izhar patkin

Collaborations with Nam June Paik 1998-2001


Table of Contents:
1. Collaborations with Nam June Paik
2. A Trip to Nam, text by Izhar Patkin


video for Shoeshine Buddha sculpture
collaborations with nam june paik izhar patkin collaborations with nam june paik izhar patkin

(click images for larger view)

collaborations with nam june paik izhar patkin

Buddha Shines, 1990
wood, wax, plaster, enamel, gold leaf, fabric, tv monitor, video
60” x 60” x 60”
private collection
Shoeshine Buddha, 1991
wax, plaster, cardboard, wood, enamel, tv monitors, video
48” x 36” x 48”
collection Izhar Patkin
Shoeshine Buddha, detail
Ghost Money 1991
(Funeral TV: it looks easy, but it doesn’t happen everyday)

mirrored plexiglass vitrine filled with joss paper sculptures*, steel, enamel, tv monitors, light bulbs, wood, wax, plaster, video
collection Izhar Patkin
collaborations with nam june paik izhar patkin

video for "Ghost Money" sculpture

collaborations with nam june paik izhar patkin
view of some of the inner contents of “Funeral TV” vitrine

* Joss paper, also known as ghost money or hell bank notes, as well as other papier-mâché items, are burned in traditional Chinese funerals, to ensure that spirit of the deceased has lots of good things in their afterlife.
The term 'hell money' comes from the Chinese tradition of offering representations of money or goods to the dead. In some Chinese mythology, the Hell Bank Notes are sent by living relatives to dead ancestors as a tribute to the King of Hell for a shorter stay or to escape punishment, or for the ancestors to use themselves in spending on lavish items in the afterlife.

More contemporary or westernized varieties of Joss paper include Hell Bank Notes, paper credit cards, checks, as well as papier-mâché clothes, houses, cars, toiletries, and servants. In 2006, China's deputy minister for civil affairs, Dou Yupei, said he intended to ban at least the more extreme forms of joss paper, such as MP3 players, planes, boats and even paper condoms, paper prostitutes and Viagra.

by Izhar Patkin

As it appeared in Point of Contact On Silence, 2001

Sometime in the late 8O's of the last century, on the occasion of a Whitney Museum Biennial we both participated in, Nam June Paik asked me if I would make some collaborative works with him. This was quite an amazing proposition for someone who, as a teenager, first encountered Paik's work on a trip from Israel to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. I remember, in all my enthusiastic teen authority, declaring that Paik's way was the way!
It was a sculpture of God watching TV. Watching himself on TV (a hip Italian TV in white plastic).

Twenty years later, I am having lunch with Nam to discuss our collaborative project but before we get to our business he has a burning question for me.

- "Tell me about your God"

- My God?

- Well yes, the Bible.

- Why?

- I have to do a piece with a biblical theme for a show in Europe, I have never read the Bible and they never taught it in school.

I found it so reassuring that he didn't know the stories of the Bible. I didn't have to pretend that I knew more about Buddha than I actually did. In Hebrew we say:; what a "luxus" (luxury)! Now he would make a biblical sculpture based on my recollections of the Bible and all of Europe would stand still in front of his moving images and project their stories onto it. How very Fluxus!

We started our collaborative sculptures. We introduced our Gods to each other and we sent them on a highway ride without maps of the Diaspora or any other destinations that ex-patriots often make pilgrimage to. What freedom!

Nam was complaining about foot pain.

- Are you Ok?

- Well, sort of. It is to be expected, the Buddha is punishing me for all I have been doing to him.

- What about me? Are you trying to rope me into a Buddhist hall of punishment now? Jews have enough troubles of their own.

- Don't worry! The Buddha can only torture a Buddhist

Homeless Buddha, 1989
shopping cart, vcr’s, tvs, perforated paper, umbrella, plaster, wax, video
57” x 55” x 40”
private collection

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