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Plexus International 1988

In New York, on February 20 of 1988, on the occasion of the first anniversary of his 1987 Andy Warhol’s dematerialization performance, Sandro Dernini organized the happening An Art Redefinition of a Campbell Soup Can. It was inspired by the symposium The Redefinition of Art in the Collision of Cultures in the Post-Modern World, held at New York University in that time by the I.C.A.S.A. (International Center for Advanced Studies in Art).

The Plexus happening was staged inside the dry swimming pool in the basement of C.U.A.N.D.O. It was conceived as a community report from the Plexus art slaves journey, after the 1986 departure of the art slaves boat from C.U.A.N.D.O. It was recorded as an episode of the Snub Cable TV Show produced by Fran Duffy. Lorenzo Pace, dressed like the shaman from The Serpent event in Sardinia, opened ritually the happening. Sandro Dernini reported to the community the last news from Plexus voyage in Amsterdam, Rome, Sardinia and Dakar. Then, with Frank Shifreen and Barnaby Ruhe, he transformed artistically two boxes of Campbell Soup cans into two boxes of Plexus cans by stamping the name of Plexus on the label of each can. A penny painted in red was glued on top the cans, as a recall of the art money penny given out to the audience at the 1986 Purgatorio Shows. It was ended with Leonard Horowitz, Lynne Kanter, Tony Noughera and Loisada Samba Band, Wess Power, Anita Steckel, Helen Valentin, Sidney Silva performing the closing act.

From The Redefinition of an Andy Warhol Campbell Soup Can by Lenny Horowitz:

On Saturday, February 20, at 7:00 PM., Dr. Sandro Dernini organized an historical and aesthetic “Art-Ritual” in and around the Olympic swimming pool at CUANDO.  (CUANDO has been the New York Nerve Center and Plexus Performance Cultural Center since 1985, including the three Co-Operas Goya Time, Purgatorio Time, and Eve). “An Art Redefinition of a Campbell Soup Can “ was the theme song for the performance in the pool and was orchestrated by Dr. Dernini as a “Plexus Process Piece” to commemorate the first anniversary of the dematerialization of Andy Warhol. The inspiration for this Art Ritual was two Art Symposia organized by Jorge Glusberg and Angiola Churchill of New York University, both co-directors of the International Center for Advanced Studies in Art (ICASA). Dr. Dernini has previously performed his dematerialization event at Patricia Anichini Gallery on February 18, 1987. A phenomenological inquiry was the nature of the event and is at the same time intended as part of the on-going Plexus process. 

The phenomenological inquiry in this event takes on the true meaning of art as and in the process of becoming, by allowing it to happen -- giving first a basic overall structure and then allowing the participants to complete the work by collective interaction. In the swimming pool, Loisada samba Band, a Brazilian percussion band led by Tony, snaked and serpentined their way through the assembled artists, setting the sonic under and overtones, resonating and reifying the room with their atavistic, basic beat. At the apex of the pool, Dr. Dernini performed his ritualistic “Art Altar” piece by the deconstruction of a Campbell’s Soup can.  In fact, a whole case of Campbell’s was ritualized and reinvented by placing pennies on the cans and painting them crimson red,  blood red, sacrificial red. 

We have sacrificed King Warhol’s very persona on the Art Altar to recreate further meanings and to extend the compass of art by our collective creativity. The Art Altar was ritualized by the Plexus Process of the “Group Shot.”  The ritual Group Shot has a life of its own and acts as both process and documentation, a moment frozen in time intended to expand, compressing Art history into Pasts, Presents and Futures (Picasso’s most important process). This process of interactive compression and expansion of time was dramatically demonstrated by the attending artists.  Wes Power, a New Age product designer and ecoastrologist, aided Dr. Dernini in the construction of the Art Altar; international artist Helene Valentin waved her red Serpent flag;  Franco Ciarlo displayed his Artboat sculpture;  Anita Steckel exhibited her “Winged Woman” in flight from the Empire State Building to the Sistine Chapel.  All this was framed by brochures and posters of past ICASA Symposia and by a statement by Gianfranco Mantegna about how “art must be subversive and sensational.”  All activities were videotaped by Giuseppe Sacchi and Franco Castro and will be distributed by Fran Duffy, producer of Snub TV.  Lorenzo Pace performed a shamanistic ritual by transforming the torch of art in the same symbolic way that the Olympic torch has been rekindled throughout history.  Voodoo music was performed and percussed by Brazilian Sidney da Silva and his Paraphernalia drum beating. The Group Shot was further ritualized by Lynn Kanter, dressed as Marilyn Monroe, who pictorialized and Polarized the event and then displayed her immediate “photo-feedbacks.”.  After the Group Shot, Barnaby Ruhe, world champion of boomerang, opened the case of Campbell’s and imprinted each case with the Plexus logo.  Frank Shifreen, original Terminal Show organizer, painted pennies with the ritualistic red of the evening.  Then, Jamaican fashion designer Twilight distributed the Plexus cans to the audience, free of charge.  The evening’s performances ended with artist and art critic Leonard Horowitz dancing the Art Applejack and the Charleston. Thus ended the first episode of The Deconstruction of Andy Warhol’s Commodity Symbol, with Love.

In March of 1988, to manage the organization of the Dakar event, it was revitalized in New York the old legal entity of Plexus of non profit organization, renamed Plexus International Art Urban Forum Inc.  The new board of directors, made by Hope Carr, Joi Huckeby, Frank Shifreen, Lenny Horowitz,  Franco Di Castro, Alfa Diallo, Arturo Lindsay, and Sandro Dernini, as chaiman, published also a Plexus Summer Newsletter with the purpose to raise supports for Plexus.