LAUGHING PIECE 1976 May 15, 1976, Reprise 2014: The Artist is not present. "ABC No Rio"
On a busy Saturday afternoon at 3:00pm, in the rapidly
gentrifying area known in New York City as SoHo - without prior announcement,
recorded laughter was suddenly heard up and down the street of West Broadway, the epicenter of SoHo galleries and commence.
Neighborhood residents said they could hear the laughter as far as three blocks east and three block west of the three hidden/disguised installations, on West Broadway from Houston Street to Grand Street. Within fifteen minutes, Justine Ebersman, President of Auction House 393, found one of the three installations across the street above the John Gibson Gallery opposite his gallery, the speakers inside a vacant loft at the window. Ebersman called gallery director Susan Gibson and questioned her as to her role in the piece. He then climbed the fire escape to the fourth floor of the building and detached the speakers by disconnecting the wires.
At the René Block Gallery, on West Broadway at Spring Street, where another of the amplifying systems had been installed, the gallery assistant turned off the tape due to the pressure from complaints and the threat of the police. The installation at the corner of Houston and Wooster Streets in Gordon Matta-Clark’s was not discovered until around 5:00pm. Matta-Clark was contacted at the Holly Solomon Gallery by the superintendent of his building - there had been numerous complaints and the police had been called.
Performance / installation: René Block, Susan Gibson, Robin Jacobsen, Marc Petitjean, Robin Winters, Gordon Matta-Clark, Jackie Ochs, Dara Birnbaum, Scott Johnson, Laurie Anderson, Julia Heyward, Scott Billingsly, Paula Longendyke, Katrina Caterasano, Clay Sorrough and Franklin Furnace. Recreation of the Laughing Piece was made possible in part, by the Franklin Furnace Fund supported by the Lambent Foundation, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Photographs by Marc Petitjean.