Art in Odd Places 2008

During the month of October 2008, the fourth annual Art in Odd Places will present Pedestrian on 14th Street, Manhattan – the great divider between uptown/downtown and highbrow/lowbrow. From the East River to the Hudson River, artists of all mediums will encourage the masses of daily pedestrians to rediscover this corridor of diverse commerce, including Union Square, historical site of social and political activism. Projects will explore connections between public spaces, pedestrian traffic, and ephemeral transient disruptions. Like a scavenger hunt, New Yorkers will use a map to discover art in unexpected places along this amazing street.

One of the listed art pieces that had me chuckle:


FREE BOOKS by Eric Doeringer: A box of books labeled “Free Books” is deposited at various 14th Street locations. A seeming act of generosity, the artist has removed the last few pages from each book. The alteration will only become apparent to the reader after he or she has nearly finished the book, converting the cast-off into a statement of art.

Art in Odd Places: PEDESTRIAN

38 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Ahhh! This is horrible! As someone who is happiest with her nose in a book, this is a terrible fate.

  2. Not cool! Seems to be rather like putting bad out in the world to me.

  3. i like art. i like books. those books WERE art, now they are “hey throw these away for me”s.

  4. I did that to a friend as a cruel joke when I was young… at the time I wasn’t aware of the artistic merits ;)

  5. Noooooooooooooooooooooo!

  6. Are you saying that stupidest is art?

  7. There is a fine line between creating art and being a jerk. I do believe Mr. Doeringer has found it.

  8. that is just simply cruel and stealing the best moments from people. malicious!

  9. That’s not nice. I guess I prefer finding a book from :)

  10. Definitely not art. Definitely not cool.

  11. Wow. So stupid.

    This really illustrates that everything can be declared ‘art’ nowadays …

  12. Being a jerk is art now?


    I’m off to knock over some little old ladies (street theatre), steal some stop signs (dis-installation art) and break some car mirrors (a confronting social commentary which explores the loss of cultural memory and historical awareness in the modern world).

    I wonder if I can get a grant…

  13. Just plain mean.

    Create, not destroy.

  14. omg, that is SO funny! i love that.

  15. Statement of art? or statement of obnoxiousness? understatement of “buyer” beware – or – you get what you pay for.

  16. Wow. This isn’t art, it’s a practical joke.

  17. Nice project. I give the artist an “A” for asshole.

  18. Nice project. I give the artist an “A” for asshole.

  19. kind of rude, no?

  20. @ Luke
    what artistic merits would that be exactly?
    I’m not aware.

  21. That’s just cruel!

  22. @jwo

    I would argue that the creation, planning and execution of a prank has an artistic component.

    I can see why people would get upset over this, but considering that they are mass market books, the victim can just walk in to the bookstore and read the last few pages.

  23. Used copies of Ira Levin’s “This Perfect Day” sell for upwards of $12 on Amazon because, tragically, the book is out of print. It’s one thing for Doeringer to deface “The Da Vinci Code,” but it’s quite another in my view to mess with Levin’s classic work of dystopian fiction, especially when it’s out of print. This is a work that deserves to be read. Perhaps now more than ever.

  24. I have to say I thought about this one a lot. I talked it over with my husband, I don’t get how this is art..? I get it if it’s a joke, but not art. I will see if I can learn more about it because I don’t like to decide what’s art and what’s not, I just personally can’t *get* this.

  25. Defacing books is not art. That’s the lowest of the low. Congratulations, jerk, for ripping out pages in one of the most important things in the world – books. The only art here is the actual stories written in the books and you destroyed someone else’s work. Respect books. You are lucky to have access to them.

  26. One could argue that this is a new way of interacting with the original story.

    By selecting the point at which the pages were ripped out, it forces the reader to interact with the book in a new way. Perhaps the reader will end up coming up with their own ending in their imagination, and will experience the book in an entirely different way than someone who was just force-fed the ending (if, at least, until they get themselves to a bookstore to read the last few pages.)

    That, to me, is a creative, artistic moment.

  27. That is very interesting. I think the desperate search for the ending is a great art statement. It could metaphorically be compared to our search for our “end” in life, when we are satisfied with it.

  28. I usually peek at the last page anyhow so I would have been mad and put the book back.

  29. this would annoy be beyond reason. nothings sadder than having a good book ruined!

  30. Genius! Wish I had thought of it!

  31. Definitely non-art from a non-artist.

  32. I read this first through Bloglines and had to come here to see the comments.

    The commenters above have the same thoughts as me. I don’t like this idea at all either – books should be passed on for others to enjoy, but now these books are useless. Such a waste.

  33. Whoa.
    “Cruel”, “Obnoxious”, “Lowest of the low.”
    I would watch out Eric Doeringer, some of these nuts consider your motives to rank right down there with rape and murder. Tearing out a page of a book is obviously a crime punishable by death.
    Get over yourself people.
    Let the man live!
    I google searched every one of those books, and guess what?!?! They’re all online!
    But someone intelligent enough to sit down and read one of these classics probably doesn’t know how to use one of these wacky computers anyways.
    And I’m sure they’ve never heard of a library.
    Ooh but its the nerve of it all!!
    How dare he get us so interested in a wonderful book that we have to get off of our fat asses and try to finish said book.
    And while we’re trying to find the ending to that book… Ooh my God! we might actually see another book by that same author and pick it up to read!
    So thanks alot Mr. Doeringer, you have made some of us interested in classic literature.
    Way to reach the lowest of the low.

  34. The older I get, the more I really dislike conceptual art, especially when it seems more like a devious prank than actually making a point. The free books thing is just dumb.

  35. A horrible disfigurement of the written word! To think that someone in the distant future may find one of these and not have access to a duplicate.

  36. If I lived in area I’d make it my “art statement” to create signs and post them right next to this jerks free book installations warning people about the missing pages.

    Just echoing what everyone else said, this so-called artist is little more than an asshole. It’s hard enough already to get people to read, ruining the experience for someone in this way is not in the least bit funny or provocative, it’s juvenile and cruel.

  37. Are all practical jokes art?

  38. so mischievous. so harmless… these reactions are crackin me up! ;)