Andre Stitt vs The Brothers Peeesseye, Paris London West Nile in Brooklyn April 11, 2009
“PEOPLE IN THIS TOWN ARE GONNA DIE TONITE!”
Internationally renowned cult performance artist, Andre Stitt first met a teenaged Fritz Welch,
during a performance at the Commerce Street Artist's Warehouse in Houston, Texas in 1989. They kept in communication with each other over the years and when Welch, now a practicing sonic/visual artist, was curating Acute Zonal Occult Outer, a series of performances relating to drawing installation at The Drawing Center, NYC in 2006 he invited Stitt to create a piece. A couple years later Stitt invited Welch to collaborate in the durational painting project SHIFTwork at The Lab Gallery in NYC. Welch had moved away from NYC the year before and this was the perfect opportunity to arrange a musical mash- up between Stitt and Brothers Peeesseye (Welch on drums & vocals and Chris Forsyth on electric guitar, 2/3 of Peeesseye). This is the audio document of the gig recorded on April 11 2009 at ParisLondonWestNile in Brooklyn NY.
peeinmyfacewithsurgery_urine cakes notes
This is the original 2007 text posted on 8mm website for Pee In My Face With Surgery “Urine Cakes”:
By using the simple equation of invitation + imitation = invocation-to-putrification, we bring forth the flakey yellow mountain called 'Urine Cakes'. Its one half 'covers' of peeinmyfacewithsurgery and one half brand new original PIMFWS discharge. Urine Cakes cd-r is a dark and undead fantasy-for-a-laugh until the invitation requires a more specific and profitable open ended disaster. Listen up! It has nothing to do with the expectations implied by 'covers' in fact there seems to be absolutely nothing going on but alien despair harsh voice chocolate milk snot from shortwave radio field recordings and breakcore spit back within the humble abstraction of pure imitation. We ask you to come with us on our bad trip by becoming peeinmyfacewithsurgery for just one glimpse into the chunk of a wave returning to effervescent incongruity. Our invitation to imitation requires a nest of swollen carpenter ants popping in the sunshine and the appearance of moonshine expired. The huff-puff drinking dreary beginnings are running through an invocation of sound chunks placed in random orbit, in response to a dry wind; ever ample and justified in retaliation to imitation. Dropping on toes and ears like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag!
I'm chuffed as hell to revisit this release after 6 years of moldering! So what follows is some special information about this lost turd-in-a-punchbowl. And remember it alternates between stuff made by our friends and bona fide PIMFWS.
This is a run down of invited guests and their expectorations:
track 1 – Wayne McCann & Erick Mitsak “222” - Well guess what, i don't really even know who these dudes are and Jaime says, “I can't recall who Wayne is, maybe he's Erick's alter ego, but I met Erick in Melbourne, he's a weirdo movie actor and monologuer.” My guess is that these fuckers work for Mi5 & Mossad and somehow infiltrated our cd by drilling a head in Luca 8mm's skull while he was sleeping in order to insert the sounds onto the master tape.
track 3 – Peema$ter “Prairie Song” - In normal life this guy is called Maddog and he's from Amarillo Texas. As a younger feller he was a competitive Pow Wow dancer, like he got all dressed up in Indian clothes that he made himself and did traditional dances. This earned him massive trophies with Geronimo standing on Custer's crushed cranium. During the final year that he lived in London, he dressed and lived all in yellow. His underpants were yellow, his bed was yellow, his apartment was yellow and all his stuff was yellow. He did this with red, blue, black and white, all for one year each. He called it The Color Path.
track 5 – Asa Djinni (Tarek Atoui & Uriel Barthélmi) “Preem” - Jaime and I met Tarek in Marseille when he played on the same bill with Peeesseye. We were both totally amazed by his performance style and the complex boogie of his breakcore splatter. His long armed gangly dance made us jitter in anticipation. Preem is one shit hot remix with some serious conceptual continuity. The howling monkeys say it all! And I'm pretty sure he used some similar wildlife sounds that first time we saw him play.
track 7 – John Seden “Shit Down My Neck With Therapy” - This guy is Random Eyesore. We met in the late 80's. His television always made my headspin and he introduced me to the concept and practice of free improvisation. We always jammed when I visited him over the years and we called it Reel Speed Artist. On this track he takes the horizon apart with a screwdriver of psychik vision and puts back a creeping dada humpback. I imagine he's probably playing a TV, Drug Guitar, turntables and battery acid.
track 9 - 2 Wick To You “Magda Paper Bird Impression” - This is great artist Alex Baggaley who is well known for doing full moon walk/illustrations, homemade rubber stamp drawings and paintings of his absurd performances in the guise of Wandering Goon with stripy socks. He also makes videos and sound works and has been know to hold large groups of art fans hostage inside galleries and churches. This piece was recorded in HackneyWick East London and we were based in Bushwick Brooklyn which is possibly why he called it 2 Wick to You. It sounds like Telly Tubby acid revenge extrusions and makes me need a fag.
track 11 – Naval Cassidy “Pea Surgery” - There is no radio signal safe from the transcendental wiggling of Naval Cassidy! In his normal life he is a prime practitioner of live video performance. In these situations he simultaneously manipulates small objects or props while capturing the activity on a series of miniature surveillance cameras then projecting the image overhead. These signals are switched by hand and by utilizing MaxMSP with soundtracks culled from fragments of his favorite records. He is a killer manipulator of sampled sound and shortwave radio broadcasts and sometimes wears a Batman yarmulke.
track 12 – Crank Sturgeon & Peeesseye “Be Nice!” - This piece was originally credited as Cranky & PIMFWS but the truth of the matter is Chris Forsyth was present on this recording so its really Crank Sturgeon & Peeesseye. We recorded it when were on one of the final Peeesseye tours of the USSA. We had a fantastically fucked up gig at Strange Maine with Herr Sturgeon and Id M Theftable. We all (except Skot) stayed up late drinking whiskey and listening to Forsyth and Cranky twiddling Grateful Dead leads and woke up early to get back on the road. After breakfast we went to the seaside and recorded this ditty which by the way is one of the most significant songs ever written by Nerd Rock pioneers Three Day Stubble. The microcassette recorder was full of yogurt!
Pee In My Face With Surgery is Jaime Fennelly (electronics & voice) and Fritz Welch (voice & percussion). This material was recorded by Uptown Willis in the basement of S.S Willoughby in Bushwick Brooklyn on September 11, 2007.
FW 2007 & 2013
Cooking Charts for High Speed Meditation, Good/Bad Art Collective, April 14 2001
Cooking Charts for High Speed Meditation: Installations, Occupations and Live Demonstrations, a one day curatorial project for the Good/Bad Art Collective in Brooklyn on saturday april 14, 2001. Originally titled, "if music is food, why do we do cannibalism?" It was an exhibition of four art installations, two sound installations, one live demonstration, four live performances two of which were sound installations and one of which was also a live demonstration.
