Dustin Yellin

The Crack-Up

"Everything that I decide is necessary is necessary today." -- Dustin Yellin

A rarely seen early film which predates the mature work of Yellin's hallucinatory landscape tableaus by over a decade. The Crack-Up is a documentation of a psychotic episode that Yellin experienced and documented as the drama unfolded in Manhattan over the course of a proverbial lost weekend, ending with Yellin's incarceration in a prison and later, a mental hospital. As if to literally enact the cliché "I'll take Manhattan," Yellin's mental state allows him to appropriate private ownership of public and semi-public spaces so seamlessly and convincingly that the keepers of these landmarks -- performers of what Michel Foucault calls micropower -- are befuddled by this confident stranger's appeal, and unbelievably begin to yield to his will. A literal test of mind over matter, Yellin triumphs by equal parts charisma and chutzpah, proposing and succeeding at creating a pop-up utopia. But like most utopias, victory is short-lived and illusory as power is wrested from him in the cold light of day. Yet the sheer glee of a small window into the ideal is victory enough; utopia, Yellin asserts, is in fact, possible.

Utopia then becomes the subject of Yellin's later studio practice, which is possible within the safe and controlled confines of the studio, where the Duchampian infrathin -- the small slip between the real and the ideal -- is experienced in daily practice, positing the sites of studio and the artwork as our only realizable and sustainable utopias. -- Kenneth Goldsmith

1999