Artwork featured in the salon – 'No Fun' Online Performance, Single-channel Video with Audio, Edition of 3 (2010) (Image courtesy of Postmasters Gallery)
Eva and Franco Mattes are an Italian artist duo living in New York, also known by the name of their website 0100101110101101.ORG. They have appeared in the Biennale of Sydney, Whitechapel Gallery, Hammer Museum, SITE Santa Fe, Sundance Film Festival, MoMA PS1, Performa, National Art Museum of China, New Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art’s website. Their work asserts that culture is driven by plagiarism, and it says so with a transgressively dark sense of humor.
From 1995-1997, they went into museums and stole fragments of fifty artworks by Kandinsky, Duchamp, Beuys, Rauschenberg, Warhol, Koons, and other famous artists. Another early string of work includes (un)official websites for the Catholic Church and Hell, as well as for net artists Olia Lialina and JODI (who’ve also been shown at The Current). “Real-life” fakeries—and lawsuits—show up in their catalogue as well: they circulated promotional plans for a nonexistent action movie, United We Stand, and launched an ad campaign celebrating the rebrand of Vienna’s Karlsplatz plaza to Nikeplatz, complete with an oversized Nike swoop sculpture. In 1999 the Venice Biennale presented a posthumous show of Darko Maver, who rose to art-world fame for his realistic models of murder victims. His whole existence was an elaborate prank, and the “documentation” of his “lifelike” works were just gruesome images 0100101110101101.org lifted from the internet.
The pair have also used the internet to stage participatory performance pieces, which they capture in video. Freedom takes place in the first-person multiplayer video game Counter-Strike. You watch as the artist’s character moves around the virtual warzone and types “please don’t shoot me” when other players show up to attack. They always shoot, rarely even leaving enough time for the artist to add “this is an art project.”
And years before Logan Paul’s insensitive broadcast of a hanging body in a Japanese “suicide forest,” Eva and Franco staged No Fun in Chatroulette, the randomized videochat platform that launched in 2009. Unknowing participants entered the chatroom to find Franco hanging, apparently dead, from a noose. Their reactions speak to the way we assess reality online, and how our constant exposure to pranks desensitizes us. “Doesn’t it look like he hung himself? But he didn’t. He’s full of it,” a teenager laughs, chews gum, and shows his friends he’s not gullible enough to fall for this trick. Another opens the chat and screams but thinks it might be a still image; he calls the police once he sees the body is swinging. A clean-cut blonde man gives a thumbs up and calmly types “good,” “ur a a shit,” “u have to die.” A woman in a negligee quickly moves on. A hairy man in an open bathrobe silently masturbates.
Artist profile by Katheryn Thayer for The Current.