International Monkey Business (2015)

An international art project in collaboration with Nina Staehli (Switzerland)

International Monkey Business




Monkey Business (1931)

The Marx Brothers sneak onto a ship from Europe to America as stowaways. While they're busy hiding

from the crew, they get mixed up in a conflict between rival gangsters Big Joe Helton and Alky Briggs.

Groucho and Zeppo are supposed to help Briggs rid himself of Helton while Harpo and Chico are enlisted

as Helton's bodyguards. After the ship arrives in New York, Helton throws a party for his daughter

Mary. Outside on the terrace, Briggs explains to Groucho his plan to blackmail Helton by kidnapping

Mary. But, while on board, Zeppo fell in love with Mary and Groucho tried to get with Briggs's wife

Lucille. In the end the brothers manage to set Mary free.




    Art is, in the broadest sense, an indeterminate amount of confusion. Academics and laymen then extrapolate from it questions, meanings or functions for all levels of society. And this happens with such an unwavering matter-of-factness and self-confidence that art – according to this romanticized view – comes across to the confused audience as a clear-cut concept on the horizon.


    Put into a different context, the International Monkey Business exhibition can also be seen as persiflage. Contemporary artists are economically savvy and trained to fit into the capitalist value system because the little money is only to be made in complete assimilation.


    In this sense, the artist knowingly turns himself into the monkey or dancing bear of a standardized society. Indeed, the antenna of art makers and the art system, have gotten so nuanced and sophisticated that the paying mainstream's needs, trends and innovations are justly and gallantly turned into works of art. And so the merry-go-round of art stars and starlets keeps on spinning cheerfully while edgy, evocative and abrasive art – which could help us better understand this world – falls by the wayside.


    The International Monkey Business exhibition offers viewers a thoughtful and ironic view of these issues, negotiating the value of art in a system replete with marketing, promotions and glamour.





Nina Staehli & Alejandro Thornton

Views of the exhibition at Schauraum, Lucerne (Switzerland)

October 2015

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