NWMMP // MMXII
INDIVIDUAL: Agent Brian Dick tag-team alternating with Agent Christen Sperry-Garcia
GROUP SIZE: two or three at a time, sometimes up to ten, collectively hundreds over a decade
NATURE OF GROUP: unsuspecting art fans and/or uneasy museum managers
INCIDENCE OF SOCIOMETRY: The Nation Wide Museum Mascot Project
NWMMP at MOMA
Though the origins of shamanism are cloaked in a Joseph Campbell style myth-mash and/or ivory-tower navel gazings, humans have been putting on goofy animal costumes and accosting strangers since the paleolithic era. Though the practice exists close to it’s original form among arctic Inuits and in the highlands of Borneo and Burma, it’s experienced in the arena of western society in the form of mini-tramp front-flip slam-dunks from an anthropomorphized cartoon jersey-wearing panther or a waddling purple dinosaur leading a trail of children pied-piper like into to flabby arms of television-aided consumer-capitalism. Costumery that was once a holy vessel for a divine messenger is now bouncing and waving from an Ford-land tent-sale commercial.
above and below: NWMMP at DAG
Around the turn of the 21rst century performance and prank artist (and upper echelon IS agent) Brian Dick wanted to get some fresh faces off the street and into a San Diego performance art space. Recognizing that there IS nothing better than a mascot to disarm and draw in the passive consumer, The Museum Mascot project was born. Shortly after, Brian, and ‘artner Christen Sperry-Garcia started seeking permission to “mascot” venerable art museums such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Though met with the type of snobbishly paternalistic stonewalling tactics typically deployed by the permission granters at such public art institutions, they decided to just show up in costume and see what happens. Something about the benevolence of the mission – convincing the passer-by that art is fun – and the bad-p.r. security takedown of a friendly dancing manimal surrounded by a gaggle of happy kids lead to tacit permission to do their thing.
NWMMP at SFMOMA
Developing a found-object and improvisational approach, the pair typically hits town a day before the gig to scrounge neighborhood dumpsters and garage sales for spent piñatas, children’s imprinted sleeping bags, and county-fair size stuffed animals to frankenstein together a mascot costume with multicolored duct-tape. By pulling together cast-offs from the community they create a character which mediates the low-culture of a city neighborhood with the high-culture of an art institution much in that way shamans use masks to communicate the concerns of an earth-bound culture to the spirit realm.
And the kids love it! And, the “Fine Art” patrons find it terribly awkward…
NWWMP IS fun indoors and out!
In 2012 the duo crowd-sourced funding to take the Nation Wide Museum Mascot Project coast-to-coast with a 50/50 invite vs. guerilla target list tour of 21 acronym institutions – including MCASD, MOCAD, OCMA, MOMA, SFMOMA with a stop at iSFair 2O12 along the way.
The Museum Mascot has been the official mascot of Sociometry Fair 2008
… and iSFair 2O12.
Tags: art museum, brian dick, christen sperry-garcia, culture jamming, Institute of Sociometry, is, is agent, isfair 2012, iSFair 2O12, mascots, nation wide museum mascot project, NWMMP, performance art, Sociometry Fair