The Good/Bad is a gallery and performance space run by 10 or 12 people on the corner of s.1st and Hooper in south Williamsburg. The building is 2 stories w/ a deck for bar-b-ques and a basement for storage of tools and corpses. The main functioning body of the space is a converted garage performance space and a storefront gallery. There is a bathroom w/ plastic shower and an often broken toilet. A small anti-room separates the bathroom from the gallery and sometimes serves as entrance to the space. The entire building is grey painted brick and all doors and windows are protected by steel roll-up gates. Two dumpsters sit outside next to the garage door, simultaneously accumulating empty bottles and serving as Good/Bad icons.
The exhibition occupied all aspects of the physical environment including the sidewalk on one side of the building. Bob Seng and Lisa Hein constructed a closed system for decorative flood prevention. Two lawn sprinklers situated close to the road on 6 ft. mounts, continuously sprayed water across the 2 windows facing Hooper street. The air was misty, the concrete accumulated puddles but most of the water was caught directly under the windows in altered roof gutters. The water trap wrapped around the building into the front door, traveled half way through the gallery and into a catch basin. The knee high wooden barrel had a pump inside which pulled the water back through a green garden hose over the spectators heads ,out the door to the sprinklers. The windows were cleaned while kids played in the puddles.
The exhibitions title wall, white w/ white vinyl letters, suggested an anemic Lawrence Wiener simulation. On the same wall, L.A. Angelmaker's found photo of a 1950s adult woman and girl was hung in a white frame. The black and white picture object had a chiaroscuro like quality and a kodak logo stuck to the upper right hand corner. Clockwise, on the northern wall,was another piece by Mr. Angelmaker, a monitor w/ a vcr tied to the top of it on a prefabricated wall mount. The wall painted a calming sky blue. The video loop played was document of an art opening in Iceland that features one famous artist cooking Thai food while another shares his mailing list w/ audience members. L.A. Angelmaker's work can also be seen in the video, though he is not present in the video. The picture is high contrast black and white , a quality that makes the Icelandic art fans appear to float off the ground in a ghostlike manner.
Next, in the toilet anti-room, performance video pranksters Stackable Thumb constructed video sculptures w/ shimmering electronic music. The 10 x 10 ft. room was turned into a maze of glowing rectilinear white objects hanging from the ceiling at eye level. Each one had a small picture of weird mutant politicians and talk-show hosts. Beside each face has a push button next to it that triggered a video composed by Valued Cu$tomer and Naval Cassidy viewable from inside a kids periscope fused to a wooden box attached to the wall. Each push of a button restarts the appropriate video w/ its musical accompaniment. Long lines to the toilet guaranteed extensive viewing possibilities.
The first performance occupation of the evening , created by Mike “The Squirrel” Iveson, began in a window bench and featured Sarah Mitchelson and Dave Hickey. Initially two performers hung out in the window in casual wear, copping poses and flashing wads of cash at passers-by. After much anticipation , Abdullah the Butcher arrives wearing nothing but flip-flops, shorts and a black vinyl apron. the next hour of art opening attention was devoted to the application of punk-new romantic hair extensions and hair spray mohawk. Their piece continued for the next 5 hours while circumambulating the entire interior space. activity shifted from mutant fashion dance to constructing spontaneous miniature sculptures.
Loudspeakers throughout the building played continuously evolving generative compositions by RobotWi77!N6 interspersed w/ theoretical texts by MTAA read by an amusing text-to-speech computer voice.
As the night wore on most of the action shifted into the performance space which was primarily filled by the installation by MTAA. Restless Culture Crowd Control was set up by Mark River and T.Whid as an online chat environment to be remotely accessed for experiencing the real time installation. The room was illuminated by slide projections of various crowd scenes; party, rock concert , riot. 3 wooden platform islands and police barricades divided the space. 2 of the platforms were used as musical equipment risers and one served as beer distribution center that caused audience members to enter into the virtual crowd by approaching the keg. A small work station w/ laptops, p.a. and projectors was MTAA's HQ. A projection of the online activities provided a picture of the virtual audience and the digital video image that they were viewing.
The police barricades seemed an appropriate setting for the musical action of Tamio Shiraishi and his accompanist Keith NNCK. Tamio busted out a short set of saxophone noise w/ voice while Keith activated a light sensitive wraithlike intoner. He wailed for a minute or two before wandering into the gallery shouting kamikaze love songs, then onto the street to hassle the spirits. finishing w/ anti-art ranting in japanese while Keith beat on an amplified barricade w/ a drum stick.
Sommatikk then filled the entire building and much of the street w/ incredible sounds outside time. Using a guitar and amplifier he was able to build a huge block of music that immediately began ascending and seemed to rise for the next 30 minutes, body shaking beautiful minimalism. By standing on the beer platform, audience members were able to experience a full head-to-toe gutwrenching body vibration.
This is about when the police showed up the first time that evening. Initially investigating a noise complaint, they seemed hypnotized sporting ear to ear grins standing at the front entrance. “We just wanna know whats goin' on here . we're not goin' in there. What is this?”
As Mike and Sarah transitioned into the darkness, the duo Wi77!N6 w/ special guest Steven O'Malley (aka Sommatikk) got on their islands and began to drift. Chaotic free drumming proceeded to collide and circle around the heavy slow staccato guitar wall. With musicians on the perimeter, it made it possible for the audience to freely wander through the valley of dischordant of aspiring sonic intensions. MTAA projected their chat interactions w/ live digital footage next to the drumset. The real time action happened at more than double time its online visual analogue. This is about when the police made their second visit; during a section of falling-downstairs-backward percussion in a massive field of weaving guitar sludge played by 2 hairy guys facing the wall.
At this point the scene had shifted; art opening vibe morphed into stumbling party filled w/ living artifacts. Mike and Sarah's little plastic bald eagles wearing mohawks balancing on little blue brandy glasses duct taped to the walls. columns of hand printed K-Y jelly logos punctuating the buildings perimeters.
To finish the night, precisely at midnight, Fight Evil w/ Evil! Black metal played by the little rascals in corpse paint featuring a Rasputin look-alike on guitar and a Chris Farley clone on bass. The singer is a weird looking woman reading/singing prophecy from a large book called Fight Evil w/ Evil. By this time Cooking Charts had become a full blown rock show. The band up on risers pulling the restless crowd through promises of eternal doom. The set was relatively short but pure upsidedown cross power leaving the room empty within an hour.
Full transformation had occurred from pristine art world simulation to timeless wasteland of empty beer cans and skipping c.d.s in the short span of 2000 years.
fw, spring 2001
text for Psy-Fi at Real Art Ways in Hartford Connecticut, 16/1-8/2/1996
Intestinal compression and other methods of hypnosis create an assault on the inanimate by grafting word to image and by keying one inside the other. These geometric explosions form incomprehensible matrices by overlapping the newly formed hybrid with its disintegrating re-animated other self. Examples include the solid building block "UN" pulled from itself while simultaneously appearing backwards driven by the barely audible question mark hot-rod situated perfectly over LP Heathen Earth. Vertical inverted "DUST" increases in scale as it angles downward exclaiming, "microbes approach!"
