Jonathan Berger

Future Greats 2013

By Carol Bove

I want to convince you that what Jonathan is doing is a totally different activity to that of a curator or even the-artist-as-curator, where an artist makes a show out of other people’s work and we read it as an allegory for his/her own practice.

In January he opened a show at Maccarone in New York called On Creating Reality, by Andy Kaufman, a project presented in collaboration with the Estate of Andy Kaufman, Lynne Margulies, Bob Zmuda and Tony Clifton. The gallery contained vitrines filled with ephemera from Kaufman’s unclassifiable life project. There were no labels or text. Instead, people from Kaufman’s life were physically present during the entire exhibition: people like his best friend Bob Zmuda one day and, on the next, Tony Clifton, the vile singer/comedian character played interchangeably by Zmuda or Kaufman. On Friday, 18 January you could have had an intimate, unscripted conversation with transcendental meditation teacher Prudence Farrow (Mia’s sister and inspiration for the Beatles song). Kaufman was an avid practitioner of TM and a pupil of Farrow’s.

Tony Clifton performed his act after the opening and, towards the end, said emphatically, “A lot of people think I’m Andy Kaufman. If you want to see Andy Kaufman, you’re going to need a shovel and a flashlight… ’cause this is a Tony Clifton performance.” It was impossible to tell who might be under the bad wig and prosthetic jowls, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was forced to think, wait, could it be Andy Kaufman? I think what’s going on here is more like ventriloquism than curating, although I’m not sure if Jonathan is speaking through Andy or if it’s the other way around.

This article was originally published in the March 2013 issue.