Untitled (Public Opinion), 1991
Black rod licorice candy, individually wrapped in cellophane (endless supply); ideal weight: 700 pounds Dimensions variable
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the Louis and Bessie Adler Foundation, Inc., and the National Endowment for the Arts Museum Purchase Program, 1991
Above: Installation view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Photo by David Heald.
Untitled (Public Opinion) is one of Felix Gonzalez-Torres' signature candy spills, in which commercially available candies of a particular type are heaped in a corner or spread out in a rectangular carpet. Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to take candy. As a result of these interactions, the work disappears over time and must be periodically replenished. The artist assigned most of his candy spills an "ideal weight," with the understanding that this weight may vary with context. Gonzalez-Torres described some of his spills as portraits; the type of candy or ideal weight stands in metaphorically for the body or personality of the person portrayed.
Each spill in this series was originally made from a different type of candy. Companies mass-producing these candies frequently change products and wrappingsome candies are discontinued. There is a fairly stable market for the plain rod-licorice that constitutes Untitled (Public Opinion), wehreas Untitled (Throat) depends on a brand of cough dropsLuden's Honey Lemonwhose packaging changed from the original yellow and blue to a clear cellophane wrapper with yellow lettering. How the works are installed in different exhibition contexts and how viewers are meant to interact with them are other vulnerable behaviors. Since the artist died in 1996, re-creators of his works must consult with his Estate and former colleagues to establish guidelines for resolving these issues.
Preservation strategies to explore include:
|Storage||Should candies be stored before going out of production? If so, should visitors be prevented from taking candy once the remaining candies have reached a minimum amount?|
|Emulation||Once candies are discontinued, should a substitute candymost closely resembling the originalbe found? If so, which aspect is the most important to imitate: the wrapper, the appearance of the confection, or the flavor?|
|Migration||When candies become obsolete, should re-creators of the work substitute the up-to-date version of the same candy type from the same or comparable manufacturer, even if it may look and taste different from the original?|
|Reinterpretation||When candies become obsolete, should re-creators of the work substitute a metaphoric or functional equivalent of the original candies (e.g., inhalers for cough drops)?|
|Storage||Should museum staff never replenish the candy supply for a given exhibition, but allow the work to disappear with time?|
|Emulation||Should the initial shape, dimensions, and weight of the original candy spill be re-created every time it is installed? Should museum staff replenish the candy supply for a given exhibition to bring the work back to its original dimensions? How often should they do this?|
|Migration||Should re-creators of the work scale the dimensions and weight of the candy spill to suit the size and expected attendance of each exhibition space? Should museum staff vary how frequently they replenish the candy supply according to demand?|
|Reinterpretation||Should re-creators of the work scale the shape, dimensions, or weight of the candy spill based on detailed instructions on site-specificity? Should museum staff vary how frequently they replenish the candy supply based on the artist's instructions?|
|Storage||Should simultaneous exhibitions be forbidden?|
|Emulation||In the case of simultaneous exhibitions, should the traces of previous visitors (e.g., a reduction in the amount of candy) be disregarded for each new venue?|
|Migration||In the case of simultaneous exhibitions, should the traces of previous visitors (e.g., a reduction in the amount of candy) be inherited from previous venues but diverge for future venues?|
|Reinterpretation||In the case of simultaneous exhibitions, should the traces of previous and current visitors (e.g., reduction in the amount of candy in two different installations) be periodically enforced for all clones by manually removing candy?|