Score for Asparagus Piss Raindrop: “Breakfast Bombs the Inevitable” at CCA Glasgow & Helper Projects in Brooklyn, 3/8/2012
Asparagus Piss Raindrop
Breakfast Bombs the Inevitable - CCA Glasgow. Aug 3rd
Stage set up:
2 microphones on stands down-stage (in front towards audience) about 3 meters apart:
Liene's mic is down-stage right
Neil mic is down-stage left
Stuart's table is mid-stage center
Tuuka's amp is up-stage (back of the room) far right
Julia's drumset is up-stage far left
feel free to set up on the floor in front of stage....
1 x drumset (double check specifics with Julia Scott)
1 x guitar amplifier (double check for specifics with Tuukka)
2 x vocal mics + stands
1 x D.I.
drums & guitar should be balanced thru the P.A. w/ Stuart's arsenal and 2 vocal mics
LENNY – (The Director: piccolo & voice)
[performance preparation: think Peter Sellers, not a specific character and not the problematic father figure, simply invoke him as concentrated performance machine]
- recite MK's anti American rant (stay tuned: i still gotta transcribe it) intermittently. use another member of the group as your ON/OFF signal. read the text into the microphone in a BIG voice. Walk into the audience to observe the band, feel free to use the piccolo as a baton or pointer... play the piccolo as puntuation to the rant. when text is finished play continuously directly into the microphone imitating the sound of harsh feedback....
please wear your alltime favorite t-shirt under another shirt. at the 13 minute mark, remove your outer shirt and throw it up in the air. this indidates the midway point of the piece. you will signal the end of the piece at 33 mins
NEIL – (no instrument needed)
[performance preparation: envision Carolee Schneeman – not acting like her or embodying her being but simply focusing on her revolutionary performance strategies ]
stuff your pockets with objects that you would normally use in playing guitar situations: stones, pics, foam chunks, e-bow etc. be sure to choose things that you are not worried about breaking so maybe e-bow is not a good choice...?
start the piece jumping up and down. jump as high as you can. pace yourself so your legs don't get too tired. begin to intersperse other activities that might produce sounds in between jumps. take objects out of your pockets and hold them or drop them as you land from any given jump OR play them as you normally would but without a guitar. eventually add arm spins/windmills to your actions....
please wear your alltime favorite t-shirt under another shirt. at the 27 minute mark, remove you outer shirt and throw it down. from this point forward all actions should happen in double time. Lenny will signal the end of the piece at 33 mins
STUART – (tapes & stuff)
[performance preparation: you are an amplified being, one of The Ancient Ones from H.P. Lovecraft's writing – beyond evil and originating from outer space]
as a point of departure please consider a David Tudor's Flourescent Sound http://davidtudor.org/About/fsound.html - use another member of the group as your ON/OFF signal. silence is OK, noise is OK....both are good.
please wear your alltime favorite t-shirt under another shirt. at the 13 minute mark, remove you outer shirt and throw it up in the air. from this point forward all sound actions should happen in double time. Lenny will signal the end of the piece at 33 mins
TUUKKA - (electric guitar)
[performance preparation: concentrate on a stone or boulder. your weight and density should bind you to the floor. that heavyness should be transmitted into your playing – not in terms of doom riffs but as a pure focused intention. i realize that you tend to move & dance when you play guitar. this is perfectly OK (i'm not gonna ask you NOT to move) but try to return to The Pure Dense Stone.]
play the guitar in your favorite mode. play loud but play as infrequently as possible. only play when Julia is playing. silence is OK, noise is OK....both are good.
please wear your alltime favorite t-shirt under another shirt. at the 27 minute mark, remove you outter shirt and throw it down. Lenny will signal the end of the piece at 33 mins
JULIA – (drumset)
[performance preparation: binary code wraith dust fragment shizophrenia]
play the drums in your favorite mode. play loud but play as infrequently as possible. only play when Tuukka is playing. silence is OK, noise is OK....both are good.
please wear your alltime favorite t-shirt under another shirt. at the 13 minute mark, remove you outer shirt and throw it at Stuart. from this point forward all actions should happen in double time. Lenny will signal the end of the piece at 33 mins
Asparagus Piss Raindrop
Breakfast Bombs the Inevitable – Helper Projects, Brooklyn NY. Aug 3rd 2012
PAIGE – (voice)
[performance preparation: Tony Robbins “The Fire Walker” self help guru Media manipulator]
- recite MK's anti American rant (stay tuned: i still gotta transcribe it) intermittently and in reverse. read the text in a BIG voice using any accent. feel free to switch
please wear your alltime favorite t-shirt under another shirt. at the 27 minute mark, remove you outter shirt and throw it down. from this point forward all actions should happen in double time. Lenny will signal the end of the piece at 33 mins but we will not see or hear the signal
NATHAN - (voice, table percussion)
[performance preparation: watch Brude Bickford animation films at least 3 times and think of the holy hermaphrodite]
perform Moya Michael & Fritz Welch's “SHIT & FUCK” score for amplified table, voice and percussion.....eventually the space might be trashed due to chaotic over-enthusiasm
please wear your alltime favorite t-shirt under another shirt. at the 13 minute mark, remove you outer shirt and throw it at Paige. after costume change, begin to mimic Paige paying attention to all details. from this point forward all actions should happen in double time. Lenny will signal the end of the piece at 33 mins but we will not see or hear the signal
FRITZ - (voice, table percussion)
[performance preparation: focus on all the other performers, try to mentally devour all of their anxieties about this performance]
perform Moya Michael & Fritz Welch's “SHIT & FUCK” score for amplified table, voice and percussion.....eventually the table and the entire space might be trashed due to chaotic over-enthusiam
please wear your alltime favorite t-shirt under another shirt....at the 27 minute mark, remove you outer shirt and throw it down. after costume change, begin to mimic Paige paying attention to all details. from this point forward all actions should happen in double time. Lenny will signal the end of the piece at 33 mins but we will not see or hear the signal
03/07/2012 - bio for TUSK Festival
TUSK edited my bio which i thought was untouchable - so here it is in its entirety:
Fritz Welch is determined to stretch the escalator of possibilities into the bloodshot eye of results. His is a multifaceted practice bringing together and digesting drawing, sculpture, text, sound and performance. Ultimately these elements are combined into site specific installations that are like rambling Rube Goldberg devices intended to explore their own components while extruding waves of questions. This work is a fragile monster gambling with its own structure. It is the culmination of various threads expanding into a given architectural space with accumulations of randomized and very specifically chosen elements. It takes into account the excesses of consumerism and the absurdity of everyday life while focusing on the weightlessness of hallucination and the ephemeralization of desire.
His first solo exhibition in 1997 was at A/C Project Room in New York City, and he has exhibited in numerous solo and groups shows internationally, in galleries, institutions, and public spaces. These have included The Drawing Center (NYC), Transmission (Glasgow), La Condition Publique (Roubaix FR), Kunsthalle Exnergasse (Vienna), TRACE Gallery (Cardiff), Jeleni Gallery (Prague), Alma Enterprises (London), Argument (Tilburg NL) and WestGermany Büro für postpostmoderne Kommunikation (Berlin).
