Artist: Tobias Madison
Venue: Swiss Institute, New York
Exhibition Title: Hydrate + Perform / Yes I Can! The Movie: A Preview
Date: March 6 – April 24, 2010
Full gallery of images, press release, exhibition text and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of the artist and Swiss Institute, New York
Tobias Madison’s first US solo show is a newly commissioned project in two parts. Hydrate + Perform consists of many large acrylic tanks, each filled with a different flavor of Vitamin Water. The stunning blocks of pastel color create a counter rhythm to the columns that support the gallery space on Broadway. Other display cases frame synthetic plants, Pollock-ized with drips of paint. Large color prints of Compact Discs scanned and warped constitute wall panoramas. The various layers form a landscape unfolding different states of artificiality.
The second part of the exhibition entitled Yes I Can! The Movie: Preview pairs Madison’s notorious flag paintings with a short film shot in 2009. The road movie leading from Switzerland to Mongolia tracks the use of monuments and brutalist architecture on the way. The flags are embezzled from Radisson Hotels, their slogan Yes I can! crudely appropriated. Stretched as if they are the real thing and pimped with oil paint by different collaborators, they enter art history through the service door. Herewith the status of painting is naturally demystified by Madison.
Curated by Gianni Jetzer
Yes I Can ! The Movie : A Preview
Yes I Can! In 1979 the Radisson Hotel brand adopted the slogan to trademark their most important amenity, customer service. Molded into gold-plated lapel pins, and flown in white writing on royal blue flags above entranceways where an earlier era might have seen “vacancy” in flashing neon, the chain’s logo promises a high-class standard of hospitality at middle-class prices worldwide; a guarantee that a guest’s every request will be met with the postfordist worker’s pep-rally cheer, Yes I Can! And to ensure this skill is carried out uniformly with brand-name reliability, the corporation’s Swedish-American CEO Curtis Carlson instituted a service apprenticeship program. Aiming to fortify profits through improvements in the “non-productive” aspects of a business, he also developed the Gold Bond Stamp System, a prototype for incentive programs that have sold credit cards, transatlantic flights, and “thinking of you” bouquets of FTD flowers ever since.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 1909: The first Radisson Hotel is established and named (in the colonial tradition) after the French discoverer and furrier Pierre-Esprit Radisson. The first American company to establish a permanent site in the USSR, by 1979 there are some fifty Radisson Hotels worldwide and the Yes I Can! service and apprenticeship program is initiated. 2010: the oldest active global hospitality group, the corporation has grown into a chain that owns more than 500 hotels worldwide, its logo now doubling as a symbol for the success of the service industry.
Driving from Switzerland to China this summer, I collected a bunch of Yes I Can! flags, cutting them from the facades of the Radisson hotels I passed as though the slogan was an invitation to do so. For this show I’ve dedicated five to be stretched like canvas, commissioning other artists to lend painterly gestures to this readymade ground. Each canvas features the corporate colors of another patron for the film that served as the object of sponsorship for my trip—Sprite, Ralph Lauren, Isostar lemon flavor and Isostar orange flavor— Shown here at the Swiss Institute, an “autonomous” art-viewing space is rendered a space for advertising, only multiplied by any images or description of the show that circulate as criticism or Swiss Institute publicity. The iconicity of the Yes I Can! logo and its legibility to a common public increases the value of the work, while incorporated into paintings exhibited at a “contemporary” New York art institution, the logo gains new currency, benefiting the Radisson’s cultural identity. Yes I Can! is the slogan of a self governing capitalism in which the involved parties establish the rules and change them at any given point.—Tobias Madison