Darren Bader

book (fortune cookies)
Protocol piece, book distributed in the form of small sheets of paper, contained in Chinese fortune cookies, variable dimensions
Work acquired in 2019

2019

Born in 1978 in Bridgeport (United States), Darren Bader lives and works in New York (United States). He is represented by the following galleries: Andrew Kreps (New York), Blum & Poe (Los Angeles), Sadie Coles HQ (London) and Franco Noero (Turin).

Darren Bader is a conceptual artist who tackles philosophical questions by fusing contemporary art and life through publications, digital projects, videos, installations and exhibition projects. His production explores a wide range of themes, ranging from the ontology of an artwork to the cultural influence of the Internet, the history of the ready-made, the role of language in conceptual art, global capitalism and the 21st-century art market.

book (fortune cookies) (2019) is a protocol work that needs to be produced each time it is presented in a new venue. The artist uses a motif that already appeared in some of his previous works: the fortune cookie (a small biscuit served in Chinese restaurants at the end of meals containing a prediction or an inspirational quote written on a small piece of paper slipped inside). Large numbers of the cookies are presented in piles on the ground.

At first glance, the work looks a bit like Untitled (Cookie Corner) by Félix González-Torres. In the early 1990s, the Cuban artist exhibited a similar pile of fortune cookies in the corner of an exhibition hall. This installation was part of a series of works in which Félix González-Torres invested minimalist forms and humble materials with a highly personal emotional content. The gradual decrease in the quantities of cookies used in Untitled (Cookie Corner) was due to the action of insects, the rotting of the biscuits and their consumption by visitors, but also referred to the disease and weight loss of his companion, ill at the time with AIDS.

Bader however, adds a central element to the conceptual proposal of Félix González-Torres, which at first glance remains invisible. In Bader’s installation, each fortune cookie contains a piece of paper on which an excerpt from a poem is written, the author of which remains anonymous. The gradual decrease in cookies during the exhibition, as a result of them being taken by visitors, ensures the dispersion and dissemination of the content of this poem, provided that the public “participates” in the work by opening each cookie. In this way, book (fortune cookies) is representative of Bader’s approach, where plastic elements are often accompanied by a performative dimension.