He has collaborated on installations with Aaron Cantor, Iain Campbell, Crank Sturgeon & Id M Theftable, Alex Baggaley, and Deathanddada (Rachel Lowther and Amalia Theodorakopoulous). He has also been involved in the making of dance projects working with choreographers such as Moya Michael, Miguel Gutierrez, Paige Martin and Juliette Mapp.
Welch has played concerts and in festivals extensively in North America, Europe and in South Africa and Hong Kong. He is currently is a member of FvRTvR, Lambs Gamble, With Lumps, Asparagus Piss Raindrop and is a former member of Peeesseye and W!77iN6. He has played with Tony Conrad, Clare Cooper, Stephen O'Malley, Jazzfinger, Clayton Thomas, Maya Dunietz, Evan Parker, Usurper, Michael Vorfeld, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, Mike Pride, Chris Heenan, Blood Stereo, John Butcher and Joke Lanz among many others. A longtime Brooklynite of Texas origins, he is now based in Glasgow, Scotland. www.humansacrifice.net
engulfed in simulation, i am seeking a
perfect place for art to exist. balancing
heartless in perpetual darkness, another
psychic invasion with trees of information,
towers of meaning, blackholes and a
hole in the sky. It seems inevitable that my
head should explode making my spine rocket
downward into the swamp. dreams that eat
the flesh and drink the blood may provided
brief moments of encoding through direct
contact but the listener retains an
advantage by eliminating a need for
a physical environment.
The Science Fiction Residue
in the sonic utilize anarchic mutation work
glowing myself The Passenger stethascope voiceprint viable material residues
This allows utopian persistance of vision done left handed
Social transformation t-shirt an unpile of empty letters named so-and-so
parasitic parasitic paralyzer and visual realms. a practice equally divided sound to explore themes
sound to explore
sound to explore
sound to explore if we will not win win win will not residues utilize.
its hidden in the second room persistence.
but has its roots in religion and culinary traditions gamble over the style locker.
also i'm interested in the science fiction residue.
The Absurd Dynamics of Production: Proposal for an Installation at Argument in Tilburg, 2008
The argument of the proposed directive in Tilburg Race against time: denigrate corpse, with the aim of examining the dynamics in the production intact production Looking for issues and the production of artistic and artists and the general public to recognise the need for perusmainostuotteeseen. the product must be "branded" and how it fits into the history of the produstion object. Studio standard approach based on the art of simultneously was blown apart and rebuilt as the production of "right" and the normal situation. This project will examine the physical means of production, the absurdity of factorylike creativity in real time. the cultivation processes incorporated in the simulation without being stuck in the print queue in the brain proper factory life. the art of production is transformed into a Donkey chasing a desire by the success of the golden carrot cows looking for a chain of ned. public approval for the purpose of using applicant holds love waste production line. production line of its own internal organization of speech. Laboratory semi-artificially supplied by the State of the environment at the same time to display each element intended to focus on strengthening of blindness to deepen. Questioning the necessity of their existence for the production of Ultra natural with an absurd limits. pulling, pushing becomes impossible for the needs of production expected all along. the error is for the aesthetics of vital importance to the quality of service. the production of walldrawings, posters, a sculptural tumors associated with actions of daily exposure, architectural elements, concert/performance program, they are combined with the unique performance of the class associated with the packages to translate à recordings. These cartridges are sold in finished editioned object. which means the necessary expectations of the same repeat actions accumulated success. artist's creative practice on a daily basis, destil, lada image. communication protocols that are used by individual curatorial strategy for argument, the report is divided into two phases, the first is the preparation for the environment, including the Organization of special offices shall establish the necessary measures, within the territories of the lateral border, etc. Secondly, there is the production of daily practices
brundle fly soundings caravan, roubaix france 2010
multi-elemental, almost semi-self generating residue, automatic drawings of plunderphonic musings, supernatural entities and cathartic unravellings. it will be held together with screws, nails, rope and a coating of Himalayan goatglue. simple troughs and catch basins will be built to contain and direct flowing liquids. parts of the sculpture will be rigged to the ceiling with cables. certain elements will be attached with hinges which will allow extreme shifts in shape to be made very rapidly during the production of the piece. a child's swing will be attached to the infrastructure of the sculpture. the ropes of the swing will also be attached to large clusters of solvent cans and plastic bottles hanging from cables. the drums will be mounted in close proximity in an arrangement receptive to the eventual movement of the clusters. simultaneous to the release of liquid plaster and oatmeal into the troughs, a weight will swing from the ropes one time providing the nexus of the chain reaction central to the entire work liquids will fly, drop and splatter into its perfectly encrusted visceral landing point. the clusters will smash into the drums causing a single sounding that will reverberate through the piece, become imbedded and translated into a tangible building material.the wooden elements will swing, fold, reposition and reshape the entire work. the final installation will be the evidence of an event frozen at the point of impact, a stuck interval; the inevitability of confusion in the face of uncontrol.
was it something i said? no its something in my head…., from Maria Dumlao’s show about FAILURE in Philadelphia, 2012
At this moment I am a frozen mudflap doom trooper with a side order of basking in the haze of self-subversion. I spend my days reading about voodoo drummers kicking demons out of Nashville and post-atomic storybusters who shift time in endless entropy. I also like to draw pictures of scabby headed weirdos and interlocking aliens in heat. In the evenings I watch hot-rod tugboats doing donuts in the canal as they dredge bad vibe deposits. Sometimes i'm content to just walk around acting like a retard passing out punk rock after-dinner mints.
....but hold the phone: FAILURE?....i'm not exactly sure what to say about the subject. Does it exist in practice OR are we talking about it here as a subject of analysis? Some folks, The Spiritual Anarchists for instance, say “fear is failure and the forerunner of failure”. But if you're down with The Breathren of The Free Spirit you are beyond sin and can't fail because you are Even Steven with God and the Son. So fuck it! We're taught from an early age that success is measured by how much money we make. If thats the case, most of the hungry kunstlers eating chili with Bo Diddly are straight up full blown falling down into the shits FAILURES!
(pause and count to 10....)
One afternoon in the winter of 1976 my parents sat me and my brothers and sister down in our unfinished experimental architecturally mutated house for a family meeting. They proceeded to tell us that they were splitting up temporarily and that Mom would take my older brother and my little sister to LA to stay with her new “friend” Ron the 400 pound gay florist and Dad and my big brother and i would stay behind and pack up the house and join them later. I burst out into tears immediatley not because i was sad about the family's demise but because they told us we would probably be living in an apartment in LA....like an APARTMENT....in a CITY...a BIG CITY! I hated the idea of living in a city, had never even been in an apartment building and took pride in my outside of time and place status. My brain was twisted by the specter of urban spew. It wasn't gonna be easy and it made me really sick to think about it. Little did i know this was just the beginning of years of turbulent rootlessness and chaos.
