The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 21-JAN 22

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DEC 21-JAN 22 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: New York

82. Fifth Avenue

On September 1, 1966, a Brazilian-Swedish artist who has been living in New York for five years stages a performance on Fifth Avenue that involves himself, his wife and several friends carrying placards bearing enormous headshots of two famous figures, the American comedian Bob Hope and the Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung. In January of that year, Bob Hope’s “Vietnam Christmas Show” had aired on NBC. In May, Mao had launched the Cultural Revolution. As part of the performance, which is also filmed, a radio journalist asks spectators on Fifth Avenue if they are happy:

How about you, sir? Are you happy?
Yes, I just came back from Mexico. Why not? I went all through the States to Mexico,
why shouldn't I be happy? I went on that $99 thing that Greyhound gave out. I took every day the world what it was. So why shouldn't I be happy? And with this Bob Hope thing, I think it's a publicity campaign because he was on TV the other day and probably his book that he did or something about Russia.
And what's the connection with Mao Tse Tung?
The connection? That I wouldn't know now. Let's say he's in town for some sort of publicity, that's all.
Is Mao in town?
Bob Hope.
Oh, I thought you meant that Mao Tse Tung was in town.
No. Well not that I know of.

The performance is titled simply Mao Bob Hope March.

(Öyvind Fahlström, Barbro Östlihn, Bob Fass)


Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the New York-based author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). Excerpts from his recently completed book Libraries of Sand about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès have appeared in BombThe Fortnightly Review and 3:AM Magazine. In January 2023, Bloomsbury Academic will publish a collection of his writing titled Negative Work: The Turn to Provisionality in Contemporary Art. Since 2008 he has been Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 21-JAN 22

All Issues