The Course of the Knife


Germano Celant, Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen and Frank O. Gehry

A 78-foot ship in the form of a Swiss army knife plies a canal in Venice, its blades unfurled. There are three scales of the knife: pocket, person and boat size. Baguette roller-skates, Bow-ties as farfalle pasta. Mysterious costumes, bizarre characters are full of witty Italian humour, reminiscent of the peculiar work of Luigi Serafini.

Lord Styrofoam and Georgia Sandbag embark on a romantic gondola voyage, while cream-of-cork soup is served at a bohemian cafe, and a lion statue sings from Verdi's Otello. These strange goings-on took place at a performance/art spectacle concocted by Oldenburg with California architect Gehry and writer van Bruggen. The Knife, which made its maiden voyage in Venice in 1985, was reconstructed for an exhibition at New York's Guggenheim Museum. Celant, who produced the event, describes it as a "mysterious and magical world" full of mythic and ritualistic associations. It is all taken very seriously too. From rehearsals, to rough sketches, notes, playwriting, absurd food connections for the event and costumes preparations, this book captures the whole shebang.

Publication date: 1986

Publisher: Electa

Details: Hardcover with Dust jacket. 240 pp.

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