My Dad started building his dream house a year or so earlier on a chunk of land in Upstate New York. He designed the house to be completely self sufficient and expansive in its attention to a structure's imagined potentials. It had solar elements and a sod roof and half a silo attached to one end for my Mom to use as a weaving studio. He built it by hand with the help of a few friends. We were expecting a life changing fantastical home edging its way off the grid, but he spent all the money, went flat broke and filed for bankruptcy. He also managed to seriously damage his marriage to my Mom (or vice versa), his high school sweetheart, and turn all our lives upside down for the next year as they tried to sift through the shit and put it all back together. The family was split in half and we criss-crossed the cliched highways of the USA while my parents reconciled and split up over and over. We had the added complication of travelling with a small herd of dairy goats that we milked and fed at truckstops and campgrounds from Oregon to Georgia. These goats were a special breed with super small, almost non existent ears, making them look like multi-stomached ETs on all fours.
It took me 25 or so years to figure out that most of the turbulence connected to my mid-childhood was caused by or symptomatic of the implosion of a certain aspect of 60's utopian idealism. My parents tried to stick very close to a life style and practice experience that was essentially a classic rejection of middle class American post war standards of living only to discover that it was untenable and facilitated unlikely frustrations and sadness. But wait a minute maybe they were just incapable of living with each other and the idealistic lives they created for all of us were bound to fail at some point anyway. And Eventually we would all feel the full weight of such a botched operation.
It blew my mind the first time i walked across the swimming pool parking lot in Albuquerque NM during the first summer i lived there after my folks split up. We ended up stuck there after our truck died crossing the desert in Arizona on our way back to the east coast. The idea ws that we were finally going “Home”. But we found out it was all a sham and we were really gonna spend the hot hot summer of 1977 listening to Son of Sam and NYC Blackout news all crammed in a one bedroom apartment near the university. Sometimes we went to The Purple Hippo for bubble gum ice cream. But Jeesus, that concrete! I couldn't have ever imagined something so hot. I was always a kid who thought living in a snow cave woulda been the coolest thing ever and i learned to cross country ski before i road a bike. The desert was a creeping menace especially when foot long centipedes ran through my bedroom at night.....
Oh FAILURE/SUCCESS! its all such a mess!!! who cares about failure in the end? It's the end of time and who the hell is judging? take a close look at all of them – the lousy bastards – but wait who is it we're looking at? Ethical failures abound!
One thing i know for sure is YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU! so what if it looks a little wonky and lopsided or what if it doesn't make the people sigh? Failure is a sham. At least in this context it seems to be an unnecesarry concern. Can art be scrutinized in the same way we measure the worth of our children's education? And aren't most of us sitting pretty while the whole thing falls apart or while we piss and moan about our downturns and backslides. How bout a side slide or just a slider with fries?
i write my terrible thoughts or at least i try....
(pause and count to 10...)
Fastforward 30 years, i'm at my studio in Brooklyn and get a phonecall from young upstart curator Jess Horselips who was organizing a show about failed utopias to be exhibited at an uptown gallery called The Process. He's calling it “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” after Joan Didion's 1968 collection of essays about her experiences in the the freaked out San Fransisco hippy scene. I decided to make an installation that combined drawings from memory of the 2 (yeah he fucked up a second time...) houses my father built that bankrupted the family and a model of the carriage house i was currently living in that had flooded unexpectedly during a snow storm earlier in the year. This show brought out and tweeked all my feelings and ideas about my personal experiences of the failures of the 60s and hippy lifestyle. It got me thinking hard about the personal potential of architecture. And is made me remember in sharp detail the small mountain in back of our house in Los Lunas New Mexico with 3 crosses on top. And the creepiness of imagining shirtless spirtitual flagelants trying to drum up medieval revolution vibes by whipping themselves till they shit their pants on the way up the hill.
STOP! wait! Don't open that fucking door its full of Lovecraftian farmers of grimness! just relax Sad Sack. This whole thing is a big mistake! Just hang back and learn to bake..... Does up chuck count? Why am i so afraid to puke?
All this shit has been ricoucheting through my work, directly and indirectly, since i started making exhibitions with titles like:
“The Eternal Promise of Nothing”
“Hainted and Tainted”
“Brundelfly Sounds Caravan”
“Ruins for Progress”
“The UnKnowing Doing the Unnecessary for the Unknowing”
“Good Bye Paranoia”
“Buying Time for Future Membership”
“Conquer Death Woody Guthrie”
“Six pack Moored to a Vicious Rumor”
“Set and Setting”
“A Fortnight's Wrinkle Blues”
“7 Finger High Glister”
“Suffering is the Fastest Horse”
“Under Guests to Drift Living”
“Props to Rez Fink”
“Death is a Dirtier Dog Than My Country”
“The Clandestinity of Acts and Dreams”
“A Shadow in Search of a Body”
“A Tin Teardrop”
“Somnabulent Transgression by Remote Control”
“Demonic Pooling Lane”
...and so on.....
Then there was the time that stuck up French bitch gallerist refused to use the invitation & poster design for TC made for my show “Under Your Wet Blanket”. It was a beautifully brutal drawing that used text referring to various interrelated subjects and ideas i was dealing with in the body of work. Including stuff like Revolution Blues/Vampire Blues, The Ballad of Meridith Hunter, Gnostical Terpitude, Victor Rogy's last dance, etc. It seems like these ideas were continuing with the threads of loose research into hippy dribble and puke vortex translations. His design added a crucial element in the complex web. Regardless, she just didn't like the drawing because she said it was 'ugly' and flat out refused to print it. Seriously UNCOOL! But I printed a huge poster version it ended up in the show and was the first thing anyone saw when they came in the door – BOOM!
Its really a drag sitting here getting drunk with you guys and not having a diddy wah of true mops. Can't we all just get real and let go of this fornication fascination with unhappiness and dry heave jumping jack saw dust crossings? Just lay down your upside down cross cuz ain't no reason to bear that puppy wrinkle for Dolomite on a sea-saw in Bushwick. Have a blast and feel free to throw out the last lame idea you just burped up at JFK Airport. What's the big idea? no one really feels it. And like i said before, you know you can't take it with you. Except of course when i used to go to the dump on sunday morning with my Dad to get rid of the trash. Fuck going to church! The smell of the dump was always comforting and tipping over barrels of garbage into smoldering fire was pure pre-violence joy. Looking out from the tailgate i could see a vast collage of waste and promise. And it held the added excitement of a dozen donuts of my choosing that were coming up fast.
