I don’t issue effusive praise too much, but the Art Handling Olympics deserves it. It’s without a doubt the best art event I’ve been to all year, in part because the competitors took the AHO games so seriously. Also, it was a total riot. Founder and MC Shane Caffrey did a brilliant job hosting the games, ensuring no part of the event ever felt tedious or boring. When audiences weren’t yelling at the competitors or judges, they were laughing at Caffrey, a comedian in his own right.
Speaking of audiences, The Art Handling Olympics packed Ramiken Crucible, a basement gallery located just outside of Chinatown. This proved to be something of an issue, as there weren’t many points where viewers could clearly see the 15 teams of four competing. Next year we recommend using Eyebeam as a venue and building a higher stage.
A large number of viewers stuck it out for the entire competition regardless, which began with a qualifying round of bin races. Teams of four, two “pushers” and two who sat inside the bin, ran down the street to bar 169, slammed dumplings and whiskey, picked up art around the block at Dispatch, and then raced back to Ramiken Crucible. The heats were impossible to keep track of, but I did notice the Asia Society and S.A.T. disastrous collision and wipe out just outside the finish line. According to an account by Atelier 4 CEO and Kings of Cleats competitor Jonathan Schwartz, team mate Gary Cullen nearly puked his dumplings while pushing the bin. A quick change of positions ensured they moved ahead to the games.
Dept. 13’s hang to left needs a bit of level action. Quick and Dirty win the round. Photo: Marina Galperina.
Dept. 13 (Adam Hayes, Jason McHugh, Galo Desalazar, Fausto Mella), Kings of Cleats, (Mike Recken, Gary Cullen, Mike Egan, Jonathan Schwartz and Tomasz Nazarko) The Well Hung (Adam Eckstrom, Cynthia Yardley, Paul Outlaw, Rex Weaver), and Quick and Dirty (Eric Theriault, Seth Hernandez, Jonathan Riesco, Matt Humpfrey, Alternates: Seth Abrames) had the fastest times of all the teams thereby qualifying them to compete in the Olympics. Those games consisted of How’s it Hanging (hang some pictures of kitties as fast as you can), The Static Hold (hold up this giant painting made of lead and backed with plywood while a German curator complains about your incompetence), Pack It In (wrap this trash we’re calling art we found at The Armory as fast as you can in bubble and cardboard), and The Eliminator (quick: read this artist’s mind and assemble!). In the interest of time I won’t recall too many of the details but the highlight of the competition for me occurred early on when Department 13’s hanging job practically fell off the wall, but leveled out a diagonally pictured kitty in the process. Also a favorite was the use of Chariots of Fire and Airwolf as soundtracks for introductions and games respectively and the pure ingenuity demonstrated in creating the heaviest pictures known to man for The Static Hold.
Overall, the competition was very tight, and had Quick and Dirty not been disqualified for dropping a picture in the Static Hold the race would have been much closer. The Well Hung and Kings of Cleats advanced to the elimination round, which asked art handlers to create something resembling art out of an array of unexpected objects. Technically this was the weakest part of the competition as there’s not a whole lot of interesting that can come out of a five minute install — I would have a preferred something with instructions that were just impossible to read as the judging would have been based on more tangible standards — but whatever. When all the points were tallied Department 13 nabbed the bronze, The Well Hung the Silver and Kings of Cleats the Gold. This was a bit of a surprise because by my count Well Hung received a total score of 127.1 edging out Kings of Cleats with 125.5. These numbers don’t include the qualifier though, and it’s quite possible I made a mistake tallying somewhere along my tweets. UPDATE: From Shane Caffrey: The scoring system was a combination of times and judges scores. Scores were converted into seconds which were then subtracted from the tallied times from events.
Speaking of which, for those who want the blow by blow, I’ve transcribed (and spell checked) yesterday’s live tweets after the jump. Also, look forward to the post to follow, an AHO photo essay by Marina Galperina.
- The Art Handling Olympics yo! http://twitpic.com/1a2ggz
- Shane Caffrey announcing the Olympics. This place is packed with handlers!
- Charriots of fire playing while Asia Society art handling team introduced.
- DC team announces they are here to kick New York ass. Boos ensue.
- Someone just yelled “show us your tapes” to the all girl handling team Screw Em.
- SAT team announces they are here to drink beer.
- Handlers now huffing over dumplings at bar 169
- “look out for the children” yells one handler. (There are children in the street)
- Well Hung bin pulled by truck – handler holding on to the back – Back to the Future style!
