Jan van Raay

Performance Art and Streetworks

Fishworks 1973-1978

FISHWORK1-7 watermarked FW FISHWORK #1 MARCH 1973 FISHWORK #1, MARCH 1973 Fishwork #1 (part 1): PERCH'S JOURNEY
March 1973
Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, Staten Island Ferry, NYC Subway, Midtown Manhattan

Fishwork #1 (part 2): FISH IN BROOKLYN
winter 1975
Brooklyn, New York

"Fish in Brooklyn" was created during the first good snowfall of 1975 in the Japanese Gardens at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Reflecting on thin ice warnings at the lake, three red snappers retreat to a partially frozen stream.


Fishwork #2: FISH IN VENICE
June 1974
Venice and Asolo, Italy

Fishwork #3: O, SHEA CAN YOU SEE
A Tableau for Fish and TV
November 16, 1974

In "O, Shea Can You See," A Tableau for Fish and TV, 41 fresh whitings are deployed on rows of field-level seats facing the playing field of Shea Stadium. In front of the fish is a TV set, tuned continuously to the football Games of the Week. The fish each wave a pennant proclaiming their allegiance to the home team -- the "New York Arts." Like true fans, the whitings remain glued to their seats all afternoon. They stare raptly at the thrilling action, scarcely blinking their bulging eyes, as they sit, slowly decomposing, before the tube.

(Created for the 11th Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York)

September 27, 1975
Floyd Bennet Field, New York

Near the entrance to the airfield, dressed as a World War II aviator, I set up a free-standing, paned window (12 panes, total 32 inches wide, 5 feet high). On one side of the window, suspended in the air, is a shark hanging in a parachute. Armed with a Polaroid Land Camera, I sit in a mock World War II fighter plane directly in front of th ewindow on the opposite side, facing the shark through the window. At intervals I shoot whatever I see through the window (audience involvement, etc.); I process the Polaroid and paste it onto a pane of the window. I then switch position to the opposite side, switching the shark's position also. The process is repeated, the next photo is pasted on the opposite side of the pane of window glass from the first. The action continues for 240 photos until both sides of the window are completely covered.

(Created for the 12th Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York)

October 4, 1975
West Broadway at Spring Street
SoHo, New York City

July 19, 1976
Venice, Italy

On July 19, 1976 Jan van Raay will execute, in Venice, Italy, a conceptual art work entitles "The Second Coming", an outgrowth of Ms. van Raay's 1974 Fishwork entitled "Fish in Venice." The artist will sign and number 100 "Fish in Venice" photo-postacrds and address the cards to herself. A note attached to the cards, printed in English, German, and French, will state: THIS IS AN ART PROCESS. THIS CARD IS FREE. PLEASE RETURN IT (OR A SUBSTITUTED) TO THE ARTIST WITH ANY MESSAGE. THANK YOU. Ms. van Raay will then proceed to various sites in Venice which have souvenir post card racks. She will place her "Fish in Venice" postcards among the souvenir cards; photograph each rack at its location; record the exact time of placement, and the numbers of the cards, to complete her documentation. She will continue this process until all of the 100 cards have been distributed throughout the city of Venice. "The Second Coming" will then complete itself.

July 31, 1976
Vienna, Austria

Seven bottles will leave Venice by land route on July 21, 1976 to Vienna. Each bottle will contain an image of the Fish in Venice, with an accompanying map, indicating the route of passage via water from Vienna to "The Homecoming" at Venice. Assistance is acceptable via water (e.g. boat, barge, yacht, tug, raft, seagull, or the winds and currents of time/space.) On Saturday, 31 July, Jan van Raay will free each of the seven bottles into the Danube at Vienna. Proposed course via the Danube (Vienna, Austria; Bratislava, Czechoslovakia; Budapest, Hungary; Belgrade, Yugoslavia; Turnu-Severin, Romania; Kozloduy, Bulgaria) to the Black Sea, through the Bosporus (past Istanbul) to the Sea of Marzara, the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, south through the Sea of Crete, west through the Ionian Sea, north through the Adriatic, and home to Venice.

Fishwork #8: THE NEW WORLD TRADE CENTER (day 1)
May 21, 1977
Prince & Wooster Streets, Soho, New York

Participants are requested to sign in at the registry before transacting business with the Venezuelan octopus. Any item may be traded with one of the 8 articles held in the octopus' tentacles. All transactions will be photo documented.

(in memoriam for the 13th Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York)

Fishwork #8: THE NEW WORLD TRADE CENTER (day 2)
June 19, 1977
World Trade Center, New York

Jan van Raay will open trading at her "New World Trade Center" for the 13th Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York on Sunday, June 19th, at the mall of the New York World Trade Center. "The New World Trade Center", Ms. van Raay's eighth fishwork, requires participants to sign in at the registry before transacting business with her ten pound Venezuelan octopus. Any item may be fairly traded with one of the eight articles held in the octopus' tentacles. All transactions will be photo-documented by Ms. van Raay. This will be the second day of trading for "The New World Trade Center." Trading began on May 21, 1977 at Prince and Wooster Streeds, during Soho's Artists Day. Ms. van Raay will be taking her "Trade Center" on a world tour. The third scheduled day of trading will open in Amsterdam, Holland on Saturday, the 9th of July. The summer schedule for the octopus includes Berlin and Cologne, West Germany; Paris; Switzerland; and Norway. The complete registry of traders, and the photo-documentation of articles traded is expected to be ready for exhibition in 1978.

(for the 13th Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York)

Fishwork #8 THE NEW WORLD TRADE CENTER (day 3)
July 9, 1977
Dam Square, Amsterdam, Holland
(in front of the Royal Palace)


Fishwork #9: BOTTLEFISH
May 20, 1978
14th Annual Avant Garde Festival
Cambridge, Massachusetts

In this work Jan van Raay will roam freely throughout the Festival sites, approaching participants more or less at random. She will carry with her bank deposit slips in duplicate bearing the name of a sea creature (e.g. shark, blow fish, squid, etc.); a large empty bottle; and a bank ledger. The artist will ask participants to choose a deposit slip and immediately write upon it their reaction to the sea creature named on it. The original of this slip will be deposited in the bottle; the duplicate will be entered in the ledger. At 5:00 pm the bottle containing the accumulated slips will be sealed and deposited into the Charles River.

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