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Gelatin -- "The B Thing"

Charles Drago

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I have been sitting on this (non) story since 2003, when I purchased a copy of The B-Thing, a slim, hardcover volume comprised of drawings, color photographs, and minimal text by one or more authors identified as "Gelatin."

The book is copyright 2001 Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, Koln. I'll include more credits at the end of this post.

In short, the work purports to document a March 6, 2000 attempt by art students occupying "studiospace provided by the lower manhatten cultural council (all quoted passages are reproduced as they originally appear, replete with poetically licensed grammar, punctuation, spelling, and line breaks) on the "91. floor of world trade center 1."

"gelatin is on a floor with other artists who are part of this studio program.

gelatins space (the window, where the action will happen), is walled in with a

system of cardboard boxes.

other artists sharing 91. floor do not know what we are planing and doing.

the construction of the balcony and all other preparations are not visible

for them."

The narrative continues:

"the balcony is a prefabriacted construction, made by gelatin.

one person at a time will be able to stand on it.

the balcony will be camouflaged.

it will be built to be as less visible as possible for any passerby on the street.

it will be taken apart the moment after beeing pulled back in."


"one window will be taken out.

the removing of the window is done in a professional and secured action.

no constructive parts of the building will be removed or damaged.

there will not be any visible traces, after the window will have been put

back in."

Finally (for this post)"

"nobody but gelatin is officially involved into the project.

there will be an attorney telling gelatin how to behave.

there will be an attorney responsible to handle the case for gelatin."

A brief section of glossy color photographs "documents" the project. Individuals, apparently of college age, are depicted; all males are turned away from the camera. Two Asian females appear in full-face shots. The majority of pages depict drawings and calculations.

Photos of the balcony -- a narrow, cramped space protruding between exterior support columns -- appear to have been taken from ground level, and these images are grainy and, well, unconvincing. Also, there are photos that appear to have been shot from the balcony itself.

This is a most troubling and thought-provoking little publication. If what it documents is nothing more than a successful prank-as-statement by European and Asian art students, then what does it tell us about the vulnerability of the WTC, just prior to the attacks, to this sort of "tampering"?

Or is there more to the story?

Art students ... Hmmm ...

From the copyright page, more credits:

Text: Tex Rubinowitz

Photos: Maria Ziegelbock, Thomas Sandbichler, Susanne Wimmer, Gelatin

Translation: Jonathan Quinn

Reproductions: Cyberlab, Vienna

Layout: Johannes Heuer

Print: Groebner Druck, Oberhart

Binding: Papyrus, Vienna

Courtesy: Leo Koenig Inc./New York

Galerie Meyer Kainer/Vienna



Edited by Charles Drago
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More on the WTC Gelatin project, in the form of a sales blurb for the book:

The only legitimate proof of [the] activity is a piece of chewing gum placed by the group, stuck to the exterior of the building at a perilous height. (Art Monthly)

The Austrian collective, Gelatin, has gained an international reputation for ambitious projects that thrive on surprise and hyper-real bodily sensation. Each project pushes physical boundaries and audience expectations.

The B-Thing uncovers the truth behind the rumours of Gelatin's construction of an improvised balcony on the 91st floor of the World Trade Centre in New York in 2000. Through preparatory notes written by the boys, diagrams and colour photographs, we are finally able to glimpse the pink sunrise over New York from Gelatin's eyes and to see how their home-made balcony emerged like a 'pimple on the building's eelslippery face.'

The rumours continued however and Moukhtar Kocache, Director of Visual Art and Media at the WTC, felt the need to deny that the action ever took place, claiming that any documentation 'simply demonstrates [Gelatin's] art of deception.' Although he praised their success 'in addressing the mythological and iconic dimensions of America, New York and the Twin Towers,' and continued, '[they] use the system of the art world, a system they love to critique as a vehicle ... And because they are boys and like to play ...'

Suddenly, on 11 September 2001, this playful project became an historic document.

The Gelitin (note the spelling difference) website: www.gelitin.net

The Gelitin B-Thing page: http://www.gelitin.net/mambo/index.php?set...a6ce3b4f7a916c6

Curioser and curioser.


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