Selected Performances by Randall Pants
Eating in the restaurant all day long
From 11 AM until 11:30 PM Randall Pants meet with a series of friends in a small Thai restaurant in Chicago. While his friends came in shifts, one or two at a time, Randall stayed the entire day, ordering and eating a new meal with each group of friends and he insisted on paying at the end of each meal. In the morning he arrived with friends who came back at the end of the evening to join him for the last meal.
|Shopping Cart Surrogate||
For 35 hours: Randall Pants shopped for groceries at a local Jewel supermarket. He collected weekly shopping lists from 43 friends and coworkers, and spent nearly a day and half buying the items. He would finish each list, pay for the items, take them outside to the friends who would be waiting, and would then walk right back in again to continue shopping. He shopped for goods totaling a little over $4500 dollars.
For several months, Randall Pants collected the coke cans left behind by a group of annoying high school students who hung out after school behind his house. Selling the cans to scrap metal dealers, he was able to buy each of the 5 students an expensive but ugly necktie their full names embroidered on to each one. After he left the ties in wrapped boxes, he filmed the students finding them. They did not return. The film was destroyed by a leaky roof two years later.
|1991||Posing as "Internationally Successful Tape artist" #1||
Randall Pants began his series of performances where he infiltrated various stores, galleries and government offices posing as an "Internationally Successful Tape artist." He arrived at a Walgreens Drug store in Chicago with a photographer and a pretty reporter claiming to be Ruban Á Masquer: "Internationally Successful Tape artist." He informed them, with fake documents, that he had prearranged to have his picture taken while sitting inside their ice freezer. While not the least bit pleased, the manager complied.
|Posing as "Internationally Successful Tape artist" #2||
Randall Pants, while a little drunk, entered a Chicago subway car on a very cold Friday afternoon at rush hour, with a broadcast video crew, two photographers, and several young assistants (sisters and cousins, including two sets of identical twins) who wore matching knee length plaid skirts and held matching clipboards. He immediately started yelling "I need this car! I need this car for my internationally successful tape art!" and then as he started hanging strips of tape from the handrails: "Remain very still! DO NOT BE AFRAID! There is no danger, just some internationally successful tape art!" Then the whole crew got off after three stops.
|Posing as "Internationally Successful Tape artist" #3||
In the lobby of the State of Illinois building in Chicago, Randall Pants, dressed in ill-fitting clothing, and now with only one photographer(his father)who held just a small point and shoot camera, handed out several hundred small origami-like tape animals, including mice, butterflies, birds, dogs, and one blue and white panda (which took him 6 hours to make). He had a small table with a small sign announcing who who he was: "Ruban Á Masquer, Internationally Successful Tape artist." As he handed out each small sculpture, he said "Oh-thank-you-so-so-much-thank-you" without any hint of an accent. When he was finished, he left the table and sign.
|Posing as "Internationally Successful Tape artist" #4||
Alone, without tape or art and never speaking, Randall Pants entered Carl Hammer Gallery during an opening for a bottle-cap artist, passed out business cards that read "Ruban Á Masquer, Internationally Successful Tape artist," until he got to Carl Hammer who personally tossed him out.
|Randall Pants School of Performance Art #3||
After two attempts, both aborted because of massive panic induced giggling attacks, Randall Pants gathered with 6 children under 12 (cousins and their neighborhood friends) just outside of an art fair in Evanston. With a very professional looking sign that read "Randall Pants School of Performance Art," Randall led each of the kids through the same short script, giving comments and encouragement. Each "student" would walk onto the carpeted area with a bucket, a glass and a wooden spoon. Then they would angrily yell while pacing: "You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to pee in this glass and then I'm going to drink it! That's what I'm going to do and I going to do that in a minute! Just you wait because I'm going to do it in a minute. Then I'm going to poop in this bucket and I'm going to eat it. I'm going to eat it with this spoon! In a minute!" Then the "student" would walk off to some high-fives. Afterwards the whole group went out for ice-cream.
|1992||Triumph Of The Will||
Originally believing that this performance would last for two weeks in the beginning of January, Randall bought only what groceries the customer who arrived just before him bought. If he needed food, he would go to the supermarket and follow the shopper ahead of him, filling his cart or basket in an identical manner. At some point he would sneak a photograph of this shopper and then later (if possible) write down their license plate number. Paying with a check, he established a paper trail for each trip and he kept lengthy notes, including what new items he enjoyed and what he donated (i.e. diapers, wipes, etc.). After the end of the two weeks he decided to extend the project for rest of the winter into every purchasing arena, including books, movies, music, and (most difficult) clothes. He did decided to allow himself the flexibility to get his own size clothing when possible, and to only follow men into clothing stores, but if these men purchased women's clothing for whatever reason, he would have to get that.
