A seven month labor of love, The Kewpie Series was a public art experiment that was equal parts video art, performance, and installation. It was part of Art in Odd Places 2012: Model and Lumen Festival 2013. The Kewpie Series made its’s debut in Flatbush, a lower Brooklyn neighborhood that is underrepresented in the arts.
Text by Adam R. Burnett:
Geraldo’s new work is a part of Art in Odd Places (AiOP), a festival that takes place every October, confronting the public with art along 14th Street, from Ave. C to the Hudson River. This years’ theme—“Model”—led Geraldo to the Kewpie, the creepy iconic doll of our collective nightmare. “I found this Kewpie doll at a Goodwill near my house,” Mercado recounts. “I shot some test footage of it….and the camera picked up its face in the face recognition feature. The camera recognized this weird little doll as being human.” Geraldo also happened to be listening to a lot of shortwave number stations at the time.
From these disparate sources, Geraldo created a dozen short videos featuring the Kewpie doll in a variety of profound paranoia-inducing states—flying in space, on a Tumblr replicating itself over and over, imposed on the face of Youtube Asian starlets in bikini’s— and scored by the bleeps and bloops of shortwave number stations. The video plays on a VHS in a VCR connected to a TV and powered by a car battery, all nestled into a granny cart which Geraldo, with his trademark red suspenders, punk T-shirt, and mad-scientist scare of hair, pushes along the streets without any irony. He searches the crowd, contemplating passers, his eyes seeming to penetrate souls, anticipating the opportunity to talk to anyone about what they’re seeing.
After an hour moving along 14th Street, Mercado sets his installation on the northwest corner of Union Square and stands at a distance. Passerby’s begin to stop and watch, most for a few seconds before moving on, but others stare for minutes, turning their head, getting lost in the weirdness. A forty-something guy with an electric bass over his shoulder watches the entire loop of videos and looks at us, “Who dropped this? Did one of you drop this?” Geraldo fesses up. The bass player goes on, “THANK YOU! THANK YOU! This shit used to happen all the time in the nineties in Williamsburg, but no one will do this anymore in public. Thank you!” He shakes Geraldo’s hand and moves on. They don’t exchange information. Geraldo doesn’t give him a card and ask him to check out his website. He is earnest about this. This is not a career attempt, this is not an act for the artist—Geraldo seriously wants the public to consider their relationship to media.
Photos of the Kewpie Series in action
My Proposal for Art in Odd Places
And my explanation video