Christian Marclay


The guitar I'm holding is a silicone rubber cast of an electric bass guitar. It is, of course, unplayable. Soft and droopy, it would be impossible to stretch strings on it. The guitar was cast in the same flesh color used for medical prostheses; this piece is actually entitled Prosthesis (2000). The guitar is a very anthropomorphic instrument: We speak of the body of the guitar, the neck, the head. The electric guitar is also very phallic, and I wanted to mock this rock-and-roll machismo symbol. Here it has lost its erection and is in desperate need of some Viagra. Prosthesis was first exhibited at Paula Cooper Gallery, in New York, as part of an installation of a series of "impossible musical instruments": a thirteen-foot-tall drum kit, an absurdly long accordion, an acoustic guitar with a bent neck, and a tuba fused with a trumpet. The accordion and the drum kit were first exhibited in a music store in San Antonio, Texas, during my residency at Artpace. I wanted people to encounter these instruments in their original context rather than in an antiseptic gallery space. At the Whitney Museum the instruments will be displayed on a performance stage with colored lights, as if the performers had just abandoned them, out of frustration maybe.