Responding to an essay that Randall wrote about his project, Chicago Art Critic, Kathryn Hixson challenged: "When faced with such empty Acconci rip-offs, I normally gag, but Pants' naive attempt to become a selfless sort of uber-consumer everyman makes me wish (at least in an idle sort of way) that he would try to break through the ease of his time restriction and take it on for a year of so." Randall answered by going on for a year. He had to take out a loan from his roommate when he bought nearly $1200 worth of unneeded electronic equipment while trying to get an air-conditioner at Circuit City. In October, after following a couple who were clearly shopping for a dinner party, Pants had one himself, inviting Hixson, his parents and people from his building. His favorite purchase was "Pulparindo" a kind of Mexican candy, sort of like a hot and salty fruit leather, but he had to wait until 1993 until he could buy it again, because, except for that one day in July, no one else did. Luckily they bought a lot.
|1993||The Most Pathetic Day||
On the day after Thanksgiving, Randall Pants staged a performance in an empty store front on Lawrence Ave. near Lincoln Square in Chicago. Set up directly in front of the windows, Pants invited all of his ex-girlfriends and his then stepmother (an art critic) to watch a marathon of Barney Miller. He served warm Diet Rite out of a 2 liter bottle into Styrofoam cups that he stole from a gas station. On the busiest shopping day of the year, lots of people watched him from the street. Four (out of a possible seven) ex-girlfriends visited for two or three shows. His stepmother said she would come by but didn't. The highlight of the event was when a man who was waiting for a bus directly outside the storefront asked to come in, watched two hours of Barney Miller, finished the soda and offered Pants one of his Hostess cupcakes.
After a friend suffered a minor bike accident, Randall Pants was called upon to clean up the friend's apartment before the concerned parents arrived to "help." Randall swept through, removing any and every offensive item and substance, doing the dishes, cleaning out the fridge, and picking up the laundry. The friend was thrilled by the results and bought Pants dinner. Afterwards, Pants decided to take out a classified ad in The Chicago Reader, a local weekly free paper, to offer these same services to strangers for a fee.
"Hospitalized? Parents on the way? I will clean up your pad of any 'unpleasantness' for a modest fee. Always discrete. References Available. Call day or night. Cockamamie Services"
For the first
two months, there were no calls. Then a man called and asked for an emergency
pornography removal before his sister and her children arrived
After this first call, Pants added "Away on Business" to his ad, and business picked up considerably. Girlfriends and wives were often the returning party, and many calls were made by men who were in town but unable to get home from work to clean up. A terrified teenager called to get advice and help about cleaning up after a disastrous drunken evening at home with friends. It was at this point that Pants started taking notes and making detailed drawings (as opposed to photos, in order to remain discrete) of his work as a presentation of his business.
It was after the fifth call for "hetting" an apartment (where Pants would go into the home of a closeted gay individual to dress it up to make the domicile pass as heterosexual, often using some of the soft core pornography taken from other clients apartments, removing cookbooks and photo-albums and redecorating)that the job/project started to freak him out. He later printed a small edition (250) of a magazine explaining the project: Cockamamie Services; sold the business to a young polish couple, and took a vacation to the Wisconsin Dells on the proceeds. Pants videotaped his three jobs while he trained the new owners. One memorable quote:(from Pants to couple) "Xinay the Ookers-Hay Icturepay."
After an especially bad evening of performance art at the Chicago venue Lower Links, where a woman dressed in a stained slip tried to hand around a baby doll wrapped in a steak, Randall Pants started complaining to friends about what he felt to be an over reliance on "lazy props." Topping his list of "LP's" were dolls (especially big old doll heads), raw meat and old underwear. "Anything in a spray can" also ran near the top of the list of "Plazey-Propz."
week Pants performed at the same venue, wearing a beautifully crafted
horned helmet and standing behind an paper maché boulder-podium.
While he pretended to speak, a tape played a recording of Pants reading
the following: "People-People? How much meat and meat, dolls and
underwear-wear do we have to see before we are done with meat, dolls and
dolls and underwear? Let us now declare ourselves to be part of a revolution,
a revolution that rejects the Courtney Love model of artistic expression,
freeing ourselves to ask 'What about Vikings?'" He then used a fake
sword to slice open the boulder to reveal two young children wearing ladybug
costumes. Pants rang a tiny bell and the children stepped out and sang:"This
is an Intervention."
|Ode to Dusk||
In what at first was a collaboration with artists Anthony Elms and Paul Dickinson, Randall Pants contacted Gallery 400 Director, Karen Indeck to see if they (the collaborators) could set up a sculpture in the windows facing the street. On a recommendation from Hamza Walker from the Renaissance Society, Indeck agreed.
The sculpture was a semi-disguised confetti cannon set to fire using a combination of triggers: a light sensor, and a motion detector. Pants and Dickinson had cut a hole thru a sheet of plywood mounted in the window so that the cannon could fire into the street (Van Buren at Peoria) once it got dark, but only when there was someone passing by.
In his statement to the Chicago Police, Elms (who already had a deep and complicated history involving explosives and confetti) reported that he had broken off cooperation with Pants after arguments over the amount of confetti and the power of the cannon. Pants then "fired" Dickinson for reasons no one can remember, but once Dickinson heard the word "fired," he told Elms (and later the C.P.D.) that Pants could "go get fucked by that fucking cannon." Pants later referred to this as Dickinson's "Kenosha Curse."
