the knotty problem of leisure time for artists. Is there such a thing, they ask, as a vacation for an artist? Their job is, arguably, to question, sort, and attempt to find meaning in life experiences. Every moment then is more food for powder. But Daniel Joseph Martinez, one of the subjects of &Leisure, thinks that vacation in any context, “has to do with the removal of the ordinary reality and burdens of a normal life.” In this way even Jennifer Dalton’s visit to the Library of Congress, complete with tutorials about their cataloguing system and meetings with information science professionals, can be considered downtime.

But Dalton noted that while such a trip could be valuable to her work and would by all means be interesting, it might be a little bit Fantasy Island—like if one asked for some milk and got a cow in reply. Dalton said she would take the trip as proposed, though, as did every one of the subjects of &Leisure who answered a few questions to put to them about it.

That each of the artists would agree to take their trips is proof positive that Ho and Richards’ ideas should be examined in further depth. They have also proposed that a foundation be organized that funds artists’ leisure time, and that collectors should consider offering vacations to artists in lieu of buying their work. This side of &Leisure investigates the nature of ownership versus an honest investiture in supporting the arts; a litmus test, if you will, for determining the intentions of collectors.

Santiago Sierra, another subject of &Leisure, thinks that, “all time eventually leads to work.” No matter where an artist finds him or herself—whether on an island with a piña colada, as Dalton mentioned she would enjoy, or touring Le Courbusier’s India, which was proposed for Julie Mehretu—every moment is a potential golden opportunity. And, Sierra continues, “Artists are permanently on vacation.”

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