Bay Area artist and art professor Amir Esfahani, 35, recently went on Pawn Stars with a hidden agenda, to showcase his art on national television using his vintage Led Zepplin, Starship One matchboxes as leverage to get on the show.
Esfahani designed several miniature art pieces with urinals on them, accompanied with his trademark style and inserted them inside his collection of vintage matchboxes. His other agenda was to get everyone on Pawn Stars to say urinal as many times as possible.
Artist Amir Esfahani creates modular boxes containing a variety of subject matter from internet memes, to World War I army manuals. Credit Satellite Gallery, Seoul, Korea
The performance alluded to Marcel Duchamp's famous art piece “Fountain” (1917), which was a urinal tipped on its side. The effects of Duchamp's urinal submission blurred the lines of art and forced the art world to ask itself, what is art.
Amir Esfahani references the artwork of Marcel Duchamp's seminal work (right) in his collage piece (left), which was hidden in one of the matchboxes he sold on the HISTORY CHANNEL. Credit Photo Courtesy of The Satellite Gallery, Seoul, Korea
Esfahani's intention was to get the audience to ask itself, what is art, his reply was simply, “It's art if you say it's art”.
The performance wasn't limited to just the inserts and getting everyone to say urinal, when the time came to broker a deal Esfahani asked for an antique snow shovel in exchange for the vintage matchboxes. Chum li's response, “That's the weirdest thing I've ever heard.”
The snow shovel request was another reference to Duchamp's Readymade, “Prelude to a Broken Arm” (1915). Duchamp's Readymade sculptures took everyday objects, like snow shovels and urinals, and turned them into art.
The performance on Pawn Stars also demonstrated the extent and cunning artists employ in order to get their art into the hands of the public by circumventing traditional roles for advertisement. To get the word out about his performance on Pawn Stars, Esfahani created a fake New York Times web page, registered a fake url, and posted an earlier version of this article to the San Francisco Art Quarterly (SFAQ) Facebook page.
At one point during the recording on Pawn Stars, Esfahani pulls out a note, he created, from a matchbox with a urinal drawn on it that said, “Thanks for Everything”.
When asked if the note was a reference to “To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything” Esfahani said, “We were trying to think of something Duchamp would have signed to Led Zepplin.”