I Won a Trophy at the Armory Show—And So Can You!
You have a 50/50 shot at winning.
I left the Armory Show’s VIP opening on Wednesday with an extra spring in my step and a shiny trophy clutched tightly in my hand. “Sarah Cascone,” it read, “champion writer and artist.”
I wasn’t the only one boasting some flashy new hardware, either. At least 42 others were all winners in Super Taus’s Quick Fix, a game that aims to fulfill unrealized dreams by furnishing participants with personalized trophies they have long dreamed of winning.
“Maybe there was a competition and losing it traumatized them for eternity. Now they can finally have it on their shelf and be much happier,” the artist, Super Taus, told artnet News. She’s stationed about halfway down Pier 92, in a booth presented by London’s narrative projects within the fair’s Platform section.
If “champion writer and artist” sounds like a more exciting, flashier version of my current self—I got a degree in visual arts before turning to arts journalism—that’s in keeping with the artist’s work. Super Taus is the superhero alter ego of Taus Makhacheva, a Russian artist from the region of Dagestan who thinks of her works as life-affirming practices.
At the Armory Show, Super Taus gave visitors a chance to roll the dice, with 50/50 odds. If the die reads “YES,” you win a free trophy. If it’s blank, no dice—pun intended.
You then choose from the 100 trophies the artist purchased on Amazon, picking your desired size and subject. (I nabbed a large one of a woman playing soccer, since those were the trophies I won in youth league growing up—all long-since thrown away.) A second roll determines if that’s the one you take home, or whether you must pick again until the die gives you the go-ahead.
“I wanted for there to be a lot of chance, and I wanted people to fix something in themselves,” said Makhacheva, who has set up her trophy station on a specially built structure featuring video works documenting Super Taus’s heroic actions. In one film, Super Taus hauls around a large monument that pays tribute to Dagestan museum attendants Maria Korkmasova and Khamisat Abdulaeva, who acted quickly to stop an art heist in the 1990s, searching for a place to honor the two women.
Despite her quest to recognize those women’s achievement, the artist admitted she had yet to make a trophy of her own. When asked what hers might read, Makhacheva paused thoughtfully. “Maybe ’empathy award’?” she asked—a beautifully fitting sentiment for a project that responds to the universal human need for recognition.
Choosing the award’s description is definitely the tricky part—there’s something strangely boastful-feeling about acknowledging one’s ambitions, hopes, and dreams, almost as if it invites bad luck to voice them.
But if you’re feeling bashful, Makhacheva has provided a list of truly bizarre real-life competitions from Dagestan, including the Frozen Waterfall Speed-Climbing Contest from the Matlas Winter Festival, the Kizlyar Supergranny Prize, and the Dagestani Beekeeping Contest.
As the first day drew to a close, Makhacheva said that her favorite award of the day had gone to artist Daniel Bozhkov, who wanted a trophy that recognized how he had pulled himself up by his bootstraps. “He’s a really good artist,” she said. “And I can really relate to the idea of pulling yourself up by a very thin thread.”
The Armory Show is on view at Piers 90, 92, and 94 on 12th Avenue between West 50th and 54th Streets, New York, March 6–10, 2019.
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