Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nam June Paik Eats Sushi in Palm Beach

As a follow-up to my recent attendance at the Nam June Paik memorial in Germany, here are a few anecdotes I want to relate from testimonials I heard from those who knew Paik well:
  • when asked about his relationship with art history, Paik said it was like looking out in a meadow and seeing a dead flower in the middle of it all and having to go pick it up

  • sometime in the early 60s, while attending a very noisy, almost unlistenable triple concert where there were three simultaneous orchestras playing under the direction of three separate conductors, one of the conductors, Karlheinz Stockhausen, stopped the music in the middle of the performance and reprimanded the third violin for being out of tune, at which point Paik decided right there and then that if Stockhausen could hear that one out of tune violonist in the midst of the cacaphony of noise in the hall, then he, Paik, was in the wrong business, and ceased thinking of himself as a musical composer which then opened the door to him becoming a visual artist (and that was nicely transitioned in the title of his first gallery show, "Exhibition of Music - Electronic Television")

  • Paik once applied for a Rockerfeller Foundation grant and in the section that asked what he wanted the money for, he wrote "To destroy all national television"

  • speaking before a group of politicos who were focusing their discussion on, among other things, Communism/Marxism, Paik silenced the crowd by asking "but this brings up a very important question, and that is, what happens when you cannot find a parking space?"

  • the printer Wolfgang Hainke spoke about a limited edition set of 200 prints that he made in collaboration with NJP and that he needed NJP to sign, so he flew out to New York and on the Saturday that he arrived, Hainke called NJP's home to see if he could bring the prints over for NJP to sign - but Shigeko, NJP's wife, answered his request by saying "we don't work on weekends" - Hainke was upset about this and thought of immediately leaving NYC but but ended up hanging out an extra few days which was lucky and somewhat odd, since on the following Tuesday afternooon, NJP called to say that it was OK to bring the prints over now since he was ready to sign them. It was 9/11.

Those are just some of the stories that I heard that I can still recall, and my German translation skills are not that hot, so they may not be 100% accurate. Besides that, there really is no way to relate the video animation homage that I saw called "Nam June Paik Eats Sushi in Palm Beach". Keep an eye out for it.

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