Getting Sauza-ed

Notes from the (corporate-sponsored) underground

In the way that Jody Hughes uncovers the desire for fame, the Art Guys uncover the longing for money -- and in fact, make a kind of performance out of blatantly chasing it. For the Suits Project, the pair convinced corporations such as Dunkin' Donuts to sponsor logo patches on a specially designed pair of suits; then, for a year, they wore those suits to every high-profile event possible. More recently, they designed an Absolut vodka billboard on which a real, live human applied 1,000 coats of paint to a giant Absolut bottle. The billboard was deemed a huge success, and has been reproduced in Miami and Los Angeles.

If anyone at DiverseWorks is queasy about an alliance with a tequila company, worried that these corporate-sponsored awards are a form of selling out, Massing's presence serves as an anxiety-relieving joke. Selling out would be embarrassing, but that embarrassment can fuel art.

"There's a lot of purity here tonight," says Massing. "In our hearts, and in our blood." This joke works better. It addresses the partygoers' anxiety on two different fronts: that somehow the party is impure, and that those sneaky pink cosmopolitans have revealed themselves to be stronger than anyone guessed.

Joel Peter Johnson

The Thingness of the Thing, Part III

After finishing a cosmopolitan, a woman stashes the empty glass on a nearby shelf -- the same little shelf that holds Kathryn Spence's rabbit-doll sculpture. Outraged, another partygoer informs her that the shelf is for art (art!). The woman quickly removes the glass.

DiverseWorks's gallery has been transformed into something resembling a nightclub, but the gallery also remains a gallery, and the art remains art. And though the art crowd and the tequila mix fabulously, the tequila would not be allowed to occupy the same shelf as art. The essential boundaries remain intact.

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