Here are two interactive art installations by two different artists. Each artist built a stacked pyramid of free beer which they encouraged viewers to consume. Both artworks change over time. Neatly geometric at the start, they become increasingly disheveled.
If you’ve ever been to an art opening, of course, you probably accepted a complimentary drink or two. Usually they offer wine, but sometimes it’s beer. In this context, it’s the socially accepted norm to drink at a museum or art gallery .
You might also have participated in some interactive art—the kind of art “that involves the spectator in a way that allows the art to achieve its purpose.”
Here the artists intend for you to interact with their sculptures by drinking the beer contained within. In doing so, they sabotage the politesse of museum attendance. From interactive art to binge drinking, it’s a slippery slope down the side of one of these beer pyramids. (See also: “beeramids”)
In 2010, Michael Linares built his Oasis/Inclusive Structure concealing cans of beer in a pyramid of white Styrofoam coolers. Visitors attending the contemporary art fair, ARCO Madrid were happy to interact with his geometric sculpture.
In 2011, Cyprien Gaillard exhibited his beer pyramid, The Recovery of Discovery, at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. He used cardboard cases of bottled beer. This was a larger pyramid with more beer—purportedly containing 72,000 bottles in all.
If museums are already serving alcohol at openings (while museums like Tate Modern are actually launching their own beer brands) why do these artworks seem so subversive?
1. Oasis/Inclusive Structure
Linares makes a nice point calling his beer pyramid sculpture a “Trojan horse.” At first glance it does indeed look like geometric minimal sculpture. Its building blocks, however, are actually containers hiding a potentially disruptive army of beer cans.
The piece consists of a pyramid, that uses cubic foam coolers as a basic unit, and resembles Sol Le Witt’s Four-Sided Pyramid. The first rows of each side are full with cold beer that people can have for free. [As] the beers are being emptied and left around, the sculpture adopts another form. Turning the beers and the people into the new sculpture and the pyramid [into] the pedestal.
Linares also made some earlier (non-pyramidal) interactive, beer-dispensing sculptures in 2006. See: Oasis (Green) and Oasis (NYC)
(The artist selected the Spanish beer, Mahou “Cinco Estellas” (Five Star) to stock his 2010 Oasis.)
2. The Recovery of Discovery
He compares his The Recovery of Discovery to the dismantling of ancient temples.
Preserving a monument goes hand in hand with destroying it. …Hence, we currently find the ruins of the temples of Ephesus in the British Museum in London, in the Art Historical Museum in Vienna and in the Archaeological Museums of Selçuk, Izmir and Istanbul, as well as in Efes (Latin: Ephesus) itself.
In his work, Cyprien Gaillard repeatedly explores the absurd aspects of dystopic architectures and their remaining ruins… In doing so he always departs from the process itself. For his exhibition at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin Cyprien Gaillard has created a new, large-scale piece, which – whilst departing from a prototype of the monument – completes itself in the process. Similarly to the relocation of the Pergamon Altar, 72,000 bottles of beer of the brand “Efes” have been transported from Turkey to Germany. The cardboard boxes filled with bottles form the even steps of the pyramid. By using the monument – by climbing the sculpture and drinking the beer – its destruction is already initiated.
By citing these ancient cities, Gaillard draws our attention to another, more tenuous connection between the two sculptures.
Ephesus and Pergamon, like Troy (the city of the Trojan horse) are all located in the same place. That place is the country we now call Turkey.
Comparing the two beer pyramids, it’s clear that Gaillard’s is much larger. And because it was available for several days of public interaction, the result is more satisfyingly squalid, perhaps.
(The artist selected the Turkish beer, Efes to stock his 2011 The Recovery of Discovery.)
Grocers build pyramids of packaged products, of course, so that they will dismantled, purchased and consumed. We’ve seen so many pyramids of cans and they are almost always temporary.
See: Pyramid Packaging Display: History of the Epic Fail, Supermarket Mayhem: Knocking Down Pyramids, Hyperbolic Canned Food Pyramids, Inverted Packaging Pyramids, Bob Newhart: Pyramid of Canned Grapefruit Juice
We’ve also seen other (non-interactive) beer pyramid sculptures.
With these beer pyramids by Linares and by Gaillard, however, art lovers actually got a beer buzz and because of this, the artists got some media buzz.