Amor Mundi is Improv Everywhere’s stock-in-trade, but in their latest installment they’ve really put it on display. Service Changes cites the frequent delays and frustrations of metropolitan commuting, but in this case it denotes that joyful creativity for its own sake the Improv Everywhere likes to showcase.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this group is the anonymity: certainly some wouldbe actors and models shuck their pants every year for theannual “No Pants” subway ride, but we never learn or care their names, and ordinary bodies are on display as well, even preferred for the daringness of being uncovered without the goods to back it up. This new improvisation had agents treating a subway platform just like an art exhibit, with cellist, coat rack, and a bar. (Admittedly it was the Fasion Institute of Technology station at 23rd Street, but I think we can forgive this slight digging for an appreciative audience.)
Perhaps best of all, the ordinary items and advertisements of the New York City subway were transformed into works of art through the application of the traditional labels of the art gallery:
Locked Box #2 (1988)
Metropolitan Transit Authority
This extremely subtle piece reexamines the assumption that art must be visually accessible to be important and identifiable as a creative work. This artist explores the limitless possibilities of the hidden here, allowing the viewer to reevaluate underlying preconceptions, and to recondition the inner mind to work with the perception of the commonplace outer space.
In many ways this is a play on the Duchamp readymades and the Deweyan rejection of art as a conspicuous taste-demonstration. But it’s also just fun, and many of the participants reported that they quickly lost their capacity to distinguish between pretending that the pipes, wires, and gates were art, and actually treating them as such!