Spray Can Buyback Program

A local gallery, concerned about the amount of unsolicited graffiti defacing local buildings, begins a spray can buyback program. Anyone with a full can of spray paint can sell it to the gallery at face value, no questions asked. Used spray paint cans are pro-rated, priced by weight.

In response, taggers start stealing their rivals’ paint. Adding insult to injury, they tag the paint cans before selling them to the gallery.

To encourage further participation in the program, the gallery puts the tagged cans on display. The cans are secured on shelves behind wire cages to prevent theft.


The Debate

A friend of the artist stands at the front of the room. They are flanked by two debaters, each concentrating on their notecards, ready to spring into action. At the back of the gallery is a panel of judges seated at a table. The artist, waiting in the wings, nods. The friend begins speaking.

“Hi! I’m a friend of the organizer, he’s an artist. I am not an artist, and definitely not a studio assistant or anything, just a friend. The organizer asked me–as a friend–to stand here and say that what I’m currently doing is definitely not art, and I agreed to do that in a completely non-artist capacity. The debaters will now each make their case for and against, then the panel of judges will provide their response. The judges are all artists, by the way. Okay! What I’m doing is not art. Go.”

The first debater takes the position that the friend is indeed not doing art. The context for the friend’s actions is itself an artistic expression, as the artist designed it and set it into motion. But the friend’s standing declarations can be taken at face value. It is not art, because it is not their expression. It is not a performance, just an ordinary act. They are, in fact, the sole island of honest existence in an otherwise overengineered social charade. Though complicit, they are not guilty of committing an act of art.

The second debater disagrees. Even if we take the friend’s words as earnest statements of their own beliefs, their actions are still deliberately part of an artistic effort. Their disavowal of “artist” status does not make them innocent of behaving like a studio assistant, executing the will of the artist. For centuries we’ve acknowledged it isn’t the person holding the brush, but the mind that conceives and is ultimately responsible for the execution who is the artist. The friend is the brush, their statement is the artist’s, their action is art.

The friend introduces the three judges, all of whom are artists. One judge, a photographer, produces a polaroid taken during the debate. A second judge, a writer, reads a piece of constrained writing they wrote during the debate, quoting and adapting the words of the debaters. The third judge, a magician, performs a trick in which the debaters each choose a card, then find that the cards have changed places.

The friend declares the event is over. The writing, the photograph, and the cards are immediately hung on the gallery walls, labelled Judgment #1-#3.


A hand saw cuts through a series of unused hand saw handles. It is horrific to see. Collect the sawdust in a bag.

Restrain the handsaw to a table using C-clamps. Run a bottle of wood glue along the blade, opening the bottle. Mix the sawdust with diluted wood glue and pour it all along the sharp edge of the blade, rendering the sawteeth useless.

Pour unmixed glue on the flat of the blade, using it as an applicator to spread glue on the cut hand saw handles. Clamp the hand saw handles, restoring them to a functional if scarred state. Do this in view of the hand saw.

Put the hand saw in an unused drawer marked “Tools.”


Multi-Level Marketing

On the opening night, a meetup for salespeople is held in the gallery. The theme of the meetup is recruiting techniques. The leader of the meetup is himself a salesperson, and the founder of the performing company. He begins recruiting onlookers to work in his temporary call center. It is a donation drive, and he is promising uncapped commission.

Once the team is assembled, the call center begins soliciting donations, both over the phone and from gallery visitors who did not join the call center. Each representative is awarded a percentage commission on every donation garnered. All donors are told about the commission.

In exchange for their patronage, the donors’ names will be engraved on a plaque overwriting the names of the representatives.


First the artist sweeps the room. Then he destroys a coffee grinder using an angle grinder. After its destruction, he sweeps up the metal dust, keeping it separate from the other dust of the room.

He places the grinder dust into the grounds holder of an espresso machine. The machine forces water through the grounds and onto watercolor paper.


Construction signs are erected around a section of the gallery floor. Graffiti artists are given construction worker uniforms and extended spray paint canisters with triggers. The graffiti artists paint under constraints: they use only straight lines, circles, and numbers.

At the end of the shift, plumbing and electrical are installed underneath the gallery floor per the indications provided by the graffiti artists. The graffitied section of floor is removed, electrical and pipe still attached to the other side, and hung on the wall.