Friday, April 21, 2006

could you eat 24 cans of beans in half an hour?

Last night Mark McGowan and two fellow artists tried to break the world record for speed eating tins of baked beans: they were aiming to eat 24 tins in 30 minutes.

In the end Mark managed to eat 10 cans. Simon Ould won the competiton with 12 cans but was sick immediately afterwards.

There was an environmental angle to the event: Mark wants to raise awareness of the global gas crisis.

McGowan’s art mainly consist of protests. They are the type of protests that don’t hurt anyone. Sometimes they are about serious issues but the protests are never fully serious themselves.

To protest against unnecessary pollution from unnecessary car journeys he kept his Audi 80 running non stop in a car park in Peckham.

When one of his friends from Europe criticized the English breakfast he lay in a bath of baked beans, chips and sausages for a week as a gesture of solidarity with the meal.

To protest against wasted water he ran a tap non stop for days and days and hung a sign next to it saying ‘if you see this tap left off please switch it on’.

The running tap really got some people’s back’s up. The tap was in a gallery in South London. People rang in, wrote in and e-mailed in telling them to switch it off. Some people even came into the gallery and switched it off themselves. It was as though everyone in London was living in one big family: someone in the house had left a tap on and they needed to be shouted at until they turned it off.

Part of the ‘art’ in an event like that is the effect it has on people, the responses it provokes or evokes . I like art that attempts to impact on people’s lives in some ways. I know it wasted water in itself but I have definitely reduced the amount of time I spend running taps over the past two days since I read of his event.

Thank you to Russell Herron for his blogpost that alerted me to Mark McGowan: Russell described McGowan coming into the ICA bookshop and showing him a film he had made with Simon Ould.

In Russell’s words the film ''shows Simon, dressed in a black cape and crappy handmade crows beak jumping down the Duke of York Steps, then hopping around crowing while some kids point and laugh. The film ends with a rather long segment of Simon holding an umbrella made to look like a crow, again making loud squawking noises. ''

After eating 2 cans of beans in half an hour Simon really has got something to crow about now.

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