On November 11th, at 4:24 pm, the confetti cannon, overloaded, over powered, and improperly tilted, shot its full load directly into the open passenger window of a passing police car. While no one hurt, the officers were certainly very upset and once they got cleaned off enough to be able to see, they arrested Pants who was standing across the street gripping his hair in his hands. Pants was charged with 1 count of criminal mischief (suspended), 2 counts of assaulting a police officer (later rescinded) and 30,000 counts of littering (later bargained down to 1). Pants paid a $1000 fine after he spent a night in jail. He had called his brother Peter to bail him out but Peter was asleep when he answered the phone and forgot all about it.
During and after the Ode to Dusk disaster, Randall Pants decided to lay low for a while. Out of habit, his did a set of "power doodles" while watching TV and wound a great deal of tape around a few of those cheap rubber balls you can get at the supermarket.
Ken Fandell Project
While he has called '95-'97 his "Grad School Years," Randall Pants has never officially enrolled in a graduate program, nor does he actually have an MFA. "But neither does Kerry James Marshall" he mentioned during a live interview on a terrible WBEZ art report. Pants simply spent everyday at the UIC School of Art and Design where he was friends with several of the grads and undergrads. He also had the honor of being the cat sitter to Karen Indeck, who ran Gallery 400. For a period Pants maintained a studio in the 5th floor "Great Space" along side grad students who for one reason or another did not get "official" studio spaces, i.e. Kim Hassenfeld (video) and Ken Fandell (photo).
Pants was able to sign up for time with advisors and visiting artists and take part in classes and critiques, but he was never able to sign out any equipment or editing suites as Paul Dickinson, the man in charge of such things, knew exactly what Pants' enrollment non-status was. Afterwards, most faculty plead ignorance of the whole situation, claiming as Phyllis Bramson once did, "I just thought he went here, he was here every day working and he had a key, but I never thought that what he was doing was at all interesting." During crits, Pants often took part as a collaborator with real grads except for one special time when he actually got a crit collaborating with Donald Morgan, who wasn't actually enrolled either.
On afternoon in March of '96, Ken Fandell absolutely destroyed Pants in a game of Scrabble: 337 to 85. Pants explained later that he had a fever, but witnesses (Kim Hassenfeld, Rory Kerber, Jan Estep and Mindy Rose Schwartz) have reported that he seemed to be in perfect health at the time. Fandell then proceeded to offer Pants another game with a 250 point handicap. Pants considered this to be cruel taunting and felt pushed "over the line of good art behavior."
In the Alumni hall basement, Pants printed large posters of himself, arms crossed over his chest and wearing clothes somewhat similar to Fandell's, with 4 inch high letters, reading "KEN FANDELL > U." In black ink over rainbow, no less. Then there were posters of Fandell that read, RANDALL PANTS: Sucks @ Scrabble™. He then put these posters up all over Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Ukrainian Village.
When Fandell was out of town, Pants signed up under his name to meet with visiting critics, showing them a mix of Fandell's slides and his own. Ken nearly got a show in London out of this, but the curators wanted a piece of Pant's and Ken told them he didn't have any idea what they were talking about.
Lisa Conrad, UIC grad student and co-founder of an intramural basketball team with Fandell eventually broke the whole story to him. Pants had gone to the Intramural Basketball sign up meeting with Elliot Joslin, who for 4 dollars and to piss off Fandell, named the team "Randy McRandy Sandy Candy Dandy Pants." Ken was in fact, pissed, but also confused.
The whole thing was over in about 6 weeks.
Ken Fandell Project
After hearing about how UIC Grad Student Scott Reeder threw up in a UIC faculty members bathroom, Randall Pants tried to arrange to get several other students to do the same thing in the homes of other faculty, going so far as to make a map with little flag pins in it. Since no one took the bait, Pants decided to settle for throwing up in Reeder's bathroom, but someone told Scott about it and he wouldn't let Pants in the apartment. Pants and Joslin later named a drink after Reeder after they served him big glasses of tequila and rootbeer at Chuck Jones's birthday party: "The Drunken Reeder." At this same party, Ken Fandell visited from San Francisco, and Pants remembered that he was still pissed about getting his ass kicked so badly at Scrabble by Fandell. He demanded a rematch and Ken said okay. Chuck gave them his board and Ken proceeded to destroy Randall 464 - 121. Ken was able to use all seven letters twice and also made the word "pants" twice.This was in front of 10 people and the game went till 3:30 in the morning.
Randall was not happy. The next day he designed and ordered 2000 postcard size stickers that had a picture of Ken Fandell and the words "THIS MAN WILL DANCE FOR YOU FOR 25 CENTS. HIS NAME IS RANDALL PANTS AND YOU SHOULD GIVE HIM A QUARTER TO SEE WHAT HE CAN DO!"
Pant's sent these cards to a friend in San Francisco, but after putting up about 300 or so, this friend lost interest and left the box of cards in her car until Ken moved to L.A.
Ken has reported that even though a few people asked if he was Randall Pants, no one asked him to dance for them and no one gave him a quarter.
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