Phil Berkman

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

Phil Berkman, a conceptual artist, is also Chief of Security at the Museum of Contemporary Art. His performance, 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, addressed the absurdity of equating art with money; it occurred just as the theft of three valuable Cézanne paintings at Chicago’s Art Institute focused attention on museum security.

Berkman folded a one hundred dollar bill into a child’s paper airplane and pushpinned it to the wall. Then he stationed young uniformed security guards to watch the money (they rotated every 20 minutes or so)—coincidentally all were artists too.

Entering this “guardscape” as a viewer, I too behaved as if the setup were a parody of routine museum life, the money on the wall a stand-in for art. I inspected its convexities and concavities, its light and dark textures, the guard intently watching me all the while. When I tried to remove the money from the pushpins, the

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