Then there was the time in high school i plagiarized a Discordianist text on heroic anarchists juggling the flaming apples of everyday life. Bugs Bunny was the pivital example with his anvil forever knocking into the head of a million human Wile E. Coyotes. He was also doing the almond butter tango in retrograde. The assignment was to write an essay on Beowulf – specifically the signifigance of his great funeral. The writing was abysmal but i got away with it and even received an A+. I used my winnings to get more wet panties on acid but i was still to scared to go all the way. Simulating Ustrinum Jimmy Dingus, it was much easier to light 47 incense sticks at once and pretend the TV was on fire. Maybe its not as absurd as it could be, really, like if it was pushed into the upper realm of something like a herd of Santas with metallic spinal fluid running through K-mart's Squeeze Bar looking for sloth milk. Or love-drinkers on tip toes. Spontaneous finger fuckers dangling on a damp daydream. Maybe Buddy Rich is taking it to the end of time using a monkeywrench to get ahead in the corporate world.....
oh..... i'm a wind up clock spun too tight but luckily i just found a box of cassettes that i scored in Doha on that night after i totally fucked up at work and cut a hole in the precious floor of the museum. The tapes are of random Bollywood soundtracks, Qawalli singers and pre-teen Islamic preacher boys. All lovely in their own right. I stumbled on the shop by accident the first time and struggled to find it for a day or two while i was wandering around killing time waiting for my plane home. The trip was exhausting and depressing and the music shop was i tiny savior that barely had anything decent but symbolized stabilty of sound outside ultra boring Euro House and cheesy Swiss techno sound puke. My ears were thirsty for brain energy. Sometimes just walking in a wandering around or drifting in a blur is just as uselful. Its especially tight when getting lost in dirty back alleys with suspicious weasly eyes all around is as good as pop jizz from planet boomerang. Wayback radio static sometimes provides the same soothing feeling over the back brain. Headphones light he way!
Now I'm sitting in a murky cave trying to wrap my head around the wobble and heave. The atmosphere never goes above a few hundren feet. Its much better when i can ignore the uninteresting invitations to participtate in moldy excursions into hipster protrusions and cultural ulcers. Better to stare at a piece of wall till it glows like a compressed ectoplasmic orb. This dark room is the best even when its really cold. I have a huge poster of my deceased cat Pashquita looking over me to make sure i don't wilt, whimper or weeze. This damp and drippy town feels ten times more solid then any soggy cornflake flood plane. Tighter than a ghost mouth drool hole. Speaking of wet shoes, today i stood with my children holding protest signs for the first time ever. We waited for a photographer to grab our color film daze shots for a newspaper's last chance gaze. We were all trying to save one single job in advance of privatized butchery and pure tom foolery. Like a cat burgular creeping over a windowsill, we can take it all back. Especially for the best ingredients on my home made pizza. And to be sure, hummous taste better when it kills your very own miniature food processor. Fuck the chain store headlock indigestion parade!
This river is brown now and like they say, “Death comes with a pinch of BROWN!”
fritz welch, 2012
press release for the eternal promise of nothing, Rome Arts, Brooklyn NY, 2001
the eternal promise of nothing
an installation of jubilant morbidity set to grow fiber-optic rice through the reinforced aorta of a translingual blue Angora goat.
During this exhibition RomeArts shifts into a dimensional void providing a clearly described program designed to develop a maximum range of motion in the soft parts of the image manipulation system. A sculpture combining recycled materials, plastics and acoustic insulating foam will be constructed in the gallery with pre-made studio objects in a context both site specific and improvisatory. This multi-limbed apparition is meant to bring into question the nature of joyous growth and transformative nihilism within the absurdity of pre-directed ambiguities.
Also on view are the "working drawings" for this project which are paintings made by stretching cotton t-shirts over canvas. The shirts original silk-screened images and residual lifestains become the ground for simple image combinations. The artist's own photographs are then hybridized with found collage material and paint accentuating the membranous quality associated with human clothing.
review of The Eternal Promise of Nothing by Rylan Morrison, 2001
the eternal promise of nothing
In a brainstorming text for the group show Fungal Hex in Prague, I wrote: our own archeology reveals intended secrets; the process of uncovering ignites its own curses. This was in conjunction to one of the primary themes of the show in which Fritz Welch, Aaron Cantor, Steven O' Malley and myself developed through a series of dialogs and readings of one another's work in mid 2001. I return to this idea when writing about Fritz Welch's solo show The Eternal Promise of Nothing, which was up from December 15, 2001 to January 14, 2002, at Rome Arts in Brooklyn, N.Y. The theme of curse does not necessarily unfold itself in this show, though still bounded by association, secrecy and the process of revealing definitely occurs. The viewer is immediately introduced to these themes as she came upon the gallery space from the outside world. Showing in a storefront space, Welch protected the vulnerability of total exhibitionism by slightly covering the entire gallery front with transparent vinyl. Slightly, meaning that Welch contradicted his own cover up by cutting away a drawing from the vinyl, exposing the internal exhibition and inviting the outside viewer, in.
Inside, one was immediately set back by the possibly plummeting materials, which had collected themselves and seemed to be petrified by the means of some constructive force. When observing the actual installation of the sculpture, I witnessed the argument between gravity, carpentry, and human strength. Materials separated themselves from the entirety of the piece depending on the recognition of the viewer. Foam, plywood, plastic toys suspended in time, as in memory. Apart from the installation, Welch's working drawings removed you from the anticipation of the installation piece to the stationary in a mere glance within the space. Composed of collected images and subjective arrangements on stretched t-shirts, collage in this form describes ones relationship to everyday images. The proverbial meaning of image relationships are stacked in our mind and referred too in ways that overlap, dissect, weave, float, and sever from meaning much like the way Welch composes these new images and their associations. Found throughout the entire experience of The Eternal Promise of Nothing were the ideas of frustration and release. These states are often coexistent, even synonymous and very much described physically in Welch's work. In many instances there seemed to be an obstacle preventing clarity, though defined by revealing something inherent in everyone. When entering the atmosphere created by suspended materials, one did not initially confront the installation piece or the drawings up close. For myself this obstruction was deliberate in the sense of viewing the piece from a safe distance. Perhaps the viewer did not have the choice to confront the piece, initiated by the placement of a plywood and foam
shield which protected a glass jug in the center of the space. It is interesting how often people avoid the most apparent and destructive things in their own lives. The glass jug, which is supported by a wooden structure and was still sitting upon its hot plate was intended to serve mulled wine at the opening of the show, its serving tube was still wildly acting as an IV into the past. A spotlight of sorts still glows onto the entire apparatus from a difficult looking system, consisting of a recycled microphone stand and studio lamp adhered to the structure. The spotlight allows the viewer to examine the jars mysterious crack, which makes up for the entire circumference of its lower half. The story is told at every inquiry. On opening night the wine was to be heated and served from the structure through the tube. The heat was too much for the glass, a seam was created and a glorious flow of blood-red mulled wine emptied into and covered the entire floor of the gallery. The accident reassured many of the elements carried out in the suggestions of the show. Any incident that is embarrassing reveals what is private. Self induced frustration of taboos and unacceptance allow for tragic insecurity. Welch allows for these all too human constructs to display themselves. When the viewers permit themselves to explore this transition into the objects secret language what is learned is something that is already innate; that sensitivity is irreplaceable. Welch gave each object the hope that broken things can be put back together. Broken, misshapen, limp objects and words that are cut from their meanings are what create the wholeness of the installation. A noose that gave up was flung upward to loop itself into a resting position. A plastic sword was dissembled from its phallic state and reassembled into a less penetrable and crooked state. A toy radar gun eternally shot its laser beam into a small arena created by a hanging faux tree trunk. One had to venture past the obstacle in the center of the space in order to privately learn what the laser beam is illuminating. You were between the arm of the installation, which the trunk hangs from, and the furthest corner of the gallery space. You were deliberately cornered to digest human secrecy. Thirteen years of toenails and fingernails collected in a jar are screwed into the underside of the trunk; a mild red glow from the pathetic gun ignites the world of what is often forgotten and disposed. Also hidden by the installations face and seen from this position was a photograph of a friend. The personal is hidden, but you are welcome to observe.Welch invites you to participate in his vulnerability by disguising it into many aspects of his work. We witness an operation in order to diagnose our own fears through a series of post-anatomical cross sections. Welch holds our hand as he dissects his own physicality in order to remind us that we may be next.
