Two men walk into a gallery with a ping-pong ball and film it. So is it art?

Pranksters fool public and gallery assistants to prove anything can be art

Three weeks ago, two men dressed in matching outfits walked into Tate Modern, popped ping-pong balls into their mouths and took their place alongside masterpieces by Gerhard Richter.

After a few minutes, crowds soon began to gather around them, scratching their heads and asking the age-old question: “Is it art?” The results of the ingenious artistic experiment – which some have dismissed as a prank – were then uploaded to YouTube and spread across the internet.

Doug Fridlund and Mikael Alcock, the two men behind the guerrilla performance, have been compared to Gilbert & George, as well as the Dadaist movement, which included artists such as Marcel Duchamp.

But in an interview with The Independent they claimed no such credentials, saying they just wanted to know “what it felt like to be art”. The performance at Tate Modern was their third such gallery visit in the past few months, twice to the Tate and once to the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea.

The pair stood still back to back, side by side and on the floor at various points for up to six minutes, as visitors took photographs on their smartphones. “I think it’s OK to think of this as art. We wanted to feel like art in the material sense and I think we succeeded. If a statue or a painting or an installation had emotions I reckon they would feel quite good most of the time,” Fridlund said.

Alcock added: “We’d love to be sold as art, but whether it would be art is the eternal question.” The ideal choice of seller is the auction house Sotheby’s. “Wouldn’t that be cool? Like if we ended up in Rod Stewart’s house,” Fridlund said.

The pair reject the label of “pranksters” and insist they were not  making a statement about modern art. “We weren’t competing with  the other works. It was more of a case of change the routine for ourselves and everyone else who was in the gallery.”

Alcock, who is 28, grew up in Britain, while Fridlund, 26, lived in various European countries before moving here 18 months ago. They have not ruled out more “performances” in the future.

Art historian Ben Street commented: “One hundred years ago, artists were saying the same thing about life versus art in Zurich, Berlin and Cologne. Maybe these two were celebrating the centenary of Dadaism.” He added that their performances were probably still art. “Regardless of intentions, the gallery creates a framework for art,” he said.

 

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before