- Department 13 coming in Bard to follow
- SAT just did a major wipe out at the finish line
- Well Hung came in first in their heat! “Our strategy was to be faster than everyone else” Says the team.
- Micheal Shea designed the logo on the medals
- Hanging 59 3/16ths on center 9 3/16ths spacing. Well Hung to start
- Teams hanging to airwolf theme song
- Competing against Kings of Cleats
- Well Hung score: 8, 8, 8 from judges
- Judges on Kings of Cleats “i’m not sure what you think a straight line is but I never want to stand beside you at the urinal” 4, 7, 6
- Up next: Quick and Dirty vs Department 13
- Target hang: 66 on center
- German yeller with a bullhorn hurling abuses
- One of the images falling off the wall
- Quick and dirty from judges: 8, 7, 7 spacing “okay”
- Department 13 from judges: 5, 5, .1 “you look good from behind, interpretive hanging”
- Beer break
- AHO needs a larger venue. This place is packed!
- Rules: 5 minutes to wrap weird tape sculptures made of trash and pizza boxes “spotted at the Armory”
- Price is Right music playing while they wrap
- “It looks like they’re packing a piece of garbage in another piece of Garbage”
- Quick and Dirty in the lead
- Well Hung from the judges: you wrapped what looks like a shoe. No tabs on tape. Good corners, and a sigh “shit storm” – working after clock #AHO 7, 7, 5.1
- Quick and Dirty: looks like a go-cart. Like the way you dominated the space with your wrapping
- Streamer action good, bottom is dolliable : 8, 7, 8 Quick and Dirty win the round
- Up next: Kings of Cleats vs Department 13
- On your marks, get set, switch sculptures please!
- Department 13 in lead
- And finished. Cleats still working
- Kings of Cleats from judges: has we <3 Carlo (judge) Bad taping, fragile illegible 7, 7, 7
- Department of 13 from judges: Done early, didn’t waste your time well enough. Scores: 8, 8, 8 Department 13 wins the round!
- Up next: The Static Hold.
- German curator talking about ennui through a bullhorn – artist working exclusively with lead.
- Curator takes a call about Basel, complains of being surrounded by incompetence while guys hold lead paintings
- Quick and Dirty dropped art work. Disqualified!
- Guys are all trembling – Ameringer and Yohe’s Mike Medal would have killed all these guys
- 10, 10, 10 to Well Hung…
- Kings of Cleats: 9, 9, 9.5
- Department 13: 9, 9, 9.5 (for suffering)
- About to announce AHO finalists
- Moving on to the eliminator: Kings of Cleats and the Well Hung (red team)
- Up first: Kings of Cleats. Uncrate this art and set up this work. No install instructions. Then recrate!
- So far there’s a mouse trap, steal wool, a ball of pink ribbon, tin foil, a Styrofoam duck, a tambourine
- Weird #AHO http://twitpic.com/1a3miv
- From the judges: 8, 9, 8
- Kings of Cleats repacking work. Must save bubble – tight economy.
- Kings of Cleats taped the fuck out of their sculpture making Well Hung’s life more difficult.
- Packing score: 8, 8, 8 – they deserved higher I thought.
- Well Hung to unpack the same! http://twitpic.com/1a3o8a
- Well Hung’s installation. http://twitpic.com/1a3p2t
- From the judges: wonderfully well integrated as a composition. The reference to Christo is subversive yet understated. The score: 10, 10, 9
- Well Hung only has 2 minutes to repack for advantage of seeing contents in advance. Almost forget to pack pantyhose.
- From the judges: 8, 9, and points deducted for not packing the dude who was in the art in the box. 7.
- Medal ceremony about to begin.
- Bronze goes to: Department 13 also get tape measures!
- Whoa: Silver Medal team is The Well Hung. An upset!
- Kings of Cleats win the gold!!! http://twitpic.com/1a3uq1
- Dancing on stage ensues!
This post is brought to you by Atelier 4, Art Fag City’s official Art Handling Olympics Sponsor.
We’d like to again thank Atelier 4 for their sponsorship of the Olympic Games. The company performed exceptionally well in this year’s games, with CEO Jonathan Schwartz competing on the gold winning team along with ex-A4ers Mike Egan and Tomasz Nazarko. The Well Hung, winners of the Silver medal, comprised of A4 employees and freelancers Rex Weaver, Adam Eckstrom and Cynthia Yardley.