You Kinda Had To Be There (Motel Cali Revisited) (2024/2005)

Installation detail. Photo by Peter Perigo, Courtesy of USC Pacific Asia Museum

Video installation. Sound system, video monitor, headphones, microphones, bench, shimmer curtain.

You Kinda Had To Be There (Motel Cali Revisited) was created for the exhibition Another Beautiful Country (2024) at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, CA.

On the suggestion of artist Patty Chang and curator Jenny Lin, footage from a 2005 performance in Beijing Motel Cali was digitized and edited into a karaoke-style video. The video clips documented the various performances that transpired in Studio 1 of the Beijing Film Studio during a 24-hour period from 3pm on September 21, 2005 to 3pm the next day on September 22.

Installation detail. Photo by Peter Perigo, Courtesy of USC Pacific Asia Museum

In 2005, I solicited for performaces and sent out a message that read:

Lovely and Talented Beijingers,

The Complete Art Experience Project will open an exhibition on Sept 21 called "24-Hours" as one of the satellite exhibitions of the Beijing Biennale. A group of 10 artist will present an exhibition that will run for only 24 hours from 3pm on Sept 21 to 3pm on Sept 22 in Studio 1 of the Beijing Film Studio.

I am setting up a small stage and am soliciting for variations on a theme of "Hotel California." I would love to schedule bands, djs, poets, computer noise generators, spoken word artists, interpretive dancers, musical sawers - whatever- to come and play this song to death. I hate it as much as the next person. I am hoping this 24 hour non-stop "Hotel California" will kill the tune completely. Unfortunately this gig doesn't pay, but I can provide beer and/or food (depending on the time of day and your preference), will have some basic audio equipment available and it will all be for a GOOD ART CAUSE. (oh, and it will be a fun party.) The process will be taped and edited to dvd. Copies will be distributed to all participants. If you or anyone you know is interested in participating, please contact me ASAP! either leave a comment or email me:

no experience necessary. all levels of expertise (or lack thereof) are welcome.

Thanks for your attention. If you have performance anxiety, fear not. We'd still love to see you at the show. Maps and directions will be forthcoming.

please feel free to forward this message to any and all interested parties.

A few days after “24-Hours” compleated, I posted this:

Mercedes Bends
We survived.

24 hours of art making, 24 hours of hotel california, 24 hours of breathing in dust. Photos will be uploaded soon for those who couldn't drag themselves to Beijing Film Studio #1, but from the looks of it, I would say it was a success. we had people coming in at all hours of the day and night to do a enthusiastic renditions of Hotel California. Spoken word, interpretive dance, electronic noise and more karaoke than you could shake a stick at. Surprisingly, no one complained, but I think it was because they were too polite.

As I was setting up my stage, I heard the hired performers in Yu Ji's installation next to mine say to each other, "Oh great. We get to see the show." I didn't have the heart to tell them that they were going to hate me after the first couple of hours. What's worse is that at about 11pm one of them turned to me and asked, "What time does this event end?" I told him it was 24 hours, and his jaw dropped. Apperently SOMEONE forgot to mention to the actors that this was an all night gig. Amazingly enough, they didn't just get up and leave.

We also got off to an absurd start when Wu Ershan's crew spent 1.5 hours trying to get a tranquillized mule to lie down. I was asked to turn down the music so the mule would sleep and everyone was standing around watching this bizarre and semi-cruel scene take place. A sleepy mule refusing to lie down, a camera crew trying to push a mule over, and a roomful of silence.

From about 4-9am I slept on the stage wrapped in a projection screen. No,no, I didn't have the music running. The guy running the generator had to go get more gas, so we were powerless for 30 minutes. That was long enough for me to pass out on the floor.

Video screen grabs:

Thank you to the participants:

James Amdurer, Mathieu Borysevicz, Jon Campbell, Chaos Chen, John Crespi, the donkey and its minders, Matt Forney, Jackson Garland, Tammy Ho, Jimmy, Eden Li, Jessica Meider, Desmond McGarry, Neema Moraveji, Jann Ronis, Shi Qing, Qiu Zhijie, Phil Tinari, Wang Wei, Hao Wu, Frank Yu, Yu Ji, and Zhang Hui

Apologies for those whose names have been lost to time. Thank you to all the artists' and their various work crews.