Filed under: Art Pranks, Pranksters
Submitted by Wayne Zebzda:
Internationally famous Italian artist Maurizio Catalan creates provocative, often humorous art installations, some of which fetch millions of dollars. The following excerpt from an interview by Bob Nikas for Index Magazine in 1999 reveals some of the early prankster roots of his popularity. – WZ
Editor’s note: Reading the complete interview puts it all in perspective and is well worth the read. The image here, La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), by Maurizio Catalan, which depicts the Pope felled by a rock that has seemingly fallen through a skylight, sold at a Christie’s auction two years after this interview for $886,000. – ed
BOB: You’re a professional …
MAURIZIO: Art worker.
BOB: But with you, there’s not always an actual work.
MAURIZIO: There was the time I had to go to the police to tell them that someone stole an invisible sculpture from my car.
BOB: I’ve never heard about this. An invisible piece?
MAURIZIO: I was supposed to have a show at a gallery, and I didn’t really have anything for them …
BOB: … and you didn’t know how to tell them?
MAURIZIO: Yes, so I decided to report that a sculpture had been stolen from my car.
BOB: So you’d have a good excuse for the gallery?
MAURIZIO: Exactly. I went to the police station in the early morning, and I was frantic, “Oh my god …”
BOB: And they believed you?
MAURIZIO: Sure. [laughs]
BOB: Didn’t you once steal someone else’s work, and then bring it to the place where you were having your show?
MAURIZIO: Yes. This was more about displacement. I thought it was interesting to move one place completely into another.
BOB: So you broke into the gallery?
MAURIZIO: Yes, we broke inside at night.
BOB: They didn’t have an alarm?
MAURIZIO: No. [laughs]
BOB: Whose work did you take?
MAURIZIO: Actually we took everything from the gallery …
BOB: Like the fax machine and all the stuff in the office?
MAURIZIO: Everything. We rented a van, and just filled it up.
BOB: This was in Amsterdam?
MAURIZIO: Yes, at de Appel. They wanted me to do a piece in a week. But I’m not used to working so quickly. So I thought the best way to get something that fast was to take the work of someone else.
BOB: That’s a new take on the readymade.
MAURIZIO: Well, when you don’t know what to do …
BOB: But didn’t the people at de Appel ask, “Where did all this stuff come from?”
MAURIZIO: The story finished quickly, because the police came and there were problems …
BOB: Were you arrested?
MAURIZIO: No. This is why I did the piece in Holland.
BOB: [laughs] Imagine doing that in New York.
MAURIZIO: It took a while for everyone to calm down, but then we became very good friends and they even asked me to do a show with them.
BOB: But that’s your ultimate punishment — you had to figure something out for another show.
MAURIZIO: Yeah, it’s true.
BOB: Crime doesn’t pay.