[1984] Pumpkin Art

The public opening of the Jonathan Borofsky exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was 6 October 1984. A picture of Borofsky with numbers all over his face was on the cover of The Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine the same day. Thus informed I went to the exhibition that afternoon and found it magnificent, and that was before I became a part of it.

After a number of 'standard' galleries displaying Borofsky's works, the exhibition culminated in a very large, double height room within which Borofsky manifest an installation. There were selected works all over the place, photocopies calling for nuclear disarmament all over the floor, and even a ping-pong table with a sign inviting museum visitors to play.

An old woman was sitting on the only chair in the room, a metal folding chair next to a folding work table that looked as though Borofsky had simply left them there after he was finished. I waited for the woman to get up so I could sit there and observe all the reactions of 'shock' exhibited by all the other exhibition visitors.

After sitting there for a few minutes, another older woman came up to me and asked, "You're the artist, aren't you?" I told her I wasn't, but she wasn't convinced. "Well, you're dressed the same as that figure of the artist up there hanging from the ceiling." It is true that both I and the figure of Borofsky "flying" over the room were wearing blue jeans and a red sweater. I was also wearing my beloved John Deere cap, however. Suddenly, I got an idea.

On the table next to me was a pumpkin and a roll of masking tape. I started tearing off pieces of the tape and started giving the pumpkin eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Then I gave the pumpkin crazy hair standing on end with longer pieces of tape. A crowd started to gather around. "Are you part of the exhibit?" "I am now." Other questions were also entertained. Then a big bouncer of a museum guard came up and asked, "Were you told to do that?!?" I crossed my eyes and answered, "He made me do it." Then the guard's look changed from perplexed to angry, so I stood up and whispered to the guard that I did not intent to cause any trouble, and I will gladly leave the exhibit if he escorts me out. The guard obliged and told me I could stay in the rest of the museum, but "Please don't touch anything."

When I returned to the Borofsky exhibit toward the end of its run the pumpkin and the roll of tape were no longer there.



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Stephen Lauf © 2012.07.21