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bouchet select works

bouchet select works

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Published by Jay Ballenger

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Published by: Jay Ballenger on May 21, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Mike Bouchet
selected works from 1993-2006
Hijacked by Mike Bouchet

The American-born, Frankfurt-based artist Mike Bouchet is a provocateur whose keen
eye is ever turned on contemporary society, scanning the panorama for the farce of our cultural
and societal obsessions and possessions. While his events and actions often result in the pro-
duction of objects-whether paintings, sculptures or installations-at the root of his practice he is
a director, a stager, even a social sculptor in the Beuysian tradition. As such, Bouchet's work is
never as simple as it might appear on its misleadingly comedic surface. Just as Dante's Divine
Comedy leads through several circles of hell, peel off a layer-or two or three-and the laugh
track stops, or at least is paused indefinitely.

An early show in his then-home base of Los Angeles in 1993, for example, consisted of
plastic or fiberglass household objects-paper trays, fishing lures, coffee-cup lids-that were cast
from the artist's own body parts: a sink from his buttocks, ice trays from his testicles and, in an
early manifestation of his interest in the cult of celebrity, another set of ice trays taken in part
from a nose cast of the actor who played Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next
Generation. While the prankster quality of the exhibition might first be read as a kind of sopho-
moric undertaking, its meaning shifted gear when one considered the now defunct gallery's
location in the Beverly Hills Design District, packed with luxury furnishing shops selling opulent
home accessories, and opposite the infamous Ivy restaurant, de rigeur meeting place of the
stars, where nose model Gates McFadden may have lunched at the height of her fame.

Bouchet analyzed an entirely different facet of California life with 1995's 17.5-meter-
long, bright pink Commune Futon, which became the centerpiece of an event entitledMy
Toothbrush Is Your Toothbrush(1995-98). For the three-year happening, the artist extended an

open invitation for anybody to come and live in his studio, provided the guest would sleep on
the giant futon (Bouchet provided free bathrobes, food and marijuana). In its prosociety/antiso-
ciety performative aspect, the work referenced Viennese Actionism in the particular personage
of Otto M\u00fchl, whose self-proclaimed "transition from art to life" resulted in a commune and his
eventual imprisonment for child abuse. Read through this lens, the event moves beyond a liter-


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