Allan Kaprow: Yard

‘REARRANGE THE TIRES.’ The repeated command, its authority bolstered by the familiar-sounding intonations of an Obama impersonator, was part of the sound track for William Pope.L’s 2009 reinvention of Allan Kaprow’s 1961 ‘Yard’ – two proper names now attached to a pile of tires occupying the same town house on New York’s Upper East Side where the Martha Jackson Gallery hosted Kaprow’s original intrusion. The first version of ‘Yard’ got its name from its outdoor location, in a courtyard that Kaprow filled with tires after covering over the modernist sculptures already on site. Many subsequent versions were to follow, adapted to changing circumstances. During his lifetime, Kaprow insisted on reconceiving his environments each time they were shown, reflecting his own evolving interests and occasionally putting him at odds with curators intent on presenting historical work. Since his death in 2006, however, Kaprow’s tight hold on interpretation has given way to compound authorship. This multiplicity is emphasized by Helen Molesworth’s decision, as guest curator for this reinvention, to invite three separate voices, creating work for an equal number of sites, each in response to a different aspect of ‘Yard’s’ already manifold identity. Thus Pope.L’s tire-strewn interior was accompanied by two other new Yards: Josiah McElheny’s photographic projection at the Queens Museum of Art and Sharon Hayes’s intervention in the Lower East Side’s Marble Cemetery.

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