Rylan Morrison 2001
wall text from drawing installation at Gallery 1313 in Toronto, 2001
demonic pooling lane
I told him the full story.
without hesitation he sited the
possibility of the use of
black magic. He said that
Jerry's way of speaking and
eyes rolling back in the sockets
was part of the process of invoc-
ation/invitation of an evilforce.
This I do not doubt, although
it does help to justify my
stupidity, but I did see his
face. There was weird shit
in that house.
from an email conversation with curator Jeff Uslip concerning the exhibition Log Cabin at Artists Space. FW 2005
their soldout and cruelly handled time
'He was a legendary horse thief, a capable burglar, a part-time bygamist and a full- time philanderer, a convincing conjuror, an aimless vagabond, a good doctor, a pilfering parson, a palmist, a work resistor, a dropout, a soldier, a draft-dodging fugitive, a prisoner, an un-known agent of genocide, and a forever ne’er-do-well'
it’s basically about lying and decete and is a continuation of a piece i did at Gallery 1313 in Toronto a coupla years ago called Demonic Pooling Lane which dealt with a real life incident of demonic possession and gambling i was involved in in Indonesia in 1999. the new work is also hand drawn (with 3-D dimensional sculptural effects).
i’m very interested in continuing the walldrawing projects w/out sculpture for the moment. i think the iodine will provide some of the bloody/scatological effect you are after. the smell is quite intense conjuring illness and looking quite a bit like bodily fluid. my piece doesn't deal with queer politics at all. it's about creepy lying and deception and was inspired by a run-in i had in Java, Indonesia a number of years ago w/ a Southeast Asian crime syndicate that used strong black magick to corrupt people and rot their brains. the text was plagarized from a 16th century biography of an anarchist land-pirate.
catalogue text from ‘Make It Now’ at The Sculpture Center, 2005
Under Guests to Drift Living
Fritz Welch is a renaissance man with punk rock roots. In addition to his sculptures and drawings, he is a drummer and plays with the experimental music group psi. Consistently working with different materials, he draws on a broad aesthetic vocabulary to create his objects, site-specific installations, works on paper, and soundscapes. Welch is drawn to density and entropy, or the entropy of density. He uses scrap wood, found objects, and other cheap (or free) materials, forcing them to coexist within the body of a single accumulated form. There is a beauty to his butchery, however, and his tightly condensed sculptures seem to melt, embodying the organic and natural process that eventually brings all matter back to the earth.
Welch is often inspired by the context of the gallery, and his site-related works combine a keen sculptural sense of form with a reach towards architecture. In Silent Dust Condemned (2004), the artist applies his graphic distortions to the irregular walls as a backdrop for a squeezed-together mass of junk. Claustrophobic in its accumulation of found objects and sprawling in its connections to the space around it, the artist creates tensions between that which we can examine and that which we must inhabit: contending with his sculpture implies penetrating his fort of spatial folly and chaos.
With Under Drifts to Guestling, his new site-specific piece at SculptureCenter, Welch responds to the tightness of the space by trumping it with more density still. Two wall-drawings frame a central structure that hangs in space, as if ready to collide with the walls and explode. The overall installation seems caught moments before physics take over, when every reaction requires an equal reaction, and viewers enter at their own risk.
Anthony Huberman 2005
press release for Under Your Wet Blanket at Cueto Proejcts, NYC 2008 by Rober White
A Situationist poster from 1968 offered a sardonic rebuttal to the self-policing tendencies of the student movement in France, in the form of a lesson on the etiquette of public protest. Two appropriated photographs were used to illustrate the dos and don’t of mass movements. The picture labeled “correct” showed conservatively-dressed men and women marching in orderly rows with clear, legible signs stating their demands. The “incorrect” mode was illustrated by a close-up photograph of Lon Chaney, Jr. as The Wolf Man.
I remember this poster only vaguely; I can’t locate it anymore and I’ve probably subconsciously revised its details. But I’ve chosen to discuss it in relation to the art of Fritz Welch for two reasons. First, Welch’s art is based on precisely these kinds of lost, misremembered and reconstructed artifacts, as they pertain to how art and politics are made. One can view his multiform output–sculptures, assemblages, drawings, paintings, performances—as stemming from a belief that a truly political art is inherently bound up with the weird inner workings of the mind. Second, because his work suggests that a truly political art has also a touch of the occult: a nation of Wolf Men marching with illegible signs.
While Welch circles around a specific time-period in many of his references—circa 1968–1972—his psychohistory of the counterculture has roots much deeper than most, and it also reaches forward to tackle the present. Rather than milking an idealized Recent Past (against which Today can hardy hope to match up) Welch probes the failures as much as the successes of the golden age of American activism. This is reflected in the willed imperfection of his methods: in place of the quasi-historical research model so popular with certain strands of neoconceptual art fixated on the history of activism, Welch privileges the irrational and the subjective in his exploration. The Recovered Memory exercise which sparked much of the work in “Under Your Wet Blanket” exemplifies the artist’s deliberate disordering of the sense of history. A childhood memory of a photograph—Native American activists with rifles astride a bulldozer— sparked an interest in the 1972 siege of
Wounded Knee, which in turn suggested the Diggers, a 17th –century English agrarian–communist movement reactivated in the Haight-Ashbury. The memory-image, translated into a spidery ballpoint cartoon of a bulldozer with additions in iodine, evokes more recent images of contested sites, such as the Israeli government’s razing of Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. The objective existence of the initial image is irrelevant to its position—and power—within a psychic web of associations.
Welch’s drawings, which often include short texts presented in a hand-drawn cipher (like the letterforms of vintage-80s graffiti translated to ballpoint pen on paper), offer a way to approach the content of the sculptures and installations. Welch often works in sets, using variations on a given graphic / textual theme as a way of refining his ideas. Though independent as artworks in themselves, the drawings also serve as hand-made signage for other works in the show, providing clues to their meanings and references.
Several different sets of drawings include a branching text structure in which a root word or phrase is linked to two paired modifiers:
[REVOLUTION] [VAMPIRE] —BLUES
RADIO FREE — [ALCATRAZ] [ALBEMUTH]
The former cites two songs on Neil Young’s classic of post-60s malaise On the Beach. The latter refers to the pirate radio station operated by members of the Indians of All Tribes group during their 1969 occupation of Alcatraz Island, as well as the science-fiction novel by Philip K. Dick which imagines an extraterrestrial influence in countercultural resistance struggles. The common denominator of the two works—which could articulate Welch’s aim as an artist in general—is the split between a practical political activism and its fantastical or speculative counterpart: revolution and vampires, Alcatraz and Albemuth. The artist’s job, it seems, is to span the divide between activism and, for lack of a better word, imagination, and to yoke the two into a functional, monstrous vehicle. “To keep things as weird as possible” is as close as Welch has come to issuing a statement of purpose.
