Paul McCarthy PROPO

1 September – 20 October 2012, Hauser & Wirth Zürich

‘Between 1972 – 1983, I did a series of performances which involved masks, bottles, pans, uniforms, dolls, stuffed animals, etc. After the performances these objects were either left behind or they were collected and stored in suitcases and trunks to be used in future performances. In 1983, the closed suitcases and trunks containing these performance objects were stacked on a table and exhibited as sculpture. In 1991, I opened the suitcases and trunks photographing each item. The group of photographs in their entirety was titled PROPO’.
– Paul McCarthy

Hauser & Wirth is delighted to present an exhibition of over 60 photographs by Paul McCarthy. This selection, many of which have only been seen before in publications, is taken from the artist’s large group of more than 120 photographs, collectively known as ‘PROPO’.

McCarthy’s debased and dirtied photographic subjects have a unique history. They began as props in McCarthy’s early performances, and in the early Eighties, they were packed into suitcases and trunks, which were then stacked on a table and re-invented as the sculpture ‘Assortment, The Trunks, Human Object and PROPO Photographs’ (1972 – 2003). The lids of the cases remained unopened until the early Nineties when McCarthy individually photographed each of the props, creating ‘PROPO’, a collection of documentation-style photographs and a record of his dark humour and subversive social critique. Set against vividly coloured backgrounds, these grimy objects line the walls of Hauser & Wirth’s ground floor gallery, presented as proud emblems, despite their sodden and soiled appearance. The ‘PROPO’ photographs highlight McCarthy’s on-going re-visitation of his prolific oeuvre and his distinctive approach to his works: they are in a constant state of transformation.

McCarthy began his live performances in the late Sixties. Seen initially by only a handful of people, these were raucous, riotous parodies of society, relationships, sex and pop culture, which tested the physical and mental boundaries of both the viewer and the artist. Videos of two of McCarthy’s most well-known early performances, ‘Sailor’s Meat’ (1975) and ‘Tubbing’ (1975), as well as photographs taken during the performances, will be on view in the basement gallery of Hauser & Wirth Zürich.