At the bottom of artist David Horvitz’s website, there is a ubiquitous PayPal button accompanied by the text, “For $1 USD I will think about you for one minute. I will email you the time I start thinking, and the time I stop.” It sounds absurd, of course. Why would anyone pay Horvitz for something so inherently and self-consciously intangible? And yet, I couldn’t help but feel a strange emotional resonance for that unassuming PayPal button, and the artist’s promise to think about me—not to think lovingly or positively about me—but specifically about me, for one minute. For one minute, I’ll matter in someone else’s mind, and that is definitely worth a dollar. Horvitz continues this nuanced investigation into the relationship between artist and audience with True Courtship Dance, his commission for this year’s Frieze Projects. For his commission, he has hired a professional pickpocket, not to steal from fairgoers, but rather to secretly give them something—a small sculpture silently placed in their bags and pockets—an act he calls “put-pocketing.” The gifting process will be random and unpredictable, and the details of the sculpture are a secret for the time being.
Horvitz, who has shown internationally in venues like the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Tate Modern, has always considered the artistic possibilities of connectivity and communication, not unlike his Fluxus predecessors who would send letters with odd instructions and doodles to friends and acquaintances. In this way, True Courtship Dance is not a one-off stunt—it is, rather, a component of a sustained, historically informed inquiry into the nature of art-making, personhood, human connection, and intimacy.
Photos by Balarama Heller.