15 Seconds of Fame Everyday: Twitpic vs. John Baldessari’s Your Name in Lights

15 Seconds of Fame Everyday: Twitpic vs. John Baldessari’s Your Name in Lights

15 Seconds of Fame Everyday: Twitpic vs. John Baldessari’s Your Name in Lights
This month, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is hosting John Baldessari’s Your Name in Lights, his popular commentary on that famous “15 minutes of fame” concept. In this particular installation, it’s reduced to 15 seconds, and broadcast in Museumplain, Amsterdam and simultaneously on the Internet. You can register here to…

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This month, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is hosting John Baldessari’s Your Name in Lights, his popular commentary on that famous “15 minutes of fame” concept. In this particular installation, it’s reduced to 15 seconds, and broadcast in Museumplain, Amsterdam and simultaneously on the Internet. You can register here to be part of the fun.

It’s a good piece, certainly interesting, but I was struck by a Twitpic posted by my friend Rebecca Taylor, who has nearly 3000 followers on Twitter. While the museum’s livestream showed her “fame” reached 16 viewers, her Twitpic of the event reached more than ten times as many. Social media have upset the balance: we’re getting our 15 seconds of fame every day.

What follows is a short email interview with the museum about the show:

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How did Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam link up with John Baldessari?

There is a relationship between John Baldessari and the Netherlands; his first European show was held in the Dutch gallery Art + Project plus he exhibited a two room solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in the early 1970s. Exhibitions followed at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht. The Stedelijk also has several works by Baldessari in its collection.

For this year’s Holland Festival – the largest theatre festival in the country, the Stedelijk sought a work that is a cross over between visual and performance arts, preferably a very visible, public and interactive work that we could show at the Museumplein where the museum is located.

As we follow the practice of John Baldessari, it was a pleasant surprise to learn that he was working on ‘Your Name In Lights’ for the Sydney Festival together with Kaldor Projects. We immediately sensed that this was the project we were looking for. It is community based, interactive and very playful. We did not hesitate and approached the artist. To our great joy and honour he accepted. It did help a little of course that our director Ann Goldstein knows him well from the time when she was affiliated with the MoCA in Los Angeles.

Tell me about a bit about the installation and Museumplein. Do you have images I can post on my blog?

Inspired by traditional mass cultural symbols of celebrity, such as neon lights on Broadway and the marquees of Hollywood cinemas, and even ‘the strip’ in Las Vegas, John Baldessari gives spectators the opportunity for a glittering 15 seconds of fame by offering people from Amsterdam and all over the world the opportunity to present their name on the illuminated L.E.D. sign. He refers to the fact that the need to be in the spotlight, to be recognized and remembered in our culture of celebrity has become a goal in itself.

Baldessari himself has noted that celebrity culture has even spread to the art world and other cultural realms. Your Name In Lights playfully comments on that burning desire for acknowledgement, on the yearning for fame by the masses. Museumplein (Museum Square) is the future cultural hotspot of Amsterdam. All important Amsterdam art institutions are located at Museum Square: Rijksmuseum (National Gallery), Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art.

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How does this installation differ from the Sydney installation? What has the reception been like in Amsterdam?

The Holland Festival and The Sydney Festival are both cultural driven organizations which specialize in theatre and performance art and Your Name in Lights was made possible with the assistance of Kaldor Public Art Projects in both Australia and Amsterdam.

The Holland Festival offers people in the Netherlands the chance to experience public works such as Your Name in Lights and brings internationally renowned arts to Holland.

One of the main differences between the Sydney installation and Amsterdam installation is the way in which the work is displayed. In Sydney, the LED screen was mounted on the side of the Museum of Art, next to the museum sign, so people immediately recognized that it was art. Here in Amsterdam, we have installed the work onto the scaffolding, in front of the forthcoming expansion of the Stedelijk, which is currently under construction. This offers the work another dimension, as visitors to the city of Amsterdam may not recognize the Stedelijk under the scaffolding. In this way, the work raises questions (what is this?) and is more enigmatic.

The Netherlands and Amsterdam also has a large Turkish population and the LED screen here recognizes the Turkish alphabet, so you could say that the work has adapted in relation to its location.

The response here has been brilliant! Amsterdam is renowned for its vibrant and diverse cultural heritage and the work has received lots of press attention both nationally and internationally. The launch last week on June 1st was very festive, with people cheering out loud when their names popped up.

How can participants who aren’t in Amsterdam experience the work? I’m in China, for instance, and I submitted my name. What’s next for me?

The wonderful thing about the work is that everybody can participateand that you don’t even need to be in Amsterdam. Through a live stream via the website yournameinlights.nl one can watch their 15 seconds of fame live, from the comfort of their living room. In this respect the work is both community based and international. We have many names from outside of the Netherlands (MoMA even had it on their Twitter and Facebook) which adds to the diversity of the work. If you have submitted your name, you will receive an email telling you the time and date that your name will be illuminated. The live stream runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week meaning everyone can experience their 15 seconds of fame!

Images come courtesy the museum. Outdoors image is copyright Ernst van Deursen, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. John Baldessari, Your Name in Lights, June 2011, Museumplein, Amsterdam. Holland Festival/Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

For more info: 15 Seconds of Fame Everyday: Twitpic vs. John Baldessari’s Your Name in Lights

an xiao studio: the virtual studio of an xiao mina » social media art

15 Seconds of Fame Everyday: Twitpic vs. John Baldessari’s Your Name in Lights

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