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Allan Kaprow's "Yard" Reinvented by William Pope.L at Hauser & Wirth

James Kalm climbs to the top of the pile of tires in this “reinvention” of Allan Kaprow’s Yard at the debut exhibition of Hauser & Wirth New York. William Pope.L adds his own narrative text using a Barack Obama imitator, and flashing lights in this restaging. Upstairs we tour an in depth collection of posters, prints and documentation tracing the historic arc of this “Happening” which was originally created in this very location in 1961.

Interview with William Pope.L, Art in America online

William Pope.L, Yard by Yard, an interview of the artist who reinterpreted Allan Kaprow's Yard at Hauser & Wirth, is excerpted below:

The original courtyard space at 32 East 69th Street has since been covered over but you could say my reinvention is in almost the same area as Allan Kaprow’s 1961 YARD except now it has a lid. Hauser & Wirth and the Estate chose the site.

I believe that Kaprow discovered something but didn’t realize it’s full import until years later. He discovered that art was inexorably moving out into the world. On the other hand, Allan Kaprow was trained as a formalist modernist who must believe there is something that is specific to art that makes it art. There’s a tension in Allan Kaprow re: the split between art and life. I see this in art in general and I find the tension productive.

So when Hauser & Wirth and the Kaprow Estate chose a gallery for a artwork whose radicality partly derived from not being in a gallery, I felt it was necessary to bring some world back in. Not only materially but tonally. Today the American automobile experience is inextricably tied to otherness (mid-east oil, Toyota, Iraq, Afghanistan) and a fallen Eden (bad ecology, bankrupt car companies). And the voice (Obama) that we’ve chosen to speak our paradox, our crisis is intimately attached to otherness. Perhaps some of this is political, I know it’s not pure or clean or comfortable. And putting a lid on things does not necessarily mean ignoring or softening them, it can also intensify an experience. In the case of rubber tires that are constantly oxidizing into the air, housing them in an enclosed space guarantees we will, as an audience, have to breathe in the very molecules the tires give off.