this ain't soda pop, dude!

To Protect Taste, 2011, Cory Arcangel. Courtesy: Taro Nasu Gallery.

In 2012, whilst working for the artist Ryan Gander, I was given the task of fabricating and sourcing about 80 objects for his exhibition Ampersand (2012) at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Each of these objects was to be displayed on a moving conveyor belt and to be viewed one at a time through a small window. Gander had selected the objects for the exhibition for their capacities as vessels of stories and meaning. One of the objects on the list was an artwork by Cory Arcangel called To Protect Taste(2011). The work consisted of a black mesh wastepaper basket filled with empty Coke Zero cans. I contacted Cory to enquire about the possibility of purchasing or borrowing the work, immediately a few problems became apparent: it was too expensive to buy it, too expensive to insure it on a moving conveyor belt, and too expensive to ship it from New York to London to Paris. Ryan made the cheeky suggestion that he fabricate a “display copy” of it, Cory agreed but noted that it would be difficult to source the Coke Zero cans, as they were limited edition, promotional cans for the movie Tron. Cory then made it into a little game, the rules of which were: the drink can must have the word “zero” in its name, the wastepaper basket must somehow be colour-matched with the cans and the title of the work must come from the text on the cans. Ryan chose “Bacardi Superior and Zero Calorie Cola,” the cans for which are black and gold so the wastepaper basket was painted accordingly and the work’s title became Enjoy Responsibly (2012).

I recently emailed Cory about another project I was working on with him and thought I’d slip in the question of whether he would permit me to make another version of his work following the same rules he had set for Ryan; his response was “Hey! Yeah, sure. Cory”. I followed the same instructions that he had issued to Ryan and the result was this ain't soda pop, dude! (2014), a black wastepaper basket with a sky blue rim, full of empty “Monster Energy Absolutely Zero” cans. The question of the authorship of these two versions is an interesting one. Whilst I have selected the particular details (drink, colour, title), the concept belongs to Cory.

Barnie Page, 2014