- MARIONI Tom (as Allan Fish). The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art, Oakland Museum of Art, 1970.
« From 1969 on I have made performances.
I was interested in the act that took place because there was no static object as a result. The only static object might be a case of empty beer bottles for one thing, left as a record of some kind of activity.
In 1969 I had to have a way to exhibit because I felt like exhibiting. It was too politically complicated to try to exhibit my work and be a curator at the same time for a combinaison of reasons which are probably obvious. So I had to exhibit under another name. I created a fictitious character., Allan Fish. And when it was no longer necessary to be concerned about those things, then I announced, by way of the transformation piece, that I was Allan Fish. The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art was the first Allan Fish one-man show. It took place at the Oakland Museum. I invited 21 of my friends to come and drink beer at the museum. And 16 people were there. All of the people were sculptors except Werner Jepson, the music composer. We got drunk in the museum together and the debris that was left over was exhibited as documentation of that activity – empty beer cans and cigarette butts, just morning after kind of debris. it was to exxagerate the concept of the act being the art and the documentation being just a record of the real activity.
Last summer I did a piece called Allan Fish Drinks a Case of Beer, which had to do with creating a situation, an environment, while becoming increasingly more intoxicated over about an eight hour period. The Reese Pailey Gallery bought a case of Becks beer for me. I put it in the refrigerator, and had the refrigerator in the gallery. I had all the things in the gallery that I needed to be comfortable. I had a TV set, my easy chair, a tape recorder, a refrigerator, and a can opener hanging down on a string from the ceiling. To separate myself from people that came into the gallery, I ran thread at about a 30° angle across the wall. The thread was white for the first foot, and then it was black across the room, and then it was white for the last foot against the wall. I looked like thin black lines floating, the kind of lines you see on your TV screen when you get disturbance. I tried to create an image with lines across it that would serve as a barrier. The lines also served as a screen, a projection of everything that was in the room, tending to make it all two-dimensional, as in a painting. I also had my conga drum there. I played my conga drum while the tape recorder, the radio, and the television set and the phonograph records were all playing simultaneously. I had a barrage of noise. Later in the day, as I was very drunk, those were the kinds of sounds I needed to keep me going. At a point when I was very drunk, I drew lines on the right side of my face and the left side of my face that suggested the contours of my own face moving around the left side of my face, so that it appeared, as in Futurist paintings, that I was moving fast when I couldn’t move fast. To compensate, I drew these lines to make it look like I was moving faster thant I was. I went to scotland and did five pieces, on each day for five days at the Demarco Gallery in Edinburgh. I amplified the sound of making drawings.
The first day I did a drumming piece which was made up of four 45 minute segments of drumming. Forty-five minutes was the length of the tape on my cassette recorder. I recorded 45 minutes of drumming with steel drum brushes on a sheet of blue plastic. Then I put the tape recorder inside the drum and drummed a duet with myself for the second 45-minute section. Then I repeated the process for two 45-minutes segments after that. The second day was a saturday, and it was the day of the biggest soccer game of the year on TV. I realized that people would stay at home to watch the event rather than come to the gallery, so I asked the gallery to rent à color TV and shows the game between Scotland and England. I had a refrigerator ful of free beer in the gallery available to people. I lettered the words “free beer“ on the outside of the refrigerator and had the refrigerator facing the TV, one at each end of the room. The third day was a sunday. I did a violin piece. I played my violin and did a drawing with the rosin from the bow. I cut a piece of brown paper to fit underneath the strings, and I bowed one harmonic note for 25 minutes.
Then as the bow went across the string, the rosin drifted off the string down onto the piece of paper. On Monday, I did a vertical line drawing until the pencil was used up. I put the microphone in the corner of the room under the paper. The paper was stapled to the wall and ran down and across the floor like a giant scroll. It was a roll of tracing paper. I stood on the paper in my stockinged feet and drew a line with the pencil from under my legs to the corner of the room ans then up the wall as far as I could reach. »
(see Lea Vergine, p. 143-145)
In a Museum gallery, Marioni drank beer with friends and the remaining residue was the exhibition on view
— (Cf. Tom Marioni, Beer, Art & Philosophy, Crown Point Press, 2004. Writing on Art. Tom Marioni. 1969-1999, Crown Point Press, 2000).
« …work by Allan Fish… celebrated the artist’s contention that « the Act of Drinking Beer with Fiends is the Highest Form of Art. » Created one Monday afternoon when the museum was closed to the public, a pile of empty beer cans, torn papers and cigarette butts – a contemporary midden of sorts – testified to the involment of some twenty artists in a minor rite of creation-destruction-consomption. » (— Cecile N. McCann, « Fish’s Beer-Based Concept », Artweek, v. 1. November 7, 1970. Brief description.)