A third text-drawing complicates the recursive referential thinking found in the previous examples. The Ballad of Meredith Hunter Starring Duane Jones as ‘Ben’ creates a Möbius strip-of fact and fiction, embedding the groundbreaking African-American leading actor/role of Night of the Living Dead within the narrative of the stabbing death at the Rolling Stone’s infamous 1969 Altamont concert. The resultant work is a nightmarish view of racial violence within American counterculture, questioning our selective memory of the recent past. The drawing shares a title with a multi-figure sculptural tableau consisting of a grouping of anthropomorphic tabletop sculptures on intersecting wooden and plexiglass platforms. The individual figures are cobbled together from various pop-detritus elements, and seem to be hovering on the verge of total abstraction while at the same time manifesting specific and menacing personalities. The sculptures look at times like Picasso’s elegant, facile assemblages, and at times like Rat Fink hot rod models. The central figure—Meredith Hunter among the Hells Angels—is situated on the floor beneath the tables, parked on a broken skateboard which is clearly going nowhere.
Clipped and Xeroxed photographs of the late Austrian performance artist / poet / conceptualist Viktor Rogy pop up in many of Welch’s drawings and assemblages. Rogy, who since his death in 2004 has been serving as a sort of spirit guide for Welch, had a long and storied career dedicated to the erasure of activism / art and rational / spiritual distinctions, famously incensed the right-wing nationalistic Freedom Party by decorating the façade of his café with pictures of party members done up in Nazi regalia. One pen drawing features a depiction of the artist in a monk’s cowl and go-go shorts with the legend Viktor Rogy’s Eternal Dance-a-thon. Nearby, a photocollage on a found wooden panel puts Rogy’s head, his mouth stuffed with ball bearings to denature speech and expression, atop the bare-chested, slicked-up body of Rick James. The Rogy–James hybrid, who seems to be juggling orbs of light on a darkened stage, is the personification of the model of the artist suggested by Welch’s text-drawing diagrams: a being who exists uneasily in two separate realms at once.
Bushwick, Brooklyn, where Welch lives, exerts a defining force on his work in more ways than one. On the material level, Welch’s assemblage practice begins with acts of salvage and reclamation, and the streets of Bushwick are a perfect hunting ground for uncanny remnants. But more than that, the feeling one gets while touring the neighborhood is that dissimilar cultures are meeting in a phantasmagorical state of productive decay. The gutted buildings and scrapyards begin to resemble arte povera installations, and the music of the synthesizer-drum-vocal combos who perform in the many storefront churches of the area can be easily mistaken for that of its experimental music ensembles. The situation is probably not unlike the overlap of cultures found in rural Northern California, post-Summer of Love, where nascent New-Agers and disenchanted flower people mingled with ranchers, tax-evaders, and religious nuts to invent new and unlikely ways of life. Will Bushwick rise? Probably not, given the rapidity with which the socio-economic map of Brooklyn gets redrawn. But long may it produce strange and creepy wonders like the art of Fritz Welch.
Roger White 2008
Title: Fritz Welch: The Silent Dust of the Collapsing Studio Image caption: Installation view: Fritz Welch, “Silent Dust,” 2003. by Robert Thill (rejected by Flash Art)
The subject of the artist's studio is insidiously explored in Fritz Welch's 2004 installation "Silent Dust." It incorporates black-ink silkscreens based on his 1998 work "The Collapsing Studio"; sketched in pencil with overdrawing in boldly colored, succinct, painterly brushstrokes that evoke reverse mechanical processes, it depicts the interior of a large, visibly unstable wooden structure that is settling under its own weight. "Silent Dust" is concerned with the concept of construction and how images, light, sound, and smell interact to activate a given space within a specific period of time.
Welch's work is an assembly of many disparate images and forms. In "Silent Dust," he animates the foreground of the work with a partially painted plywood structure that supports a bathroom medicine cabinet. A ceiling spotlight bounces red light off the mirrored surface of the cabinet's door; the light hits a drumhead and illuminates a Confucius figure that is fused with tentaclelike joinery to the reconfigured skull of a jester-shaped drinking mug. The bright red light spills over the percussion instrument's triangulated stand, which surmounts a base of nine colorfully wrapped microwave burritos that glow in the heatlamp-evoking illumination. The entire installation is comprised of separate finished works---some of which are made onsite, some in the studio---that are brought together to offer a combined two- and three-dimensional collage effect, culminating with screenprinted images of "The Collapsing Studio," one of which is loosely attached to the gallery's wall at the back right, with the far corner of the image folding over, echoing the art studio's bent structure.
"Silent Dust" could be seen as referring to the temporary artwork made of the completed and extended accretions of Welch's collapsing studio or it could be viewed as a permanent, assisted ready-made more closely aligned with post-studio art practices, but its form, craft, and recycled images and materials belie its dependency on the circumstance of both exhibition and studio production, as opposed to the dislocation of post-studio art-making. Welch's art also acts as a commentary on New York's overly expensive and elusive spaces for art production, studio visits, storage, and living, which cause some artists either to work in unstable structures that are in relatively close proximity to the art market or to become part of a second wave of post-studio artists without the attendant offsite technical consultants, fabricators, and climate-controlled storage space, who are unable to consistently develop and produce art.
press release for A Shadow in Search of Body at Momenta Art in 2004 written by Michael Waugh
Fritz Welch's installation also presents a world transformed through a manipulation of context. Based in the types of cultural products and by-products that pile up around us like so much trash, Welch produces his work through a process of disassembly, ruination, and regeneration. The artist finds his inspiration in sources as varied as agit-prop graffiti, found photos, and concrete poetry, as well as in the ever evolving culture of avant garde music and performance.
The work included at Momenta includes a large sculpture, just beyond human scale. Pure in its geometric reference – but piss elegant; the monolith resists being solely formal (or anti-formal) through cultural engagement. Not only does the object hold out a hollowed tree stump like a sort of baptismal font – but also it is surrounded by text and images that act as a kind of corrupt pop congregation. Text from Raoul Vaneigem's The Revolution of Everyday Life, selectively blacked-out images on posters, and a handmade poster advertising the limitless possibilities and glories of human mutation create an interstitial space between the world and individual action. Together, this work suggests an oxymoronic will to power of the margins, offering a radicalized, yet still latent, social desire for change.
Fritz Welch is a Brooklyn-based artist who has exhibited work extensively in the US and Europe. He also plays drums and percussion with the groups psi, HorseEyeless and the live video ensemble Naval Cassidy and the Hands of Orlak and is the vocalist for the akshun/muzak duo, Pee In My Face With Surgery. He has recently exhibited at Participant, Inc. in New York, Kunsthalle Exnergasse in Vienna, Transmission Gallery in Glasgow, the AC Project Room in New York, and his work will be will be in an upcoming show at Stedlijk Bureau in Amsterdam.